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Khun Jean

Cacao, Vanilla, Mint and..... Balsa.

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Being tired of Bangkok we are planning our move more south. We already planning this for some time and we think after researching many options we choose to grow what is mentioned in the topic.

We have some land (7 rai) in Ban Krut that we would like to develop.

Currently it has old Coconut trees which still give good quality coconuts, so we are keeping most of them.

As they are spread far apart we are investigating planting cacao and vanilla in between.

Cacao needs lots of light but not direct sunlight will probably work as the coconut tress provide lots of cover.

The vanilla can be added when the cacao is more mature (4-5 years) but we would lke to start them in a small nursery and plant them separately first to get some experience.

Mints grow fast so we will do that in our garden around the house.

The balsa will be the biggest experiment, i know of no balsa plantations in Thailand so i am not sure if it will even grow here.

We plan to use about 1-3 rai for this, but start smaller if seeds are expensive.

Another candidate that seems to fit in what we like to do (making chocolate smile.png ) is coffee.

We would like to be able to process the produce and make end products. Before we can grow our own we would like to source small quantities of produce from others to start experimenting and producing end products.

There are specific things we like to research more and would like to ask if someone could share their experience, everything we learn will be shared likewise.

Information can be found on the net but very little is in a tropical climate. For instance drying mint by hanging it in a dry and cold place would be impossible. Drying it mechanically with the use of a food dryer would be the alternative but it seems it could be done more naturally, by the sun for instance. But it then needs a different process of storing. Things like that we would like to learn.

My very shortened list for the first steps are:

Cacao:

Where to source seeds that are still in the pod and not older than a few days.

Sourcing fresh cacao pods

Fermenting and drying processes in high humidity climate as in Thailand

Vanilla:

Where to source cuttings for starting to grow our own vanilla

Sources of freshly picked vanilla pods or if not available dried pods, directly from farmer if possible.

Best ways of making vanilla extract

Balsa:

Sourcing seeds.

For all above tips on preparing soil conditions.

As we want to grow from seeds, we have time to prepare the soil so that it can support the growth ones it goes from nursery to final location.

Preventing beginners mistake is what this request for information is all about. :)

The sourcing is the most difficult. As the net is currently my only information source at the moment i can only find them in far away countries. This will mean they will arrive in not so good conditions. I would much rather have seeds from Thailand as they are probably of a kind that will actually grow here better.

If i only know that it would get us started. Al other unknowns have more time to be solved as this is a long term project with lots of learning on the way.

The end goal as stated is to be able to produce end products that can be sold to the consumer.

It has to be 'organic' and to get there we will start by using other farmers produce. Creating an end product is difficult all by itself so we would like to start with making chocolate.

The process is been done for hundreds of years and it has not many secrets. As such it is a good place to start.

We will start with a small 'lab' to find our own little niche and get familiar and experiment with different kinds of processing.

When this works scaling it up is the next step. In parallel will be growing our own produce which wil take at least 4 years.

We definitely don't want to do it all by ourselves, so we would like to invite people who have similar goals to come along for the ride.

We will start our first little 'lab' in Prachuap City, it will be a few months before it is ready. First estimates are around April 2016.

Facebook page and website to log our progress is being worked on right now.

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very interesting please is this a planned commercial project or for personal use ? me thinks inviting others to share you dream is one big dream in its self however i wish you luck in your proposed venture, any of your growing info could be gleaned from about an hours worth

of internet searching your plan seems lacking in everything else but as i say good luck do not rely on receiving my cheque

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Well thank you for that very informative answer. Maybe refrain from posting as now it is just filler that wastes my bandwidth. Sorry have very low tolerance for these things.

Deleted the rest because it just repeats what has already been said.

I am not excusing because personal and business interests are mixed.

Personally i think it is the best mix possible and it will give the best results.

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Well, I have some cacao trees, some coffee trees, some vanilla vines.

Love your idyllic plan, I will be very happy to share some experiences with you as you get started.

From time to time I can share some cacao seeds; they need to be planted immediately out of the pod.

On vanilla, you should do your homework, easy to grow, almost impossible to produce.

Best Regards

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Thanks Soi Dog,

Yes it is idyllic, but as long it does not cost to much it adds to my experiences which should be fun.

Thanks for the offer for some seeds, much appreciated.

Indeed vanilla is not easy at all. It is a nice complement to the cacao though.:)

Bangkok is our home until around March/April, have to wait until the kids terms finish,

Still lots of time to prepare. And before a cacao tree or vanilla plant is big enough to bear fruit it is still a long way in the future.

I am not in a hurry.:)

.

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Whenever, invest as much time & energy as you can into soil preparation.

Cacao; to develop pollinators needs a super humid environment, in my case, accomplished by a thick undisturbed leaf litter beneath the canopy combined with lots of organic material worked into the soil.

Best regards!

Ps, if happy, cacao will start bearing in about four years,

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Vanilla vine is sold at chatuchak market, has anybody here ever had one produce vanillabeans?

Also on the kasetsartfair from 29 jan and later they will be sold i guess. Better go there, there's so much more for sale.

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Thanks fruitman, i certainly will have a look.

I bought one for 70 baht at the kaset fair.

But i don't know how to grow it.

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why would someone buy dried mint when it can be had fresh in the market for 5 baht a small bunch? just saying.

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