Growing a food forest is a long term project, but you have to start somewhere, sometime, to reap what you sow for many years to come.

We earmarked approximately 70% of our 2 rai (about one acre) to build a permaculture food forest.

Before the House and Permaculture Food Forest

Before the House and Permaculture Food Forest – June 2016

What is a Permaculture Food Forest?

A permaculture food forest is an area of land designed to grow an abundance of trees and plants that are either edible or beneficial to the soil and environment. The idea is to mimic nature so there is the minimum amount of labor as the food forest matures.

No one is pruning trees, cutting grass, watering plants or weeding in a forest. The forest manages itself! That’s exactly what we want to achieve, only in a food forest it is designed to provides an abundance of fruit, nuts, berries and other edibles all year round.

We started with pretty much a clean landscape. We first dug a pond to retain rain water longer on the land further into the dry season and started planting trees about June/July 2016.

The soil is very different across the land from light sandy soil to clay. It all needs a lot of rebuilding to make it more fertile for the trees to flourish. Now the trees are in, heavy mulching, feeding the trees and making soil (compost and chicken waste) will be the main objective.

I’ve listed the trees we have planted to date below for our own records and provided links to corresponding websites if you would like more information on a particular plant.

So far we have planted the following trees (and I haven’t put my back out!):

Palm Trees

Bismark Palm 2

Bismark Palm (not edible) – 2. A large, silver leaf palm tree that originates from Madagascar. Named after the first chancellor of the German Empire, Prince Otto von Bismarck.

Food Forest - Date Palm

Date Palms – 3. The date palm was probably one of the first cultivated trees due to its edible sweet fruit.

Betel Palm - Mak Palm - Food Forest

Betel Palm (Mak Palm) – 50. A classic looking palm tree that produces the betel nut. Palm fronds are also used to make eco-friendly plates and utensils.

Permaculture Food Forest - Coconut Palm

Coconut Palms – 6. These trees produce the most versatile and important crops in the world, coconuts.

Parla Palm - Permaculture

Parlour Palm – 1. An easy to grow tropical houseplant back home. We have ours in our Thinglish garden by the small ornamental pond.

Herbaceous Plants

Bananas (Praying Hands, Red, Cavendish, Lady Fingers and Dwarf) 20. Our favorite fruit. Now I’ve started to collect different varieties of bananas for the food forest.

Papaya (male and female) 20. Another of my favorite fruit. The papaya is easy to grow in Thailand and produces an amazing healthy fruit and seeds, even the leaves can be eaten.

Citrus Trees

Lemon Tree - Food Forest

Lemon Trees – 2. Always good to have a couple of lemon trees with plenty of fruit to make healthy drinks with ice and a slice!

Lime Tree in Container

Lime Trees (mineow) – 3. An essential citrus fruit tree that produces fruit and aromatic leaves for Thai cooking.

Pomelo

Pomello – 1. The pomello tree produces the largest citrus fruit in the world. Similar to the grapefruit but no way near as sour. We have one tree near the kitchen garden. We wait for the day when we can walk out back and pick one for breakfast.

Fruit Trees

Mango Tree - from Seed to Food Forest

Mango – 6. Most of my mango trees were grown from seed in pots when we lived on Koh Chang. They are growing very well here but we don’t expect fruit for between 3 and five years.

Purple Mango Tree

Purple Mango – A very recent purchase. This mango tree, when mature isn’t very high and the fruit hangs low. Ideal for me as I grow older and don’t want to be climbing trees picking fruit.

Jack Fruit

Jackfruit – Another fruit tree I successfully grew from seed. The jack fruit tastes amazing and we also boil the seeds and eat them too. Both are packed with many positive health benefits.

Star Fruit Tree

Starfruit – 2. A small tree that produces pink flowers and yellow fruit that when cross-cut looks like a star. It’s very tart but looks awesome and is a great talking point.

Jabuticaba Tree

Jabuticaba – 1. The Brazilian tree that produces fruit on it’s trunk. We have yet to have ours fruit but cherish the day when we can taste them. I’ve heard it’s out of this world!

