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jandtaa

Down On The "farm" Today

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Hi all,

Well June was amazingly dry in this area, a few days of rain at the start of the month and then mostly blisteringly hot sun. Very frustrating as now most of my little area is raised beds with better drainage to cope with the rain that didn't show. Even in the area under shade net the young plants have been struggling with the heat.

A few days back the rain arrived with a vengeance. I was so happy to see it and know that the ground was getting a good soaking.

The next morning the sweetcorn looked like they'd had a drunken party. Some were laying down and the others all at odd angles supporting each other! Mostly, they are ok, just not standing firm and proud any more.

I'm having to cut back the pumpkin plants as they are threatening to take over. How much can they grow in one day?

The snake gourds have really spurted after the rain, I don't know why but they only seem to respond well to natural rainfall.

The other squashes, that seem to have many names -winter melon/wax gourd/Fak kiaow, had been growing well, but for some reason wouldn't produce any female flowers, but plenty of males. They've died back now without producing a single fruit - maybe the wrong time of year. A failure - but then the failures make you appreciate the successes even more. I've a lot to learn and get a real sense of achievement when something does well.

I'm sure that the work I've been doing to improve the soil is starting to show results. The plants seem to be a healthier shade of green than before. My young tomatoes seem much stronger. I will have to do some research on getting better results with coriander and Chinese celery though, maybe still a defiency of nitrogen in the soil?

Six months ago, I'd struggle to find a worm in the garden, now I can't seem to turn the soil without cutting one in half, I hope it's true that they do regrow.

Well, I will keep on enjoying my garden no matter what. I'll enjoy the successes and try to learn from my mistakes.

Edited by loong

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We had an offer a few days ago, all your lamyai,5bht a kilo, you pick we collect,we take to BKK and sell for 40bht kilo, is this the true price in BKK? seems a lot to me, anyway, we said no, and continue to sell at Salon for 10bht a kilo, they are really big now, just over an inch in diameter, but are starting to split/cook on the trees, so me & mr Poo are going to cover them with banana leaves to keep the sun off a bit, But i suppose the wind and storms will dislodge them, so thats another daily task for me,

My son is here now, teaching english in the local school, when he gets home about 3.30 he comes to the farm and we do 2 tamarind trees, add the compost and kitchen waste, chop up a few banana culms ad a wheelbarrow full of compost then check all the fruit trees to see whats ready or if they have any problems, Then a 30 min walk around the 1600 banana clumps, cut a few to take home and gas, and then get the new bamboo shoots, carrier bag full,

I par-boiled some spuds and bamboo shoots last night and put them with the pork roast, Mrs says No can do!! but they were really good, not as good as roast parsnip but a very good subsitute,

The Pigeon peas are growing well,but not where i broadcast them, i planted a few in the salad beds and some have suckers 2 mtrs long, will nip the ends of soon, just to slow them down,

Loong, i agree with you about rainwater, it really does promote growth in everything, in the dry season, our borehole pump is running a lot, but nothing seems to benifit from this, it just makes the ground wet, perhaps i should get the holding tank and booster pump working again and put some organic teas in it?

Cheers, Lickey..

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Hello all, i would like to keep this thread running with a review of whats happened in the last 2 months,

It would be nearly 2 months ago or more when the Rice paddies first started to turn green and and about 6 in high, A local goverment agri man and mr Poo came to the salon & had words with the mrs, anyway, after they left,mrs told me what it was about,apparantley, the local agri office have 30,000bht to spend on organic ferts for each 10k farm road, Mr Poo nominated our farm as a gathering place cos we have a toilet/water and a covered concrete pad,,mrs said yes,

I would say there were 30bags of pelletised chicken crap, and 90 bags of rotted rice straw/husks, these were mixed together along with some water and made 150 odd bags of good quality compost, this was all divided up for mainly rice farmers, we dont do rice and got the remaining 4 bags, which i spread in the banana plantation,

