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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Video: How Wolves Change Rivers

A short video that talks about how wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years caused the most remarkable “trophic cascade”. The wolves give life by killing. This shows the importance of biodiversity in any ecosystem, farming or not. It shows the futility of human efforts in micro-planning and micro-managing something as complex as nature. Sometimes you just have to step back and let nature decide…


Narration from TED: “For more wonder, rewild the world” by George Monbiot. Watch the full talk, here: http://bit.ly/N3m62h

Using Trees to Build Swales?

As I walk around the city of Singapore, I can’t help but constantly observe the grass, the soil, the trees, and the insects. It’s a job hazard and a rather enjoyable one. I have even become pretty good and figuring out soil fertility and moisture with my feet when I walk barefoot.

Recently I have been noticing swales. For those of you unfamiliar with it, swales have become synonymous with permaculture as they were popularized by Bill Mollison and other advocates of permaculture. In short, swales are water-harvesting ditches, built along the contours of a landscape. They slow down water runoff, trap the water, and allow it to infiltrate into the soil. However it’s not something new; traditional farming societies have been doing it for thousands of years. Terracing is but another form of swaling. To learn more about swales, click here.

Swale

Diagram of swale from Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway

There are actually quite a lot of swales around the city. Who is the hardworking permaculturalist? Continue reading

Project Green Valley – Order Within The Mess

When we started work on Project Green Valley, it was but a barren piece of land with grass growing on hard sun-baked clay. I remember wondering where so many fist-sized stones came from. They were actually hardened and dried pieces of clay. The soil was in bad shape and there was a lot for us (and nature) to do before we restore fertility. After about a year, this is how it looks.

Green Valley

A food forest! See if you can spot sweet potatos (green, purple, yellow), kang kong, wild spinach, sweet leaf, papaya, banana, tapioca, bitter gourd, lemongrass, citronella, passion fruit, and more!

The way it is today, Project Green Valley requires almost no watering. Even if we had to water, we would draw from the pond and not rely on tapwater. There is little need for weeding because the soil is densely planted with no area of exposed soil. The strong sunlight grass needs would have been filtered by the other taller plants by the time it reaches the soil. Continue reading