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BANGKOK 18 July 2019 15:52
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ForestGardener

Agricultural Permaculture / Forest Gardening

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a very interesting topic. good references, good info, and a good read well done to all. didn,t know it but my own efforts at playing farming/gardening lean this way. not by design. all getting a bit out of control now. needs serious weeding. enjoy.

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What is the minimum size (area) for such a garden , so it will make sense in the way you describe : self-perpetuating, self-fertilising, self-watering, self-mulching, self-weed-suppressing, self-pollinating, self-healing and highly resistant to pests and diseases.

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Forestgardener,you dont describe your land,are you going to extend from an already wooded area or try to establish an oasis in a normal farming type area?

Your aim is achievable ,but it will require lots of work. You will have to establish a self contained and maintaining micro-climate.

If you look about you will find these environments (apart from mountain forests) are centred around water,either running (stream) or standing (lake or pond) so that is probably your starting point.

Soil quality is not so important (unless its saline inundated) as soil improvement is part of the overall scheme.

As said water is the number one requirement to provide moisture and humidity for your micro climate.

In most cases I would eliminate all weeds and give the area a good deep ploughing (with good management it should be the last time you would ever need to plough).

Then comes tonnes and tonnes of animal manure (anything you can source ,from elephant poo to chicken droppings) and spread over the whole area.

On top of this goes truck loads of rice waste (straw or shells) compost, forest litter etc.

If its the wet season things will progress on their own ,if it is the dry then the sprinklers come into play with copious amounts of water. At this stage you are providing the environment for the micro-organisms to go to work and multiply ,all the time improving the soil structure.

Now is time to plant your largest trees and get them established, they probably need 3-4 years start before the other perrenials go in. A few chickens and ducks can be let loose on the block,their scratching and pooing is all part of the process.

Off course they are fenced out of your garden sections which can be established in the first year, but let back in when you have harvested.

If things are occurring as they should you should not have to cultivate ,just plant through the straw and litter.

Bananas ,coconuts etc can be planted in the initial planting. so within 2 years you should be eating veggies from your garden, bananas fish from the pond chicken and duck eggs and meat. the nuts and other fruit will come in later on.

Because of the higher rate of decomposition in the tropical climate it will be necessary to introduce more manure and litter at intervals ,this is best acquired and stocked in heaps when it is cheap and plentiful.

Hart and the father of permaculture Bill Mollison perfected their art in temperate climates ,Mollison is a fellow Tasmanian ,but the basics are pretty much the same,its just the species and the special care they may require differ for our tropical conditions.

It is no rocket science ,all you need to do is provide the right conditions , plan your tree spacings to suit growth and shade and all other things will happen naturally.

I wish you all the luck in your endeavour ,I wish I were young enough to do it again.

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I like your ideas and approach shokdee................I've got a couple of questions for you from your post:

1/ Is M. oleifera a Thai native plant and what are the "water purification" benefits you mention. I've heard it could be a useful biofuel producer too, but know v. little about this tree. Got some links to more info and any personal experience of planting?

2/ I remember a lot of hype about Fukuoka and his one straw revolution 15 years ago or so, but despite this I never came across anyone in Thailand actually using his methods of no plough and those little clay balls for seed dispersion. A friend in Korea was a bit sceptical about its benefits there too. My question therefore is how many people do you know following Fukuoka's methods and what is their opinion of them? And if it hasn't caught on, is this a problem of extension inadequacy or technology being inappropriate?

Interested to hear your thoughts. :o

Thank you!

1/ Moringa oleifera aka M. moringa originates in India and Arabia but is now naturalized throughout the tropics. It is called "ma-rum" in Thai and is a typical pioneer species and so can be found throughout the kingdom. The leaves (fresh and dried) are amongst the most nutritious plants available and it is worth doing a google search to read more. Flowers and immature seed pods are also edible. The dried seeds are used in water purification as they can both coagulate and destroy pathogens. The root is also edible and tastes like horse-raddish, hence its name "horse raddish tree". Branches can also be used for firewood. Many more uses (oils, medicines, shade, living fence). Easy to grow from seed. Fast growing. Can grow to be a big tree (over 12 m) but can also be repeatedly coppiced and kept small.

