What am I?

Help us to identify this plant, please? Some people told us it is a Singkong Medan variety, but we haven’t tried it ourselves. It is said that the leaves have a crunchier texture than normal cassava leaves. Has anyone tried it before?

A Wild Valentine

Why not incorporating some wild flowers into your Valentine’s day bouquet? Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Hot Chilli

The abnormality of chili price these days surely has got the country talking. In some areas, the price of chilli has reached IDR 100.000/kg mark, while in places outside Java, the price surged up to IDR 250.000/kg.

One thing that caused the situation is the unbalanced level of supply and demand. The extreme rainy season from December 2016 to January 2017 surely caused chilli production to be lower than usual. Although farmers have followed government’s instruction to plant a certain amount of chilli for the early year demand, the weather was simply not allowing. We all know how bad it is the rainy season for crops, including chilli.

From our observation, the price of chilli among farmers is around IDR 50.000 – IDR 60.000/kg. If that is the case, normally it would reach the buyer in around IDR 80.000/kg. There surely is some speculation happening too that plays role in the surging price of chilli.

On top of that, the government has been pretty strict in not importing chilli to fulfill our local demand. However, it is expected that in early February 2017, the price of chilli will be normalized. It is due to sufficient production of chilli from some areas like Banyuwangi, Kediri, Malang, Blitar and Temanggung.

What are your thoughts on the surging price of chilli?

We will be sharing some tips to grow your own chilli at home in our next article this week, so hopefully you can save some money on chilli in the near future.

Indonesian Edible Flowers

With all the hype that edible flowers is getting in the market, have we paid enough tribute to local edible flowers that we have in our land? Keep in mind that all the flowers that are edible, they don’t have to be petite and pretty. While most edible flowers are shown as a garnish these days, flowers have been a core part in some of Indonesian favourite dishes. So what are they?

  1. Bunga Pepaya

 

We bet most of you have had bunga pepaya (papaya flower), most probably in a Manadonese restaurant. Papaya flower that is used in Indonesian dishes would be the ones that haven’t bloomed yet and most of the time we used the male flower. It has a slightly bitter taste to it, but when cooked in the right way they bring out quite a memorable taste!

  1. Bunga Telang

Bunga Telang (Butterfly Pea) flower has got to be one of the most fascinating flowers that we have in Indonesia. When extracted, it brings out a deep blue color. It has a Latin name of Clitoria ternatea, which indicates that the flower originates from Ternate, an island in the Eastern part of Indonesia. The flower is believed to bring benefits to the health, including memory enhancing, treating hair loss and as antidepressant.  

  1. Kecombrang

Surprisingly common to be used in Indonesian dishes, bunga kecombrang is cooked differently in different parts of Indonesia. In Bali, the flower is called kecicang, while the young stem is called bongkot and both can be used in sambal matah. In Javanese dishes, the flower is a common part of pecel, mixed with other vegetables. In Karo, bunga kecombrang is used in their popular dish, which is arsik ikan mas.

  1. Kembang Turi

Kembang Turi is quite popular in Javanese dishes. When it has been boiled, the flower is a common addition to pecel or eaten as lalap. The flower itself has a meaty flavor and has a bit of slimy texture. It is believed that kembang turi can help breastfeeding mother to improve milk production.

Natural Remedies for The Holiday Blues

 

The holiday might be over but the blues might stay around. We understand how hard it is to keep yourself motivated to work when holiday pictures are still floating around and people are still telling stories about their holiday. Today, we will share some natural remedies to boost your mood and help you to move on from the holiday blues.

  1. Sooth Yourself

When we’re not in a very good mood, we just feel like having some drinks to soothe ourselves. One of our to-go natural remedies is ginger. The warmth of ginger will help to lift your mood. Simply peel a ginger and slice it. Boil the ginger and add honey if you wish. We love to have it warm but you can also have it as an iced drink.

  1. Increase Your Magnesium Intake

Magnesium plays an important part for your body’s metabolism. It supports a healthy immune system, regulate blood sugar levels and it also keeps your bones strong. Snack on healthy Magnesium sources such as soymilk, banana, spinach and almond.

