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Undone in Udon - A journey into the unknown, by the unknowing...

 
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
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June 1st this year meant my 3 year wait to escape Chiang Mai and 'work' came to an end (kind of). All our belongings were either already in Udon Thani or on the back of our pick-up trucks. We had gradually been moving stuff down for the last 9 months and had a small problem of working out how the hell to fit 3 house's worth of crap into a small 3 bedroomed house. Luckily, my wife's bestest friend had a former shop building available for our use, so lots of our stuff is slowly being eaten by termites over there.

But you're not interested in that...

Just over 2 years ago, we purchased 22 rai (8.5 acres) of land with the intention of building a new home and life on it. The land spoke to both of us and seemed perfect for our needs. It had a nice gentle slope along its entire length, down to a small pond. the water table stayed quite high and with a little swaling and pond digging, could be improved even further.

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The raised pond
The raised pond
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Looking over the sugar cane
Looking over the sugar cane
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Side of the raised pond
Side of the raised pond
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
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This was early in 2017, so I still had over 2 years to wait.

The pictures above were taken in December 2017, hence its a bit dry (dry season is Nov to Apr here). We liked to visit the land whenever we went home and my wife (Bee) started building relationships with the neighbours. We happily let them graze their buffalo on the land and they in turn said they would look after it (there's an acre or so of eucalyptus on the land that's worth a little money).

Around Easter in 2018, my wife got a call that there had been a fire and our neighbours spent all night protecting their own homes/farms against the blaze. The fire was started intentionally to burn a sugar cane field and burning off the green leaves makes harvesting easier. This is the main reason that the upper half of Thailand is covered in thick smoke for a couple of months every year. Other reasons are burning rice stubble, rice straw, national park forests so locals can go mushroom picking, refuse disposal, etc, etc. Basically, Thais are pyromaniacs.

We were told by the neighbours that this was a one-off and it wouldn't happen again. Not a big problem for us, and it also meant we could get a better look at the land.
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Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
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By Christmas 2018, things were looking much better, so we threw a few hundred baby fishes into the raised pond and were happy that there were only 6 months to go!!
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Planting fishes
Planting fishes
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The recovered pond
The recovered pond
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The recovered land
The recovered land
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
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Then, in April this year, we got another phone call saying that our land had been incinerated again. While the eucalyptus is basically fireproof, the few other trees growing on our land became even fewer, and more worrying was the fact that this one-off even had now happened two years running.

We have decided to put on hold any plans to develop this plot and will see how things go over the next 3 years. If it keeps getting burned every year, we will sell it. If it stays unmolested, we will see about once again building a small house and growing stuff.

Luckily, not all is lost. We have a plot behind hour house that is large enough for us to kill lots of plants on (1.25 rai or around 0.5 acre). Putting the other plot on the back burner is probably good for us as we can work out stuff on a smaller, cheaper scale before applying some of the lessons on a much larger scale. It will also give me more time to get my carcass into some sort of shape and sitting on my arse for the last decade hasn't done me many favours physically. Working in 35+ degrees heat is #$%!$ hard going and I struggle to get enough water into me to replace the amount lost in sweat. Doing a few hours here and there is the way to go.

The way things currently stand is that we have a funny shaped piece of land that has 2 'new zones' that are more recent additions and the soil is effectively dead. We had to raise the level of the land by a metre or so to match the rest of it. Under New Zone 1 is decent soil with weeds and under New Zone 2 is excellent soil with a felled coconut tree trunk and lots of vegetation - deeper rooting stuff will grow really well here. Unfortunately the top soil is the red clay-like crap that you find everywhere here. We have just thrown a load of stuff at it for now (corn, squashes, Brazilian peanut, normal peanut) in the hope that some of it will grow, even if its just to provide food for later crops.

We are thinking of putting a number of trellis structures in New Zone 1 as there is a strong wall we can use to anchor stuff to. We need to plant a load more fruit trees in New Zone 2 and I will put moringa saplings along the south and west edges to provide shade from the sun for the next few years.

