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Help with tomatoes in Cambodia for orphanage


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Old 03-20-2010, 11:11 PM
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Default Help with tomatoes in Cambodia for orphanage

I need help with a hydroponics project just getting started to grow food for a orphanage in Cambodia. I would like to correspond with anyone doing hydroponics in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, or Laos to share information about supplies, bugs, etc. You can contact me using the contact form on my website: Photosensibility | Andy Gray | Cambodia – Japan Photo, Video, Blog .

The initial hydroponics project appeared to start well. We had tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers all growing well. However, we weren't testing the water at all. The water source is a fish pond, so we probably had issues with that. But, as I said, the plants started out doing well.

After about three months, some very thin white lines appeared on the leaves. Unfortunately, a worker at the orphanage who wanted to be helpful doused them with pesticide. All the plants nearly died from the pesticide. They never fully recovered, and eventually they were pulled out to start over.

The new seedlings were coming up well in starter soil when we noticed very thin white lines (<1mm squiggly lines) on the leaves. It appears the same pest/bacteria/?? has struck them, too.

Any help would be appreciated.

Some basic questions:

1. Is it absolutely necessary to test and control the water? If so, what is the minimum testing we need to do? Do we need to test for biological agents (plant viruses and bacteria)?

2. Do we need to treat water for viruses, bacteria, etc.? If so, we need a very cheap way to do that in Cambodia.

3. As I said above, I would like to be in contact with others in Southeast Asia who can share information about common pests and problems. Any help connecting with others would be appreciated.

Thanks!

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Old 03-20-2010, 11:35 PM
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Quote:
1. Is it absolutely necessary to test and control the water? If so, what is the minimum testing we need to do? Do we need to test for biological agents (plant viruses and bacteria)?

2. Do we need to treat water for viruses, bacteria, etc.? If so, we need a very cheap way to do that in Cambodia.
I'm not in Cambodia, but yes you do need good quality water. Not sure where you can get anything tested there, but I would start by filtering the water with a sediment filter. Then to get rid of any pathogens, bacteria, fungus and any micro organisms, simply boil the water for a minimum of 2-5 minutes, that will kill anything living in the water. Once it cools down to room temp, then I would filter it with a carbon filter, like the ones for making drinking water. Your water should be fine to use then.
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Old 03-21-2010, 12:58 AM
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Hi andyhitomi,

I am in Northern Thailand and working as a consultant on various projects, at this moment in Sri Lanka and Maldives. I'll keep it briefly here as I prefer contacting you in private eventually. Forums can be a great source of information, but some times a following controversial debate can be confusing and frustrating as well.

Firstly, the bug you deal with is most probably a leaf miner larva called Liriomyza brassicae. Description: Liriomyza brassicae - Serpentine leafminer

And here: bug guide

It's very commonly spread in S.E.A. If it only affects parts of the plants it's often not treated with insecticides. You can clip or cut off affected leafs or only parts as soon as you spot them. That is what I often do. Tomato plants do not mind if they get a little pruned in such way. It's only a treat for most plants if largely spread - see Wiki description.

To prevent seedlings to get affected early, which isn't a good thing anyway - as the tiny plants may delay development considerably, - you should cover them with a so called Aphid-net, that prevents miner flies to lay there eggs on them in the first place. That is what we use in Thailand for seedlings and with hydroponics.

The problem is not "water born", and as long as your plants grow well with the combination of the pond water and your nutrients, - I wouldn't be concerned (or not give priority) to this part.

Again, I am glad to help out and get in touch with you personally. You can always contact me by P.M. at this place from your side. But (and this doesn't actually concern you at all andyhitomi) just saying that I will not engage in any futile debate here anymore that may follow my explanations and advices by certain members who seem to have a strong urge for controversial debates.

This actually happened systematically in the past, and hence I will not reply to any "invitation" of that kind. I am in no mood for that and nor have I got the time.

Last edited by Luches; 03-21-2010 at 01:01 AM.
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Old 03-21-2010, 04:44 AM
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Luches, I was hoping you would respond, since I saw in another thread that you are in Thailand. I will PM you, but I'll also reply here.

We thought it might be leaf miners, but we were surprised they attacked the seedlings so quickly. That's why we wondered if something was in the soil. If we can solve the immediate problem with Aphid nets, that will help greatly.

As for boiling and filtering the water, that's not feasible in Cambodia -- certainly not at the economic level we're aiming for. Even filtering is a tall order.

We are concerned about testing the water, mainly because the cost of "surprises" (e.g., starting over") could be so high. We're thinking the levels of ammonia in the fish pond could be reduced by aerating it, but we don't know anything about the pH, etc.

Anyway, these details could stretch out. I'll PM you from here. Thanks.

If anyone else is working on hydroponics in SE Asia, please let me know. I'd love to have more people to converse with about these things.
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Old 03-21-2010, 05:31 AM
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I'll reply here because it might still be of common interest.

