Building chicken coop – week 1

During Chinese New Year holiday last month, I started building chicken coop for my ayam kampung (indigenous-breed chicken) project. My parent in laws were very kind to allow their old wooden house to be repurposed as chicken coop. Instead of building from scratch, I could reuse the pillar and roof of the house, and just build the fence and door to enter the coop.

This section of the house was the kitchen and toilet, after my father in law and I tore down the wall and floor.
View from east side of the house, only half way done.
Removed all the joist, all of them made from belian (Eusideroxylon zwageri), hardest wood in Borneo.
Started work from early morning, then continued to evening. Now finished installing frame for the door.
The next day, doing some clean up, keep aside woods that can be reused and burned those that already rotten. My father in law done rebuilt the wall and the door for the house. This old house is used as storage.
I prepared some woods for the fence and the door of the chicken coop. That’s it for the week, going to continue next week, installing the fence.
This is the poultry waterer that I’ll be using inside the chicken coop. Bought it online, as I couldn’t find it sold locally here.

Chilli planting

I’ve planted around 10 trees of chilli of various types at home for personal consumption, and for this bulk planting, it was intended for sale. In September last year, I bought some cili geronong (habanero pepper) and cili besar (chilli pepper) from Medan Niaga Satok, and took out the seeds.

These cili geronong seeds are so spicy that my hands still feel the heat after two days.

I sowed 60 cili geronong and 90 cili besar, and 10 cili padi (bird eye chilli) a week later, with total of 160 trees of chilli in 6 germination trays. I estimated around 70 – 80 percent of them will grow up to be able to be transplanted to our vacant land beside the plantation road in Kampung Segali.

I kept them within the car porch area, to allow it to receive only morning sunlight, and to prevent from rain. Gate netting was used to cover them because during this time, there were cats from the neighbours that came here and scratch on the soil inside the tray. I had to manually water them twice daily.

Two weeks after those chilli seedlings grew, I gave them NPK fertilizer (pink color), one small piece for each of tray hole. They grew well, except that they grew slanted towards sunlight, which caused me to move them outside of the car porch. I still kept the netting cover to prevent strong sunlight and heavy rain from damaging the plants.

Bad thing about putting these seedlings near soil area is they can easily get diseases. This was a few days before transplanting, I opened the cover to let the plants to adopt the natural sunlight & rain.
Seven weeks after sowing, 60 cili geronong (100%), 75 cili besar (83%) and 6 cili padi (60%) were ready to be transplanted.
Method that we used was to put the chicken manure as the fertilizer inside the hole on the ground first, before planting the trees. By doing this, the roots would be able to absorb the nutrients directly. Fertilizing schedule still continue at every 2 weeks. Those yellow bamboo are for plant supports.
Four weeks after transplant, cili besar already started to flower.
While cili geronong still growing its large leaves.

During last year Christmas, we went to check the chilli trees, and we were quite surprised to see the cili besar already bear some fruits. It took only 3 months for chilli to start producing results.

But we didn’t tie the plants to its support, which cause it to fall. Fortunately they didn’t die and still produce good fruits. We stopped putting fertilizer for now to prevent the fruit from rotting.
Tied them all the next day.
Harvested them a few times in January.

In the middle of February (last month), there were heavy rain for about a week that caused flood in our area. These chilli plants were also affected, some of them that didn’t grow tall enough were submerged. To make matter worse, the flood water was mixed with some diesel leaked from nearby lorry, and might affect the plants root.

A lot of cili geronong trees are tall enough that they survived the flood, and still producing good chilli.
While a lot of cili besar were submerged, and their fruit are not that good anymore, perhaps need to wait for another round of pollination.
3 cili geronong and 1 cili besar, all ripe. Going to sow their seeds again to ensure continuity.

Previous crops

I started actively planting crops last year after moving to our rented house, which is a corner lot unit and has a large backyard. My wife planted a few sawi pahit (mustard) at the side of the house, and it grew so well that we wanted to plant more types of crops.

