This is not an elaborate ingredient list for an exotic recipe. It is a list of fruit, vegetables, and herbs that have grown around our house this past year.
On almost a daily basis we use something from our garden in our food, whether its adding a sprig of fresh mint to our Nam Tak or Mojito, conjuring up a fresh salad using our own lettuce, or adding cauliflower, peas or eggplant to a stir fry, it still amazes me that we are able to eat what we grow.
Our own tomatoes, freshly picked.
It amazes me for many reasons. First, we are growing it. Us, city dwellers, now growing food. In truth most of it is tended by Ma and Mee, our two septuagenarian gardeners-in-residence, but I think we have some claim to it too. Second, I thought it would take a lot more time before we got near this stage, but I’m glad we are where we are. Thirdly, we are only using a tiny, tiny area of our land to grow at the moment, and we have an abundance of produce. And finally, the soil that has been rotated with cassava and sugar cane crops for years, with no shortage of fertilizer employed, actually seems to be pretty good.
In March last year we drove to Kalasin from Bangkok, making a detour to Nakhon Nayok/Prachinburi to buy about 120 trees. Lots of fruit trees and some hardwoods - teak, rosewood, and others – were loaded on to the back of our truck and we made our way to Kalasin and the site of the One Tree Farm. There was just one tree on the land when we started, an old and beautiful eucalyptus, but we wanted to change that over time.
We couldn’t have believed that some of those trees would bear fruit after just a year’s growth, but they have. In fact, some of our mango trees, which aren’t even waist height, have almost collapsed under the weight of all the fruit they have produced. I never expected fruit to appear after just a year, so it makes the next stage of what we are doing very exciting.
Mangoes are liking our soil
Not everything goes to plan
Mixing is good. Tomatoes, green beans and chili’s growing in harmony.
Last year we planted trees at random to make a fruit tree garden in front of our house, but the next stage of our plans involved some more organised ‘farming’. We have just cleared about one rai of land (1600 sq m) which is being prepared to plant crops at a larger scale. I’d say that the food we’ve had to date comes from a patch about 60-80 sq m. What we are about to do is quite daunting, but it’s the next logical step in the development of the land.
Preparing the land for the next stage - makes the perfect playground for kids and pets.
We’re a little bit late in getting to this stage as it would have been ideal to have done this at the turn of the year, and the coming rains are not ideal for growing vegetables, but the land is ready and we have to plant something to hold the ground. It will most likely be banana trees and mango trees, and some grasses to quickly get roots in the ground. This should be enough to give the land some stability during rainy season and give the trees a chance to bed in before vegetable planting times comes around.
We plan to mix veg with trees as they will eventually provide a bit of shade for the veggies, hold more water in the land when it rains, and also provide a good balance of nutrients – banana trees in particular are a good source of nitrogen in the soil. (I almost sound like I know what I’m talking about here but trust me, I don’t!)
Let’s see what happens in the future.
The aim at the beginning was to produce enough food to feed ourselves to eat healthier reduce the food we buy. Hopefully we can go some way to achieving that by the end of the year – and if what we’ve seen so far is anything to go by, we’ll have more than enough left over.
Our first picked mango, taken from the tree this morning.
I realise the blog hasn’t been updated in a while and as is often the case, there is more than one reason. None of them interesting enough to go into in detail.
During that time the reality of living remotely and enjoying a ‘first world’ lifestyle became much clearer. For all that we’ve set up our own electricity and water system there is one thing that made life come ‘unstuck’ recently, and that’s having home appliances repaired.
With online shopping as common as going into a real shop these days we can buy virtually anything from our house in the field and have it delivered within a few days. Having such easy access to life’s luxuries can make you feel very connected to the big wide world. Well, until things go wrong. Buying may be easy, but repairs? … well that’s another story.
When moving to the country I decided to have one or two luxuries that would be difficult to get locally, but with a little planning we could do it. A nice morning coffee, rather than a 3-in-1 sachet, would make a pleasant difference to the morning. And it did, until the espresso machine gave up.
The same happened to our oven. It just stopped firing up, which put a dampener on The One Tree Farm cookie production line.
With both appliances the road to repair was long and slow. The nearest store that could help us is a 2-hour drive away, which is ok for an espresso machine, but less so for a cooker. Even after taking it to the store, there was a 2 week wait for a brand rep to visit to determine the problem. Once determined, it would be taken to Bangkok – probably another 2 weeks – and if repaired, make its way back north. All-in-all around 2 months or more for what could be a simple repair.
To repair the gas cooker we had to wait for a technician to visit. Yep, you can imagine how long that took! When he did visit it was for no more than 15 minutes. It would have taken 2-3 days to get fixed in Bangkok. It was around about 2 months for us.
What can we learn from this? It’s pretty clear to me – stop buying stuff! Let’s see how that goes.