Recently, Mrs cousin Nom came back from a 2 year work in Korea, only to find the money he had sent his family had been squandered on hiso life rather than payments on his truck ect, Mrs tried to help him by opening a bank acc just for him, but when he got back, he had all the pick-up payments to pay, once this was done he didnt have any money, so he decided to sell his 6 rai of the farm, which is the 6 rai of banana we planted while he was away,

Now, bearing in mind, mrs looked after him from 6 years old, [his father died of aids, his mum ran away] she paid for all his schooling,even got him a job at the Thai Farmers bank, Mrs rekons on 40kbht and 5k for loss of banana plants, she didnt get a bht from him, so now he is struck of the family book and nobody will talk with him, he made 300k from 3 rai of nor sor sam land,

Down on the farm today,

My main objective is the bananas this time of year, we have a daily walk through the plants, looks like 2/3 more days before any will be ready, shame really, they sell as fast as we can pick and gas them, looks like a day or 2 without front door sales, [no beer money,sob sob,,] i went to check in the barn how much organic fert bags Mr Poo had used, NONE!!! so that was my job for the afternoon, looks like the rain has almost stopped, so i applied fert to about 60 plants and started the bore pump to water the fert in, only another 1000 to go,,,

Had a walk round the farm with cam as well, Tamarind trees, well, mrs says she aint seen cropping like this for years, take into consideration that the farm has had no chemical spray for near 18 months now,the tamarind have had organic ferts only,

The other pics, Cousin Nom cut and ploughed in our banana plants and planted sugar cane, which do you think will win? banana or cane? perhaps some very sweet bananas??

Cheers, Lickey,,

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Hi Folks

Arrived back in LOS a fortnight ago and have been working out in the "Jungle Gym" on a daily basis !! Pretty much the whole plot was covered in 6 foot high weeds!

So armed with a machete and a pair of sturdy boots ( just in case of any snakes) hacked a pathway into the plot and set at it. Turned out to not be as bad as it first looked, all the areas that I'd had time to sow up with green manure ( a mixture of legumes) before I left last April were relatively weed free and the bean plants were still providing good ground cover.

I decided to see if any fruit tree seedlings had survived, so cleared away the bean vines from amongst the pigeon pea bushes, most of which stand about 8 foot tall, ( interesting to note that although they are drought resistant the largest specimens are those which have grown up amongst the clumps of lemon grass), which themselves were entwined with fruiting winged-bean. Underneath the bean vines I found several ripe pumpkins and kilos of ash gourd. Sadly however no fruit trees apart from a sad looking pomelo and a six inch stick ( evidently pruned back from the 2 foot high seedling I'd planted ) of asian pear. Turns out sister in law cut all the fruit trees back like this :D and all of the nitrogen fixing trees and they all subsequently died :)!! The bananas however have grown well and those amongst the pigeon pea had almost zero wind damage and were a lot healthier than those planted along the boundary by SIL.

Most of the grasses that had grown next to this "permaculture" area were clump forming varieties so relatively easy to remove roots and all with a Thai hoe. I've cleared this area completely and will extend the "edge" by laying down cardboard from the recyclers, covering with compost and the remains of last seasons rice straw and planting up with more legumes, NFT's and replacement as well as some new fruit trees.

The raised area of topsoil destined to become bio-intensive raised beds is covered in the nastiest weed of all !! A giant form of the dreaded "sleeping" weed, one of those acacias whose leaves wilt upon touching. The bastard thorns are like razor wire and rip your skin in a really nasty way, I'd rather roll naked in a patch of stinging nettles than deal with this stuff. Luckily young Ton turned up with a couple of mates and offered to help so whilst I hacked away with an extended billhook Ton and his mates waded in with rakes and hoes to remove the lethal branches ( mostly about 10 foot in length) and formed huge piles for composting. I think they thought I was a bit of a pussy with my workboots, gauntlets and long sleeved shirt whilst they were attired in the usual shorts and flip-flops :D !!