The main area behind the house has more settled soil that's alive and we have planted a load of trees here, in addition to the jackfruit, moringa and a couple of other quick-growing woody trees that I don't know the names of. We have planted mango, coffee, cocoa, avocado, longan, pomelo, tamarind, dwarf coconut, rambutan, mangosteen, mulberry, guava, rose apple, pomegranate, Marian plum, date palm, karanda (whatever that is) and some 'jungle plants' that only the locals would ever eat.

Ideally, I would be able to buy another plot of land (labelled 'Wanted!') as this is good soil and leads down to an all year round water supply. It's about 0.75 rai (0.3 acre) in size and would complete this little homestead nicely. We can't buy the bit next to New Zone 1 as its my sister-in-law's land and its unlikely they'd sell it.

You can also see plans for a small guest house with rainwater storage, solar leccy and solar hot water. I think 24,000 litres of rainwater will be enough, but I can supplement it with well water if I absolutely have to.

Our main focus for now is building soil and while we have done a little composting, we will snag loads of rice straw after the next harvest and smother the plot with it, focusing on the 2 new zones.

(Apologies for waffling, but I just want to get this down before I forget anything)
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Homestead plans
Homestead plans
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Composter
Composter
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Main area behind guest house
Main area behind guest house
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Coconut palm - now buried under New Zone 2
Coconut palm - now buried under New Zone 2
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
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Bee has been busy planting more stuff (Haas avocado, papaya and some other stuff that my sieve head can't remember) and I have put in a bunch of moringa cuttings (along with another twiggy plant) around the edge of New Zone 2 which will hopefully provide shade, bind the soil on the slope and fix a bit of nitrogen.

Some bits are getting overgrown again, so I'll be getting the strimmer out in a day or two.
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View towards the gate
View towards the gate
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View towards New Zone 2
View towards New Zone 2
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Pa-pa-ya!
Pa-pa-ya!
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My moringa plantation
My moringa plantation
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
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Things have been ticking along slowly here for the last couple of months. The grass/weeds need hacking again and the ants are getting more aggressive. We've had lots of rain and once barren patches of soil are starting to get green. Pretty much everything that we've planted (beans, squashes, 'corn'), will be used as seed stock or for mulch, as the soil isn't ready to bear crops just yet. The fruit trees are happy though and some of my moringa transplanting has taken hold.

I built Dtia (our vicious guard dog) a house to shelter her from the rain and heat, but there's nothing to really add here yet. So, I thought I would do my first ever video. After fighting with Adobe's vision of video editing Hell (Premiere Pro), I have managed to cobble together something using clips taken on my phone.

 
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Wow! I'm looking forward to seeing more as you develop your land.

I'll be attempting something similar, but I'm about 10 years away from retiring to Thailand (Mahasarakham). My wife and I already have a plot of land there, but I'm a complete beginner at gardening and permaculture. It doesn't help when I don't even recognize many of the plants you showed and I don't know what benefits they provide. I have a lot to learn. I plan on studying permaculture (just signed up for an online class), but more useful would be some information from people already growing things in the Isan region. Especially about the types of plants, how to raise animals in the tropics and general tips on living in Thailand.

I'm trying to network with people already in Thailand so I can learn a little before I actually go there. I'd like to be able to function a little when I arrive so I don't have to keep asking for help from all the neighbors all the time!

Drop me a line some time, if you have a few free minutes.

Keep up the good work!

Scott
 
Jason Manning
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Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
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Stanley Sterner wrote:Wow! I'm looking forward to seeing more as you develop your land.

I'll be attempting something similar, but I'm about 10 years away from retiring to Thailand (Mahasarakham). My wife and I already have a plot of land there, but I'm a complete beginner at gardening and permaculture. It doesn't help when I don't even recognize many of the plants you showed and I don't know what benefits they provide. I have a lot to learn. I plan on studying permaculture (just signed up for an online class), but more useful would be some information from people already growing things in the Isan region. Especially about the types of plants, how to raise animals in the tropics and general tips on living in Thailand.

I'm trying to network with people already in Thailand so I can learn a little before I actually go there. I'd like to be able to function a little when I arrive so I don't have to keep asking for help from all the neighbors all the time!

