March 3, 2011

My Chili Farm - Attack of the wrinkly leaves

Did I mention in my last post that I am replanting all my chili plants to the local variety of the Cili Padi(Bird's Eye chili)? Yes I am. I would have transplanted at least 300 of them by now, if some pest did not devour all of them! Yes, all of them! The mysterious pesky pest didn't even leave a single seedling for me!

It's true about our local farming taboo, they say you shouldn't curse or scold when some pest disturb your crops because they will come back with a vengeance! So when you are at the field or your farm and you notice that one of your crops has been 'disturbed' by let's say, a monkey, you are just to shoo it away but no scolding or cursing or doing anything beyond what is necessary. Otherwise, that monkey will come back with more monkeys and do worse damage. Some Oil Palm growers swear by this taboo.

This mystery pests of mine have been my bane ever since I started my chili nursery but they usually take out 4 to 5 seedlings out of 100 seedlings. That day, I decided that I had enough of this attack, so I moved all 300 seedlings to another location, enclosed one. The next day, to my utter dismay, all of them were without leaves! Talk about vengeance!

Hence, I have shifted my nursery to the farm. Fingers crossing, so far no problem.

Some of the seeded polybags that I have relocated to my farm.  Planning to build a proper nursery in the future, one with netting to keep pest out. 
I got tired of grass cutting every one week, so I bought a roll of Silvershine from K.K Kimia in Kota Kinabalu the other day for RM98.00. Spec : 0.03mm x 500m.

It's not perfectly straight but I guess it'll do the job for now.
So far I've only managed to cover three rows of my Chili plants with the Silvershine. It's a bit tricky to cover the ground when you already planted your chili plants. Fortunately, I've only planted five rows. Otherwise, 'pening kepala woh' (headache). I'm pretty proud of myself though :D. I did all the work by myself. But I shouldn't celebrate yet, I've more rows to cover.

The function of the Silvershine? It is put there to prevent grass/weed from growing around the plants. It also helps keep the soil cool which would encourage earthworms to 'congregate' around the plants. I used to hate earthworms but now they are my best friends LOL. I plan to collect leaves from the Rambutan trees at the farm, shred them with my brush cutter and scatter them around the plants(not on the silvershine).

A victim of my brush cutter. This one got 'decapitated' at the top when I misjudged the distance of my blade from the plant. One of the reasons I introduced Silvershine.

By the way, that condition which I don't have a name for it yet which causes the leaves at the top of the plant (I think they are called Terminal Bud) to go wrinkly struck four of plants, again! It couldn't be due to lack of nutrients because I think I have got the combination and frequency of fertilizing balanced. They started healthy and green and then the top go wrinkly. The leaves are shriveled, crisp, paper thin, dark green and plantinum'ish' in colour. I am at a loss. Should I destroy them and prevent the spread of this disease which is unknown to me or just hope that these plants will ride it out and somehow overcome this condition? I'm reluctant to destroy them because they have grown so big. On the otherhand, I'm also exposing the rest of the healthy plants to the risk of being infected if this condition is indeed a disease and not due to lack of nutrients!

Now. Notice the top leaves?
On a different note, I wonder if anyone can tell me what is the name of the following Chili?

A very healthy plant.

Close up of the same plant. See the strange looking fruit?
I got the seeds from my aunt who got it from a plant someone planted in the compound of Tenom General Hospital. My aunt and her colleagues who work in the hospital tried the chili and they swear that they are hotter than regular Chili, yes even hotter than 'Cili Padi'!

It's obviously a hybrid because I planted four of them in a separate plot from my 'Cili Padi' and all four are thriving. They are not fussy at all. Very strong and resilient. I planted them at the same time I planted my 'Cili Padi' but they are already fruiting.

At first I thought they are the famous or maybe infamous Bhut Jolokia, the purportedly hottest chili in the world but when I googled Bhut Jolokia, all the fruits that I see are bigger in size. This one is maybe about a quarter of the size of a Bhut Jolokia that I see in the internet.  

I can't wait for the fruit to ripen, I like to taste it myself, see whether it is as hot as my aunt says it is.


Paul said...

Hey Justin,

I've a similar problem with wrinkled leaves on my chilli plants. They seem to grow fine for a while and then suddenly wrinkle up at the top of the plant. I've been through many theories but there doesn't seem to be a consistent cause. I'm on top of the aphids and there's no whitefy to speak of.

The only culprit I can see (with the help of a magnifying glass!) is spider mites. There's not many though (no webbing either) so I'm not sure if this is the cause.

If you get any clues as to what's going on then please do pass them on!


Justin said...

Hi Paul,

A friend of mine identified the cause as lack of calcium. I'm planning to pound some egg shells (for calcium)and apply them as fertilizer but I haven't gotten around to do it because I've been preparing the farm for transplanting of more chili plants.

The friend who told me that is an experience farmer & he has done many farm projects successfully. Hence, I'm pretty sure his diagnostic is spot on.

You might want to add this trace element(calcium) to your fertilize regime.

Tell me whether it worked for you. Thanks for dropping by.

Cheerio :D


Justin said...

By the way Paul, for spider mites, you might want to introduce Lady Birds (or is it bug?)to your farm. They eat mites and other pests.

sri said...

it looks like a broad mites attack. you got to sprays some miteticides to get rid of it if not it will spread and kill and new shoots.

as for the unknown chili . it looks like a c. chinese. but what kind of i need a closer look and see the unripe pods and ripe pods picture.. if possible.

Lee said...

I haven't had this wrinkle problem yet thanks to my wife weeing on my plants. I am not joking with you she pours human urin miked with water onto the roots and they appear heartier and greener than before. We also do it to our Eggplant (aubergine, melongene, brinjal,) and the fruit is 4Xs the normal size. There is something that these plants love about it. I'm not sure about dog urin so don't get upset if fido lifts his leg. I wouldn't introduce any food residue like eggs they will surely attract pest.(i.e red ants) Please post more about what is causing the blight-black-spots? is it aphids or spider? I post a photo on this later...the urin trick really does work. Lee!/pages/My-Sabah-Chili-Farm/120861604660763

Lee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
whiteTiger said...

yesterdays article in the daily News prompted me to write this article ... Your comments? Lee

Justin said...

Hi Lee, the FB link you provided is not working.

Yup, urine is great fertilizer. My mom also use urine on her plants. I haven't used urine on my chili plants yet. I wonder how come I never thought about that! I suppose I'm busy trying/experimenting with other bio fertilizers.

You can email me your photo to

Gek said...

Hey Justin,

I just happen to stumble upon your blog, thanks for ur detailed explanation on making bokashi(i never heard of it before).
well, about the calcium maybe u could try putting gypsum(tofufa uses this) instead of pounding eggshells as eggshells take a long time to decompose.
i too face a pest problem, our vegetable stretch is intruded with this small cone-shaped snails that eat up the seedlings, can't even get anything planted, does anyone know how to deal with these snails?

Justin said...

Hi Gek,

Thanks for dropping by. Yes, I've heard of gypsum. If I'm not mistaken, gypsum also attract earthworms.

Snail problem? Some farmers would scatter egg shells around their plants. Apparently snails do not like to walk over them. Perhaps, the sharp edges of the crushed shell hurt their underside.

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