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26 Aug 2019

The Pains and Joys of Growing Soursop (Durian Belanda)

One of the more expensive local fruits we have is the Durian Belanda.  Both the fruit and the leaves have good nutritional and therapeutic values.  I have been growing the trees for about 7 years now and to date and currently we have 8 trees of various ages ranging from 3 years to 5 years.  Many have asked me many different questions hence this article covers my experience and each growers experience can be different.

Although it is a tree that can grow to over 8m in height, the growth can be controlled and it needs a space of a circumference of 2 m.  Giving the right conditions and care, it can produce many fruits.  Let’s start with the basics: the soil.  At the farm, we have different sections with different soil types ranging from high clay content to rocky and high sand content.  We have experimented planting them in various areas and find that it does best is soil that contains a significant amount of sand (around 30%) and does worst in high clay content soil.  It needs soil with good drainage with good content of organic matter to a depth of at least 1 m.  If you are living in a development area that was developed in the last 10 years, and you find that your tree keeps dying, check the soil.  Many of these development had used construction and other wastes as landfill.

This tree is well suited to our tropical climate with frequent rain with some dry periods.  In young trees, it will need to be watered.  Once a tree has established itself, it will no linger require manual watering.  The roots tend to spread out relatively neat the surface of the tree and the root doesn’t grow as deep as other trees of similar height and girth.  It does not like for its roots to be disturb hence for this reason, we refrain from planting any plants around the base and keep the grass and weeds controlled by cutting the down to surface level.  This serves a dual purpose: adding organic matter which as it decomposes adds nutrients to the soil and to keep the soil covered to help retain moisture.

Our farm is totally organic so we do not use any chemical pesticide, herbicide or fertilisers.  To this end, the environment of the farm is such that we plant many different types of plants and trees that encourages many varieties of insects, some of which are predators to insects that attack the leaves and fruits.  This helps to keep the trees relatively free of insect attacks.  Having a healthy tree also helps it fights these attacks and diseases.

To support the growth of the tree, we address the soil health as well as the plant health.  In order to ensure that we have the necessary
nutrients to support flowering and fruiting, we use goat and chicken manure fertilisers.  We also use diluted fish amino acids mixed with EM-1 on a quarterly basis.  The tree can flower year-long so keeping it well-fed is essential.  The bell-shaped buds are green in color with the point facing downwards.  There can appear singularly or in multiples.

As the bud develops, you will see it turn to a pale yellow flower with petals.

An interesting aspect of the soursop flower is that it blooms at night hence pollination occurs at night.  Once the outer petals are open (as in the picture), it will bloom that night.  At the farm, our environment encourages night insects as well as there is often night breezes which contribute to a good pollination rate.  We do not hand pollinate.The presence of wind and night insects is important to increase the success of pollination. The degree of success of the pollination will also affect the fruit size and shape.

Once the petals have fallen, you will see a stub-like with :needles” left.  Some have mistaken this as the dried-up flower and removed it.  At this stage, it is still unclear if pollination is successful so it is best to leave it.  Over the next few days or a week, you will see the beginnings of the fruit if pollination is successful,  It doesn’t look like the fruit yet but a brown mass of pins.

From this stage, it will take several weeks before you begin to see the fruit in a shape more familiar to the mature soursop.  You can see that the fruit will h

ave a nice shape and size when mature from the shape the fruit “bud” is as well as the number of “needles” present.  Even when it is flowering and fruiting, we continue to fertilise the ree in accordance with our schedule.  We also on a bi-annual basis, spread a handful of coarse salt around the circumference of the tree about 1 m away from the base of the trunk.  Apart from supplying additional minerals, it also serves as an “antibiotic” against harmful bacteria.  

 

In general, the fruit is heart-shaped or oval.  The fruit is ready to harvest when you see the needles are well-spaced apart and pointing horizontally an
d the skin of the fruit has smoothen out.  The fruit will feel firm.  At this stage, it will be sweet and sour with lots of juices.  This is, to me, the perfect time to harvest if you would like to eat it in slices.  I tend to just cut it into the slices, revealing the creamy-white flesh inside, without peeling and eat the flesh off, leaving the seeds and skin.  Once it has reached this stage, it will go soft within days but the intensity of the sweetness will increase and the flesh will still remain creamy-white.  However, it will then be suitable only for making blended drinks.