Drop me a line some time, if you have a few free minutes.

Keep up the good work!

Scott



Hi Scott,

For us, because we also know very little, we try to stay 'local' as much as possible by taking cuttings/seedlings from neighbours (sometimes even asking first!), buying from local growers and getting info & seeds from Isaan natural farming Facebook groups. For all of these events, I rely 100% on my wife. Its usually a case of trying to work out what the hell the collection of twigs are that she's just procured before sticking them in completely the wrong spot, but only the strong survive...

If, like us, you have had to raise land with the sterile red soil, then you'll need to get as much organic matter into it as soon as possible. We got a few truckloads of rice straw. It breaks down really well during the rainy half of the year, but we didn't get nearly enough. After the next rice harvest around Easter, we will spend a week or so solely on bringing rice straw until we have a layer about 1' thick over all the red dirt areas. It'll break down in 3 or 4 months along with the brave weeds that are currently struggling on it at the moment.

And lastly (at least until my morning cuppa kicks in), by all means get yourself a nice, shiny pickup truck so the missus can look good in front of family and friends, but also spend another 100k or so on an old single cab shit box which you will use a lot more than your pride & joy. Give it a thorough service, hand paint it with rustproofing paint if needed and bung a new hi-fi in it and you'll have a great little workhorse that should last for years.

Here's my shitbox!

Shitbox.jpg
Shitbox
Shitbox
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
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Time for an update!

Not much has been happening since I last posted. Most things except weeds have given up the ghost, but the few that did hang on in there have produced a little to eat. We have some beans and a few pumpkins. We planted waaaay too early, but just needed to get stuff in.

The rice has been harvested (I said Easter above, but I woz rong) and we have bought a load of straw for around $1 a bale. We got 400 bales so far, which should be enough to put a thick layer where needed.



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Its alive!
Its alive!
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The bigger area
The bigger area
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My Hero!
My Hero!
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A struggler
A struggler
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Hanging in there
Hanging in there
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The thin area
The thin area
 
pollinator
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Jason, thanks for sharing and the pics. Looks really exciting and more work than anybody can imagine!


Cheers,
Rufus
 
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When you have a combination of bad soil and heat, it can be nearly impossible to have success with traditional row crops. If I had land like that, I would work on getting a canopy of fast growing trees over all or almost all of it.

I don't think you can burn down a moringa tree. They are like the cabbage of trees. If you can get those and similar useful trees up to the point where you are working in shade, work will be more bearable. They can reach 40 ft tall in 3 years and are easy to eliminate when necessary.

There are many good choices of nitrogen producer that could be evenly dispersed. Then it's just a matter of providing every mineral that is lacking, so that your forest can build its own soil. You may find that rice hulls  or peanut hulls, bagasse or some other agricultural residue is available for free. I could see the straw getting expensive if you're trying to do the whole place.

If only 10% of your land were planted to edible things, that would be more than enough to sustain your family. If it were all planted to edibles , I would expect almost 100% losses, to heat, drought and fire.
 
Jason Manning
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Hi Dale.

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Yes, I agree regarding the moringa trees - I have put some in around the edge and will add more when the rains return after Easter.

The thin area is going to be shaded with shade netting before next season's planting as the walls and the long, narrow shape of that plot lends itself quite nicely to doing that.

We have bean plants, peanuts and Brazillian peanuts growing all over in an effort to fix nitrogen and will leave most to either seed themselves or use the crop mainly for seed for next season.

Good shout on trying to find alternative agricultural waste - rice husks should be easy to get around here. I'll get the wife on the jungle drums.
 
Jason Manning
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I did some research into finding 'waste' products to use as mulch and none of it is available for free apart from the rice straw. Unbaled, the straw is too much work to transport. You don't get an awful lot in the back of the truck, so need to make numerous journeys. Its not worth buying my own baling machine, so I'll continue to purchase bales of straw once a year until not needed any more.

On a more positive note, we've started building the workshop part of what I call the 'guesthouse'. I have my Master Blocklayer working hard.