2/ My question therefore is how many people do you know following Fukuoka's methods and what is their opinion of them.

We can maybe separate between "strict" Fukuoka and "inspired by" Fukuoka approaches.

Strict approach maybe less popular as it's quite involved. But many are inspired by his overall ideas. If you watch Bill Mollison "In grave danger of falling food" video for instance, Bill plants potatoes in straw. He often mentions Fukuoka in his books or talks. He admires the way that Fukuoka folds up time and compresses multiple seasons into a single growing plot. Emilia Hazelip also follows Fukuoka closely and her video "Synergistic garden" is worth watching. So I think many have taken ideas from Fukuoka and used what they find suitable. Another person who I find inspiring is Sepp Holzer and his approach has elements of Fukuoka too. Sepp raises another issue - root depth. For him a good guild must contain shallow, medium and deep rooted tress/plants working together.

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The old saying "There is nothing new under the Sun" is pretty spot on with regards agriculture.

The British born (now Australian) gardening guru Peter Cundall has been advocating the growing of potatoes under straw for over 40 years and Australian Newsprint Mills has been using the seed in a clay ball method of dispersing Eucalyptus seed for near 50 years.

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Forestgardener,you dont describe your land,are you going to extend from an already wooded area or try to establish an oasis in a normal farming type area?

Your aim is achievable ,but it will require lots of work. You will have to establish a self contained and maintaining micro-climate.

If you look about you will find these environments (apart from mountain forests) are centred around water,either running (stream) or standing (lake or pond) so that is probably your starting point.

Soil quality is not so important (unless its saline inundated) as soil improvement is part of the overall scheme.

As said water is the number one requirement to provide moisture and humidity for your micro climate.

In most cases I would eliminate all weeds and give the area a good deep ploughing (with good management it should be the last time you would ever need to plough).

Then comes tonnes and tonnes of animal manure (anything you can source ,from elephant poo to chicken droppings) and spread over the whole area.

On top of this goes truck loads of rice waste (straw or shells) compost, forest litter etc.

If its the wet season things will progress on their own ,if it is the dry then the sprinklers come into play with copious amounts of water. At this stage you are providing the environment for the micro-organisms to go to work and multiply ,all the time improving the soil structure.

Now is time to plant your largest trees and get them established, they probably need 3-4 years start before the other perrenials go in. A few chickens and ducks can be let loose on the block,their scratching and pooing is all part of the process.

Off course they are fenced out of your garden sections which can be established in the first year, but let back in when you have harvested.

If things are occurring as they should you should not have to cultivate ,just plant through the straw and litter.

Bananas ,coconuts etc can be planted in the initial planting. so within 2 years you should be eating veggies from your garden, bananas fish from the pond chicken and duck eggs and meat. the nuts and other fruit will come in later on.

Because of the higher rate of decomposition in the tropical climate it will be necessary to introduce more manure and litter at intervals ,this is best acquired and stocked in heaps when it is cheap and plentiful.

Hart and the father of permaculture Bill Mollison perfected their art in temperate climates ,Mollison is a fellow Tasmanian ,but the basics are pretty much the same,its just the species and the special care they may require differ for our tropical conditions.

It is no rocket science ,all you need to do is provide the right conditions , plan your tree spacings to suit growth and shade and all other things will happen naturally.

I wish you all the luck in your endeavour ,I wish I were young enough to do it again.

There are about 2 rai of native forest already so i´m lucky. There i can start plant the different layers and get the practical experiense that i need. Then i stick to your suggestion. Start with largest trees to get them established. I also need to dig a deep pond and some swales in the area. But now i have a problem.

Should i fill the old ricefields with soil from the ponds ore not?

My plan was to do that but i hear some people saying to me not to do. Thats because they collect water that are so importent to have. It would be great to hear from more about this so i dont do anything stupid here.

post-64293-1216529432_thumb.jpg

post-64293-1216529459_thumb.jpg

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ForestGardener, as long as your pond is big enough to provide water for your needs during the dry season,I would raise the level of the paddy fields ,with slopes back toward the swales and pond .