Often, when you buy at the market, the fruit will still be hard.  Do check that the fruit have the “needles” almost horizontal and widely spaced apart with smooth skin in between.  This will indicate that the fruit was mature enough when harvested.  Often, people will wait for their store-bought fruit to soften and when they cut it, they find that the flesh inside is brow/black indicating the fruit has rotted.  This could be due to the preservatives applied post-harvest to keep the fruit looking nice on the outside but it has started to rot on the inside,  Hence, by the time you feel the fruit has softened, it has rotted all the way through.

PS>> This will be one of the fruit trees that I will detail out from planting to harvesting to what you can do with it more in my book.  Not sure when I will complete it though 🙂

 

 

05 Mar 2019

A humble leave herb: Curry leaves

Curry leaves are not a stranger to us.  When we cook curry, it is not considered complete until curry leaves are added to it.  To make fried chicken tastier, try adding a few curry leaves to to the frying oil so the aroma and taste gets infused into the chicken.  But did you know that the young shoots of the curry leaves can be eaten as ulam or added into salads?  You can also infuse edible oil with dehydrated curry leaves and have the aroma in taste in it which you can then use to create other dishes.

So, it that where the story ends?  Of course not!  There is more to the curry leaves.  It is rich in iron and folic acid hence a good choice for those who are anaemic.  It contains a powerful antioxidant, kaempferol, which when combined with vitamin A and C(which are both present in the leaves), protects the liver as well as improves its function, has anti-inflammatory properties which in turns provides many therapeutical benefits to the body.  Curry leaves affects the insulin activity in the body as well as alters the way the body absorbs fat in digestion helping with controlling sugar and fats in your body.  There are many other benefits so it would be a good item to add to your diet within your normal meals.

By dehydrating the leaves, we ensure maximum nutrients retention which makes it easy to store and have readily available as well as making it easy to transport.  We have turned it into a product within our dehydrated herbal range.  It is packed in a resealable pouch making it easy to transport as well as store.  Each pack is RM 15 and available via mail order.

This is definitely one herb that I will increase consumption of as it can be added to your meals in many ways from cooked dishes to raw salad as well as using it as a seasoning.  Another of nature’s bounty.

01 Mar 2019

Ginger Power – Bitter Ginger (Lempoyang)

Whenever I encounter a local rhizome herb that I do not have in my collection, I tend to get it
even though I do not know its powers.  I figure that I will get around to researching about it.  This is the case with Lempoyang (Bitter Ginger).  It be belongs to the ginger family, one of the many varieties that we have native to Malaysia.  Its botanical name is Zingiber zerumbet.  It has a slightly bitter taste hence the English name of Bitter Ginger.It looks similar to other ginger plants although it is a bit taller than regular ginger.

The soil type, care and maintenance for this plant is similar to all other ginger plants.  If there is sufficient rainfall such that the soil doesn’t totally dry it, then no additional watering is required.  As it grows well in tropical climates, it is grown in other countries with this climate such as Brazil where a a significant amount of research has been done.  In Malaysia, it is mainly what is passed down from generation to generation verbally with little scientific documentation with the main study conducted by UPM on cervical cancer (http://psasir.upm.edu.my/id/eprint/9323/).

The outer skin is reddish-brown with the flesh a cream color.  The flesh has a less pungent ginger aroma.  As with many of my rhizomes, it is not possible for me to consume them all when it is harvested so I will dehydrate them and convert them to powder form,retaining maximum nutrients possible, enabling me to store it for a longer period of time and available for use at any time.  What is interesting is when you dehydrate the finger and mill them to a powder, the resulting color is a pale slightly green-yellow.

From a usage perspective, this variety of ginger is of interest due to its many therapeutic properties relating to its effects on the gastrointestinal system as well as for cancer.  There is substantial information available from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0102695X16000259 as well as other biotechnical sites.