I understand your reflection about soil/water related causes with the infected seedlings. But miner flies even prefer "tender" seedlings, - and if they detect them they lay eggs on them at a very early stage. It happened more than once to me too.

I am quite aware of the situation you have to face in Cambodia. I know of people who used to work with some projects over there who couldn't believe how developed and advanced Thailand is compared to Cambodia, when they came over - Cambodia is real third world in many senses of the term right?

PH is indeed a matter of concern, but from a purely pragmatical point of view, remember that you were growing successfully. That indicates that the PH can't be that bad - although it is prone to change with seasons (monsoon- versus dry season). But I can probably help you out with this matter on a private/donation way. Until then, if you get to test it - around (close to) 6 is all you need. As for the ammonia content, I believe that plants can tolerate higher levels as the fish. To solve eventual high ammonia levels, best is to promote bacterial activity that will break it down to Nitrates and eventually to absorbable Nitrogen. A secondary pond with "nitrate-hungry" water plants may also be an option. But then again your hydroponical plants can make good use of that nitrogen and hence it mainly and actually turns around promoting bacterial activity. I'd recommend to investigate in aquaponics as well, - but here again there is a learning curve and time to take.

Yeah, as you said... all this can be stretched out indefinately

PS: earlier I didn't mean to "discourage" anyone from any input, I was only saying that there is no way, I'll engage in any kind of futile debates like in the "past"...

Last edited by Luches; 03-21-2010 at 05:36 AM.
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:54 AM
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My friend who is managing the project has plenty of mosquito nets available. Would a mosquito net suffice as an aphid-net? I was just checking, and it seems that aphid nets are specially designed to allow UV rays to reach the plants, and I also wonder if a mosquito net would have small enough openings... If we need an anti-aphid net, then we'll have to search for a supplier in Phnom Penh.
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Old 03-21-2010, 12:55 PM
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Hi again,
Quote:
Originally Posted by andyhitomi View Post
I was just checking, and it seems that aphid nets are specially designed to allow UV rays to reach the plants, and I also wonder if a mosquito net would have small enough openings... If we need an anti-aphid net, then we'll have to search for a supplier in Phnom Penh.
I was thinking of it too... obvious, isn't it...
When comparing the mesh size of both (mosquito nets we have around here), it seems they are similar. The aphid nets exist in 2-3 mesh sizes I think, - the finer the safer. But the downside of the fine-meshed net is that it does let less wind or airflow through, which is important with net-houses. I guess the white color is letting the UV through anyways. You may improvise a box-shaped frame first (bamboo or PVC tubes etc), put it over the seedlings and than cover it with the net.

It's worth a try with the mosquito net, you can't do much wrong. Too silly you are a bit far away, because I just bought a roll of 100 meter...

Last edited by Luches; 03-21-2010 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:52 AM
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Well I'm not familiar with protocol in other country's, but I find it hard to believe that boiling water is not possible in that country, much less any where else in the world. Even in the most undeveloped country's have matches, and wood. And if you can drink it, you should be able to boil it, But maybe I'm living a sheltered life here in the USA.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 04-04-2010 at 05:20 AM.
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:30 AM
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Frankly, isn't boiling considerable amounts of water for hydroponics (to get it pathogen and bacteria free you need to boil it 15-20 minutes at least) a crackpot idea anyway?

And for the economic part of it, as I understood that was the actual argument, I have full understanding as even here in Thailand no-one would ever spoil a match nor light a fire for such purpose.

I don't know were it actually ranges, but Cambodia is one of the poorest countries worldwide. Now imagine an orphanage in such country, where they have to plan well to have enough cooking charcoal for the week. Even the less sharper knifes of the drawer should get the picture somewhat better now...and understand why they can't boil the needed amounts of water for their hydroponics.
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Old 04-03-2010, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Frankly, isn't boiling considerable amounts of water for hydroponics (to get it pathogen and bacteria free you need to boil it 15-20 minutes at least) a crackpot idea anyway?
Crackpot idea or not, it works just fine and very well in this country. I would be very surprised if it didn't work anywhere else. It's the best way to sanitize water that I can think of. You could add iodine tablets, or use chemicals, but then you would just need to filter it out before you could use it for hydroponics. And with no money for a filtration system, I would think boiling it would be the only way to go, if you really wanted it to be free of living organisms. It only takes 2-5 minutes at a boil to kill any living organisms. Nothing living can withstand that temp for that long and survive. We learned that way back in camp, to make water safe to drink.
Quote:
And for the economic part of it, as I understood that was the actual argument, I have full understanding as even here in Thailand no-one would ever spoil a match nor light a fire for such purpose.
Well, perhaps I am much more sheltered than I imagined. It must be terrible not to be able to light a campfire without having to worry about using up your resources. I don't know how much water is needed for their hydroponics system/s, but it wouldn't need to all be boiled at the same time. I was thinking of finding a metal 55 gallon drum in a trash pile somewhere, cleaning it up real good. Then build a fireproof place to set it, using old bricks, rocks or something. Then starting a small fire underneath it, using wood (not coal), to create a nice bed of hot coals to boil it with. Then only adding more wood when needed. That would contain and direct the heat where it was needed, using as little resources as possible.