Sawi pahit (mustard looseleaf)

I decided to focus on leafy greens while my wife tried a few other crops like corn, terung asam (sour eggplant), kailan, and recently focused to plant various herbs and veggies using pots instead of on direct soil, such as chives, coriander, mint, brazillian spinach and lowland strawberries.

The backyard area is larger than its side, so it took a few months of intermittent work to dig the ground, remove a large amount of bricks buried underneath it (I guess the leftover from the house construction), remove the weeds, and create the vegetable patch. There I planted spinach, kangkung (water convolvulus), pak choy and choy sum.

Spinach is relatively easy to grow, only that when it still young, need to be careful of pests that eat its leaves.
Kangkung (water convolvulus), however this plant has low demand in the village, as it grows easily beside the trench, and people don’t quite like it’s slimy texture.

Pak choy and choy sum don’t grow well, they usually have small size, and it’s because of the soil which is too hard and compact, should have mixed it with compost and sand to repair the soil structure to allow it to be more aerated.

Focusing on spinach only

In September 2017, I focused to plant spinach only, directly on 8 patches. Before this I germinate the plants on sowing tray before transplanting them to soil. Besides sawi pahit, spinach is one of the veggies that I can sell, because of it’s high volume of good harvest.

On the patch, make holes 10 cm apart, sprinkle a pinch of seeds, and water them daily
Put fertilizer between every 2 plants for every 2 weeks. There’s a few sweet shoot (cangkuk manis) plants can be seen behind there.

We harvest them by picking the large leaves and let the small ones to grow more, therefore we can harvest multiple times without needing to sow the new ones.

At first it seems like good idea, but after 2 months and 3 harvests, pests such as caterpillar, beetles, ants, grasshoppers & butterfly larva destroyed them. The veggies make the ground condition become so conducive for the creatures to live. At that time I tried to avoid any pesticide as I try to produce organic veggies, but it didn’t work, I still need to do some form of pest control.

Burnt leaves, have no choice but to uproot and throw them away

Agriculture

Last year, apart from doing iOS programming (Swift) for my day job, I also got involved in agriculture. I’ve been actively doing conventional farming for almost a year now – planting mostly leafy vegetables and chillies using soil mixed with compost and chicken manure as fertilizer.

Initial attempt at planting

I also got to plant some fruit trees from seed – few types of citrus like lemon & lime, salak (snake fruit), nangka (jackfruit), guava and cempedak.

Transplanting lemon and lime trees

Since I rarely update this blog with programming stuff anymore, I thought it would be better to post about my other passion which is agriculture.

So this year, I’m planning to move further into this field, and get into commercial agriculture. I’m planning to do two side projects related to agriculture for this year – ayam kampung (free-range chicken breeding) and aquaponics (for leafy vegetables & fresh water fish)

Going to get some chicks from my in-laws

For ayam kampung, this month I’m going to start building the coop, and try to use some techniques found online to auto feed and auto water them. Specifically for feeding, I want to build a DIY feeder which use bucket and UPVC pipe as hole for the chicken to peck the feed, and for the waterer, I’m going to use PVC tank to harvest rain and connect it to poultry watering cups inside the coop.

For aquaponics, I’ll start getting the components and build the grow bed next month. This aquaponics set is meant to grow leafy vegetables like few types of sawi (mustard) like pak choy, choy sum & kai lan, spinach and lettuce. For the fish part, I plan to grow tilapia and some types of catfish (baung, keli or haruan).

I did make some money selling my vegetables, and I thought, why not monetize my passion? I did it for my passion for programming anyway.

If everything is going according to plan, I’m expecting to start selling my produce in May 2018. I’m living in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia by the way, and I’ll start selling them at my in-laws village at Kampung Segali, Sebuyau, Sarawak (between Sebangan and Batang Sadong Bridge). I’ll keep this blog updated for you readers who are interested in purchasing my organic produce. See ya!