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  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    One other point is ensuring you keep your customer happy so you obtain repeat orders.
    Very true. It is not exactly farming but to your point: I have seen a good few food shops and coffee shops open here in the past two years - and then close. Last night I went to the football with the gf and on the way home she was hungry, of course, so we stopped at a new cow dom shop to try it out. Thin, tasteless, lukewarm soup with largish lumps of undercooked minced pork swimming about. About Baht 10 to 20 more expensive than existing eateries. I am sure the guy thinks he is on a winner, by streamlining the cooking process and charging more he is going to get rich quick. Not going to happen. I predict he will be gone in a few months. He doesn't care about his customers and people don't solicit or express negative feedback here so he'll soon be sitting at home wondering where it all went wrong.

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    The soil could be improved over about 5 years but that won't happen unless I am here permanently. You can't teach new ways overnight.
    Last year the wife’s family decided to not sow a couple of the rice paddies so I suggested they try improving the soil with sun hemp. Uh, why ? I explained about it being a green manure, adding nitrogen and organic matter etc but no, it would be “too much work” . What, you have already paid to have it ploughed, all you have to do is throw a few kilo of seeds around.
    For the last 2 years or so I have been trying to improve the soil on the half rai or so that will become our veggie garden/orchard. After slashing the weeds and grass I left it to decompose instead of burning as I “had” to do (according to the family). Last wet season I tried an experiment of liberally throwing sun hemp seeds around on the long grass, then chopping and dropping on top of the seeds. Got a reasonable germination from it. In the area that will be the veggie garden I was a bit more particular about it, digging it over with a hoe first. I have also been planting daikon, aka Chinese/tillage radish, and sunflowers. Both are good at breaking up hard compacted soil, then you just leave the roots to rot away, adding organic matter to the soil. It has only been a couple of years but I can see improvements. The topsoil is darker now, albeit only the top few cms. I have got reluctant acknowledgment from one of the sisters that I’m not talking complete BS.
    There is a small market garden across the track from us, run by a guy in his 40s. A few weeks ago his father, probably about 80, came over to chat (in surprisingly good English) asking why I was growing sunflowers. When I explained what I was doing he nodded his head, told me how when he was younger he only used manure as fertilizer and lamented how his son only used expensive chemicals. So sometimes it’s not so much a matter of teaching new ways as going back to old ways.
    Last edited by mikenot; 16-01-2022 at 02:25 PM.

  3. #28
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    I know your frustrations, it can be soul destroying sometimes. I used to have a vegetable garden but won't bother again until I live here permanently. Every year I would double dig 5x20 ft plots and make compost heaps and after I left they'd be ignored. I stayed for 18 months about 15 years ago and showed them. They agreed the soil was much better and they loved the composted soil ( only takes 3-4 months to compost but you need lots more than in Europe). However, as soon as I left the plots were abandoned. Attract snakes, smelly too much work, every excuse in the book. I'll do them again when I retire but will buy a tiller.

    I could understand the farm when they had no water but even now I can't get them to grow green manure. If it doesn't have some obvious value then forget it. That's why I decided on the flowers. I want them to compost the plants afterwards but I leave next week so that may not happen. The wife understands what I'm trying to explain; I've walked her through many farms in Germany and the UK and shown her how crop rotation and composting is carried out.

  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by malmomike77 View Post
    Co-operatives are sometimes a good answer to this but i'd imagine that would not be an easy ask in Thailand.
    Interesting you should mention cooperatives. It was the first thing that sprang to mind when I first came to the village. I couldn't even get agreement within the extended family let alone the rest of the community. The problem is timing and who gets to do their fields first. The window is so narrow some years that everyone has to plough at the same time. This is why they want me to buy a tractor, so they don't have to wait in the queue. The lot Thai is not enough if we are ploughing fields more than once a year. However, we don't have enough land to justify the initial cost. We don't have enough customers to justify more land. It's a bit of a catch-22. My biggest problem is they may know how to use machinery but buggered if I can get them to maintain it, or even tell me if there is something wrong.

    Another 200kg order for tomorrow and, if there's any left, a possible 100kg on Friday. I wish I could stay another week but I've got to get back to Germany before they forget a out me.
    Last edited by Troy; 18-01-2022 at 07:24 PM.

  5. #30
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    ^ Trust is lacking in Thailand, they'd fuk each other over for 50 satang and entropy is prevalent.

  6. #31
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    Really great thread Troy, thanks for taking the time to share. Farming is wonderful and very rewarding. It is something, as an additional income, we would like to do when we go for the easy life in the sticks. We look forward to seeing what else you grow! Good luck heading back west by the way.

