Farmer Dan’s Blogpost

As promised I’m writing a garden update.  I don’t think that anyone would accuse gardening of being hip or trendy but I do enjoy wandering about, trance-like, pulling weeds, watering, clipping stray branches or otherwise tending.  Anyhow, here’s what’s been going on.

First up, here’s a 360 of the whole place:

PANO_20140308_155713You’re supposed to be able to scroll around that, like the inside of a big sphere, but I can’t be bothered looking for the plugin.  I made it with my new fancy-pants Google Nexus phone, which we’ve finally managed to procure at work.

As you can see, the ‘grass’ is making a very slow colonization of the dustbowl that resulted after my landlord dumped a pile of builder’s rubble soil on the lawn.  This could be helped along with some grass seed but such things are hard to acquire in Bangkok, where people ar emore enthusiastic about concrete carparks and potted plants on their open spaces.  As it is, I’ve been scattering birdseed, which grows into very convincing grass, but the birds don’t seem to have got the memo and keep eating it.


Regular readers will be stunned to see how rapidly the corn has ascended.  I co opted a small child for this photo to give a sense of scale, but I can assure you that the corn is taller than me.  Still, it’s been two months so there should be a bit of action.  There’s even a few ears developing, which has my youngest quite excited.


The carrots aren’t as impressive, they’re not getting much sun.  We pulled up one of these little plants today and there was only a little root, which was not orange.  I expect we won’t see much until the corn is done and opens up this bit of garden bed, although I did prune the roseapple tree of it’s lower, eye-gouging branches today so perhaps we’ll see some more robust root vegetables soon.


The sunflowers have bloomed.

SunflowersThey’re being made to face the wall as apparently that’s where the reflected light is coming from.

2014-03-08 15.56.31Again, in this shot a young child of indeterminate stature gives scale.

HerbsYou may recall that the last column ended on a bit of a cliffhanger.  Will Dan’s herb plot give bounty?  Or will it, like most things I’ve put in the garden, stubbornly stay beneath the soil and only host weeds and spiders?  As you can see from the photo I’ve got a respectable bed of coriander and some other unidentifiable yet aromatic herbs.

2014-03-08 15.54.21It must be a good time of year as I only put in this bok-choi and broccoli a week or two ago and it’s already going mental.  I put this in as a bit of a punt as I expect the lot to get eaten by caterpillars.


Here’s the Kooper Kids digging up the lawn and playing while mocking their  father’s agricultural follies.

Banana BaneBut they’d better watch it because I’ve got this fucker.  The sword that appeared in last month’s post turned out to be rubbish.  I had the grinding attachment on the drill and many hours with a whetstone but it stubbornly refuses to be anything but a letter opener, and a blunt one at that.  Big blades are often made out of old leaf springs.  Spring steel is tough, flexible (duh!) and is soft enough to take a good edge.  The Banana Splitter was crap stainless that could apparently survive reentry, it is so hard.  And the bottle opener on the debole barely works.

Anyhow, I bought this Hong-Kong arm-pruner off the street from a purveyor of the sharp and pointy (really off the street, from a little pushcart stuffed with blades) and it’s crazy sharp with a mirror-finish, all the better to reflect sunlight into an enemy’s eyes as you circle him (or her) in one-on-one combat.  It’s a little top-heavy, which I don’t really like, and the hilt is too short for my hand, which is a shame as that makes it a little uncomfortable to use for long.  Still, I’m able to cut clean through tree branches twice the width of my thumb if I get a good swing, which is simultaneously handy and terrifying — going to have to be careful brandishing this about.

So that’s it for this episode.  Look out for next update where I’ll be beating off triffids with a halberd or something.  I leave you with a pic of Mrs Rabbit enjoying her hutch.

The rabbit

Adventures in Horticulture!

Looks like I should have been a farmer.

When I moved into Chez Cooper a couple of years ago I was looking forward to having a yard for the kids to run about in, and lazy evenings form ,me with a book and the bats.  Of course, as it turned out, the kids only want to stay inside and watch cartoons and come sundown the air is choked with mosquitos.

However, one event has changed the way I think of and use the yard.  I don’t recall what it was but I took something home from the supermarket, put it in a pot and it grew.  Free food — coming right out of the ground.

I was a changed man.  These days most weekends I’m pulling weeds, watering, distributing rabbit shit fertilizer or generally knocking around the garden.  The big news last week was that the rose apple tree fruited for the first time in living memory.  The mango tree is flowering and already dropping a couple of little ones and the lime tree is much healthier for being out of its pot and into one of their the newly-established raised beds.

A couple of weeks ago the family and I bought a bunch of seeds from the weekend market so I thought I’d document the progress in the soil:

Corn seedlingsWhat this rather drab photo records is the rear-yard (actually against the front wall) raised garden bed.  Before anyone asks, the red bulb in the middle is a windfall rose apple that’s been selected to return it’s goodness to the earth. The seedlings in the foreground are yellow corn, they are joined by white corn (Duncan demanded it) and carrot by the tap, which you won’t be able to see in this photo, as they’re underground.

Corn seedlings

I guess this is after one week in the earth, the corn is already a strapping youth and climbing for the sun.  The stake at the lower right quadrant of this photo indicates that this is the white corn.  This vegetable has never excited me in the slightest but Duncan insisted that we buy the packet and sow it first, so I’m going to force him to eat every kernel that springs from these rows.

Carrot seedlingsHere we have a blurry and poorly composed image of carrot seedlings.  I’ve never grown carrot before and was surprised to see how small the seeds were.  After sowing, I spoke to my father who advised me that they shouldn’t be sown too deep (oops!) and that I may not see them otherwise.  But he never counted the punishing Thai sunshine, nor the unforgiving clays of Bang Sue, which sees dozens of infant seedlings push their way into the light.  It’s also here that I spray out the rabbits’ under-cage trays each morning so a steady diet of shitty, pissy water probably doesn’t hurt. As watersport-loving coprophiliacs, vegetables are probably the kinkiest of foods to grace our plates.

Sunflower seedlingsSquint just right and you’ll be able to see regular rows of sunflower seedlings marching into the sunset.  Due to the lack of space and the disappointing result of our last sunflower effort (not a single sprout), we put two seeds in each hole with the intention of stacking the odds.  As it turns out our defecating rabbits have done it again and each tender stem is growing with its twin.  Common sense says that I should abort one growth so that the other may be unhindered in its search for nourishment, but I think I’ll let them fight it out for my amusement.

Bare earth

Here’s something to keep you awake late into the night, wondering how things will turn out.  I know it will be soaked sheets bunched around my quivering limbs for me over the next agonizing week or so, for this final plot was only yesterday seeded with all the leftover seeds from the last couple of years, most of which have never sprouted.  I’m making a permaculture-type bed here with the idea of letting whatever grows first take over, or at least form an uneasy symbiosis with its bedmates.  Your nails will be bitten down to the quick, as will mine until the next bulletin from the bottom of the garden.

Next episode: The Trials and Tribulations of being a Banana Farma and Meet the Banana Splitter:
Crap sword

P.S: there’s also a lump of ginger and a bunch of garlic cloves that have sprouted that are in their own mini-bed.  The previous tenants left a fine clump of galaga and another of turmeric (the former I only know because they came over and told me, the latter I only recognized after my own started to grow) and many chilli plants (that I had mostly pulled, assuming them weeds) so I’m hoping to infest the property with my own leavings works before I, too, move on.