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Sep 24, 2010

Celebration of a life well lived

I write this blog to celebrate life; that there is to be found the work of God ( Stephen Hawking's latest book, The Grand Design, notwithstanding ), and the love of God for us everywhere, in the rainforests, in trees, in birds; everywhere.

And in wonderful people like Lechimi Raman; of humble birth and humble upbringing but of the noblest of spirit.

As I am honoured to know the rainforests, the birds, the magical plants in the jungle, so too am I honoured to have known Lechimi Raman.

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It is de riguer nowadays to put the blame for youths who turn out badly on the environment, on poverty, on physical deprivation, and a host of other external reasons.

Lechimi brought up 5 sons, singlehandedly, in the most difficult of circumstances.

They completed their tertiary education, became well balanced, loving human beings despite their deprived background, and grew to become role models for all those who know them or hear of them.  That is the legacy of Lechimi; that no matter the adversity, one continues to strive, one continues to do the best one can, with no blame or anger or bitterness in the heart towards anybody or anything.

I remember days spent in her humble home, and enjoying her curries and her fried curried fish.  After a long day of rugby, my hungry friends and I would wolf down an entire week's provisions I am sure, but she will always be topping up, always with that warm, open, motherly smile of hers; happy that her son's friends are enjoying her cooking.

I remember well her love for us all.  We were her children as well; and yes, I have had a couple of smacks from her.

Though time and distances have caused memories to fade, nonetheless the heart never forgets.

Thank you Lechimi, for being there for us in our growing up years.  We all grew up well, and you were part of the reason why.

May you rest in peace.

Sep 12, 2010

Sanctuary for butterflies II

Our efforts to attract butterflies to the farm are showing results.

We noticed many new species lately, but it is not always possible to take a photo due to our limited equipment.

Here's a Common Rose Swallowtail that came and perch itself above our heads while we were having lunch.

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Common Rose Swallowtail (Atrophaneura Pachliopta)

It's a beauty and behaves very nonchanlantly in the presence of humans.

Here's a Cruiser ( Vindula dejone erotella ):

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It's color and shape is unmistakable.

 

Sep 04, 2010

Superfood from our forests

The latest craze in the US is black rice, touted as a superfood because of its high anthocyanin content.  Here's an article from Yahoo! News. 

Wait till these direct sales marketers and health food companies get hold of our black kunyit.

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Just 3 fingernail size rhizomes produce this dark deep purple drink:
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I believe this curcuma is yet unnamed and clearly, it is a rich source of anthocyanin.  Having used it for more than a year, I can vouch for its strong anti-inflammation properties. 

It is not found in Indonesia otherwise the jamu ladies would have long ago included it in their concoction.  The Indonesian temu hitam or temu ereng ( Curcuma aeruginosa Roxb) is only slightly purplish.  It is clearly not Indian too, as the flowers and leaves are different from the curcuma caesia which more closely resembles the temu hitam.  The rhizomes too are not deep purple / black as the rhizomes here.
 

So best get the loggers to stop cutting down the forests as this little curcuma sits quietly in the shade and can easily be overlooked. 
 

There must be more of such magical plants in our 150 million year old forests.  Shame isn't it if they are lost.
 

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.

Aug 19, 2010

Natural Flowering Enhancers

We use what's in the farm to make our own flowering enhancers.  Our dragon fruits never stop flowering and producing fruits.  Our durians can be fruiting two to three weeks before others.

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All the ingredients we need are available in the farm.
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Red Colored Leaves
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Red Colored Leaves
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Over riped papayas and bananas
Here's the proportions (by weight) :

papaya                              2.5

banana                              2.5

Red Leaves                        1.0

Kangkung young leaves      1.0

Acasia young leaves           1.0

Molasses                           2.0

Quarry dust                      sprinkle

Put in a container until half full (or half empty, whichever).  Leave for up to 60 days, covered loosely, before proceeding. 

There are a few variations to use the above (which we shall call the Mother).  One way is as follows:

Dilute adding 1 part filtered Mother, 1 part molasses to 20 parts water to make a Concentrate.  Let the Concentrate sit for up to 7 days before diluting further required amount to use.  Add one part Concentrate, one part molasses and 50 parts water for Spraying Dilution.  It goes without saying you must always use unchlorinated water. 

Do not spray direct from Concentrate on plants.  They may wilt.  Always spray diluted.  Not recommended for ornamentals.

If you are using compost tea, add one part filtered Mother to 20 parts tea, and spray.  Use only on fruit trees (including pitaya).

Email me direct if you encounter problems.

Notes:

1. You can find the acacia tree being grown along highways.  You can use the young leaves from young trees. Acacia is an invasive, so don't plant it in your farm unless you have the patience to continually weed out the young trees.

2. Any red leaves will do.

Quality Control Inspection

Officers representing the Crop Quality Control Division of the Ministry of Agriculture came on short notice to audit the farm today.  Water, soil and plant samples were taken.