It's been really hot since I've returned with only one day of really heavy rain , its really noticeable how dry this monsoon season has been and the soil is already drying out and quite workable,. I brought a min-max greenhouse thermometer with me from the UK and it's registering 38 degrees most days, so I've been starting at 6 am and working through till about 11 am and young Ton keen as ever joins me most days after his breakfast. Ton's keen to know when we stock the fish ponds as he wants to do a spot of fishing !! One of the ponds is looking good with very minimal erosion to the banks and is nearly full complete with a resident pair of breeding frogs and 60-70 froglets (about an inch long ). There is however an eighteen inch long water snake which I'm sure will reduce the number of little hoppers before too long ! I'm going to plant up the banks with some vetivier grass, canna lillies, taro etc and have germinated some sacred lotus seeds as well. The water itself is very turbid and I need to look at some form of flocculant, possibly gypsum ? I've also brought a pond testing kit with me so will check ph, nitrate and nitrite levels and try to adjust accordingly before stocking with a mixed bunch of fingerlings from some local fish farms I know of. It will really be a question of what they have available but would like to go for a mixed bag of species, trying to stock the entire water column but at a faily low density ( this pond is more ornamental and for a bit of pleasure fishing. The other pond is looking fairly sad, it's failed to fill up as much and there is quite bad erosion both from rain run off and wind erosion, so might need some remedial work. The sides did end up being rather steep when it was dug ( the excavator operator wasn't as skilled as the guy who dug the first pond ) and it was harder to ensure rainwater ran away from the pond rather than into it. I know there are some good threads regarding these problems in the general farming forum so I have some bedtime reading to do !! I was going to try raising single sex Tilapia in this pond along with some catfish in hapas but this may have to go on hold.

A couple of days ago I noticed that the grasses (the predominant weed on the rest of the plot especially around the first pond and where the house will eventually be sited ) were starting to flower so got in a neighbour with their brush-cutter to strim them down. I carefully explained the areas to be cut and stressed not to cut the beans as I want to leave the plants in to retain some moisture in the ground until rice harvest time when I can use rice straw for a mulch. It was all going according to plan until I went to lunch, when I came back they were slashing merrily with a machete amongst the beans :D !! A few years ago I'd of been doing my best Basil Fawlty impression but I've just become resigned to this type of misunderstanding and give it the old "mai pen rai", it's not the end of the world but means last years partially decomposed rice straw will have to be utilised as mulch instead of composted with the weeds I've cleared and the 20 odd bags of manure that I'm hopefully taking delivery of tomorrow. When I asked the wife later what the hel_l had possessed them she told me that they had noticed they were a nasty weed (looks very similar to a bean :D ) whose flowers cause a nasty skin irritation so they were doing me a favour. Gotta love a creative excuse and while I think I have come across this weed (think it has purple flowers) these were red and black beans that I sowed myself and were not in flower :D !!

Yesterday I decided to investigate where the water supply had been installed on the plot so did a bit of exploratory digging. Was looking for a 2" pipe running about 70 metres into the plot but instead discovered small bore pipe extending about a meter into the plot !! Oh the trials and tribulations !! I'm now in the process of digging a trench and laying some pipeline so I can rig up some form of irrigation before I start my sowing schedule. I've also got to rig up some form of shade netting, will probably utilise some euca poles I have left over from when I fenced the plot, and build a little shelter come tool store, so I'm a busy boy !!

I will try and post some photos over the next couple of days and when I get on top of the plot will start posting more regularly on the forum, did a bit more research whilst back in the UK, and yeah you guessed it some more PDF's to share. I've brought a load of seed with me to trial so will try and keep you abreast of any successes and the inevitable failures and deal in more depth with observations on various aspects of my little plot.

Cheers for now J

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OK guys, no garden picutres here.

This is my personal pet project, the mango farm.

Now, there are about 300 trees, some 80 of them are old ( 20 years or so )

Mixed varieties, from the usual " nam dogmai" to more exotic elephant mango and other obscure types.

