Building Houses in the Air

Malay house under coconut treesI’ve been reading a lot about the traditional Malay house. Contrary to its simple and humble appearance, there is actually a lot of thought that goes into the design. Thoughts that factor in climate, available resources, and lifestyle. This house is evidence of human ingenuity before we started relying on air-conditioners and big diesel-guzzling lorries.

Books have been written about the simple Malay house and there is too much to be said. In this post I will focus only on how the house has been adapted to the humid tropical climate. Continue reading

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A Fixation on Nitrogen Fixation

2014-01-11 09.47.03Nitrogen is one of the three macro-nutrients needed for healthy plants. It is the eldest brother N within the NPK trio. In the tropics, this vital ingredient is often found lacking in cultivated soil. From my experience using the soil test kit in various gardens in Singapore, nitrogen always shows up as “low”.

How can this be! There are tons of nitrogen in the atmosphere, roughly 78%. However, atmospheric nitrogen doesn’t just flow into the soil readily as it is inert. Continue reading

Project Nanas @ Johor, Malaysia

After a few weeks...A family friend has asked me to help start an organic farm in the premises of a timber factory in Johor Malaysia. I am calling it Project Nanas because nanas means pineapple in Malay. The location of this factory is at Pekan Nanas which literally means Pineapple Town. This place used to produce the most pineapple throughout Malaysia! Interestingly, many European languages (including German, French, Norwegian, Hungarian, Greek, Finnish, and probably more) call pineapple “ananas”.

The objective of this farm is to provide employees with fresh vegetables and also green up the premises. The factory is currently expanding and constructing a warehouse. A long and narrow strip of land that is sandwiched between this new warehouse and a river is where the farm will be. Continue reading