  1. Cut Down Caffeine

It is surely tempting to lift your morning mood by having a cup or two of coffee. However, this kind of caffeine intake only lets you survive for an hour or two, leaving you feel more sluggish than before. What about cutting down caffeine and swap your morning warm drinks into something more healthy? Perhaps some Rosella Tea? Since we have quite an abundant amount of Rosella at the farm, we normally dry them and bring it back to life by boiling it into a yummy Rosella Tea when we need it. Rosella Tea is pretty common to be found in supermarkets these days and they are great antioxidant for your body too!

A Spiced Christmas

The Christmas season is identical with a certain warmth and scent. A typical feeling that reminds us always of the festive season. However, did you realize that this scent is built up by combining few spices that are native to Indonesia? Some of the spices that are identical to Christmas would be cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Clove and nutmeg are proudly a native to Indonesian land!

 

Cinnamon
Cinnamon was originally found in Ceylon – now known as Sri Lanka – by Portuguese traders. The spice was so highly in demand that they conquered the island producing it at the time! These days, there are a lot of varieties of cinnamon growing in different tropical or subtropical countries, which simply are labelled as “Cinnamon”. They all vary slightly but mostly would carry similar characters. It is the bark of the cinnamon tree that produces the spice, which you would commonly find in forms of quill or powder.

Cinnamon tree is most suitable to be planted in the tropics or subtropics. In plantation, cinnamon trees are regularly cut to the ground every year for easy harvesting. New shoots develop in around three years until they can be harvested and the cycle continues.

 

Cloves
Indonesian archipelago is rather famous for its title as “The Spice Islands”, and of of the reasons being should be thanked to Cloves, which are a native of the Molucca Islands. Cloves are actually dried flower buds from Syzygium aromaticum, which these days are very familiar in anyone’s kitchen. This equatorial tree needs year-round heat, humidity and rainfall for it to grow successfully. We are so lucky that we have Cloves trees at Blueboots Farm and can witness its growing process. Cloves buds are harvested before they opened into flowers then sun-dried. If the season is good, we are able to harvest Cloves twice a year.

 

Nutmeg
Nutmeg is one of the two spices produced by the same tropical plant, Myristica fragrans. Also native to the Molucca Islands in Indonesia, a nutmeg tree needs almost seven years to produce its first small crop. The tree itself needs a rich, moist, volcanic soil for it to grow well. When the fruit of the tree starts to split, that is a sign that it is ripe. The fruits are then harvested to be split open fully. The lacy red part is called mace is dried on its own and the kernel is also dried until the seed (what we commonly call the nutmeg) starts to rattle loosely which is a sign that it is ready to be opened.

Nutmeg these days is a popular spice to be stored in the pantry, which is versatile to be used for lots of savoury and sweet dishes. Most of all, these three spices – Cinnamon, Cloves and Nutmeg – create a magical Christmas feeling and yet most of them originated from the tropics!

House-made Compost

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At Blueboots Farm, we make the habit of giving compost to the soil after every season of planting to restore the lost nutrients taken by the previous plants. Compost provides nutrients to  future plants and also improves soil structure.

Making compost is really easy! We called the process of making compost as ‘compost lasagna’ due to its layering process.

4 Basic Materials:

  • Branches and sticks
  • Manures (cow, chicken, lamb etc.)
  • Green Materials (fresh leaves, water plants, weeds etc.)
  • Brown Materials (Dry leaves, coffee, rice husks etc.)

Gather as much of the above materials as possible. We will create a compost heap at least 1 meter long, 1 meter wide and 1 meter high. The ratio of Manures:Green Materials:Brown Materials will be 1:1:1.

Instructions:

  • Place about 10cm layer of branches and sticks to the bottom of the layer. This is will ensure enough aeration for microorganisms to break down the materials.
  • Then add about 10cm layer of manures.
  • Then add about 10cm layer of brown materials.
  • Then add about 10cm layer of green materials.
  • Continue with adding another round of 10 cm manure and then, 10 cm of brown materials and then 10 cm of green materials.
  • Stack repeating manures/brown materials/green materials layers until about 1-1.5 meter high.
  • Add small amount of good soil and ash throughout the compost.
  • Add 2- 3 buckets of water half-way through the compost heap.
  • Add another 2- 3 buckets of water when finish. The compost should be moist but not wet.
  • Cover the compost to keep from rain and direct sunlight.
  • If all the steps are followed, the compost will become hot due to bacteria activity. It will cool down after 2- 3 weeks.
  • Now the compost need to be turned inside out to cook the outer area that did not get got and composted properly.
  • Once turned, add more buckets of water to moist the compost heap. Cover again and let it cook for another 2 weeks.
  • This will result to black, cool, and soft soil that is ready to be applied to garden/farm.