I never claimed to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, or even claim to have all the answers. But I do know, if you have the will, you will eventually find the way. If matches were out of the question, there is always the old tried and true method of rubbing two sticks together. Personally, I wouldn't think it would be considered a waist of resources to improve a much needed and vital food source. Especially for an orphanage in one of the poorest countries in the world. I would think that would make it just that much more important.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 04-03-2010 at 08:42 PM.
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:02 PM
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Boiling water for hydroponics is not necessary, not useful, a waste of time, energy and resources anyway. No-one does it as far as I know in any wealthy country - why should they do it in Cambodia then, where ANY energy and resources are even more rare and valuable? What part of the no-go didn't you understand?

Btw: In some case you simply have to be able to put yourself in other's shoes, instead of seeing and putting, even bending things systematically YOUR way.
And in some other rare case, to really UNDERSTAND, - you even have to consider that some people may not even have the privilege to own and wear shoes.

Why can't you simply accept what others state, - in most cases people say and mean things with GOOD REASON.
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Old 04-04-2010, 03:36 AM
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Quote:
Boiling water for hydroponics is not necessary, not useful, a waste of time, energy and resources anyway
Tell that to all the people who get sick every year because there was something in the water they drank.
Quote:
No-one does it as far as I know in any wealthy country
That's because we have what is known as water filtration systems, and water treatment plants in country's like mine. Even so, when drinking water directly out of streams, lakes and ponds, or even just eating snow, it's always recommended to either treat the water, or boil it to make it safe to drink. That's because there are often living organisms in it that are harmful to people. There are also many that are harmful to plants as well.
Quote:
What part of the no-go didn't you understand?
Simply, none of it. Last time I checked I didn't take my orders from you, and nothing has changed (don't hold your breath). You still haven't made my list of authority figures, your not even at the bottom of the list.
Quote:
In some case you simply have to be able to put yourself in other's shoes
That's exactly what I am doing. Otherwise I would just suggest to just buck it up, get with the times, and get a water filtration system like the rest of us. But that not being an option (in other peoples shoes) it could be worked around with what is available.
Quote:
you even have to consider that some people may not even have the privilege to own and wear shoes.
I do know there are many unfortunate people in the world. But I'm guessing if you can afford a computer, and the internet service, not to mention all the stuff needed to build the hydroponic system in the first place, you'd be able to afford shoes. The nutrients are not free either I'm sure, so I'm guessing they would be able to afford a couple of matches. But in any case it simply dosen't cost any money to do what I have suggested. I live in the desert, but I can still find wood just walking around. It dosen't cost anything to pull something out of the trash, and clean it up. In case the matches cost too much, starting a fire can be done with 2 sticks. Again not my choice, but if that's what is available, that's what I'd use.
Quote:
Why can't you simply accept what others state
I'm not a sheep, and don't just a follow others around beleving everything anyone says. You are so used to being given that to you without question, you won't be able to understand. I have a mind of my own, and I use it. I also give others the respect in believing they do also (until they show they don't deserve it). I'm also not afraid to defend myself if needed either.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 04-04-2010 at 04:32 AM.
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Old 04-04-2010, 04:07 AM
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Didn't I clearly say/write in latin letters: "boiling water for hydroponics"?
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Old 04-04-2010, 04:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luches View Post
Didn't I clearly say/write in latin letters: "boiling water for hydroponics"?
Yes, so what. The reason you boil it for drinking is to get rid of any living organisms that might be in it. That would be the point to boiling it for hydroponics also, to get rid of any pathogens, bacteria and micro organisms. Those are all living organisms, and can be killed the same way. So weather you drink it, or use it for hydroponics, there still dead.
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Old 04-04-2010, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Yes, so what. The reason you boil it for drinking is to get rid of any living organisms that might be in it. That would be the point to boiling it for hydroponics also, to get rid of any pathogens, bacteria and micro organisms. Those are all living organisms, and can be killed the same way. So weather you drink it, or use it for hydroponics, there still dead.
I am starting to see a pattern here.....LOL
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Old 04-04-2010, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ohman11 View Post
I am starting to see a pattern here.....LOL
More like an anti-pattern I guess
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Old 04-05-2010, 02:59 AM
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Whatever you want to call it.
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Old 04-05-2010, 10:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luches View Post
More like an anti-pattern I guess
More like you are the same on every forum. You are VERY rude and it would seem you are the only one that knows anything at all. I would hate to live in your world. Like I told GPS " the only person impressed with Luches is Luches." Moderators don't worry I will not post anymore to this clown I just get tired of wading through his crap!
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Old 04-05-2010, 11:19 AM
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Nice to meet you too, ohman11
You may not believe it, but I am (on the other hand) very impressed with your sophisticated social skills!

Respectfully,
Luches
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Old 04-05-2010, 12:14 PM
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Luches, no need to insult and get personal...... topic closed....

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