We are so lucky in Northern Thailand that just about everything seems to grow so easily in the yard. Besides many exotic flowers including hanging orchids all over our little yard, we are able to grow tropical fruit trees that produce so quickly. If there is a major world crisis and we are not able to get food at the market (although in Thailand that seems a bit unlikely), we could live pretty well for quite a while with just what is in our yard, plus a little help from the neighbors.
No matter where you live it is important to have a “living yard”. You watch you trees put out a new branch with young leaves, and eventually sprout some tiny fruit that you examine carefully with every mornings’ watering, as if you were watching an infant get their walking legs and start to take shape as young child. It puts one closer to nature and closer to God which helps make another day to be grateful for. My sympathies for those trapped into residing in apartments of tall buildings with no ground to call your own and no nature growing with them.
Last summer, we made the final move from our house in Northern California to our Thai home, and my wife loved the little fig tree we had in our California backyard. It had only just started supplying us with fresh figs. We couldn’t very well take the whole tree with us in our luggage, but my wife pulled out a little sampling from the tree that she brought in her handbag on the last flight we made to Chiang Mai from there. Now, less than a year later, that little twig she brought in her purse has become a bona fide real tree. Not producing fruit quite yet, but we expect about this time next year we will have our first crop. And she has been able to take a couple samplings from it to start some new ones growing in pots. It seems the weather, with the right amount of rain and humidity makes Chiang Mai a great place to grow these guys.
Every yard in our little community has loads of fruit trees, and most people are unable to eat the full crops from them, so we all are constantly sharing our bounties with our neighbors. Next door, there was a tree loaded with coconuts, so now everyone in our cul-de-sac has loads of young coconut juice prepared by my daughter in law.
The neighbor across the street has a banana tree that keeps popping out huge bushels of very sweet baby bananas, much more than any one family can eat before they go bad, so we all have lots of bananas.
A couple of years ago, my wife planted a small papaya tree that was about a meter tall with a couple of leaves. Now it is a 3 meter tall almost full grown tree overloaded with papayas. They are almost ripe, and for sure we will be sharing them with the people on our little soi (side street).
This will be the first year we will have a crop of mangoes from the tree we planted about two years ago, The tree is still quite small, just a little more than a meter tall, but it must have about 20-30 tiny mangoes on it that will be ready in a couple of months.
Sometimes my wife and I get the urge to go and buy a piece of land further outside of Chiang Mai, maybe 3-4 acres, where we can grow a lot of fruits and veggies, but if we get that we are really have to going to work it, and this is a lazy part of our life right now. So for now we have decided to just settle for making the most out of the little piece of Earth we have.
In earlier years, I was never so much of a farmer as I am with our yard, but I have learned about a few of the benefits of working in our own garden. There is something about getting your hands in the dirt, cleaning out the rocks and preparing the soil for some new life that gives a lot of satisfaction when you see it grow. I am convinced that it is all a great stress reliever because your mind is not on your troubles, or the troubles of the world, when you are digging that little planting hole for a young sampling. It is great therapy, and a much better way to spend your time instead of playing on the computer or watching silly and stupid movies (most movies fall into that category) or just moping around the house in a depressed mood.
Now when we have an evening when the rain starts pouring down, maybe even with lightning and thunder, my first thoughts are about my fruit trees in the yard and how much they must appreciate this drenching of water from above. I used to say, “Damn, it’s raining again”, but no more. And when the sun comes out and it is a bit warm, I no longer have complaints about the sunshine being too bright. I look at my trees and it is as if they are reaching upwards to grab more of that sunshine.
Our yard garden is something my wife and I share. While I must confess she does more work on it than I do, we share the daily caring for our trees as they mature, and enjoy the bounty together when we have a little harvest. Our garden and our fruit trees have helped build a stronger connection between my wife and I, and it’s a good feeling.
And when we have our fresh fruit for breakfast, we know that there are no bad chemicals on our food because we saw this fruit come from our own little twig that we helped mature into a beautiful producing tree.