Beal Tree

Beal Tree – 1. The beal tree is an indigenous tree from India where where Hindus consider it sacred. It produces a hard shelled berry that has many medicinal properties.

Quince Tree

Quince Tree – 1. An aromatic, pear like, yellow fruit is produced by this ornamental tree.

Lamut - Sapodilla

Sapodilla – 1. A native to Mexico, this tree produces a energy boosting fruit made from simple sugars like fructose.

Wood Apple – 1. The fruit of the wood apple has a similar appearance to the Beal fruit but once you crack the hard shell you’ll discover the sticky brown flesh and white seeds.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate – 3. Many Thai houses have a pomegranate tree planted in front them to bring luck. We have three for their nutritionally rich fruit packed with antioxidants.

Guava Tree with fruit

Guava – 3. After papaya and banana, guava seems to be the easiest fruit for us to grow in the tropics. We have three small trees and all are now bearing fruit.

Longan Tree

Longan Tree – 2. The longan tree produces a sweet fruit that is often referred to as ‘dragon eye fruit’. The translucent flesh surrounds a black seed hence it’s nick-name.

Rambutan Tree

Rambutan – 2. I first encountered the exotic rambutan fruit at JJ market in Bangkok. I’m very lucky to be able to grow it now.

Mangostein Tree

Mangostein – 3. Our property borders a mangostein orchard. We planted one sapling ourselves and have a few self planted trees (but don’t tell the neighbors).

Avacardo Tree

Avocado – 3. I managed to nurture 4 avocado trees from seed. I gifted one 2ft high plant to my 74 year old neighbor as he had never seen or tasted one. The other three are planted on the shadier side of our land.

Sour Sop

Soursop – 2. The soursop is also known as a custard apple and paw paw. It’s a great tasting fruit with many health benefits.

Chompoo - Rose Apple

Rose Apple (chompoo) – 2. The rose apple has the appearance of a red or green pear but doesn’t compare in taste. Our trees suffer from aphid infestations but still seem to grow.

Durian Tree Top View

Durian – 1. The king of fruit! The huge durian fruit has a distinctive flavor and custardy taste, you either love it or loathe it. The smell (old socks) puts many people off trying it. My wife hates it, I love it! We got one tree, a long way from the house!

Berry & Cherry Trees

Thai Cherry Tree

Thai Cherry Tree – 1. Another recent addition to the garden. We found this small cherry tree in our local market. The cherries are sour but the flowers look very sweet.

Coffee Flowers

Coffee – 3. We were gifted one coffee plant and bought two before to see if we could grow coffee in south Thailand. Will let you know if I give up tea and start to roast our own coffee!

Turkey Berry Flowers

Turkey Berry – 3. The turkey berry is a wild eggplant and one of the key ingredients for Thai green curry. I brought these cuttings with me from Koh Chang where I had a 2 meter high bush.

Mulberry Tree

Mulberry Trees – 4. We have four small trees around the property and there is no better way to starting the day than adding a handful of fresh mulberries to my breakfast in the morning after feeding the chickens and applying water to the trees.

Surinam Cherry - Food ForestSurinam Cherry -1. We first thought this shrub was a star gooseberry but since the cherries recently ripened we discovered it was a surinam cherry. A native plant of South America with unique looking and tasting fruit high in vitamin C and A. We also discover in Uruguay they use the leaves for tea. So we will be making a brew and see what that is like!

Dwarf and Ornamental Trees

Dwarf Pomegranate

Dwarf Pomegranate – 1. We positioned our dwarf pomegranate on the back deck. It’s a mini-me of the larger tree and fruits.

Kumquat

Kumquat – 1. Another ornamental dwarf tree that is constantly bearing fruit and flowers. The kumquat is a nice neighbor on the back deck for our dwarf pomegranate.

Dwarf Cavandish Banana

Dwarf Banana – 1. Another variation of the many banana trees. This one, possible a dwarf Cavendish joins our other dwarf varieties on the back deck.