A slight gradient will allow that land to be used for garden or tree planting as it should then have sufficient drainage during the wet.

Paddies, if left as they are will stay saturated for to long during the wet and anything you plant there (except rice ) will not survive.

Levels are most important in this type of project,a series of swales with very low gradient leading back to your main water storage which can all fill to a say a

foot or two deep but over that drain to where-ever the water normally drains (water-course ,creek etc.).

The idea is to try and copy a natural environment of a lake with its tributaries.

A tractor can form the swales with long angle slopes (4 or 5 to 1 slopes ) and if the gradients are low,erosion wont be a problem, when they dry out in the dry season they can be utilised for growing things.

Small walk over bridges can be erected to allow easier access to each raised area. Fish will use the channels while they contain water and return to the pond as they dry out.

A mesh barrier across the swale that ultimately drains the area will keep your fish "at home".

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Forestgardener,you dont describe your land,are you going to extend from an already wooded area or try to establish an oasis in a normal farming type area?

Your aim is achievable ,but it will require lots of work. You will have to establish a self contained and maintaining micro-climate.

If you look about you will find these environments (apart from mountain forests) are centred around water,either running (stream) or standing (lake or pond) so that is probably your starting point.

Soil quality is not so important (unless its saline inundated) as soil improvement is part of the overall scheme.

As said water is the number one requirement to provide moisture and humidity for your micro climate.

In most cases I would eliminate all weeds and give the area a good deep ploughing (with good management it should be the last time you would ever need to plough).

Then comes tonnes and tonnes of animal manure (anything you can source ,from elephant poo to chicken droppings) and spread over the whole area.

On top of this goes truck loads of rice waste (straw or shells) compost, forest litter etc.

If its the wet season things will progress on their own ,if it is the dry then the sprinklers come into play with copious amounts of water. At this stage you are providing the environment for the micro-organisms to go to work and multiply ,all the time improving the soil structure.

Now is time to plant your largest trees and get them established, they probably need 3-4 years start before the other perrenials go in. A few chickens and ducks can be let loose on the block,their scratching and pooing is all part of the process.

Off course they are fenced out of your garden sections which can be established in the first year, but let back in when you have harvested.

If things are occurring as they should you should not have to cultivate ,just plant through the straw and litter.

Bananas ,coconuts etc can be planted in the initial planting. so within 2 years you should be eating veggies from your garden, bananas fish from the pond chicken and duck eggs and meat. the nuts and other fruit will come in later on.

Because of the higher rate of decomposition in the tropical climate it will be necessary to introduce more manure and litter at intervals ,this is best acquired and stocked in heaps when it is cheap and plentiful.

Hart and the father of permaculture Bill Mollison perfected their art in temperate climates ,Mollison is a fellow Tasmanian ,but the basics are pretty much the same,its just the species and the special care they may require differ for our tropical conditions.

It is no rocket science ,all you need to do is provide the right conditions , plan your tree spacings to suit growth and shade and all other things will happen naturally.

I wish you all the luck in your endeavour ,I wish I were young enough to do it again.

There are about 2 rai of native forest already so i´m lucky. There i can start plant the different layers and get the practical experiense that i need. Then i stick to your suggestion. Start with largest trees to get them established. I also need to dig a deep pond and some swales in the area. But now i have a problem.

Should i fill the old ricefields with soil from the ponds ore not?

My plan was to do that but i hear some people saying to me not to do. Thats because they collect water that are so importent to have. It would be great to hear from more about this so i dont do anything stupid here.

Is this you Hakan?

Anyway I see you get plenty good advice here :o

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Is this you Hakan?

Anyway I see you get plenty good advice here :o

Hi Bergen.

Yes it´s me. When i was visiting your farm i remember you talked about this forum, so i tried to post here. And i´m glad i did that before i start this project. So much knowledge in here.

Now i have order books from Thailand and have much of reading to do. After that perheps i can visit you again and get some practical lessons?

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Is this you Hakan?

