Jan 27, 2011
Kunyit Hitam - We hit a mother lode
We hit upon a clump of withered curcuma plants with dried yellow leaves, in the forest next to the farm. This is what we pulled out from underneath the plants; easily a kilogram :
Close up with one of the rhizomes sliced opened.
click for close up
This is how you propagate the black kunyit fast. Remove the rhizomes that extend down into the soil to use, and split those above to plant.
NOTE 22/7/2012 : TWO READERS OF THIS BLOG, ONE FROM HAWAII, AND ANOTHER FROM LANGKAWI, PAK DIN, http://herbwalk-langkawi.com.my/thewalk.html HAVE IDENTIFIED THIS PLANT AS Kaempferia parviflora, A PLANT FOUND IN NORTHERN THAILAND AND USED EXTENSIVELY FOR TRADITIONAL MEDICINE. THANKS TO BOTH FOR HELPING OUT.
THE PLANT WAS FOUND IN A FOREST NEXT TO OUR FARM. WE TAKE NOTE THAT THE FOREST IN QUESTION IS BOUNDED ON THREE SIDES BY FARMS AND ON ONE SIDE BY A FOREST RESERVE. WE CAN ONLY SPECULATE HOW IT WAS INTRODUCED INTO THE FOREST, THOUGH WE MUST ADMIT IT SEEMS EXTREMELY WELL ADAPTED TO THE CONDITIONS LOCALLY AND WE HAVE NEVER SEEN ANY DISEASE AFFECTING THE SAID PLANT.
Jan 17, 2011
Sweet Potatoes for the beginner organic farmer
Sweet potatoes are ideal for the beginning organic farmer and the beginning permaculturist. It is an undemanding crop and do not require high nitrogen inputs ( which equal to less costs and less disease problems).
If you are trying to earn some extra cash, then grow the purple colored varieties as they fetch a higher price and is always in demand (because of its higher antioxidant content). Organic shops will buy them off you anytime.
To grow them, start a nursery with tubers ( of the quality and variety you want ) as follows:
This one uses a conventional black nursery poly bag.
Here we use discarded tyres from tyre shops at no costs.
Instead of a nursery, you can also use cuttings from fully grown vines from existing sweet potatoe patches (so long as you know the quality).
When the shoots or slips, as they are called, are about 8 inches long, snip them off and plant to soil.
The slip is snip off to plant. The tuber will continue to provide slips for months.
Snip off the lower leaves before planting.
Bunch of slips
Bunch of slips
Insert the slip into the soil at an angle using a bamboo or a piece of wood.
A planted bed.
Raised beds are preferred. Use sandy soil. Do not fertilise with high nitrogen fertilisers such as chicken dung. Use vermicast, compost or humus. Sweet potato is ready for harvest in 4 months (depending on variety).
The home gardener or small-scale farmer can start a nursery in one tyre and then plant individual slips in seperate tyres as follows:
Planting in tyres as raised beds to make use of land with bad clayey soil at the farm (click on pic for close up)
Each tyre will then produce one crop of sweet potatoes and you harvest as and when you need them.
At our farm, we also plant sweet potatoe as a living mulch:
Jan 10, 2011
Edible ferns have been enjoyed for thousands of years by rural folks. It is now making its way into gourmet restaurants and urban kitchens. If your farm have earth drains, then edible ferns can be an extra source of income with almost zero costs. Just make sure that your water source is pristine as ferns are good absorbers of heavy metals.
This one, diplazium esculentum
Not this one. Note the difference in the branching.
Edible fronds and young leaves.
Edible ferns are delicious stir-fried with sambal belacan, or just dried anchovies, or plain garlic.
Jan 03, 2011
Non-Paying lover of our chickens came visiting....
The way to handle them is to bundle them in a sack and release them far, far away....
16 footer, 90 pounder (40kg) being manhandled by bouncers from Nepal.
Dec 29, 2010
Malaysia's Best Durians?
We have received our Malaysia's Best certification from FAMA. This means that the country's national marketing authority for agricultural produce have satisfied themselves that we have met all national and international good agricultural practices.
We remain the ONLY certified organic durian farm in the country. There's this guy selling 'organic' durians from Pahang at Bangsar in front of TMC. It is not from our farm, be warned!
If we do sell our durians locally, it will be with a SOM sticker and a copy of the FAMA certificate or the organic certificate (SOM certificate) below:
Dec 24, 2010
Energy Free Cooling (Sun Shading For Rebans)
West side sun shading leading to energy free cooling via passion fruit vines at our farm:
Plastic coated wires to act as support for the vines.
External ambient temperature, 38 celcius at 2 to 3pm. Under the passion fruit shade, 31 to 32 celcius.