Originally, 35 rais were planted; we bought it from the original owner, he had enough .

I kept 5 rais for myself to grow & learn about mangoes, the rest we grow cassava.

Having no agricultural background, everything was new; I had to learn how to prune, what and when to spray.

It took me about three / four years to learn to the point where we have a decent crop to sell . Done well is very profitable, percentage wise.

I do 90% of the work by myself, the rest I hire some people if pressed for time.

Last year the weather was not favorable, a fungus infection set in . I had to remove three large trees and apply fungicides repeatedly over the rainy season.

Now in fairly good shape, recently I cut down all the large trees to a manageable height.

That will rejuvenate them, remove the traces of the fungal infection and allow for easy picking.

Today it’s just maintenance work, remove dead branches, keep the weeds down and most important look out for the killer pest; the Asian Longhorned Beetle.

Left unattended, the larvae can kill a tree in a single season, no pesticide will remove it from within the tree.

The picture , an Iphone panorama I took a couple of weeks ago !

In the foreground, to the left, my wife is looking for ripe bananas !

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Hi SD2

Very nice pet project to have !! What's the spacing of the trees just out of interest ??

J

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Hi SD2

Very nice pet project to have !! What's the spacing of the trees just out of interest ??

J

5 meters. give or take .

At harvest time it's incredible fun. Most growers, for financial reasons need to produce fruit twice a year.

We let the trees go through their natural cycle, by letting fruit ripen, before picking once a year.

That way we use less chemicals, the fruit has much better flavor than commercially grown stuff.

By January, people already start asking when will we be ready to sell! (Season starts in April/May)

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Strange days indeed!! got Mr Poo to dig in the Pidgeon pea plants into the salad beds, [added N] covered the 10 beds with differenent mulchs,banana leaves,bamboo,tamarind waste from under the trees, so all looks good,,, done my usual walk round the banana/papaya plantations, Found 40 or so hands of banana and 30kilos of Papaya, [nice load for our honda wave!!]

On my walkabout, i saw a lot of tamarind pods on the ground, I tried one, it was lovely,deep golden brown sweet pulp, Im thinking, this cant be?? 6 weeks early?? so i collected a load of pods, took home to the mrs, she was suprised that they were ready so early, she put it down to temps of 36c daily after the end of the rainy season, So my normal 4hrs a day on the farm is 2hrs choosing which bananas to cut and 2 hours tamarind picking,so it doesnt leave me a lot of time for the salad beds,

Bananas are easy, take home,wash,dry, put in a paper lined bin with some acectelyne gas,24 hhrs and you have ripe bananas, 1 hour max, now Tamarinds,mmm they come in all different shapes and sizes, you need a hand that can tell the difference between 005gramme and 004.5gramme,thats the difference between a sweet and a not so sweet pod, My evening job is the intial sorting, the large pods go into a box,and mrs [with 20odd years of experience does the final sorting and bagging] Guaranteed good at 60bht a kilo, i do the smaller pods, 30bht a bag, but should be mostly good,,

4 days, 1455bht and counting,,, and a long season this year,

Happy days are here again!! Cheers all, Lickey,,

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Strange days indeed!! got Mr Poo to dig in the Pidgeon pea plants into the salad beds, [added N] covered the 10 beds with differenent mulchs,banana leaves,bamboo,tamarind waste from under the trees, so all looks good,,, done my usual walk round the banana/papaya plantations, Found 40 or so hands of banana and 30kilos of Papaya, [nice load for our honda wave!!]