The rhizome of ginger has been extensively used with remarkable therapeutic effects for the treatment of inflammation, diarrhea, stomach cramps, bacterial infections, fever, flatulence, allergies and poisoning (Tewtrakul and Subhadhirasakul, 2007, Okamoto et al., 2011, Prakash et al., 2011b, Sidahmed et al., 2015). Powdered rhizome is used to treat ear infections, toothache and, in the form of tea, to treat stomach disease (Ghosh et al., 2011). The leaves are also used in therapies for joint pain. The juice of cooked rhizome was reported to be effective in combating worms in children (Somchit and Shukriyah, 2003, Ibrahim et al., 2007). The creamy substance present in the mature inflorescence, is rich in surfactants and serves as a natural shampoo (Yu et al., 2008b).  Hence its other name of Shampoo ginger.

With all its many therapeutics use, I decided to produce our dehydrated powdered Lempoyang (Bitter ginger), a new addition to our product line and will continue to grow them.  It is packed in packs of 30gm of pure bitter ginger with no additives or preservatives added,  As with our other products, it is produced from bitter ginger grown organically at our farm.  It is available via mail order.

 

 

14 Jan 2019

The bounty of local fruit enzymes

I love fruit enzymes and they provide for lots of nutrition as well as being probiotic and versatility in consumption. It also allows me to pair the enzymes in accordance to my meals to maximise health value. All our enzymes are produced at the farm from our organically grown produce or sourced from pesticide-free producers. Our farm practices organic, natural and permaculture methods hence any produce that we may source externally has to meet to our standards.  All the water used is our production cycle is naturally-sourced and chlorine free. The enzymes are produced in batches as and when we have the source ingredient and fermented for a period of at least 4 months.

All our enzymes can be stored at in a cold, dry area before opening and once opened, can be stored in a cool, dry place or refrigerated.  When opening the bottle for the first time, it is best to loosen the cap slowly to allow any gas buildup to be released first.  As it contains probiotics bacteria and will still undergo secondary fermentation, there may be some gas buildup.

Although each enzyme is produced on its own, it can be be consumed in combination, either in drinks or as addition to your meal dishes.

Calamansi Enzyme

Produced from our farm-grown calamansi fruits, the whole fruit is used in making the enzyme.  Packed with vitamin A, C and a whole host of other minerals such as calcium and magnesium,, this enzyme can be consumed in a variety of ways.  It can be added to other drinks and juices or simply added to plain water.  If you enjoy salads, you can add this to your salad dressings or make your own salad dressing using this enzyme, your choice of salad oil and season to you taste with salt and pepper.

If you have an acid reflux issue, this enzyme can aid in reducing it with its alkaline nature.  Sometimes, when I had a big meal, I will consume 1-2 tablespoons, either on its own or diluted in water to help reduce bloating and relax.

Mangosteen Enzyme
This enzyme is produced based on the season hence we only managed to produce a limited quantity. For this first season, the fruits were sourced from pesticide-free producers. However, we hope for next season, we can depend on our farm-grown mangosteens Each fruit is washed individually washed to remove contaminants before it is processed. Both the pericarp and the fruit flesh is used in the making of the enzyme.

Suggested consumption is 1-2 tablespoons a day in a manner of your choosing.  I have also done frozen ice cubes of the enzyme which I use to add to other juice instead of water ice cubes.

Papaya Enzyme

Produced from our farm-grown mature, unripened papayas to ensure high content of the papain enzyme, it is also rich in vitamins and nutrients.  Papain has the special ability of breaking down proteins such as meats, fish and eggs.  It is the main ingredient in meat tenderisers due to this special ability.

It can be consumed either direct, in drinks or used in cooking such as made into a sad dressing or as a natural meat tenderiser.  Personally, I use it to tenderise beef and squids.  It works very well in squids preventing it from becoming rubbery and resulting in a moist, soft squid.

Papaya and Bentong Ginger Enzyme

Produced from our farm-grown mature, unripened papayas and Bentong Ginger rhizomes to ensure high content of the papain and gingerol enzyme, it is also rich in vitamins and nutrients.  It has all the benefits of papain with the addition of gingerol.

It can be consumed in a similar manner to pure papaya enzyme.

Pineapple Enzyme

Produced from our selected organic pineapples, a yellow concentrate is produced rich with vitamins, minerals and antioxidant,  It also has a high content of the enzyme bromeliad.  Bromelain breaks down protein  hence it can aid people who have trouble digesting proteins.

It can be consumed either direct, in drinks or used in cooking such as made into a sad dressing or as a natural meat tenderiser.