Anyway I see you get plenty good advice here :D

Hi Bergen.

Yes it´s me. When i was visiting your farm i remember you talked about this forum, so i tried to post here. And i´m glad i did that before i start this project. So much knowledge in here.

Now i have order books from Thailand and have much of reading to do. After that perheps i can visit you again and get some practical lessons?

A very warm welcome for you to visit our farm at any time :D

Good luck with your books, study and project :o

- and looking forward to seeing you, when next time in Ubon :D

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Any good book about permaculture would be an essential place to start to provide an overall methodology. Permaculturist Geoff Lawton has a new DVD coming out soon about forest gardens - you can search on YouTube for some previews, especially the visit to the Cambodian forest garden. Some Bill Mollison videos are also available online, especially the Global Gardener series.

While the notion of guilds is important, I wouldn't stick to rigidly to the 7 layers approach as a starting point. A true multi-layer forest system takes decades to develop and you need to understand succession within different tree species, from pioneers to climax species, fast growers vs shaders, and so on. In Thailand a well known guild is Durian and Mongosteen. (In south America - corn, squash and beans - the 3 sisters). To speed up the succession process you can adapt the framework model as used by FORRU (Forest Restoration Research Unit). Their book "How to Plant a Forest" is also essential reading (PDF)

You need to consider what are your aims - is it to provide food in the short term or to spend a lifetime establishing a food forest. If you are after food, then there are other considerations that override the 7 layer food forest idea. If you are looking for a reliable food supply then it would be worthwhile to research agroforestry. A good place to start is UHDP (Upland Holistic Development Project). Their booklet "AGROFORESTRY OPTIONS FOR SMALL UPLAND FARMS" is a very good starting point (PDF).

Remember too that Robert Hart is working in a temperate climate and Thailand is tropical. This means you have different and wider options open to you in terms of the number of species you can grow. Coconut, papaya, banana, bamboo, for instance, are all key plants for a tropical climate. Cultural considerations also play a part as chillies, ginger, basil, rice would be key crops to look at in Thailand. Additionally, many crops that westerners wouldn't eat are common food in Thailand (like Mimosa/Acacia leaves). With so many options available, you can be much more flexible in terms of what you grow. In my opinion an essential crop to grow for its nutritional and water purification benefits is Moringa oleifera "Ma rum".

If you want to save effort and set up a no-dig garden on raised beds then you need to plant perennial vegetables/herbs and use lots of mulch. You should avoid compacting the soil and use a much more structured approach. Look at the work of Fukuoka Masanobu (One straw revolution) or Emilia Hazelip's Synergistic Garden for some ideas of what this involves. You should also think of all you other needs - what will you grow for firewood, for forage crops, for construction, for weed barriers, etc.

The 7 stories approach also fails to include any aquaculture component - which in terms of yield is more productive. A small pond with aquatic plants like Ipomea aquatica and possibly some fish such as tilapia or catfish is worth considering. A good general website to visit is Overstory

The DVD you mention with Geoff Lawton looks really god so far. They have release another teaser.

Establishing a Food Forest DVD "Promo" Part 1

Establishing a Food Forest DVD "Promo" Part 2

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The DVD you mention with Geoff Lawton looks really god so far. They have release another teaser.

Establishing a Food Forest DVD "Promo" Part 1

Establishing a Food Forest DVD "Promo" Part 2

I´ts interesting to hear in part 2 when Geoff talks about how different smells in the garden confuses the pests.

Mr.Robert Hart also talks about how important it is to use aromatic herbs when designing a forest garden.

"Many aromatic herbs, such as the varios mints, tansy and balm, deter slugs and other pests and disease germ from attacking not only themself but also their plant neighbors".

He also recomend herbal mulch, consisting of sprigs of aromatic plants, which he spread between the rows.

Another thing i never heard of before is that he used liquid seaweed for 3 reasons.

1."Liquid seaweed is the only spray ever used in the project. It´s effect is not to kill pests ore disease germs but to build up the plants own powers of resistance".