Nut Trees

Macadamia Nut Tree top view

Macadamia Nut – 1. We don’t have enough nut trees but this macadamia nut tree is a thorny leaf beauty. It’s going to look magnificent when it grows up.

Cactus

Dragon Fruit Cactus

Dragon Fruit (red and white) – 7. The dragon fruit has to be one of the most incredible looking fruits. No great shakes to taste but hands down it wins on style over substance every time.

Medicinal Trees

Neem Tree top view

Neem Tree – 4. The neem tree is called the wonder tree and for no small reason. The bark, leaves, seeds, roots, flower, and fruit are all used to make medicine or used as food.

Dockaer top view

Dok Kae – 4. This fast growing tree is commonly known as the Hummingbird Tree outside Thailand as the flowers it produces has a passing resemblance the of the small bird. Dok kae flowers are either red or white and are common in Thai dishes such as Nam Phrik.

Char-om

Cha-om – 4. A popular plant in Thailand which is grown to eat the fern like leaves raw in salads or as an addition to northern Thai cuisine.

Bamboo

Buddha Belly Bamboo

Buddha Belly Bamboo – 1. This bamboos name aptly describes it’s appearance.

Golden Common BambooGolden Common Bamboo – 3. We strategically planted three of these bamboo plants in one corner of the garden we have left wild for diversification. When it grows it will shade the house from the morning sun.

Non Edible Trees

Pong Pong Tree

Pong Pong (not edible) 5. A beautiful shade bearing tree with stunning flowers and glossy green leaves. I remember the first time I saw pong pong seeds, which are the size of tennis balls, and been growing then ever since.

Sundang Tree

Sendang Tree (non edible) 7. An ornamental tree we planted down the fence line of our Thinglish country garden. The tree is grey/green with top tips of red.

Dwarf Golden Rain Tree

Dwarf Golden Rain Tree – Ton Khun Kat (non edible) 1. It is the national tree of Thailand and its bloom is also the national flower of Thailand.

Nam Tao Tree

Calabash Tree – Nam tao (non edible) – 1. The nam tao is the first tree we planted on our land. I bought it from our first visit to Konpludthin Fishing Park while living on Koh Chang and kept it in a pot. It’s loving it’s new home! It produces huge grapefruit size fruits but unfortunately are not edible to us humans.

I’ll update this list as time goes by.

Once the rainy season starts, we will resume planting beneficial smaller trees, bushes and ground cover crops in between the main trees of our evolving food forest.

These companion plants will help build the soil and provide nutrients like nitrogen for the larger trees. In turn, as the trees mature, they provide shade and mico-climates for life to flourish on many different levels, just like a jungle!

We have a lot of work cut out for us in the future but look forward to reaping the bounty of fresh fruits and nuts packed with healthy micro nutrients and no chemicals or preservatives for many years to come.

Planting Our Food Forest

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

3 Comments

  • Dan July 19, 2017

    So beautiful, such a variety of tropical perennials appears so exotic in comparison to the North American forest. Diana Beresford-Kroeger, a Canadian botanist and poet, inspires a worldwide cultural reorientation to engaging indigenous tree species and growing their seeds in her film Call of the Forest. http://calloftheforest.ca

    Other books, vids and authors I recommend: Sepp Holzer, Permaculture Gardener; Paul Stamets, Mycelium Running; Ruth Stout, Straw Method; The Voynich Manuscript; Ancient Egyptian herioglyphic texts such as Horopolo; any historical texts of indigenous plants in your region may guide your observation of beneficial insects and discovery of and experiments with techniques which may have been locally forgotten.

    I am currently writing an article on this general topic of soil restoration project for publication and will provide text link to Twitter upon completion.

    Best regards, Dan

    • Perry Stevens
      Perry Stevens (Post author) July 19, 2017

      Thanks Dan. The cinematography of the film looks amazing. Can’t wait to watch it all.
      And thanks for the book recommendations. That will keep us entertained throughout the rainy season nights ahead.

Trackbacks for this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>