Roselle Enzyme

Produced from our farm-grown roselle calyces, a dark red concentrate is produced rich with vitamins, minerals and antioxidant,  It also has a high content of the enzyme amylase.

Suggested consumption is 1-2 tablespoons a day, either straight, diluted with water or added to other drinks such as blended juices.  It can also be added to your salad dressings.

Tomato Enzyme

Produced from our farm-grown vine-ripened tomatoes to ensure high content of the lycopene enzyme hence the orange-red color of the concentrate,

Suggested consumption is 1-2 tablespoons a day in a manner of your choosing.

27 Dec 2018

Making the goodness of Mangosteen available year round

Malaysians are all familiar with the King of fruits but did you know that Mangosteen is the Queen of fruits? It deserves this title. This is one of our fruits that has very good nutrients along with having many health benefits. The drawback is that it is seasonal hence it is only available during its season which is normally between late June to early August.
Mangosteeen is known for it antioxidant properties as well as the Xanthines enzyme which comes mainly from the outer skin know as the pericarp. This is the part that we normally throw away when we eat the flesh of the mangosteen as it is not palatable. In order to harness all its goodness, we have created our Mangosteen Probiotic Enzyme. It is made from pesticide-free fruits grown at the farm and from our selected fruit growers. In order to have a quality product, we carefully select the fruits that we will use. Each individual fruit is washed thoroughly with our naturally-sourced water without any chemicals.
Our probiotic enzyme is produced using a permaculture fermentation process which takes at least 4 months before we strain and bottle the liquid. Once bottled, it can be stored, unopened for at least 1 year in a cool, dry place. Once opened, it can be stored in a cool, dry place or refrigerated. Hence, it is then consumable for throughout year. Personally, I have my supply for the year until the next season, when I can produce a new batch which means it will be next December before I will have a new batch of Mangosteen enzyme.
I consume it as part of my health maintenance and prevention regime and in order to make it easy for me to consume it, this enzyme has several ways of consuming so I can incorporate it into my normal daily diet. It can be consumed by:
1. consuming 1-2 tablespoons
2. adding 1-2 tablespoon to drinks such as juices and teas
3. making a salad dressing by adding 1-2 tablespoons
4. making ice-cubes which can be added to other drinks when making cold drinks
In our packaging, we bottle it in glass bottles of 250ml each. At the moment, it is not made available in stores and can only be purchased directly from us and not by mail order. Price per bottle is RM 40.
For enquiries, you can e-mail us at enquiries@suriahelanglui or through whatsApp at 017-2821219. For ordering, you can order emails us at order@suriahelanglui or through whatsApp at 017-2821219.

17 Oct 2018

The Soursop Fruit Cycle

One of the popular fruits nowadays is the soursop.  This fruit became popular when its therapeutic benefits were discovered and discussed everywhere and even more when it was purported to be anti-cancer.  The Malay name is Durian Belanda and from at the young stage when the fruit is formed, it does resemble a durian.

The beginning: the flower bud
As the flower forms, it is heart-shaped and green in color.
As it develops, the outer petals open, revealing and inner layer.
When the inner layer opens, it indicates that it is ready to be pollinated. Some have said that pollination occurs at night, so night pollinating insects are important.
Once it has been pollinated, it forms into a brown fruit bud. Some have mistakenly think that this means that the flower has dried up and not fruit has formed thus they remove it.
More “spikes” begin to form towards the stem of the fruit. The color is still brown.
You will get this brown spikes ball.
It begins to increase in size and you can see the inner green skin.
At this stage, to me, it does look like a small durian. The spikes have spaced out and you can see that it is turning green.
As it further grows, the spikes get filled-up and shorter and the fruit morphs into this green fruit with shorter spikes. The whole time from the flower bud to this stage has taken approximately 2.5 months.

I look forward to being able to harvest this fruit and will update the net stage – the stage when all the spikes have disappeared.

04 Oct 2018

A must-have plant in your homes: Indian Borage

In these last few days, I have had the opportunity to use the leaves of the Indian Borage (scientific name: Plectranthus amboinicus)  in a few ways making me think that everyone should have this plant in their home.  This is a hardy plant that is easy to grow and care for.  It does require sunlight hence it will not do well in a shaded area.  It can grow in partial shade but does well in full sun.  However, you can plant it indoors and take it our every few days to allow it to sunbathe.    It can be propagated from stem cuttings and rooted either in water or in soil.  The stem and leaves have a high water content making it easy to extract a juice out of it.  By this same token, I suggest if you plant it and want to consume it, do plant it organically.

