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Vermicomposters unite!

Someone saw my film of setting up a vermicomposting bin, and sent me a link to - it's a Google Map-type thing, with entries for vermicomposters all around the world. Our entry (one of three in Malaysia) is here.

Wherever you are, check it out - some of them offer worms for free, and can help you out.

Yesterday, there was a community event in our neighbourhood, and WW volunteered us to have a small stand to give some information about composting and vermicomposting. So, along with her mother, we set up a table with a small demonstration. We showed the film I made once, and also a couple of very simple and short presentations to give an introduction: for normal composting, dan ada juga di Bahasa Malaysia untuk vermikompos.
vermicomposting stall Kelana Jaya SS4

There was quite a lot of interest (more than I expected to be honest), and we managed to convince everyone that composting does not smell! Honestly! :-) The thing is, you mustn't put any animal products in your compost or worm bin, and then the worst you get is some fruit flies if you don't cover it up properly. We also found out that popular way to do composting here is to dig a hole in the ground, chuck stuff in and cover it up; then it's just left to decompose. It's OK as a method, but it means you can't really spread your compost around your garden wherever you want it to go. And, of course, vermicomposting speeds it all up and gives you much better quality fertiliser.

Another thing which puts people off is having to buy worms - the price at the moment is about RM400-450 a kilo. Actually, you don't need a full kilo to start, but the minimum purchase for us was one kilo - so the thing to do is split the cost with someone, 200 or 250g are enough to get started. And remember that they will breed and grow the colony by themselves - all you have to do is feed them with what you were going to throw away!

WW and her mother got the worms at the Serdang UPM campus - the Taman Pertanian Universiti. They have a big set-up there, producing worms and fertiliser on a big scale. The basic business model is to use organic waste to produce fertiliser, and also to sell worms - as they breed quite quickly too.
Taman Pertanian Universiti vermicomposting harvest, cacing vermikompos

There's a company called 'Agro Bio-Tani (Kelantan) Sdn. Bhd. which has received some interest in the national press. - the telephone number is 09 747 7539 or 013 935 5539. You may also be able to get some worms from FRIM too, but I'm not so sure about that, call them up if you're going to try.

You can order a booklet produced by the Jabatan Pertanian here.
These blogs seem to have good information about vermicomposting, but they are in BM so I don't know the details:
Ternakan Cacing Tanah | Penghasilan Baja Organik
Ternakan Cacing Vermikompos

**Update 21 October 2008**
There's a Malaysian company, Eastern Agro Centre, who seem to be into larger scale production of vermicompost and selling worms.
and more (29/10/08) The Worm Man

Rangoon Creeper

WooHoo! My blog is bloggable again! There was server migration last week, and it took a while for it to get right... Anyway, here's a post on our garden.

When we first got our garden started, we had Morning Glory creepers all along the fence to provide screening (we have a corner lot). It was not a good idea – although Morning Glory is cheap and does the job, it grows too fast, and you have to be constantly trimming it to stop them climbing up and around the trees and anything else it gets close to.

So, we decided to replace it with another slower creeper, which I think is the Rangoon Creeper (Quisqualis indica). We got one for about RM15 at Sungai Buloh on the 14th May, and this is what it looked like once I planted it

Fast forward to the 23rd August, and you can see it’s grown considerably (but the Morning Glory would probably be covering the whole fence in the same time). It grows well in the direct sun, and I trimmed the top off a few tendrils to encourage more growth around the bottom.

on that day, I also noticed what I guessed would be future flowers

On the 2nd September, you can clearly see the buds forming
Continue reading "Rangoon Creeper"

Jungle flowers

I took some photos of flowers and plants during our trip to Gunung Stong, intending to identify them with their Latin names and all that, but it turns out my book "Plants for Tropical Landscapes" really only focuses on plants for gardens, so I'll just tell you what I managed to pick up about the plants.

There are a number of wild ginger varieties there (the Zingiberaceae family). This is the flower of one - it grows on the ground, and as you can see it captures water in its cupped petals

I was surprised that ginger plants actually grow long stems kind of like bamboo - I guess because I only ever see the root, I never thought about what happens above ground. These next two are ginger too - I think.

This is a palm that is particular to the Gunung Stong area

and this is a Pandanus of some kind, lots of them there
Continue reading "Jungle flowers"

Worms & Vermicomposting

One thing I’ve definitely learnt so far is that a blog needs regular updating, and doing good posts takes time.

And I always want to do things in detail, so I put off doing posts because I’m missing some small factor.

Anyway, the full post is not complete, but here’s a film on how to prepare a vermicompost bin :-)

Not for breakfast…

…and you may want to skip this post if you’re squeamish, or are about to eat…

I’ve brought you my Weaver Ants before. I think they are responsible for keeping my kumquat tree free of caterpillars, and the other day I saw more evidence of their carnivorous tastes.

Our smelly dustbin had maggots in it, and when I went out to pick up the newspaper I noticed the ants had done a raid and were carting off squirming maggots. As usual, I found the ability of ants to coordinate and cooperate fascinating, so I decided to take a few photos

here's a close up…

and here’s a film – enjoy ;-)

Ants and flowers

Just a little update on the qumqat tree. As you can see, it is now in full flower, I’ve never seen it with so many flowers!

I can’t help thinking that the ants have something to do with it… They have moved house though – their original nest has broken up/been abandoned:

And now they are living in another one not far away...