Sunday, 27 March 2016

Nature's health treasure trove - Ketumpang Air

The Ketumpang Air or Sireh Cina (Botanical Name : Peperomia pellucida)  is easy to find as well as
easy to grow especially in damp and shady areas.  They only need a bit of sunlight (after all they need to manufacture their food through photosynthesis).  As such, it is quite often found by the roadsides, along drains and streets as well as in shady corners of a garden.  It can be planted in a container or in the ground - whatever the manner, it is good to ensure that the soil is able to retain moisture and is moist and not water-clogged.

At a glance, they look like miniature betel (sireh) leaves, heart-shaped leaves which are light green when young and turn to darker green.  The stems which are easy to break are succulent-like and light green in color.  The plants require a moist soil to flourish as being almost succulent in nature, the plant itself contains a lot of water, within the stem as well as the leaves.  The stem and leaves are crunchy due to this.  On the other hand, due to the amount of water it retains, it is important to ensure that the plants are grown in good soil, free of contaminants and it is watered with clean water.  Otherwise you will end up with all the contaminants being part of the plant and affecting the taste of the leaves and stems - the parts that you consume.

The leaves and stems have many therapeutic benefits as documented in the herbal world.  It is alkaloid in nature.  Amongst its therapeutic benefits are as :

  • Analgesic
  • Antiinflammatory
  • Anticancer
  • Antiarthritic
  • Antidiarrheal
  • Antioxidant
  • Antirheumatic
  • Antifungal
  • Antibacterial
With all these therapeutic benefits, it is popular with herbalists in various types of therapy.    Amongst the therapy it is used in is for gout, high blood pressure, sore throat and cough, and a whole list of other health issues.

It is because of all these benefits, that I consume this although as with any herbs, one should not consume it excessively.  I consume it raw as I want to get maximum benefits.  Due to its high water content, it is also often juiced.  It can also be cooked as a "soupy" vegetable dish or boiled and drank as a tea.  It has a subtle peppery taste and absorbs other flavours.  A note to remember, if the plant is planted in contaminated soil or in mouldy areas, the taste will be affected and no amount of washing or rinsing will remove it as it will be present at the "cellular" level.

With its fresh, subtle peppery taste and crunchiness, this is nature's pharmacy at its best :)

Friday, 25 March 2016

The Joy of Eating whilst taking care of your health

I feel blessed that I have my farm as I can grow and produce all kinds of tasty, fresh produce organically and know that it has not been contaminated by toxic chemicals.  I love eating well and I hate eating pills or supplements so I try to balance what I ear.  After my previous experience of having to undergo hormone treatment, I have an aversion to anything that has been given hormones and this includes meat, vegetables and fruits.  Some may argue that hormone doesn't disqualify the produce from being classified as organic because it is not a toxic chemical but for me, I avoid it.
So, what do I consume from the farm ( these are some, there are lots more):
Fresh coconut drink
This drink is great for many things and tastes especially wonderful on hot days, especially these last many days with the El Nino phenomenon as well as Equinox.  It doesn't require any refrigeration and tastes cool straight from the fruit.  It is a natural cleanser so whilst I am enjoying the drink, I am detoxing.  A good fruit produces sweet coconut water so there is no need to sweeten it.  The coconut water is a natural isotonic so you can give a pass to all those man-made isotonic drink to replace the electrolytes you lose as you perspire - natural electrolytes: how much better can you ask for?  So, with the current heat wave in Malaysia, this is a great way to rehydrate.

Fresh tumeric and Bentong Ginger Tea
I enjoy this drink as one of my end-of-day chill out drinks.  I drink it warm, often as an after dinner drink.  The benefits are numerous but what I of for here is for the "repairing" capabilities so that while I am sleeping and my body tries to repair itself from the numerous damage I do to it during the day, this tea boosts up my body's repair works.  Since what is used is the "roots" part of it, to me, it is important that the soil is not contaminated or else I will be getting some "unwanted" items in my tea. It is easy to do - just bring water to boil and add slices of fresh numeric and bettong ginger and allow it to simmer for at least 10 minutes to draw out the good stuff from the roots into the water.  Sometimes I sweeten it but I avoid using refined sugar.

