Monday, March 16, 2009

Awesome Bugs!

I discovered a flourescant light at the bath house that gathered the most interesting collection of insects. I started bringing my camera along with the my toothbrush and here's a sample of the moths I found.

They're patterning is just exquisite and reminds me of the magic of nature and how all things have developed over time for function, but also pure beauty.

Grubs, large grubs, not so beautiful but still really awesome.

This little guy and I played hide and seek, everytime I moved the camera to get a better shot, he moved to the other side of the stalk. I think he looks a little like darth vader, yet somehow really cute.

Private moments...

Okay, not a bug, but still really neat patterning. Just had to include him.

Scorpions are huge here. This one was found two feet from my feet, while I was all alone. Good thing I am still a lot bigger than him.

And caterpillars, turn into...


I guess Thailand's theme for bugs: Big & Beautiful!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Grayson's Bamboo Raft

So, as if swimming at the resevoir wasn't awesome enough, Grayson got the bright idea to build a raft that we could float around on and jump off of and such. It worked so well!

okay, no more pictures, time to swim!


Mushrooms are a very popular ingredient in thai cuisine--so we are growing our own straw mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and shitakes. We get the spores in bags like this one. Each bag can be used to grow one mushroom at a time, and you can pile them up into a whole wall. A very clever system!

We are also taking the bags apart in order to propagate more of the spores and produce larger quantities. Here we are spreading out the mycellium and layering with rice straw, chopped banana trunk, and manure in one of our garden beds.

Then we create a bamboo hoop house to protect it and shade with banana leaves.

In a few weeks, there should be lots of mushrooms to harvest... and mushroom soup for dinner!

Chiang Mai

So, I've been in and out of Chiang Mai several times during my stay. It's a sort of homebase for the folks at Pun Pun when we need things from the city. It's easy for us to get in and out because a truck carrying vegetables and supplies goes from our small village of Mae Jo into Chiang Mai and back each day. Besides, it's also interesting to ride with a load of dragon fruits, chili, fish, and bamboo wrappers. Anyways, here are some of the photos I've taken while being in Chiang Mai.

the view down the street from my favorite guest house
the Night Bazaar

farm friends dress up

bugs for sale!

the King's birthday

Long live the King

comic decoration around every turn

Grafting & Propagation

Now that we've got great plants going, we need to learn how to continue their genetics and preserve their heritage.
Pun Pun is very focused on saving seeds, but we are also learning how to propagate plants through cuttings. Here we just cut foot long sections of mulberry and keep them in the nursery.

Less than one month later, we've already got new shoots forming on the stems.
Another technique involves stripping off a one inch piece of bark from a branch on the main tree.
Then we cover the bare spot with soil and wrap a little plastic around it to hold moisture in. In a few weeks a new root and shoot should form and we'll be able to cut the branch from the main tree.

The final technique we learned was grafting where we are selecting choice varieties of avacado to graft to a variety with a stronger root system. We are also grafting the shoots of female mango branches to male trees so that more of the mango trees on the property will bear fruit.

Here, we make a slice in the bark, insert the new shoot at a angle that matches up to two cuts and cover with plastic. Within a year we should be able to cut off the old branch and let the new desired branch to grow in its place.
How fun!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thanksgiving in Thailand

Several of us had been missing American food and starting to feel homesick as the holidays approached. So we managed to aquire an enormous bag of wheat flour, brown sugar, and a few other spices... which led to an all-day baking event in the earthen kitchen! We ended making 5 pumpkin pies, two pecan pies, 5 loaves of banana bread, oatmeal raison cookies (oats are extremely special here) and tamarind jam.

Cooking over fire and using a cob oven took a little getting used to.

We had a humble and mindful dinner at our place, with one of the loviest rounds of expressing gratitude I've ever attended.

Then we invited the neighboring permaculture farms over for pot-luck desserts and had a proper feast.


My own little garden

As part of the internship, we each get to practice the techniques we are learning on our own little garden plots. To prepare the bed, I pulled the weeds, turned the soil, and used a fair amount of Bokashi Compost and charcoal mixed in. Then I transplanted kale, tomatoes, and peppers, and covered these with rice straw mulch. Then I also sowed mustard greens, radishes and corn from seed. I also planted morning glory from bits of other ones around the property and gave them simply cow dung over top. I'll add pictures to this post as the garden grows... So far so good!

intern garden area - before

intern garden area - after planting

my plot

my plot - 2 weeks later

my bed - one month later (super kale!)