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Master Blocklayer
Master Blocklayer
 
Jason Manning
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It's been pretty much a year since I posted pictures of the land and its quietly doing its thing. The soil is gradually developing, most fruit trees are getting comfy and we are making progress on the build. We have also just acquired a breeding pair of ducks.

It will soon be time to smother the soil with more rice straw. We'll get 600 bails this time. We didn't put any raised beds in this year, but grew some greens & corn by the main house. We did manage to finish the shed.

Here's what it looks like today.

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Jason Manning
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Addendum:

The original 8 acres of land mentioned in the OP has been left to its own devices for the last 4 years. We are currently putting a fence around it, using the eucalyptus we have growing on the land for all the posts needed. It'll just have a simple 4 wire barbed-wire affair, and we will plant baby eucs between each pair of posts as they will become the living fence posts when the cut ones get eaten by termites in 3 or 4 year's time.

We will then plant local hardwood trees (teak, rosewood, mahogany, etc) all over the land. I guesstimated around 1600 trees will fit. This will be my gift to my yet-to-be-born grandchildren. Each hardwood tree is work in the region of 100,000THB (3,200USD) in today's money, and will do good work for 30-odd years.

Last piece of news is that we have purchased around 3 acres of land on the edge of Khao Yai National Park. It's at around 550m above sea level and has a cooler climate than where we are now. The land is currently used to grow cassava and the soil is dead and has a predilection to be washed into my neighbour's ponds. Today's plan is to retire here and build a nice house, plant trees, grow veggies and play thrash metal until I'm sent up a chimney before becoming one with nature.

It's the band of darker green in these photos.


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pollinator
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Jason Manning wrote:It's been pretty much a year since I posted pictures of the land and its quietly doing its thing. The soil is gradually developing, most fruit trees are getting comfy and we are making progress on the build. We have also just acquired a breeding pair of ducks.
Here's what it looks like today.



Thank you for posting updates and pictures - it's been enjoyable seeing the progress! So no more fires on your property? And what about the fish that you put in the pond? Are there many now?
 
Jason Manning
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Annie Collins wrote:

Jason Manning wrote:It's been pretty much a year since I posted pictures of the land and its quietly doing its thing. The soil is gradually developing, most fruit trees are getting comfy and we are making progress on the build. We have also just acquired a breeding pair of ducks.
Here's what it looks like today.



Thank you for posting updates and pictures - it's been enjoyable seeing the progress! So no more fires on your property? And what about the fish that you put in the pond? Are there many now?



Hi Annie. Thanks for the kind words.

The first property that had the 2 years of burning was fine this year. There has been pressure brought upon sugar cane processing factories to not accept canes that have been burnt, due to all the air pollution the burning causes. I'm hoping this will continue to grow and quickly be the norm. This will mean the threat of fires getting out of hand should become a thing of the past (and 1600 young trees won't get cremated!). I will probably wait another year before I start planting them.

The fish are another matter! We cannot see them in the pond, so they've either all ran away or they've been massacred by predators (aka neighbours). Its no big deal. If someone, man or beast, enjoyed them, then that's OK.

I will hopefully visit there this week, so will try to take some photos, but not much has changed there since we bought it.
 
Jason Manning
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Here are a few more photos of the land next to our house (as opposed to the larger 8 acre plot).

We attacked the compost heap and chipped all the smsll branches that were all over the place. Its very brown on top, but black & rich underneath. We'll leave it alone for now, but will probably end up planting veggies into it in a year or so, when it will have all but disappeared.

Getting the tool shed finished has made our lives so much better. I don't have all my man-toys scattered around the house, and all the gardening equipment is in the garden.

I posted earlier about getting a 'shitbox' to use on the land. Well, I bought another one, as my old one won't last forever and its noisy and uncomfortable on longer journeys. Ford had a deal on some of their new trucks, so I bought one. They didn't want to give me the advertised price so I gave them a hard time until they relented. I had always intended buying another long bed single cab in a few year's time, but this price was too good to miss ($15,000).

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Jason Manning
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We are now a month or so into our 'winter' season. Daytime temps of around 30C and lovely cool evenings of around 15C to 20C. It is also dry until April.