SHL Salad
At least this is what I call it.  It comprises of various types of fresh leave and flowers such as holy basil, lemon basil, Ketumpang Cina, Ulam Raja, Tujuh Bilah, Tenggek Burung, Cabbage - to name a
few.  I mix it up and use different combinations.  They all provide all kinds of benefits so I will tailor my salad mix depending on what I want to get out of it from a therapeutic benefit.  Sometimes I go for strengthening my respiratory system or when I have a cold, sometimes for an anti-oxidant boost , sometimes for vitamins and sometimes for cleansing.  I do not like eating supplements although some may argue that by taking supplements is the only way you can get enough vitamins daily easily, I prefer to do it through my meals and "desserts".

Natural desserts
We have several types of fruits, some seasonal and some that is throughout the year.  Top on my list is the papaya - full of wonderful enzymes and rich in vitamins as well as fiber.  To me, this beats Metamucil hands down.  Not only can you eat it as an after-meal dessert, it is also a great breakfast item.  Sometimes I will go for bananas and since we have over 20 varieties of it at the farm, I can enjoy different types of bananas throughout the year.  The bananas can be eaten raw or turned into another dish such as grilled bananas, banana fritters, as well as different types of banana desserts with a sauce.  For seasonal fruits, there is the jackfruit, cempedak, mangosteens, abiu, durian, jambu madu, longan, rambutan and breadfruit.  I am hoping my passion fruit will produce fruits in less than 1 year.  The two things I can be sure of is that they are grown organically and free from hormone treatment.

Farm fresh anti-biotic free, hormone free free range chicken eggs
These eggs are simply beautiful and delicious.  The yolk is golden yellow - almost orange and the size of the egg is small but it packs lots of goodness.  One thing I find is that it doesn't have that smell that is so common in the commercial eggs - the Malays say "hanger".  Eggs used to get a bad name but I think it has more to do with the way the eggs are produce and the feed given to the hens as well as all those "medications".

Herbal teas
I make different types of teas and they all have therapeutic value.  My teas are mainly for prevention and maintenance purposes and so far, Alhamdulillah, it seems to be good for me.  Some of the teas that I consume are Misai Kuching, Soursop Leaves, Soursop with Lemon Grass, Lemon Basil, Holy Basil, and Indian Borage.  When I am at the farm, I tend to make them with fresh leaves but I do  some in dried form so that I can take it with me anywhere or to have it at home whenever I want.

I guess being someone who hates taking supplements and popping pills as well as having to think whether it should be taken 30 minutes before a meal, before a meal, after a meal, on empty stomach - there are so many "rules", how I eat makes a difference and I get to enjoy it.

Friday, 4 March 2016

SHL Edibles@Flora Fest@Park Manor

All our edibles are farm-grown.  We grow everything organically without the use of any chemical pesticides, fertilisers, herbicides or even hormones.  We harvest at its prime so that we can enjoy its full benefits and taste.  Some of the edibles that we are featuring at Flora Fest@Park Manor are:

Misai Kuching Tea
This tea is made from leaves and flowers.  We do not use any stems.  Thus, it has a subtle floral
undertone to it and is not bitter.  It is packed in a glass jar as loose leaves and it can easily be prepared like any herbal tea.  Personally, I drink it as a preventive measure against diabetes, high blood pressure and also as a general body cleansing agent.  It can be consumed hot or cold and I prefer it without any sugar.

Durian Belanda (Soursop) Tea
This tea is made from mature soursop leaves without any stems.  It is packed in a glass jar.  I have
researched and read that it has cancer preventive properties as well as helping in the prevention of high blood and diabetes.  For these reasons, it is one of my favourite teas to drink, either hot or cold, without addition of any sweeteners.  It has the subtle taste of the soursop fruit.  Sometimes, I add organic calamansi juice and ice cubes to have a refreshing cold drink on hot days, like the ones that we have been having now.

Both teas can also be prepared by bringing a pot of water to boil and adding the leaves and then letting it simmer for a few minutes before turning off the heat.  I will then let it continue to steep till it is warm to drink.  Sometimes, I just place it tea in a jar and put it in the refrigerator so that it will be ready to drink when I want to.

