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Figs for all tastes – Phuket Gardening

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Figs for all tastes – Phuket Gardening | The Thaiger

PHUKET: One of the stranger aspects of attempting an alphabetical survey of plants is that you end up with some odd bedfellows. Take the letter “F” for example. It embraces the huge genus of figs or ficus to give the family its botanical appellation.

In Plant Materials in Thailand, no fewer than 24 different varieties are listed; they dominate the letter in much the same way that the so-called strangler fig throttles its unfortunate host.

Figs vary from majestic park and forest trees in warmer climes to tough indoor plants such as the rubber tree, or the edible fig of Mediterranean landscapes. There is even a creeping fig which ventures no more than an inch or two above the ground.

F religiosa
is at once the most revered, the most unusual and, some would say, the most pernicious of trees. Revered because Buddhism avers that the Lord Gautama attained enlightenment while meditating beneath its ample shade for six years, the bodhi tree flourishes on temple grounds everywhere in Thailand. In Hindu mythology it is associated with fertility in women. But it is definitely not one for your conventional garden. Fast growing and deciduous, it can attain thirty meters, possesses a trunk up to three meters wide and has hanging roots that may occupy much of the surrounding area.

The Bodhi tree is bizarre in another respect. It needs, as nearly all figs do, the presence of a pollinating agaonid or fig wasp which lays its eggs within the growing fruit. The larvae feed on the internal gall flowers, crawl out as adults, and in the process cross-pollinate the external flowers. The mature fruits and seeds (not palatable to humans), are in turn eaten by birds, and dispersed as droppings, where they often lodge in the forks or bark of a host tree and develop into seedlings. In time, these intruders will send roots down to the ground which will, in time, completely envelop and destroy the tree. Hence the pejorative name of “strangler fig”.

Nonetheless, no self-respecting Buddhist or Hindu would ever dream of cutting down a tree which has not only sacred associations, but has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties, treating everything from gout and gastric disorders to diabetes. Moreover, it is an impressive ornamental presence and not just on account of its massive size and longevity, but because of its attractive, glossy, heart shaped foliage.

Benghalensis
is a related species with similar aerial roots, but is capable of spreading much more widely. One celebrated banyan tree, in Calcutta, has a spread of 400 feet and covers more than three acres. The broad, stiff leaves are a shiny deep green and the fruits ripen to orange.

More suitable for our Thai gardens is Ficus carica, known world-wide as the edible fig, and a dominant feature of Mediterranean countries. It is not as popular as it deserves to be in Thailand for the simple reason that it dislikes the high and continuous humidity – a feature of life here – which in F. carica tends to promote mildew. Oddly, edible figs grow best on poorish soil; too much nitrogen promotes leaf growth at the expense of the succulent, pear-shaped fruit. Pruning during the period of dormancy will increase the tree’s fruiting capacity.

As befits a commercially viable fruit, there are many cultivars: “Black Genoa” is a prolific yielder of sweet, dark red flesh, “Mission” has blackish fruits. “White Adriatic” should do better here: it has pale greenish brown figs with tasty pink flesh. This was the variety that I grew in the mountains of Southern Spain. It loved the cool nights and cropped heavily and reliably.

If you are lucky enough to lay your hands on a fig tree, don’t plant it close to a wall: it has a large root system and the tap root may go down several meters. One reason why they seem unaffected by drought.

Tip of the week – More on pollination

Some plants have male (stamens) and female parts (pistil) on different parts of the same plant. So an agency will again be needed to transfer the pollen. Most melons, pumpkins, and squash, for example, have both male and female flowers. Commercial growers sometimes activate the fertilization process by using a fine brush to transfer pollen from one flower to another. But again,insects are the main distributors.

A few species, for example, some citrus varieties, do not require pollination at all, though tangerines do. Obviously as a grower or gardener, it is important that you know the requirements of the species.

Another factor is maturity. Some trees do not bear fruit until a certain age; for avocadoes this is about six years, for papayas, rose apples, guavas or bananas as little as 18 months. Jujubes and jack fruit take 2-3 years.

If you have a question, or a garden that you would like featured, you can email Patrick Campbell here.

Keep checking our online Phuket Lifestyle pages, follow us on Twitter @phuketgazette or join our Facebook fan page for regular gardening features and tips.

— Patrick Cambell

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Business

Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg

May Taylor

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Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg | The Thaiger

Thai Residents reports that on Sunday, Bloomberg published an article on the world’s best pension systems, using information gathered from the 2019 Melbourne Mercer Global Pensions Index.

The survey looked at the pension systems of 37 countries with metrics including employee rights, savings, the number of homeowners, growth of assets, and growth of the economy. The purpose of the analysis was to determine what was needed to improve state pension systems and to gauge the level of confidence citizens had in their state pension system.

The Netherlands and Denmark were found to have the world’s best state pensions, with Australia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Singapore, New Zealand, Canada, and Chile next. Out of all 37 countries, Thailand finished last, with what the report described as an extremely ineffective and ambiguous system.

“Thailand was in the bottom slot and should introduce a minimum level of mandatory retirement savings and increase support for the poorest.”

Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg | News by The Thaiger

Photo: WorkpointNews

Thai Residents states that only those employed within the government system in Thailand are eligible for a pension based on salary. For most Thai citizens, pension amounts vary from 600 baht to 1,000 baht a month, depending on the recipient’s age.

A report carried out by The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) advises Thai citizens to have at least 4 million baht saved by the time they retire, but Thai Residents reports that 60% of Thai retirees have less than 1 million baht in savings, with one in three citizens who have reached retirement age are forced to continue working in order to survive.

SOURCE: thairesidents.com

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Bangkok

Tax on salt content being considered

Greeley Pulitzer

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Tax on salt content being considered | The Thaiger

The Excise Department is considering imposing a tax on the salt content of food to encourage food producers to reduce the sodium content of snacks, instant noodles and seasoning cubes.

The director of the Office of Tax Planning said that the department is discussing a limit on the amount of sodium food can contain, in line with the standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is 2,000 milligrams of salt per day.

In reality, Thai people consume an average of 1,000 milligrams per meal, making their daily intake well above WHO guidelines, according to the director.

He said any tax imposed would be at a level which would encourage food producers to reduce the sodium in their processed food without being punitive, adding that the proposal isn’t intended to generate more tax revenue, but to help protect the health of consumers. Excessive sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure and kidney disease.

Fish sauce, soy sauce and salt would not be taxed.

SOURCE: thaipbsworld.com

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News

Water shortage warnings in 22 provinces

Greeley Pulitzer

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Water shortage warnings in 22 provinces | The Thaiger

People living in 22 Thai provinces are being warned to prepare for shortages of drinking water during the upcoming dry season, due to start on November 1st.

The warning was issued by the National Water Resources Office, citing low levels in reservoirs, which are the main sources for tap water production waterworks in 22 provinces.

Areas at risk identified by the office are in northern, north-eastern, eastern and southern provinces.

Measures have been adopted by agencies charged with dealing with water shortages. including dredging water channels to allow greater volumes of water to flow into reservoirs, drilling underground wells, enlarging storage ponds and the purchase of water to supply to those in urgent need.

The Royal Irrigation Department has announced that people should use water sparingly.

There are currently about 6 billion cubic metres of usable water in reservoirs in the affected provinces, with 5 billion cubic metres reserved for consumption and ecological preservation, leaving only 1 billion cubic metres for use in agriculture.

This means farmers in the Chao Phraya river basin may not be able to grow a second crop of rice this year.

SOURCE: thaipbsworld.com

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