  7. #32
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    The big money in marigolds has to be with the seeds ......each plant gives hundreds of seeds yet the small retail packets of seeds contain only 10 or 12 seeds but cost 20 baht. And of course they are all F1 hybrids so the seeds from them are not worth saving. How much do you pay for the young plants in bulk ?

  8. #33
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    ^ The wife bought 6000 plants for B9000 but we don't know if they came from open pollinated or F1 seed. One of our customers has recommended somewhere for seed the next time we grow and that will solve the problem replacing plants that are lost. This was mainly due to the lack of preparation of the land before planting.


    What's on your farm/small holding?-missing_plants_4457-jpg

    However, considering the primary reason for growing the plants was rotation, I am more than happy with the results.

    Today's customer has increased his requirement and they have picked around 350Kg before lunch...

    What's on your farm/small holding?-picking_4450-jpg

    and hope to manage another 150Kg this afternoon.

    What's on your farm/small holding?-picking_4459-jpg
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails What's on your farm/small holding?-more_to_come_4454-jpg   What's on your farm/small holding?-picking_4447-jpg  

  9. #34
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    Be great to hear what the financials break down at once the numbers are all in Troy.

  10. #35
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    I was expecting this to be the last week of picking, however, looking at the plants, there are still a lot of blooms to come and can take orders for next week as well.

    What's on your farm/small holding?-more_to_come_4454-jpg

    What's on your farm/small holding?-blooms_4455-jpg

    We will also save a few rows for our other customer, who ordered for Friday. Both of these customers have ordered on a per kilo basis, which means there is no need to sort according to size and the wife has negotiated a slightly better price depending on the size of the order.

    I don't know about selling just for seed, we don't have a buyer and don't know the price or amount required.
    Last edited by Troy; 19-01-2022 at 05:28 PM. Reason: running repairs on formatting photos

  11. #36
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    Meanwhile, for the effort the family have put into this venture, I had a second deep well pump put in and this has allowed a few more rai of land to be used during the off season.

    What's on your farm/small holding?-well_4477-jpg

    There was some discussion about whether to use solar power and which type of pump. In the end I opted for an inline electric pump as I thought it would harder to nick and cheaper to maintain, also powerful enough when the water level drops.

    The additional fields have been ploughed and seeded with cucumber...

    What's on your farm/small holding?-cucumber_plots_4488-jpg

    What's on your farm/small holding?-cucumber_plots_4485-jpg

    There's still plenty of work to do, putting up the supporting canes and netting. I don't know the figures for the cucumbers, I know they've written it all down, I just need to get the wife to fill me in with the details. The advantage of cucumbers is that they can be sold reasonably easily locally, running around the villages on a motorbike. The problem is the hassle erecting and dismantling the structures each time and the weight of them.

    They can also be fed to the pigs as part of their feed. Talking of which, one of the females is due and they are having a home extension...

    What's on your farm/small holding?-sty_extension_4489-jpg

    As I said, I'll be off on Friday, the wife will stay until I return in March. After a disastrous 2020 and 2021, I am hoping 2022 is a better year. It has certainly been a good start an I am less anxious about staying here permanently.

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buckaroo Banzai View Post
    Nice Thread Troy, Thank you for sharing.
    We are here in Khon Kaen and are enjoying Issan living, but not the roosters and barking dogs. So far I have not been very successful with my gardening. I have a friend in the are who would say to me, " Here in Thailand , you put a stick in the ground and it grows" for me it seems to work the opposite. I put a plant in the ground and it turns into a stick LOL
    Since childhood, I've never had a problem growing anything until I came to Isaan. I grew up in rural England and spent many a happy day maintaining orchards, vegetable and flower gardens.

    When I came here it was a whole new world, the heat, poor soil, and insects make very difficult growing conditions. Yes, everything bursts into life during the first rains, but it's not long before they are drowning in the monsoon rains...

    First thing to check is for salt, second is pH, and third is seed, which must be drought tolerant and disease resistant.

    Don't give up...your own veg tastes so much better.

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by malmomike77 View Post
    Be great to hear what the financials break down at once the numbers are all in Troy.
    There is little profit in farming in our area, certainly nothing like the gains you can make from durian or mangosteen.

    The family were having a good joke about my work here compared to my hourly rate in Europe. The pros are that it is healthier and way less stressful, it's a way of life that is best when you can afford it. It's been a great deal of fun though and I've lost more weight than I thought.