I had cut my finger with a parang one morning at the farm and I quickly chewed some of the leaves creating a paste-like texture which I applied to my finger.  I was bleeding quite profusely as it was quite deep so I didn’t take the tie to pound it with a mortar and pestle.  I left it on my finger for 5 minutes.  The instant I applied the paste, I felt a slight sting for a couple seconds.  When I removed the paste, the bleeding had stopped and the wound was clean.  The leaves have an antiseptic and antibacterial properties and this contributed to the recovery.  Although the wound had not totally healed but it no longer hurt

We live in a country where mosquitoes are common so one can get bitten easily.    When I get bitten, I will crush a leaf and apply it to the bitten area.  With its antiseptic properties, it provides relief.  It also has pest repellent properties so I will crush the leaves and apply the ensuing juice should I go to an area where I anticipate a lot of mosquitoes.  Planting it around your house can also help repel mosquitoes.

I caught a cold and cough and drinking a drink made of the leaves, calamansi and honey has also helped to ease the symptoms and reduce coughing.  Using just-boiled water, I will steep the chopped fresh leaves and when the temperature of the water is warm, I add the calamansi juice and honey.  I drink it a couple of times a day.

The leaves and stem can also be used in cooking as it has an oregano-like flavour albeit, stronger so use less than what you would normally use with oregano.  It can be used in seasoning sauces, meats and in pasta dishes.

For non-edible purposes, it also makes a good disinfecting cleaner for floors and counter-tops as well as a pest repellant for your plants.  I also like to place it in the bathroom and just rub my fingers against the leaf after I wash my hands, effectively disinfecting my hands as well as caring for the skin on my hands.

There are so many uses of this plant and I rate it high on my must-have household plant,  As it can be grown in containers and doesn’t require much room, it is hard to find a reason not to plant one.

17 Sep 2018

Oh dear, I am so “gassy”

I always like to understand the cause and effect of food as this helps me design my daily diet based on whole foods.  When we eat, along with our food we also take in gases like oxygen and carbon dioxide along with whatever other gases within “reach”.  When our body digests our food, among the by-products are gases.  Tiny amounts of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane combine with hydrogen sulphide and ammonia in the large intestine to give gas its smell resulting in flatulence or commonly know as fart.  Certain foods like beans and cabbages releases more gas when it is digested.  If you have a lot of gas after eating dairy products such as ice cream, yogurt and milk, it is an indication that the body has trouble digesting lactose or more commonly known as lactose-intolerant.  For some, it also causes diarrhoea as well as stomach cramps.  

Certain foods worsens flatulence:

  1. vegetables such as artichokes, broccoli, leeks, cauliflower, cabbage, garlic, onions, beans, Brussels sprouts, and turnips.
  2. cereals, such as wheat or oats.
  3. pulses, including beans and lentils.
  4. dairy produce.
  5. yeast in baked products, such as bread.
  6. cashews.

In Malaysia, sometimes these types of food are deemed as “sejuk” or cold – not because of the temperature but because it causes gas.  Within our local diets, the some of the widely consumed vegetables are long beans, cabbage, bean sprouts (tauge) and onions.


We “pass wind” many times a day and most of the time, we don’t even notice it as it also doesn’t have any smell an indication healthy digestion gas.  When within the digestion process it produces gases that contain sulphur and ammonia, this is where it starts to smell.  If food is not properly digested, it starts decomposing releasing sulphur hence the smelly flatulence.  If you have excessive flatulence, it is also an indication of abnormal digestion.  If the gas is not released through the mouth like burping or through “farting”, it can build-up in the body causing heartburn, body aches and pains, headaches etc. depending on the individual.


