A Hot February on the Farm
Updated: Sep 12, 2020
February is looking to be a hot month indeed albeit the scattered rain fall in some areas of Tapah. Myself and my family went to Cameron Highlands for some R&R from the daily hot temperatures at the farm and at my grandparents 'kampung' house.
Cameron Highlands is located about 55 km from my land and this cool highland retreat is famous with local tourist and foreigners. Temperate vegetables and other local produce are farm there due to its mild temperatures.
In between staying for 2 nights at Cameron Highlands, the jobs done on the 5th week of 2019 are as follows:
Rubber Tree Chopping
There are about 14 rubber trees remaining in my land left by the excavators. I've decided to engage a local uncle who is a specialist in precision tree chopping because I've already planted my durian saplings at the surrounding areas and I don't want the saplings to be squashed by the falling rubber trees.
Initially I wanted to leave those trees to maintain some shade but after a while they became a nuisance, dropping rubber seeds around the soil whereby it germinates and I need to pluck and remove them manually so it wouldn't get big and becomes a big problem for me afterwards. I had read that rubber trees adjacent to durian trees may cause root fungus disease so I had to chopped all of it down.
Wood Vinegar Foliar Spraying
This was an unplanned work activity. I initially wanted to spray fungicide on the durian saplings along with other fruit trees but I've forgotten to brought the digital weighing machine to Tapah which means I can't measure the weight of the fungicide powder. If I can't weigh it, I can't dose correctly.
Since wood vinegar also has fungicidal properties so I said to myself what the heck - just spray wood vinegar then. Prepped a concentrated than usual solution which is 1:100 compared to normally recommended foliar concentration of 1:300. I sprayed the wood vinegar solution to my durian saplings, other fruit tree saplings including the young coconut trees and will be taking notes on the affects if any.
Nothing unusual here since the weather is hot. Watered all the saplings at the farm. Took the opportunity for some visual close-up inspection of each plant while I'm at it.
Harvesting Durian Fruits
I still have 2 matured durian trees that are currently bearing fruits. Harvested the fruits on the ground and brought it back to the house in Batu 3. Total weight is estimated at 25 kg - not much considering its at the end of the season. Opened up a durian 5 minutes after it fell to the ground.
This is the only yellow fleshed durian from a single adult tree that I have. The other native or 'kampung' durian trees bear cream or off-white flesh color. Taste creamy, sweet but not bitter at all. Some say that the taste becomes more complex a few hours after falling compared to consuming it immediately after it fell. I guest its true.
I went back on week 6 to further prepare for the anticipated drought. Jobs done were:
Installing Water Barrels
I had 4 barrels at the farm and needed more since some terraces including the area at the peak is a bit tiresome to walk while carrying a water container. Went to Tapah town to buy a couple of the same barrel. Brought a power grinder from home, I'd cut half-moon shaped holes as I did for the previous barrels.
The next day I brought these 2 barrels to the farm and placed it at the suitable locations. To make these barrels able to capture more rainwater and thus increase the water volume faster, I'll be placing zinc sheets over the cut holes. That I'll do in the weeks to come.
I've discussed about this particular liquid chemical fertilizer in my previous blog entry. Prepped the fertilizer at home in a 1 liter spray bottle and sprayed the fertilizer on the woody stems of my fruit trees (not just durian saplings, yes). Spraying is done all around the surface of the stems. I normally would do this in the morning so that the fertilizer could be absorbed by the stem skin and not get loss thought evaporation because of the warm surface of the stems. Try not to spray the leaves, it may causes burn.
It's been a few weeks since I last sprayed fungicide to the saplings. Protection against fungus must be maintained. Recalling that I last sprayed Monceren WP which means that in aligning with my practice of rotating active ingredients of different fungicides, I went with Mancozeb this week.
After 2 weeks since my last visit, I came to the farm and spent 2 days there which was the last visit for February. Major works were done as I am discussing below.
Took my worker half a day to finish the grass cutting at the farm. This was the first grass cutting since I started developing the farm. A tiring work for the worker cutting the grass considering the hilly surfaces of the farm. The target area for cutting is on the terraces while I left the grass and shrubs growing on the terrace slopes untouched. This as a protection against soil erosion on the slopes. Besides, there are no saplings being planted at the slopes.
I've prepared mulch from my home as you could see below. The mulch was used for mulching the ground around the stem of the durian saplings and other tree saplings. Mulching serves the purpose in keeping the soil surface cool so that the roots are cool. Another reason is that in time the mulch will decompose and add organic matter to the soil which in turn feeds the soil microbes and increases nutrient retention of the soil.
Most of my home made mulch are dried leaves with some additions of grass clippings, kitchen waste and banana tree stems and leaves. Set to decompose for about 3 weeks. Further decomposing will turn the mulch into proper compose but I cant wait longer.
EM Application and Watering
Obviously watering is a no-brainer considering the dry season that we are in. Better than normal watering with rain water taken from the barrels, I've mixed the water with home made EM/fish mol for added goodness to the saplings. I didn't measure exactly the dosing but since it's an organic preparation, there is not much risk of overdosing the saplings.
The EM/fish mol that I used was prepared about 2 months ago, by mixing rain water with Superbacti and fish carcasses (heads, gills, stomachs, fins). Added a table spoon of molasses to supercharge the cocktail.
Black Thorn (D200) Sapling Planting
I purchased a D200 Duri Hitam or Ochee sapling at a certified nursery near my house in Kajang. Brought it to my land and planted it in a planting hole that I've dug 2 weeks before. Normal practice for planting applies as what I've discussed here.
I didn't made an 'L' shaped netting for the sapling since the sapling is an Advanced Planting Material (APM) and was advised by the nursery that the sapling could withstand the hot conditions. I've nonetheless rigged a side netting only (facing West) so that the sapling is protected from the hot afternoon sun. Not having the top portion of the netting will expose the sapling to the noon sun which will be a couple of hours exposure. daily.
Application of Soya Fish Fertilizer
Routine application of this granular fertilizer was made on all fruit saplings. It should be more than a month for the next application considering the low rain season now. Low rain fall would retain the fertilizer longer in the soil.
All this while, my fertilizer application method is done by digging a shallow hole at 3 points along the circumference of the root zone and back-filling it with soil. I'm currently planning that from next application onward, I'll just spread the granules on the mulch surface because now it won't get washed down.
So basically, that was all I did on my last visit of February. To be completely honest, I was planning to apply fungicide but didn't have enough time for that. Planned to carry-over this particular spraying on my next visit in March.
In all, February turned out to be a very productive month indeed despite the blazing hot climate and high ambient temperatures. We will meet again in my March entry blog. Cheers.