The compost piles of Anchaleephorn Garden

Since I eliminated all the ‘shoulds’ from my life, I’m sometimes a little laggardly in my maintenance behavior. I keep thinking of writing blog post and I’ve got some pictures but I don’t sit down and dink the think.

And my priorities are a little skewed. I think compost piles are a big thing. I’ve been working on ones here since the start but I let them rot unattended. Nam has been ordering more cow manure so I’ve had an ingredient that has been in short supply. There is so much vegetation produced by the garden that I have numerous large piles. I just rearranged and consolidated them a while ago and we got our first compost to use on the garden. Nam is a convert now.

 

 

 

Nam thinks the compost has helped squash production at the vegie trellis area I built.

 

 

I wanted more organic vegies than we can find in the markets, otherwise I would have bought from the local marketeers and we could have stuck to permaculture.

We are getting a very consistent production of papayas now.

 

And we leave some for the birds.

 

We must have 20 banana clumps with 3-7 stems in each group. I prop up the producing stems with my customized bamboo poles.

 

 

My coffee plants had lots of flowers this year and now there are little buds.

 

Along the fence by the gate we have some beautiful flowers.

 

 

I’ve been working again on creating a water feature.

 

 

I want to bring the water all the way down to front porch and make a little pond where you can clean your feet. Nam is always after me about this, since I don’t have the proper Thai training in foot washing behavior.

And I want to create a small waterfall tinkle you can hear from the porch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/326121808″>Water works</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/davidkanemiller”>David Kane Miller</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

https://vimeo.com/davidkanemiller/review/326121808/fa274df73d

The cats and I share the bed when I take my afternoon nap.

 

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Six cats

Our two cats Tung Tong (gold purse), male,

and Tung None (silver purse), female,

Produced four kittens.

Sexy and Graysie:

Blackie and Lucky are both males. Lucky and Graysie are distinguished from each other by the form of the knot in their tale — an inheritance from Tung Tong.

Nam’s love of animals means we kept them all

Tung Tong has been rapacious in his desires so we called in the veterinarian to fix all six cats.

It’s a little overwhelming sometimes for a self proclaimed dog guy — a room can be festooned with cats.

But, well, they are damned amusing.

Tally me bananas

We’ve had a long rainy intro to the rainy season that starts in earnest in August. All the rain keeps the lawn growing steadily which means I am out every morning with the whacker maintaining a beautiful park like green ground cover of grass. An hour a day means I complete the yard and surrounding fence line in about a week. Two days off and it’s time to start over again.

I work about two hours a day. I get started early and stop when the sun might peek through the overcast and add extra heat to the humidity. In true Thai fashion I wear long pants and long sleeve t-shirt and I have a netted hat on my head. I wrap a blue hand towel around my neck to wipe the sweat away.

Making a new home in a far away land suits my romantic idea of life but lots of yard work is not what I would have predicted or preferred — but it seems to suit me. It gives me some walking exercise and I like having an expected job with easy to see progress.

Lying in bed in the morning I do some easy crunches that get the blood moving and then I pop up, ready to go.

As our banana stands mature our harvest has increased so I have a lot to do harvesting bananas and banana flowers and mulching the resulting old trunks.

I try to do a little rock retrieval as I go so the whacker has an easier time each round.

I bought 20 pieces of 6 meter long, one inch galvanized steel pipe to make a new sihlamb in the chiang dah good dirt area.

When I used this kind of pipe to make a support for the passion fruit vines I just pounded the pipe into the rocky ground and left it. Here the pipe entered the ground so easily that I decided I had to make a cement sleeve around the insertion point. I was able to pound six pipes in a circle around the pipe in the ground and thus hollow out a one inch circle around the pipe to make the mold for the cement.

I’ve got a plan to grow cukes and squash on a trellis while keeping the ground mowed short. I’m going to surround the stems with plastic sleeves to protect them.

Out in the workshop Nam is frying banana slices.

I hang the banana bunches up after harvesting to keep them safe.

As a matter of fact I try to hang everything up in the workshop because any flat, hidden surface becomes an ant home.

We are enjoying lots of passion fruit and Nam made wonderful mulberry jam again but we don’t know what to do with it all. I’m thinking we need a dedicated freezer to store her work. I sit in the kitchen, drink mulberry juice and look out into the garden.

Clean and clear

Our workers have been gone 10 days and we have been energetically cleaning and clearing. Nam loves to have things, “Clean and clear.”

The last items on the building agenda were the driveway to the garage…

and the New Sihlamb (with new gate)

The New Sihlamb is a dream come true for a man who likes to keep his nuts organized on a workbench

Using the railings we removed from the front of the house has worked very well in many ways. The strength of the railing allows a long clear span that you can stand on and the spokes offer a chance to hang things on hooks so they don’t touch the ground and offer ants an excuse to congregate. We cut off one section of railing to make a leg for one end.

On the second bench I am organizing a section where Nam can cook large quantities of fruit, like bananas, over a charcoal fire.

Back at the homestead

Nam has been a magician pulling plants out her sleeves and placing them everywhere.