Understanding the behind-the-scenes, I realise that enzymes play an important role in digestion.  Lack of certain enzymes, that are normally produced by our body, can result in the inability of our body to digest certain foods we consume resulting in conditions like lactose-intolerance, gluten-intolerance and others.  As we age, certain organs in our body that produce these enzymes may not be functioning optimally either due to health condition or deterioration.  Improper digestion can cause decomposition of food producing an unhealthy environment in our digestive system that promotes pathogens and supports cancer cells.  It can also create build-up of acids causing our stomach lining to get inflamed and promoting ulcers as well as weakening it causing toxins to permeate through it into our blood system.  To me, maintaining a healthy digestive system as well as promotion good digestion helps prevent many other illnesses.

Hence I began a journey of discovery of enzymes from whole foods – naturally and not chemically processed as the idea was to provide the ability to consume it as normal food and allowing our bodies to function normally.  Almost all the enzymes I am studying and researching are plant-based versus animal-based, something that I find very interesting.  
Our local fruits that are rich in enzymes that assist the digestion process include papaya (betik), pineapple (nenas), calamansi (limau kasturi), lime (limau nipis) and Roselle (asam belanda) although technically it is known as calyx and not fruit.  All these are planted at the farm – following totally organic practices – and something that I incorporate into my normal diet.  These plants are what I hope others will plant in their homes, if not all, some, as they are local hence well-suited to our weather and relatively easy to grow.
I further challenged myself to experiment different ways of consuming it as well as combinations to further make it easier to consume as natural food.  The outcome: the dehydrated form, the fermented enzyme form and the vinegar form resulting in many ways of including it into my normal daily diet preventing boredom.  

Note:   This is more as information and not to be taken as medical advise.  For medical advise, please consult your doctor or health practitioner.
11 Sep 2018

Pure Durian Nuggets: To sell or not to sell

During these last durian season, I bought extra durians as I wanted to make durian suggest.  I haddone this before and I loved it.  So this season, I bought durians that were not exposed to herbicides and chemical fertilisers of the original variety – non-GMO and also without hormones application.  The price ranged from rm 8-10 per kg at the orchard and each fruit was more than one kg.

The nuggets are made from pure fruit with no additives or preservatives.  I do not use fruits that are no longer nice to consume fresh but select the best ones.  The seeds are removed and only the flesh is used.
No flour of any type or other fillers were added.  No sugar was added and since it is already naturally sweet, the dehydration process will concentrate the sugars.  Adding sugar would not only make it extremely sweet but also detract from the health quality.

As a general rule, upon dehydration, each fruit will produce about 6-8 durian nuggets.  Basically, if you eat 8 nuggets, you have eaten a whole fruit.  Since it is really good and being a durian lover, I can easily eat them in one sitting – something which can be more challenging if I was eating the fresh fruit.  What I find interesting is the dehydration process breaks down the fibrous strand resulting in a smooth non-chewy cake-like texture.  You can either consume the nuggets on its own or use it to create or flavour other dishes like sweet coconut gravy that you use as a dip such as with bread, sweet desserts such as pancakes and puddings, and to make ice cream.

Some have asked if I am selling them.  Therein lies the dilemma.  The cost of producing  the 8 nuggets is around rm 12 – including the fruit cost (average price rm 9), people cost, dehydration cost and simple packaging. That doesn’t include selling costs. So in total to have a few cents of profit, the selling price is RM 15.  The question is: are people willing to buy it for RM 15.  If I wanted to use fancy packaging, it will be at least rm 18.

I began a comparison of high-end snacks without additive, fillers and preservatives.  It was hard to find any for comparison.  To compare to other durian products, there was no pure durian products was not possible as I couldn’t find any.  There were durian candies which were loaded with other ingredients, durian dodol which had more flour and sugar and other ingredients than durian, durian ice cream where durian was used as a flavouring and tempoyak which used durian that was no longer good to consume fresh.

Conclusion: the durian nuggets will be sold in packs of 9 nuggets at a price of rm 15.  If you are interested to purchase, you can whatsApp me at 0172821219.  Up to 9 packs per order can be sent via poslaju for additional rm 7.50 postage cost.  It will also be made available at the various events we do while stocks last.

08 Sep 2018

In the Greenhouse: Part 1

I love my whole farm but the one place that I spend a lot of time at is in my greenhouse.  My

greenhouse is designed to serve as my seeding area, fertiliser production mix area, my lab to test out elements in growing plants such as water, pest control and fertilisers, an area to plant the plants that require substantial TLC, a place to propagate plants as well as acclimatisation of plants before being planted outdoors or indoors.