Fresh, Pure Calamansi (*Limau Kasturi)   Juice
This pure juice is squeezed from our farm grown calamansi fruits.  No additives or water are added to it.  It must be stored in the refrigerator and I have stored it for up to a month without any problems, although rarely does it last that long.  However, I did it to experiment to see.  This juice is rich in vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals.  It is also a much lower cost option for a good source of natural vitamin C.  This juice can be used in many ways such as as a base for a drink, added to salad dressings, added to your cooking, as a seasoning for fish such as steamed fish, to name a few.

Other Produce/Plants

We will also have some of our farm-grown fruit and vegetables at our stall such as bananas and papayas as well as a selection of other vegetables and herbs.  The papayas are tree-ripened in our effort to ensure it is rich with the the papain enzyme along with other vitamins and minerals.

As the farm focusses on edibles or plants and trees that have therapeutic value, we will bring some plants for sale.  Some have beautiful flowers so it would be a great addition to a flowering garden whilst providing the edible or therapeutic benefit.    Some are pictured below.
Lengkuas Kecil (Small Galangal)

Kunyit (Tumeric)


Forest orchid

Bangui-bangun (Indian Borage)

Thursday, 3 March 2016

SHL Products@Flora Fest@Park Manor

I am both excited and anxious at the same time.  This is the first time that we are doing an event like this so this last two weeks have been crazy in preparation for the Flora Fest@Park Manor.  This will be the first time that we will have all the fertilisers that we use at the farm available outside of the farm.  All our fertilisers are produced at the farm with most of the content produced at the farm.  All are organic based and we do not use any chemical fertilisers or pesticides or even herbicides.  The aim is to ensure that we do not contribute to toxic chemical contamination of our environment.

Our organic citrus beneficial microorganism liquid fertiliser is based on our farm produce calamansi with the addition of other fruits.  This fertiliser is formulated targeting flowering and fruiting plants that require certain minerals to ensure flowering and well as better yield of fruits.  At the farm we use it on all our fruiting plants including vegetables like eggplant, pumpkins, tomatoes, green beans.  It is also contains citronella to provide pest control.  From the concentrate liquid, we dilute it at 10ml (approximately 2 capfuls) to 1 later of water and it is sprayed at least once a week.  For plants like pumpkins, I would spray this twice a week once they start to flower to ensure that it has sufficient nutrients for the fruit (pumpkin) to develop.

For our leafy vegetables, I have formulated a different fertiliser to promote good quality and yield of leaves. with our Green Beneficial Microorganism liquid fertiliser.  It also contains citronella for pest control.  We use it on all our leafy vegetables regardless of the color of the leaves produce such as red spinach, red and green spinach, kailan,  cabbages and brocollis.  From the concentrate liquid, we dilute it at 10ml (approximately 2 capfuls) to 1 later of water and it is sprayed at least once a week.  If it is being attacked by pests such as caterpillars or white flies, it is sprayed twice a week.  I like to use this spray on all my "ulam" plants as it promotes the growth of those great tasting leaf and I do not have to worry about it being contaminated with toxic chemica

We use our FAA (Fish Amino Acids) liquid fertiliser which also contains beneficial microorganism for all types of plants and trees to promote good health and growth.  It is diluted 10ml per litre of water and I water it at the base of the plant once a month for small plants and once quarterly for trees.  I would also water the plant or tree that has been transplanted after 1 week to promote root growth as well as healthy cellular structure.  If you are worried about the door, it is not so bad and dissipates rapidly once it is absorbed into the ground.

Sometimes I "run out" of space or some plants I prefer to plant in containers, whether it be pots or polybags.  These plants require more attention to water content as well as fertiliser dissemination.  For my container plants, we use the organic fertiliser mulch which contains organic fertiliser mix with mulch.  A layer is applied to the surface of the soil and it helps to reduce the rate of evaporation of water in the container as well as providing a base for the fertiliser to breakdown and released to the soil.   It is also great for keeping the soil alive for the re-use of the potting soil as it will add more organic matter to the soil as as it decomposes, will add further natural nutrients to the soil. 

Our organic fertiliser is based on chicken manure and vermicompost.  This is the general purpose fertiliser that we use on many of our herbal plants and fruit trees quarterly.  For large trees, I use 2 handfuls spread around the base of the trees.  For shrubs and small plants, I use 2 tablespoons and will cover it with either soil or mulch.

All the fertilisers are based on my latest formulation and based on my experience at the farm, experimenting different combinations as well as suitability for the plant or trees.