On my walkabout, i saw a lot of tamarind pods on the ground, I tried one, it was lovely,deep golden brown sweet pulp, Im thinking, this cant be?? 6 weeks early?? so i collected a load of pods, took home to the mrs, she was suprised that they were ready so early, she put it down to temps of 36c daily after the end of the rainy season, So my normal 4hrs a day on the farm is 2hrs choosing which bananas to cut and 2 hours tamarind picking,so it doesnt leave me a lot of time for the salad beds,

Bananas are easy, take home,wash,dry, put in a paper lined bin with some acectelyne gas,24 hhrs and you have ripe bananas, 1 hour max, now Tamarinds,mmm they come in all different shapes and sizes, you need a hand that can tell the difference between 005gramme and 004.5gramme,thats the difference between a sweet and a not so sweet pod, My evening job is the intial sorting, the large pods go into a box,and mrs [with 20odd years of experience does the final sorting and bagging] Guaranteed good at 60bht a kilo, i do the smaller pods, 30bht a bag, but should be mostly good,,

4 days, 1455bht and counting,,, and a long season this year,

Happy days are here again!! Cheers all, Lickey,,

Hi Folks. Choke Dee Lickey it's a great feeling when you can see the gains of a lot of hard work, I hope the counting goes on for a long time.

We harvested the paddy rice this year on one farm and it has all been cleaned and bagged and then put into our storage shed. This is a 14 rai farm that is in its second year of poison free and this is the first crop of all organically grown paddy. We used cover crops of Paw Tueng (sun hemp) and Sanoh Africa (sesbania rostrata) and about 13 tons of well aged cow manure from many small scale milk farmers. I am going to try to create bio-char from the straw that was left over from the mechanical separation of the paddy. That straw was given away last year but all the remaining straw in the fields was incorporated into the soil. This farm was planted by scattering seed by hand and discing it into the ground as opposed to hand transplanting seedlings (a cost difference of 50-60,000 baht).

The crop was hit by lack of water in the early season as we experienced a real drought as the rest of the country was flooding. We were able to irrigate once and that was a huge advantage, thereafter flooding was an issue as the levees still need work but we barely survived the disasterous floods of last year as the klong rose over 3 meters and was about 20 centimeters from flooding for weeks (the main levee road will have to be raised nearly another meter for about 1/5 of a kilometer and we will use the dirt from the pond and canal that we will build on the farm to do this along with trying to make an entire road around the farm that will be able to handle vehicle traffic and every type of tree known to man).

The rice looked weak and slightly yellow early on as the earth was going through the metamorphis towards sustainability. The tried and true methods finally kicked in and the growth was exceptional and the set of seed was excellent to the point that with all the effects from the Phillipine typhoons nearly all the crop was knocked down due to the exceptional height and heavy seed set and the very very strong winds and rain. Fortunately the rain stopped and there was virtually no rot as the crop laid on the ground. We were able to hand harvest the entire crop and when cleaned we got 72 bags of paddy. That comes to a bit over 5 bags per rai and usually we get over 90 kilos in the bags so the yield was in the 450-500 kilo range.

Soon we will start the earth moving and grading to build levees and roads to achieve good water retention and drainage. This year we will try planting just Paw Tueng as a cover crop by irrigating the farm and pre-germinating by soaking the seed for 2-3 hours then scattering the seed in the stubble and then we will cut the stubble down over the top of the seed using "weed wackers" modified with circular saw blades with carborundum tips. All of this will be disced in when the beans start to flower. Hopefully we may be able to get two crops of beans in before the rice goes in again.

Anyone know anyone looking for organic Hom Mali paddy? Anyone know where there is large quantities of manure for sale?? Also of note we murdered a lot of tadpoles this year so there is plenty of vacancies at the Hilton Frog Condos on the old farm, this will be chalked up to the learning curve for our eventual commercial production of frogs. Our two other farms will be finished with the rice harvest soon and we will be able to evaluate what we have achieved with them.