2."Watering the soil with liquid seaweed also has an alkalizing effect. Calcified seaweed meal has the additional bonus of tiny shells, which also deter slugs".

3. He talks of iodine which is essential for good blood circulation.

"Another way of ensuring an adequacy of iodine in the diet is by applying seaweed fertilizers and seaweed foliar sprays to one´s own fruit, vegitables and herbs".

So now to my question. Does anybody know if all of this mints (Mentha spp) is possible to grow in Thailand?

Apple mint

Curly mint

Eau-de cologne mint

Ginger mint

Peppermint

Pineapple mint

Spearmint

Water mint

And i also wonder about Balm (Melissa officinalis) and Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare).

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ForestGardener, as long as your pond is big enough to provide water for your needs during the dry season,I would raise the level of the paddy fields ,with slopes back toward the swales and pond .

A slight gradient will allow that land to be used for garden or tree planting as it should then have sufficient drainage during the wet.

Paddies, if left as they are will stay saturated for to long during the wet and anything you plant there (except rice ) will not survive.

Levels are most important in this type of project,a series of swales with very low gradient leading back to your main water storage which can all fill to a say a

foot or two deep but over that drain to where-ever the water normally drains (water-course ,creek etc.).

The idea is to try and copy a natural environment of a lake with its tributaries.

A tractor can form the swales with long angle slopes (4 or 5 to 1 slopes ) and if the gradients are low,erosion wont be a problem, when they dry out in the dry season they can be utilised for growing things.

Small walk over bridges can be erected to allow easier access to each raised area. Fish will use the channels while they contain water and return to the pond as they dry out.

A mesh barrier across the swale that ultimately drains the area will keep your fish "at home".

Hi Ozzydom

I found this website

http://www.biochar.net/swale/swale.htm

Does it looks something like that as you describe?

drain_dam_2.jpg

Edited by ForestGardener

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ForestGardener, as long as your pond is big enough to provide water for your needs during the dry season,I would raise the level of the paddy fields ,with slopes back toward the swales and pond .

A slight gradient will allow that land to be used for garden or tree planting as it should then have sufficient drainage during the wet.

Paddies, if left as they are will stay saturated for to long during the wet and anything you plant there (except rice ) will not survive.

Levels are most important in this type of project,a series of swales with very low gradient leading back to your main water storage which can all fill to a say a

foot or two deep but over that drain to where-ever the water normally drains (water-course ,creek etc.).

The idea is to try and copy a natural environment of a lake with its tributaries.

A tractor can form the swales with long angle slopes (4 or 5 to 1 slopes ) and if the gradients are low,erosion wont be a problem, when they dry out in the dry season they can be utilised for growing things.

Small walk over bridges can be erected to allow easier access to each raised area. Fish will use the channels while they contain water and return to the pond as they dry out.

A mesh barrier across the swale that ultimately drains the area will keep your fish "at home".

Hi Ozzydom

I found this website

http://www.biochar.net/swale/swale.htm

Does it looks something like that as you describe?

drain_dam_2.jpg

Yes mate,thats the general idea, its quite a good article, a swale is actually both a drainage area and temporary water storage, which you control the capacity of through a separate inter connected drain which takes surplus water from your property.

The water in the swales will be taken up after the rains by soakage to the surrounding areas, because a lot of nutrients get washed into them they are great places to grow annual veggies and such ,plus they hold moisture longer.

Before you start excavating your pond, it is prudent to first push the top soil from the paddy area into stockpiles , then you raise the level on the paddies , with the fill from the excavation , level and compact ,after which you then push the topsoil back over the lot as top dressing.

You can see by the article that levels are most important to this type of project ,if you get them right then the end result (apart from natural disasters) will be as you planned it .

Take plenty of time studying the layout, get it all down on paper as you envisage the end result ,especially during the wet season coming up ,as conditions can change dramatically and the whole area will look different at that time, you will see where water lays and where it flows

It is easier to work to what happens naturally and work with it than to try go against it.

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hope these pdf's are of some help. They're from the lao tree seed project http://www.nafri.org.la .If they are of use I will upload the remaining 40 files I have !

Edited by jandtaa

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