Project Merbok – Windbreak

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Being the highest point on this open grassland means lots of wind!

We finally started work on Project Merbok a few months back. One of the most important things we started with was to create windbreaks. You might ask: what’s wrong with enjoying a breeze in our warm humid climate? While a gentle wind helps with air circulation, too much of it causes many problems.

 

  • Soil erosion: Organic matter (dead leaves, dried twigs) are very light and will get blown away easily. That leaves the soil exposed and also takes away the nutrition from rotting matter that the soil needs.
  • Dryness: Wind removes moisture from the soil and plants. It’s the same principle as sunning your clothes on a windy day. Without moisture in soil, micro-organisms and earthworms die. Without moisture in soil, roots can’t bring water up to leaves.
  • Energy wastage: Plants would have to expend energy to resist wind to stay upright. They would be reaching for the sun but pushed sideways by the wind. The wasted energy could be better used for biomass growth or food production. Compared to trees, grasses deal with wind much effectively. That’s the reason you see so much lalang on this site!
  • Mechanical damage: Malaysia is quite sheltered by surrounding islands and typically do not suffer from typhoons. However, there are still windstorms that can uproot big trees. Even if the plant is well-rooted, the leaves can be mechanically damaged by the wind itself or rubbing against other leaves.

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Becoming A Forest

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The forest beside the lawn

On a pleasant Sunday morning, I observed some interesting happenings along the edge of a forest at Lower Pierce Reservoir where I jog to or play football occasionally. There were some patches of upturned soil on the otherwise flat and trimmed lawn. It was somewhat thrilling because I felt like a detective at a crime scene, gathering clues to figure out what happened. Even better, I also felt like a hunter tracking a prey by reading signs left behind to foretell what might happen in the future. Here’s the story of what I think happened…

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The crime scene: upturned soil and an unknown fruit

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Project Merbok – Pioneering on a Lallang Hill

We are beginning to design and build a productive and pretty garden using permaculture principles on a 1.3 acre land in Johor Malaysia! The owner will be building a small house as a retreat for his company staff. This will be a place of relaxation with fruit trees, vegetables and herbs for visitors to harvest. There will also be ponds, small livestock (chickens, ducks, rabbits, bees), rainwater harvesting, and more.

Looking up on to the hilltop from the west where the road is

Looking up on to the hilltop from the west where the road is

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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