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hi lads and ladys, i think this is a great read, thank you to all, i was a keen gardener in the uk, ive got 7 rai in lampaimart near buriram, but at the moment i still work in bkk, but hopefully ill be changing jobs and going to work in angola 6 weeks there and 3 at home so that will be ok for me, oh how i long to give it all up and retire, not long now, im 49, 6 years to go,on my 7 rai that as never been paddied, ive got a 4 ponds that ive had dug just over a year now, there full and holding water, i did put a few fish in just to see how they went, not for selling more for us mama and papa,i should of said there was allready 2 small ponds maybe 4 mts square, the ones ive had dug are 10x4 2mts deep with the soil banked up another mtr,ive got a nice area with trees mango,coconuts, and a few other trees, that i know you can eat but cant remember the names,in all im going to have about 5 rai to work with, ive allready done some work on the shady houses for my veg,ive been growing spuds in bags,and im going to have a few sheep too, good manure from them and good meat,and of course some laying hens, see im from farming back ground in lincolnshire, but im no expert by far not, so ill be reading this every chance i get, and hopefully ill be able to add the odd piece when i get going full time, thank you to you all,, ron

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Hi Folks

Welcome to the forum Ron hope you find some useful info here and feel free to pick the guys brains if you have any questions that you can't find the answer to in the archives.

Strange days indeed Lickey !! We're just completing the rice harvest (been at it for three weeks now, it's a community effort round these parts so you work out how many days labour you require to harvest your crop and then work for others in the village for the required amount of days and they repay the favour, additional labour that may be required are payed in rice. It's a nice system and means that labour costs are kept to a minimum although it works best on holdings of 20 rai or less to get your harvest in for free.) It seemed a short rainy season this year and the weather really hot leading to weakened tillers in the rice crop which was flattened by the winds that herald the start of the cool season. Most years the odd patch of rice gets blown down but this season the whole plain was laying flat, it really makes for hard work at the cutting stage as if it isn't bad enough already !!. It also seems that the lack of rain has affected quantity with everyone reporting lower yields than normal.

FF, good to see you back on the forum and glad the organic rice did well for you. Yeah I agree about the difficulty of sourcing raw materials such as manure etc.. This year I managed to get 30 large rice sacks of cow bedding from an uncle. I always spend a couple of days with the guy when I return to LOS on the small farm he manages for a spot of fishing on his 2 rai lake a BBQ and a few beers. Whilst there 5 or 6 different guys turned up enquiring about the availability of manure, lucky I got in first. At the moment having difficulty sourcing rice husks of all things from the mills in the village as well as rice bran. The bran I can understand as the mill owner is now raising pigs and uses it for feed but no idea where the rice hulls are disappearing to !! Another mystery that will no doubt become clear in time !!

Talking of mysteries, I solved the the riddle of the non-existent water pipe on my plot :D It turns out that the new mains system running past the plot which I hoped to connect to is 5 baht per unit (cubic metre ?) whereas the existing village supply which is a fair distance from the plot (700 meters) is only 1 baht per unit so there was a bit of a dilemma without me there to make a decision and in the end the easy approach was taken and nothing at all was done. I talked to the village headman about running the cheaper supply to my land (okay the wife did :) ) really with a view as to where to lay the pipework so it was much to my suprise that the next day him and his second in command trenched and lay the pipe to my plot for free !! That just left me to trench and lay 200m of pipe to supply varios points around the plot, whilst the trench was there I also lay pipework for the more expensive supply (apparently potable hence the price) to supply the future house.

Having water meant I could crack on and get the compost heaps going, the upside of having such rampant weed growth on the plot is the sheer amount of biomass that has accumulated (gotta look at the positives or I might just cry). I'm making some fast 6 week compost innoculated with EM and molasses which is turned every 3 days (to control temperature and moisture levels) as well as some slower burning more traditional piles. I've also managed to plant about 20 mixed fruit trees, using naturally produced rice straw compost from where last seasons rice straw had rotted down, in the planting holes.

My parents visited last week and the old man helped me to put up the eucalyptus framework for a shade house so at the moment I'm stitching together the fabric to cover it. It covers an area of 64 square meters so plenty of room for raising seedlings, a tree nursery and some growing beds for the more delicate veggies. Young Ton also helped with the frame, measuring and sawing poles etc and my parents were really taken by him commenting what a happy little lad he was and admiring the way he never seems to get bored with the job in hand.