I knew she was stockpiling plants around trees and under the passion fruit trellis but I was shocked by the numbers she produced.

Nam loves her new kitchen.

And she arranged to have an entire septic hole installed for the kitchen effluent.

Our small bathroom building is covered with tile inside and out.

The farangutang finally got around to hanging the mirror above the sink — albeit with much heckling and ‘help’ from the captain of The Team.

The incredibly heavy concrete planters filled with bouganvillea were moved to new locations on makeshift ramps that supported pipe rollers. Worth the effort:

Tung Nunn had four kittens a month ago. Welcome to Thailand kids.

Projects to think about while lying on the bed in front of the fan during 93 degree heat

These are exciting times at Anchaleephorn Garden. Our construction extravaganza has been extended to include another building.

We could have ended with the new stand alone guest bathroom with hand dug cess pit.

After the big garage, the small bathroom has been moving along quickly.

Electricity and tile are being installed.

There will be a shower inside and a sink outside.

The garage and guest room are looking good but right now the cement mixer is still front and center.

Look at the fancy swivel fan overhead on the porch in front of the guest room.

Nam has so prettified all these new additions that there is no place for me to move my tools. So I’ll make a room of my own.

The Sihlamb has been torn apart — again.

The workers convinced me to strike while they had all their equipment in place. They’ll make me a roofed area of 6×8 meter with sloping concrete floor of 4×6 for a labor cost of 12,000 Baht — about $400. I’m guesstimating another $600 for materials. How could I deny my 72 year old self this last request?

The holes for the 6 posts are being dug.

And one of my interesting projects is to construct a gate and motorcycle entry point near the tamarind tree so we can run our motorcycles into the New Sihlamb if the beautiful garage transmogrifies into a cafe.

I’ll have to reinforce the fence posts (that are spaced 2 meters apart) if I cut the barbed wire and then create two further sturdy gate posts next to them. Fun.

Meanwhile, an earlier picture showed the three quarter inch galvanized pipe that made the framework for the Old Sihlamb. So many projects, so little pipe. This morning Nam and I took Banana fritters to the laborers at a work party at the reservoir. This Saturday there will be a party there for the surrounding villagers who use the water from the dam.
People will bring free food. Nam wants to make a dish cooked over charcoal that will show off the herbs in our garden. We will need to take the lorry. I was thinking that maybe I could put together a tent out of the pipe and the heavy duty tarp that was the roof of the Old Sihlamb.

Ho ho.

Could I hoist these 7 feet into the air and stretch them between two posts in the New Sihlamb and make a giant storage rack?

Well, that is, could I get my workers to do it? But semi-seriously I’m investigating the concept of the idea of watching YouTube videos about learning to weld. It’s big here and the workers pop up the frames for buildings like tinker toys.

Meanwhile, to give my brain a break I spend a few hours a day with my new weed whacker. My electric machine died a couple of months ago and we’ve been paying someone to come and mow the yard but we can’t get the result we want like that. So I bit the bullet and bought a gas powered whacker that seems to be a Chinese made copy of the wonderful Honda Whacker. It’s doing a great job but man those weeds had gotten high.

Nam continues to experiment with the many bananas we are reaping. What will she do with the two big boxes of mangos I picked the other day? We picked them just as they were becoming ripe and the few that we’ve eaten so far were great. Nam is making lots of blended fruit smoothies and including herbs that are supposed to be good for what ails you. Today she produced two bottles of aloe vera gel.

Good times.

Banana crisp

Nam has been working on a banana project that produces a multi-purpose banana flour.

You cut up green bananas and dry them in the sun. (You make it possible to remove the skin by putting the bananas in boiling water for one minute.)

Then you pulverize the dried slices in a blender. Two teaspoons of this floury powder before a meal is a remedy for acid reflux.

Nam also uses the flour to make a variation of the classic shrimp chip.

You substitute the banana flour for ground up shrimp in the shrimp chip recipe. Cooking with Alison:
How to Make Shrimp Chips From Scratch
adapted a recipe from Lily:
http://lilyng2000.blogspot.com/2009/01/prawn-crackers.html

You can eat them straight or as a chip that you dip into a sweet Nam Khim sauce.

You can use other fruits and vegetables to combine with the tapioca powder and then steam, refrigerate, slice, dry again, and puff up by frying in oil.

These are known generically as Khao kriap — rice crisp. With fish as its important ingredient — khao kriap plaa.

In the new kitchen

We’ve spent a few hectic days moving into the new kitchen. The old one was jam packed with material and unfolding the layers meant the expanded items filled up the new kitchen immediately.

Nam’s design ambitions are growing as she experiments with the black shelves here and new cladding on the garage.

It’s delightfully open and light. We can sit and watch the work going on in the garage and guest room.

We’re slowly filling the borders of the house in new ways. I like these transplanted aloe veras.

We have six bougainvillea that we potted in giant concrete planters. They are easier to take care of thusly and they flower well but moving them is a pain and our plans of where to put them keep changing.

During the day we are secluded from view. We are wondering how to create a green barrier for privacy when our interior lights are on at night.