Our two ducks appear to be getting frisky and one day soon we'll add a few hens to the bird pen. Its also nearly time to add more straw to the land. 600 bales this time.

While the plants start to shrivel due to the lack of rain, the humans can increase their production as the dryer and cooler temps mean we can work for longer. My wife really struggles with my idea of not wasting our groundwater on watering the garden, but she sneaks the occasional watering in when I'm not looking. I believe the trees & shrubs should be able to get through the dry months by themselves.

Building work has significantly sped up with the introduction of a crew to build the larger building. Now that we have done a fair amount of the smaller building, they can see how I want it constructed. We are also partially walling our land near the buildings, more for privacy than anything else.

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Jason Manning
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Jason Manning wrote:

Annie Collins wrote:

Jason Manning wrote:It's been pretty much a year since I posted pictures of the land and its quietly doing its thing. The soil is gradually developing, most fruit trees are getting comfy and we are making progress on the build. We have also just acquired a breeding pair of ducks.
Here's what it looks like today.



Thank you for posting updates and pictures - it's been enjoyable seeing the progress! So no more fires on your property? And what about the fish that you put in the pond? Are there many now?



Hi Annie. Thanks for the kind words.

The first property that had the 2 years of burning was fine this year. There has been pressure brought upon sugar cane processing factories to not accept canes that have been burnt, due to all the air pollution the burning causes. I'm hoping this will continue to grow and quickly be the norm. This will mean the threat of fires getting out of hand should become a thing of the past (and 1600 young trees won't get cremated!). I will probably wait another year before I start planting them.

The fish are another matter! We cannot see them in the pond, so they've either all ran away or they've been massacred by predators (aka neighbours). Its no big deal. If someone, man or beast, enjoyed them, then that's OK.

I will hopefully visit there this week, so will try to take some photos, but not much has changed there since we bought it.



I did take a couple of photos near the main pond. Its really beautiful up there at the moment. I'm quite upset I'll never get to live there, but am looking forward to the day I can walk under a canopy of trees that I planted!

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Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
20
duck forest garden chicken building solar homestead
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Time for another update. My main focus is getting my 'man cave' finished, while Bee has been planting tomatoes, chillis, auborgene, and probably some other stuff too.
Sadly, Donald Duck died from unknown reasons. Daisy was a bit upset, so we got her some chicken friends to hang out with. She seems happy now and I have eggs!
We have also had another load of straw bales delivered - 600 this time. We will soon be moving the chickens & Daisy to the far end where the white wall is, so we can utilise the better soil in their current location.
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Workshop entrance
Workshop entrance
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Inside the courtyard
Inside the courtyard
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Chicken action
Chicken action
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Daisy
Daisy
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Future chicken coop area
Future chicken coop area
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Tommys
Tommys
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More straw going down
More straw going down
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
20
duck forest garden chicken building solar homestead
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A quick update!

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The future is now
The future is now
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Tomatoes & chillis
Tomatoes & chillis
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Soon-to-be mangoes
Soon-to-be mangoes
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Choccy plant
Choccy plant
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Coffee plant
Coffee plant
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Banana - duh!
Banana - duh!
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The new courtyard
The new courtyard
 
gardener
Posts: 2324
Location: South of Capricorn
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dog rabbit urban cooking writing homestead ungarbage
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Wow! How things have changed! Looks great.
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
20
duck forest garden chicken building solar homestead
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A few more photos
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The Leveller
The Leveller
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The front is done
The front is done
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A bunch of พริก
A bunch of พริก
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First tommys
First tommys
 
pollinator
Posts: 159
Location: Chon Buri Thailand Zone 11-12
50
forest garden fish plumbing chicken pig
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Hi Jason,

The red dirt tells me we will be in the near proximity if all goes well, but as long I am negotiating hard with the Landlord I go not into further details.

And with Stanley Sterner there might come another Permaculturist in Isaan, who knows.
My Golden Rule for Expats: It takes 7 days to say "I am gone" but you need 7 Years to say: "I am here" 2002 I came and since 2010 I get Homesick when I am working abroad, so I developed in 11 years my plan to escape the rat race.