This week I'm going to try my hand at knocking up some Bokashi to ferment our kitchen waste and when I track down the elusive rice husks biochar is the order of the day. I'll be interested to know how you get on with the rice straw FF, my only concern would be the lightweight nature of the carbonised straw and preventing it from blowing about during the process but the material is so readily available (we'll be moving 6 truckloads from the paddy onto the plot shortly to use as mulch and for yet more compost ) that I would consider giving it a go, but hey I'll let you do the experimenting :D

There has been a bit of cooler weather in the last week so it seems like it's time to start sowing up (haven't forgotten you Lickey, please PM me your address) , but what with all the infrastructure I've been working on (still got the ponds to sort out and stock) it's gonna be a struggle to prepare beds in time to grow as much as I would like this year but I'm sure I'll get something in the ground.

Take care all

Jandtaa

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Hello all,

I'm so pleased to see the end of the so called "rainy season" and the weather cooling a bit.

This year the rainy season just never really arrived as it typically does. Here we had scorching hot cloudless days which was absolutely no good for starting seedlings and occasional torrential rainstorms with high winds that destroyed most that I could manage to get going on my little plot.

Still, I plodded on and kept up with the soil improvement, so not a waste of time :)

The locals think that I'm strange as I now walk to the plot the long way round and scoop up a bucket of yesterday's cow poop where the cows have been grazing near the river. Adding this to the compost pile has really improved it. I don't know why but cow poop from the pens just doesn't seem the same as fresh. There seems to be more fibrous material in it. Do cows have different poop during the day than at night?

It's really nice to see my veggies doing so well with the new season. It still remains to be seen if I will get some edible tomatoes this season or not. Why does the family have to keep nicking them before they are ripe?!

Bought another little plot a few months back and will be starting on that when this one is fully planted. I'm giving some thought to making a nursery of some sort to start seedlings and allow them to strengthen up before they have to face the elements, but I've no idea about the best way to go about this. You'd use a greenhouse in the Uk, but what here?

The missus wants to keep a few cows now and pen them on the new plot. If she does, then I may well grow soil enriching plants that can be used as cattle feed.

How's your little protege Jandtaa (Ton, was it?) is he still as keen as at first?

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Hi Loong

Good to hear you're still beavering away on your plot :D !!

Yeah have to agree from what I've observed since I've been back that the rainy season didn't yield too much rain. regarding raising seedlings and the tropical equivalent of a greenhouse I reckon a shade house is the way to go, euca or bamboo framework with shade netting ( not really sure whether the 80 percent I've used is too strong but I want to use it for growing in the hot season. I do have a light meter for the old camera so I guess I can measure the lumens with this ) I'd be interested to know what Soidog 2 uses for his toms etc.. I also reckon that you need to consider airflow through the structure looking to prevailing winds rather than a fan. I'll try and post some pics of what I've cobbled together for about 2000 baht in the next couple of days!

Regarding the manure I am guessing that the pen manure has a percentage of rice husks, sawdust etc.. as it also doubles as bedding ( I know the stuff I bought has )

so this will effect the C:N ratio of your compost, it's also possible that that the pen manure is aged, around here the cattle are kept under cover through the rainy season and the bedding is shovelled into a holding area every so often where it goes through its "hot" phase of composting before being dried, bagged and sold on. I managed to get mine still moist and still hot after a bit of persuasion and the offer to shovel it myself ( in the end the uncle and his wife shovelled whilst I loaded the truck ).

Yeah young Ton still comes out to the plot and helps out and in the recent school holidays brought a whole gang of mates with him !! Guess they were just bored with setting off fire crackers, flying kites etc.. but they were a godsend in digging the planting holes for the fruit trees. I just got them working in shifts swinging the Thai hoe and scooping out the loose soil and as boys will be boys they all wanted to prove they were stronger than the next !! I encouraged this competitiveness ( I know exploiting forced child labour :D ) and all were rewarded with a daily bowl of noodles and plenty of soft drinks. I also had a daily bonus for the kid who had shifted the most soil of 20 baht (funnily enough it was a different kid each day despite their protestations :D ). Ton usually spends 5 minutes with me on his way to school to inspect progress and usually chides me for not working fast enough (he's so keen to start sowing up) and comes out to help at weekends with the watering ,compost making and any other chores.