The roof is almost totally plastic roofing sheets (similar to the zinc roofing sheets) to allow sunlight in  but keep the rain out hence it is where I can work rain or shine.  The walls are half brick and specially-crafted lattice wood with netting to reduce the amount of pests that can enter the greenhouse.  It is impossible to keep everything out as some are so tiny – almost like a speck of dirt size such as the whiteflies.  It is half bricks because on some area along the sides, I have built a cement rack that serves as seed germination and seedling area as well as newly propagated plants area.  Over the years, it has evolved from the simple design of 30 feet by 20 feet size to 60 feet by 20 feet and current setup.  By starting from a simple design, it allowed me time to test and figure out how I wanted my greenhouse to be to suit with the activities as well as my style of working.  It is a personal design space that I also enjoy relaxing in and getting oxygen therapy.
  As all the plants at the farm either are edible or therapeutic or both, the same types are planted in the greenhouse.  Working with my hands sometimes causes me to get cuts and nicks so I have my first aid plants in the greenhouse too.  The Indian Borage, Variegated Borage and Aloe Vera are my basics.  The borage with its antiseptic properties are great for cuts.  I just wash the affected area and mash the leaves and apply to the cut.  In a few minutes, it is taken care of and I can resume what I was doing.  If I get an inflammation on my skin, I just get the above vera leaf and get the gel and apply.  I also use the borage leaves to create an instant pest repellant by crushing the leaves in water and using the resulting liquid to spray on the plants.  It also has anti-viral and anti-fungus properties to care for the health of my plants.  Being non-toxic, I don’t have to worry about using protective gear.  As I am creating the liquid, at the same time, I am also cleansing my hands from unwanted bacteria.  
Both plants are easy to propagate.  For the borage, I propagate from stem cuttings.  The aloe vera produces its own platelets which I will transplant to a separate container.  As I use them regularly, I propagate them often.
One of my favourite vegetable fruit is tomatoes.  They require a lot of care both from a pest control, fertilisation and water when grown organically and free from hormones as well.  It requires routine pest control activity as many pest love it like the whiteflies, aphids, black mold and ants to name a few.  The pests encourage each other.  With whiteflies, comes the aphids.  Then come the black mold and the ants.  Hence, it is imperative to control it from the beginning of the whiteflies.  I mix my own fertiliser from base ingredients like chicken manure, goat manure, compost, eco enzyme (a.k.a. garbage enzyme) and EM-1.  I tend to mix them depending on the growth and condition of the plant as having the fertiliser production mix are in the greenhouse, it makes it easier for me to get it done.  
Currently I have 3 varieties in various stages growing: Hybrid tomatoes, Cherry tomatoes and Heirloom tomatoes.  Although I have grown the hybrid and cherry tomatoes side by side, I planted the heirloom tomatoes separately in their own bed, separated by another planting bed as well as walkway.  I intend to save the seeds from the heirloom tomatoes in my seed bank.  These plants need to have their soil topped-up to cover their roots every so often so having my planting soil mixture area in the greenhouse also makes it convenient.  I will not plant them outside as then they will be exposed to many more pests including birds and my free-range chickens.  I have tried planting them outdoors but have always lost to the birds, chickens and other pests.
I also do companion planting in the greenhouse hence I also have various types of chilli plants in the greenhouse.  Although I do not eat much chillies, there are many around me who do.  I have a few varieties planted including habaneros, thai chilli and cili api.  I have the habaneros in a row but have the others planted in polybags in different sections of the greenhouse.  These plants also are a favourite of the whiteflies so whenever I do my pest control spray, I spray them at the same time too.  They also need to be fertilised rather frequently – once a week – so having them in the greenhouse also reduces time for fertilisation as I also custom fertilise them depending on the stage and any problems that I see with them.
I tend to spend hours at a time in the greenhouse so I also plant some ulam for me to munch on as

snacks.  One of my favourite plants – not only for taste but also because I think it is beautiful – is the Sambung Nyawa Batik.  I plant them in containers in a few locations.  Whenever I feel like munching on something, I just get a few leaves, rinse them and munch.  They are easy to propagate and with proper care, are vigorous growers.

The story of the plants in the greenhouse continues in Part 2.