The climate in Northern Thailand is fairly predictable most of the time, the year is divided roughly into three seasons, a cold (for thai standards at least) and dry one, from November till February, a hot and dry season between March and whenever the rains come, generally around May/June, and then a rainy season which normally lasts until the second half of October. Two years ago the rainy season started very early and was extremely wet, bringing flooding to large parts of the country, including Bangkok, parts of which were under water for nearly a month, last year it was much less intense and parts of Eastern Thailand lost a lot of their rice crop as there was not enough water to bring the rice to maturity.
Now in April, we are approaching the hottest part of the year, the maximum temperature is around 40C and it stays pretty warm through the night also, this is the time for summer storms, which generally here are not as powerful and damaging as what I knew in Europe, maybe due to the fact that we are far from the sea and protected by the mountains around us. The first storm of the season is a happy event, unless your roof has been blown off I suppose, suddenly the temperature drops off a bit and all around everything turns brilliant green in a few days.
It is difficult to grow much in these temperatures without heavy watering, we have a few beds of peanuts that will be ready to harvest in a couple of weeks and a few veggies for home consumption, eggplant, okra, sweet peppers, tomatoes and a few leaves and beans. We are also growing a little bit of tobacco. We use some of the time to water our still young trees and we are making preparations for a new round of plantings as soon the first rains arrive. We have built two quite large compost piles, which should produce around 300 sacks of compost and we still have a lot of corn stalks to put through the chipper to be used as mulch on our veggie beds to try and slow the weeds down, we also still have quite a lot of rice straw that we should try to use up as it starts to rain.
This year’s planting has two main objectives. With the help of some experienced agro foresters we found thanks to Michael Commons from Green Net, we are going to plant an area of about two acres as a small indigenous forest of hardwood trees intercropped with some cash crops until the trees grow up and shade the place out, the other plan is to fill some of the areas where we already have fruit trees, we are planning to plant some arabica coffee, oolong tea, moringa oleifera, katuk, acacia pennata, some more papaya and a variety of citrus trees, lemon, lime, and kaffir lime as well as some sour starfruit, the last three being the main ingredients for home made washing up liquid.
Our temporary nursery is filling up with seedlings, moringa and jatropha for living fences, sweet tamarind, papaya, leucaena all grown from seed, as well as some more asparagus.
We live in a small mountain valley surrounded by forest in the foothills of Doi Inthanon, the highest peak in Thailand, which we can see in the distance from our verandah, not that we have much time for chilling at the moment, as well as the garden and construction work we have more work in the shape of a six month old little girl, time really flies by. Once all the planting has been done and the rains have arrived, I am going to take some time off from the garden, play with the baby, give my back some much needed tlc and learn to bake bread in the new oven, it’s good to dream…..