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We had an interesting couple of hours sharing information and learning from each other.  It was a pleasure to meet so many young professionals in Government who are genuinely interested in sustainable farming and hopefully when they reach levels of policy making, they will remember that it IS possible to farm without damaging the environment and depleting resources. 

16:34 Posted in Blog | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: skim organik malaysia

Aug 17, 2010

Kacip Fatimah Propagation

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The kacip fatimah plant at the farm.
Kacip Fatimah ( labisia pumila ) is a popular traditional medicinal herb.  Due to its popularity, the wild plant is rapidly disappearing.  Here's a writeup on the herb by the Medical Research Institute (click here).
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Kacip Fatimah flowers.
Normal methods of reproducing include using its seeds and root cuttings.
We believe using leaf cuttings would result in more available plants than either seeds or root cuttings.  After some trial and error, we succeeded in producing plantlets from the leaves.  Here's a picture of one of our babies:
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A plantlet growing from the base of a kacip fatimah leaf.

Visitors to the Farm - Head of Vet Services, Pahang

The new Head of Veterinary Services Department, Pahang, Dr. Muhammad Safaruddin and his assistant, Dr. Rohaya, came on a surprise visit to the farm today.

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Sorry Doc, it has been raining for the past few days and the farm is a tad untidy.  Anyway, it's a pleasure to have met you and in spite of fasting and all, you and your assistant certainly impressed us with your professionalism.

Jul 26, 2010

Useful Plants At The Farm- Mulberry Tree

The mulberry tree (morus alba; pokok daun ulat sutera; chinese: sang shu ) has a long history ( 3000 years ) of medicinal use in China, Korea and Japan.

Sinseh Soon from Raub came to the farm for a 'look-see' and told us about the medicinal uses of the tree, under which he was resting.

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Sinseh Soon and farm director, Pak Cik Razaly seen here talking about the uses of the mulberry tree under its leafy shade.
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Used as a shade tree for chickens.
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Easy to propagate, just stick a cutting into some soil.
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Boil the leaves ( sang ye ) for 20 mins for a 'cooling' tea.  Boil with  goji berries ( go to the Chinese herbal store and ask for kei ji ) to improve eye sight.  Boil with Chinese red dates to detoxify kidneys and to promote urination.


The bark ( sang bai pi ) is used to strengthen the lungs and to relieve nasal congestion.  To make:
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Scrape off the thin outer layer
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Pound it and strip it off
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Ready to use.  Dry well to store.  Boil and reduce by 50% before drinking.


The wood ( sang zhi ) of the stripped branches is used to relieve bodily aches and pains.
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Dry the wood to store.
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Pound and boil to reduce by 50% and drink twice a day to relieve bodily aches and pains.
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The roots can be boiled and reduced by 50% to relieve gout and to relieve 'masuk angin' pains such as rheumatism.


Olden days, families used to boil the roots or twigs with poultry meat for a health promoting soup.  Olden days, food is prepared and consumed according to health requirements - to balance yin and yang, to 'warm' the body during cold months, to improve blood flow, to enhance 'qi', etc.  Rainy humid seasons will have their food, dry hot seasons, theirs.


Food now is looked at differently.   It is no longer to promote health and to strengthen one's body.  It is to satisfy appetite and taste-buds. 

Jul 17, 2010

Malaysia's Best

Auditors from FAMA ( Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority ) came to see if we are deserving of the government export quality mark, '1 Malaysia Best'.
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Hopefully we will get the certification.  If so, American readers of this blog may soon find our durians sold in the USA with this mark:
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We are planning to air-freight them to the US with the support of FAMA to be sold in a chain of raw-food and organic fruits store. These will be certified organic, tree-ripened, chilled fruits.   Will announce details when plans materialise.

Jul 16, 2010

Emerald Doves came visiting

There was a flutter and a flash of iridescent green darting up from the ground towards some thick low branches.  I thought I saw a pair of pigeon.

I approached the branches slowly and they darted off again to a clump of kantan and then were gone.

I knew then that they were a pair of punai tanah or Emerald Dove (chalcophaps indica indica).  They were flighty, as are most first timers (birds I mean) to the farm.  Nonetheless it is great that this pair of young adults have come down from the rainforest to the farm.  Hopefully they will nest here.

Emerald doves in Malaysia are shy and flighty, possibly due to over hunting.  It is an honour that this pair feel secure enough to visit us.

Here's a photo I downloaded from Lip Kee's photostream at Flickr.

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Readers, should you decide to use this picture, please accept the terms of use at Lip Kee's page at Flickr. It is the right thing to do (I have found my pics and writings in odd places without attribution and it is annoying to say the least).

The incident with the pigeons happened so fast, I did not have the chance to get my camera.  In any event without a good telephoto lens I would not be able to capture them.  Time to invest in a 400mm lens at least, I suppose.  That will set me back a few thousand ringgit.  Maybe next year.