The “Tumpang Sari” Story

Planting different plants together does not only look pretty but finding the right combination of plants to plant together might just be the solution for a hassle-free garden. The right combination of different plants that is beneficial to each other is called companion planting.

Companion planting is a way of growing different types of plants with the idea that they will assist one another in useful way such as enhancing flavor, fixing nitrogen, deter pests, attract beneficial insects and improving growth.

Few tips we have observed that we would love to share:

  • Never plant plants of the same family together. For example chilli and tomatoes. This will ensure lesser risk for plant infection.
  • Plant legumes together with nitrogen-loving plants such as corn, tomatoes, chillis (plants that bears fruits). Legumes will help supply nitrogen to the soil to feed its nitrogen-loving companion plant. For example peanuts and corn are perfect to plant together.
  • Plant marigolds around many vegetables and especially tomatoes. This will kill root knot nematodes and marigolds give off a smell that deter pests.
  • Spinach and eggplants are somehow always compatible.

The lists goes on… As Blueboots experiments with more companion planting, we will be able to add more to this list we cannot wait to share more. Happy planting!

Natural Pesticide From Local Plants

How do you keep your vegetables in your organic garden pest-free? Let me tell you, it is impossible to have no damage in your vegetables. However, I can share with you a cheap, fun and effective method to deter those mean insects that come your food’s way.

Firstly, see and observe the surroundings around you. Observe what leaves, flowers, roots and fruits do not get touched at all by any insects. When you found a plant like that, it most probably that the plants contain a natural chemical that insects do not like.

Some local plants that can be used to make natural pesticide are ginger (jahe), galangal (lengkuas), kencur, kunyit (turmeric), temulawak, temugiring, lemongrass (sereh wangi), shallots (bawang merah), garlic (bawang putih), mindi, brotowali.

All these ingredients can be found in traditional market and some grow wildly in your garden. Gather as many ingredients as possible. However, you can omit some ingredients you cannot find. Here are the steps to make the natural pesticide concentrate:

  1. Blend a little of all the ingredients mentioned above with the 1 liter of used water from rice washing.
  2. In a pail, mix in the blended materials with 100ml of vinegar of any kind, 100ml of 40% alcohol, 100ml of molasses and 100ml of organic liquid fertilizer.
  3. Cover pail and keep it in room temperature.
  4. Stir the mixture twice a day for 5 minutes for 15 days. Remove the cover once in a while to release gas from the fermentation.
  5. After 15 days, leave the mixture for about 7 days before use.

Application:

  1.     Add 10ml of the natural pesticide concentrate to 1 liter of water.
  2.     Mix well.
  3.     Spray to infected plants (recommended time of spray: late afternoon to night time)

*Source taken from: Pestisida Organik by Winarti & Redaksi Cemerlang Team

A Handy Farming Trick from Local Farmer

Sometimes we are so detached with nature that we do not realize that nature is there for us and not against us. The earth is filled with elements that naturally helps every microorganisms to survive easily.

One handy trick to make sure plants in our garden grow healthily is to make sure we plant during the right time.

In country with tropical weather like Indonesia, we have only 2 seasons. The dry and rainy season. A smart time to plant the ready-to-transplant plants is the end of the rainy season. End of rainy season allow young plants to get sufficient water and also not too much rainwater that it will damage delicate and young plants. This season has also not so harsh sunlight that it will cause stress to young plants. This pattern of nature also allows less work on our part to regularly water the plants and gives us more time on our hands.

Last but not least, do not forget to use the rainy season as an indication for us to sit back and think about what we want to plant in our garden and then start planting seeds in nursery or indoor. By the end of the rainy season, we will be ready to plant our desired plants and welcome the dry season with bountiful harvest!