As an aside I've just been round to the ricemill to see for myself what the situation is regarding rice husk ( not that I don't trust the missus implicitly but I've learnt that due to my lack of Thai languge skills that sometimes it pays to have a lookee see for ones self, turns out they're selling to the local ice factory (possibly to facilitate the sliding of the large blocks of ice ??) and that it is also seasonal. In the cool season there is not such demand from the factory and with the rice harvest over and plenty of grain in the granaries people are sending more rice for milling. There was also a language barrier with me asking the wife for "glab kao", whilst what we know as bio-char is referred to as "glab dam" husks from the the mill seem to be referred to as "mee kao" could be a Northern dialect thing but wouldn't swear by it :) !! Anyway picked up 5 large bags in their borrowed "rot khaen" with the promise of as much as I can take when available :D . So I reckon I'll stock up while the goings good (bio-char here I come), looks like I may have to build a storage barn for all the raw materials maybe this is why the wife stalls on occasion as the new house is her priority :D .

cheers for now J

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Hi Jandtaa and everybody,

I'm actually dismayed when I see the cow pens in this area. There are no rice husks, straw etc or any sort of bedding. They have to spend the night standing or laying in their own dung and urine. I don't understand as they are quite valuable animals and I'm sure that this must promote disease!!?

There seems to be a better market for dung now as I notice that more trucks are coming regularly to collect it. It must be good for the cows as their pens are cleared out more frequently. In the past I have seen them standing in urine soaked dung almost to their knees!

I've had a bit of luck - a neighbour has seen me out scooping up the cow poop and said "please come and scoop up ours". I didn't even know that they had cattle. Unusually they keep just a few cows in a large fenced area. It's right on the edge of the village and behind houses so I didn't know it was there. There's not enough poop to make it economical to collect from the large area, bag and sell. To me, this is grade "A" poop. It looks great, it smells great and rub it in your hands and it crumbles nicely. I'm a happy person :)

I know that this question probably belongs in another thread, but is there a maximum of cow dung that should be added to a compost heap?

Life is good :D

I'm not getting s fatigued by the heat and able to work longer in the garden. Most of my seedlings are doing well and strong. I'm still planting beans to fix nitrogen and although I don't get a harvest, I see the benefit that the beans keep the blackfly(?) and ants busy, so other plants can flourish. When the mung bean plants get too infested with blackfly, I cut them down and bury them- improves the soil and a very good decoy :D

The ants just destroy my eggplants, but grow black mung beans and the ants tend to concentrate on them and so the eggplants and I hope tomatoes get very little attention.

I hope that everybody is enjoying their gardens as much as I am at the moment.

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Hi Loong

yeah there is a recommended amount of manure to be added to your compost heap, if there is no bedding it makes it simpler. What you are looking for is a carbon to nitrogen ratio ( carbon being straw, rice husks etc and nitrogen being supplied by manure, green plants, freshly cut weeds etc..) of about 30:1 but I've found it to be a bit more of an art than an exact science.

You should really try the boric acid ant killer that dr treelove has been promoting on the general farming forum ( good on you fella ). I've been using it for a couple of years now and it really is the mutts nuts !! It is carried back by the workers and destroys the nest, recently I've been using it under my newly planted fruit trees where I was seeing some damage from aphids on a couple of specimens. Kills off the ant colony in 3-4 days and then the ladybirds etc move in and the aphids are no longer a problem :D !!

Glad you're enjoying life !! I just wish I could get all the hard graft out of the way and concentrate on growing but hey no pain no gain as they say :) .

Cheers for now J

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