With Moringa you are on the right way regarding shade and adding soil.
There ain't almost any quicker ways. For my planned pig pastures I was mentioning 1200 Trees needed beside Lucerne and Grasses and some bigger trees like Chestnuts and a few Marula Trees so the Pigs can have their own "Festival" once a year.
(Vetiver grass is great for your pond and erosion control/soil build up plus provides huge amount of mulch)
BUT there is this little in my eyes beautiful animal, green, long and thick as a man's finger which makes my wife scared sh*tless. BUNG in Thai or in English Caterpillars, because they know also how healthy Moringa is.

Your wife would be the first Thai I ever heard of who would not start running even at midday temperatures when meeting one of these critters chewing some Moringa leaves. My wife even gets hell of some nightmares after it.

The pond look quite healthy.

Did you consider to get some more animals on your place? 20 rai is 32000 sqm or almost 8 acres you could easy establish a non stinking rotational pasture starting with a few Duroc pigs who work (rooting) and fertilize the ground perfectly and change later to some almost no tilling/rooting Kune Kune Pigs to keep fertilizing the parcels.
(just my humble opinion as there are enough Expats in Thailand who know better and always have some helpful advises for all kind of life situations, actually the same guys who are permanently in debt by others. The reason why I want move to a rural area as well)

But if you can post a picture of your Moringas from time to time and off cause of the hopefully developing Brasil Nuts -are these also called shade loving Pinto Nuts which make a perfect ground cover that even NEEDS heavy grazing for proper growth?

Just keep posting, I'll sure follow up here to pick your brain.
I might be already long in Thailand but also regarding farming I have to listen to my in Law family and wife but also I need steering them into a new kind of farming with no fire, no pesticides and a little love to caterpillars.
So some influence from outside might come handy as well..

Cheers for the good post and I am looking forward to meet you in person for a Leo on a lazy chair in your/my yard for a little yek yek fitting our topic.

Will (See's husband)

 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
20
duck forest garden chicken building solar homestead
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Hi Will - thanks for taking the time to post. If you find yourself in Udon, please drop me a line. There's always beer in the fridge!

I did want pigs for the large parcel of land, but without us actually being there, its not possible unfortunately. Maybe once the trees are established we could add some, if our neighbour is happy to look after them for us? Even if we get the trees in this year, it'll be 4 - 6 years before any trees are mature enough to offer shade/snacks.

My wife hates worms or anything worm-like, so is not a fan of caterpillars. She is happy to report on all the returning wildlife on our small piece of land behind our house - birds, lizards, frogs/toads etc, despite having a digger moving everything around for the last couple of weeks as we try to get levels correct as well as adding drainage rings and large 'banana circles' in an effort to hold on to some of the rain water before it runs away onto neighbouring plots of land.

We also recently returned from out 7 rai in Wang Nam Keow where we have commissioned a large pond, swales and a bit of levelling for our 'weekend home'. To say my wallet is hurting at the moment is an understatement, but it all needs doing.

 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
20
duck forest garden chicken building solar homestead
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A small update regarding the first plot of land that was burnt to a crisp a couple of times...

So, there's around 8 acres here and we decided to plant a forest of 4 acres. Mainly teak, but a few other varieties to. At the moment a neighbour has some cows on the site doing good work keeping the worst of the grasses down and adding lots of fertilizer.

We are fencing off the forest but its crazy hot. I managed 6 posts before the heat got to me, so I'm sitting in the truck with the AC on full. The missus is carrying on.

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My rock
My rock
 
See Hes
pollinator
Posts: 159
Location: Chon Buri Thailand Zone 11-12
50
forest garden fish plumbing chicken pig
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Hi Jason,

I have a lot of time to spend on this job at the moment and was reading all way through the use of Vetiver Grass.

The person behind the success of Vetiver technology in Thailand is His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the first person in the country to recognize the potential value of Vetiver for soil and water conservation.

This Grass has really amazing properties and especially regarding rainwater catchment and soil erosion it is almost outstanding against all other plants.

It does not spread, it is a great mulch, it protects from erosion, getting older than some trees, is a good fodder plant in young stage, pest control, medical and cosmetically properties should be mentioned as well.