  14. #39
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    Well, it's been a couple of days of rushing about. Wednesday's increased order was a spoof from another grower. SIL took the order, wife got suspicious and double checked...luckily we stopped at 350kg. The buyer took 120kg and wife had to search for new customers. Luckily, Friday customer came round on Thursday and took 100kg then another buyer bought some more plus fresh ones. I ended up delivery driver as part of the deal but at least not all the surplus went to waste.
    Rogue buyer did the same to several growers and then put his prices up. He's wasted though as we know two buyers that put big orders in and won't show.
    Flower, wars, who'd have thought it...just as well we were in profit at the time.
    Left the wife a bit dispirited though...
    Last edited by Troy; 21-01-2022 at 07:01 PM.

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    Wednesday's increased order was a spoof from another grower.
    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    Left the wife a bit dispirited though...

    That pretty awful, there is some real scum about. I suppose the secret long term once you've built the relationship is sticking to buyers you know.

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by malmomike77 View Post
    Be great to hear what the financials break down at once the numbers are all in Troy.
    Here is a quick breakdown excluding well, pump and irrigation material. I was going to include at 20% to recover over 5 years but they are really for the cucumbers. This was just an exercise in soil recovery and compost material.

    Plants......... B9000
    Fertiliser..... B2000
    Labour........ B3600
    Materials....B1200

    Total 16,800

    Fertiliser includes spray for insects. We injected fertiliser into the water rather than onto the soil. Materials includes bags, string, scissors and etc.

    Sales........B25000
    Orders......B5000
    Total........ B30000

    Where orders is for two customers next week but there is a possibility of more sales.

    That's B13,200 from 1.5 rai of land over 2 months.

    Enough for me to say it's worth doing next year, but from quality seed, and stagger across several fields from Nov to April.

    If the cucumbers provide a reasonable return then I might buy a tractor next year. It's been years since I've driven one and I fancy doing so again ...

    Edit...think materials might be double that, lots of plastic bags esp for flowers bought in bulk...but you get a rough idea....

  17. #42
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    ^ Thanks. Not a loss which is crucial and as you say you've rotated the crop.

  18. #43
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    ^^certainly seems very rewarding and educational.

  19. #44
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    ^^^Wife managed to reach the B30,000 target last week and the plants are still producing flowers this week for a couple of last orders. Both female pigs have given birth as well (8 little piglets rather than the nursery rhyme 10) and the cucumber plants have emerged. Wife hasn't sent any photos yet, I just see the farm live during our chats on Line. I hope to get some update photos soon.

    However, it's a new project this month, the wife is building an outside kitchen for her mum and herself. Actually, it's more like an extension to the kitchen patio at the moment. It's been talked about for some time but it's the only way I am going to get the Wi-Fi into our house instead of it being in the hut at the back. I've got fed up having to walk the printer and laptop down to the hut every morning to read the news and print off the DT crossword.

    The flat in Germany is starting to feel like a prison...only been back a week!

  20. #45
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    How have you been locating the buyers for your crops?

  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post

    If the cucumbers provide a reasonable return then I might buy a tractor next year. It's been years since I've driven one and I fancy doing so again ...
    Troy
    If I remember correctly in a previous post you said you were favouring a New Holland T4.55 tractor if you buy one.
    We have one here and if you get to own and drive one you will not be disappointed.
    I seem to also remember that somewhere you were asking about tractors and I replied with my thoughts but I will say again the best thing I find with it is the flat floor makes it so much more comfortable.
    With ours the worst thing is the starter motor, at least that is what I believe to be the problem, when starting cold it just doesn't want to turn the motor over so we quite often need to jump start it. Once it has been running it is OK. I ended up buying a jump start power bank for B1000 off Lazada and it does the job.
    I am envious of what you have achieved so far and look forward to seeing how you do with the cucumbers.

  22. #47
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    ^^ Initially social media and then contacts from the contacts. Wife is trying to find more for next year.

  23. #48
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    ^
    thanks.

  24. #49
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    The flowers brought in another B5000 last week and they still have another week in them so I am really very pleased with the results. This time of year the family would be struggling to make this sort of money in a month and end up going down to Bangkok to work on the building sites.

    Meanwhile, the cucumbers have established themselves in the three new fields:

    What's on your farm/small holding?-1644255472340-jpg

    What's on your farm/small holding?-1644255465376-jpg

    Fingers crossed they provide a decent yield before it's time to plough ready for the rice season in May.

  25. #50
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    Every time I see a Tuktuk go past with a huge bag of those yellow flowers I think about your farming operation.

    It’s funny how I never really thought about where do all these flowers come from. Always an opportunity to learn something new.

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