Nov 28, 2010
Pandans and Keladi - Permaculture way
Most farms in Malaysia would have earth drains. Earth drains are cheap and quick to construct and allow rain water to seep into the earth as it makes its way to the rivers. Meander the drains to give the water even more time to infiltrate. It is one way to reduce flash floods during heavy downpours. Properly positioned earth drains will reduce erosion especially during our heavy monsoon down pours.
Pandan alongside an earth drain
One way to fully utilise the nature of earth drains is to plant water loving food plants along its course. To prevent the plants from blocking the flow during heavy downpours, we just add little inlets along the sides and in this instance, plant pandans (pandanus amaryllifolius) and keladi (colocasia esculenta ) in the inlets. The only maintenance is to quickly replant new shoots to prevent a clump from being formed (which will block the drains).
A plantlet quickly inserted into a new inlet to prevent clumps from being formed
Pandan leaves are used in aromatic Asian cooking and are always in demand by buyers.
Keladi being planted in inlets along the earth drain
Keladi tubers (taro) fetch a good price. At our farm, we grow the keladis with zero input - no pesticide, no fertilisers, etc are needed. When keladis are grown in wet earth, the tubers are twice the size of those grown on soil and watered.
Keladi producing edible tubers with zero maintenance. The picture shows permaculture features like mulching, companion planting, avoidance of monoculture, and fitting food cultivation to the character of the land, here, land with high water table.
More keladis and some edible ferns, which also love water.
Nov 23, 2010
Useful Plants At The Farm - Patawali
Patawali is a climbing vine and can be planted wherever there's free vertical spaces
This is one of the most useful plants at the farm - patawali or tinospora crispa.
In Vietnam it is called the "vine with a genie's intelligence". In the Philippines, it is called, "to give life".
The leaves can be used as an insect repellant
At our farm, the plant has certainly given life to many an animal with indeterminate debility health problems and fevers. We have been successful with a dosage of about 0.07 grams of the stem per kg body weight for chickens and 10 grams for a goat of about 40 kg.
The stem is used for treating animals
We use this plant also as an insect repellant specifically for mites, aphids and hoppers.
To use, chop finely the leaves and spread around newly planted chillies and other vegetables to prevent insects from spreading viruses such as those that cause chilly leaf curl, at an early stage. Repeat every 5 days.
To make a spray, extract the active ingredients by fermenting the leaves and chopped stem in a solution of your own lactobacillus brew or if you don't have any, then EM is fine. After 14 days, sieve and dilute 1:500 times (can be stronger but watch out for the acidity) and spray on plants to get rid of the target insects.
A DQ discovery; as a mosquito repellent, just pound or blend some stem, filter the juice, and apply on bare skin. It has a pleasant herby aroma. Let dry and you will be mosquito free the whole night (with the possibility of reducing skin mites, and also, skin repair due to its antioxidant content). No necessity for toxic pesticides, or genetically modified mosquitoes. The juice can be kept in the fridge for weeks, making it convenient to use.
We also use this plant as an immune booster for ourselves when we feel under the weather.
(Malaysians interested in planting patawali for use as a natural mosquito repellant can write to me for cuttings for free. You pay for the postage though, or pick it up. Email us at email@example.com).
Oct 22, 2010
1Hijau.tv came to shoot a short
A film crew from the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water came to shoot a short for their internet tv, 1hijau.tv.
Oct 20, 2010
The Star - Write up on organic farming
I was interviewed by The Star on grass fed chickens. I am surprised at the amount of interest generated by the presence of excessive omega 6 in intensively farmed poultry and other meats world wide (this includes organic chickens fed a diet exclusively of grains, albeit organic grains. Hence, grass fed chickens are 'beyond organic').
I have been singing this song since 2001 and to my mind, it is passé but apparently not. I am surprised people are only now becoming aware of the dangers of excessive omega 6 in our diet.
Here are the links to The Star:
A couple of erratum in the articles:
1. Omega 6 is not a cholesterol. It is an essential fatty acid which our body cannot manufacture and as such is needed in our diet. However excessive omega 6 can pose health problems, especially if excessive omega 6 is part of daily diet as is the case with the modern Malaysian diet.
2. In the old days, ayam kampung takes 6 to 7 months to reach table weight, not 60 to 70 days.
Here's a link as to how excessive omega 6 in farmed freshwater fish raises health concerns:
The concern applies equally here in Malaysia.
Jo Robinson, New York Times best seller author, started the popular awareness about the dangers of grain fed, industrial animal husbandry through her book, Why Grassfed Is Best! and Pasture Perfect. Her website is a store house of information, www.eatwild.com