I have been passing on my way to my father in law near Mahasarakham a longer row around fields and it has also an amazing smell.
Father explained then the story of Vetiver and the huge efforts of our beloved King to get this plant known throughout Thailand.

Literally an all-rounder to have as a first hedge around your property or just to keep swales in shape.
Beside it will deliver tons of high valuable mulch to chop and drop around your trees.
Depending how deep it must go to find water, the roots go anywhere between 2 and 7 meters straight down in the ground...

You can buy it at Lazada for quite a fair price in bundles to 1000 or more.

Just as Info if you want a quick evaluation of your property.
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
20
duck forest garden chicken building solar homestead
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Thanks for your post. While I don't think I'll be planting grasses here, it may well come in handy at one of my two other sites.

The site of the forest has really good moisture retention which improves as you follow the gentle slope. I expect the trees to manage the water on the site once they're big enough, and the leaf mulch and gradually improving canopy cover to reduce undergrowth as well as encourage straighter trees, as most will be harvested for timber, before being replanted of course.
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
20
duck forest garden chicken building solar homestead
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A few photos of our latest additions at the main house. We're doubling the size of the duck/chicken area and will now have the ability to split the run in two.

While the birds seem quite happy together, I wonder if there is a benefit to seperating them at all?

Or, would I be better off using it to keep new birds away from older birds until they are big enough to not get bullied?

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Quack!
Quack!
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Teak at 1 year old
Teak at 1 year old
 
See Hes
pollinator
Posts: 159
Location: Chon Buri Thailand Zone 11-12
50
forest garden fish plumbing chicken pig
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Hi Jason,

Ducks are not such troublemakers than Chicken and after a short "hello" phase of a couple of days they will get along fine.
Still have an eye on the alpha Drake as he might be a bit rude at the beginning.

Beside that Ducks appreciate when they are strong in numbers.  
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
20
duck forest garden chicken building solar homestead
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The front of our large (for us) 8 acre plot has an acre or so of eucalyptus interspersed with an occasional 'jungle tree'. We are in the process of removing them so we can add some more interesting trees that can be used for timber in 20 years or so. We'll also add fruit trees and make sure some of the timber trees are also nut providers.

We have two shallow ponds that currently run alongside the euc. I will get them moved and deepened to run through the centre of this acre to hold water for the new trees. The euc roots will be pulled out later in the year when it is dryer as we have another pond to fettle at the far end of the land and its too boggy down there at the moment.

The plan below shows where we have ponds on the land now.

Existing-Water.jpg
Existing water on 8 acre plot
Existing water on 8 acre plot
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
20
duck forest garden chicken building solar homestead
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This plan shows some of what we have already done and some of what is to happen before the end of the year.

From the entrance (Gate) we will be planting new trees to replace the former eucalyptus plantation. We will have the ponds moved over so they are central and do a better job of storing water that the trees can use. These will be below ground level.

Then, we have our exiting raised pond around which we will add more trees, primarily fruit and maybe a bit of cinnamon, agar and other interesting trees. Near that pond we would like to build a small house on 'stilts' so we can stay there if we want.

Past the fence is our 'teak and a few other species' plantation. Most of these trees are already in. The land slopes gently down to the bottom pond which is more of a big puddle than a pond. We'll rotate it and deepen it later in the year. The land has good moisture from about 25% of the way down. You can see this in the photo where the green cover turns a little browner. The new trees will regulate this better after two or three years, but I think we will have to pull water from the middle pond to water the top 25% of tress until that time.

The small piece of land labelled 'To be added later' is owned by the same family we bought the main plot form (via the bank) and they want to sell that to us also. It is a good plot as it also has road access at the other end away from our main access. They can't sell it for a year or two as it has stipulations on the deeds, but when they expire it should be ours.

A neighbour was grazing cows on there, but will have to wait 2 or 3 years before the trees are big enough not to get trampled. Or, we might put Thai pigs on there if we can find someone to look after them for us. They're slow growing and much better suited to the climate here than the ubiquitous 'pink porkers' that need pumping full of antibiotics to keep them alive.

Future.jpg
This year's plan
This year's plan
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
20
duck forest garden chicken building solar homestead
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A few photos from today's meander around the back garden.
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Hugelkulture in progress
Hugelkulture in progress
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Banana pit
Banana pit
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Teak tree @1 year
Teak tree @1 year
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Veggie patch
Veggie patch
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Sesame
Sesame
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Planting cucumber
Planting cucumber
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Chicken & duck
Chicken & duck
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Path leading back
Path leading back
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
20
duck forest garden chicken building solar homestead
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Another update, seeing as things are growing quite a bit. We're just starting to get to the tail end of the rainy season. It should end at the end of October and 1st November is officially (in my fifedom at least), the first day of the cool, dry season (or 'winter' as its humourously called).

In the spirit of sharing, the wife and I just shared loads of our blood with the mozzies. Its a pity the covid vaccine doesn't provide protection against them as well. 🦟

One slightly annoying thing we are facing is that after a couple of months the chickens are not yet laying. Our previous squad of four started fairly quickly, but these new ladies don't seem to be in much of a hurry. The original gand of four (or was it 5?) have stopped laying too! Flippin' 'eck! We are getting one egg a day and the shell is always a little wrinkled. They get enough bought in food, plus scraps, plus plant cuttings (not tomatoes). I guess I will wait a few more months as some people suggest up to 6 months before some birds start to lay. We will go back to our original supplier for the next influx of birds, and this lot will be spending Christmas in the freezer if they haven't got productive by then. ❄️

On the plus side, the ducks have had two more chicks (well three, but one died), which brings the total to six. I think one of the first two will be Christmas dinner! 🐣

Bee has also planted enough cucumbers to supply half the country, despite me telling her to stagger the seeding and have more variety. Only our dogs listen to me and that's only when they think they're likely to get a treat.🤔

Enough waffle, here are the money shots! 🤑

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Quackers
Quackers
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Potential 'chickicide' victims
Potential 'chickicide' victims
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Cucumbers galore
Cucumbers galore
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Baby pineapple
Baby pineapple
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Pappaya
Pappaya
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Bananas about bananas
Bananas about bananas
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Same teak as before getting taller
Same teak as before getting taller
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Corny corner
Corny corner
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My pool/frog factory
My pool/frog factory
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
20
duck forest garden chicken building solar homestead
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I don't really expect anyone to read my nonsense, but I have received quite a bit of love for this thread. It is very, very appreciated - thank you!
 
See Hes
pollinator
Posts: 159
Location: Chon Buri Thailand Zone 11-12
50
forest garden fish plumbing chicken pig
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Jason Manning wrote:I don't really expect anyone to read my nonsense, but I have received quite a bit of love for this thread. It is very, very appreciated - thank you!

 


I follow this post.  
Almost at the same moment my wife called me an told me very excited that her two Myazaki Mango Trees have arrived and are both in an excellent state.

we will post it in my tread as well incl pictures and why this Mangoes are so important to us...

beside my wife became a fanatical fruit tree from all around the world collector...
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
20
duck forest garden chicken building solar homestead
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Ha ha! Don't f**k wiv ma mangoes!

Yes, mangoes and durian.
 
Jason Manning
Posts: 72
Location: Udon Thani, Thailand
20
duck forest garden chicken building solar homestead
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Hurry up!!
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Slowww pineapple
Slowww pineapple
 
See Hes
pollinator
Posts: 159
Location: Chon Buri Thailand Zone 11-12
50
forest garden fish plumbing chicken pig
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Here in Taiwan is a pineapple farmer famous for growing pineapples with 2-3 heads grown into one looking like Siamese twins..

I bought one as a whole and wanted to get the heads with to Thailand but the Farmer sells only the fruit chopped into pieces and keeps the heads.

I tried it 3 times and now he has a very close eye on me when I pop up.

The last time I offered him 5000 NT$ (180 US$) if he sells me a whole pineapple and I promise to bring it to Thailand, he refused with a big smile...

Pity, you know how much people would pay 20 baht to get on your land and search for lucky lottery numbers on the plants...
 
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