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Gardening: Dealing with dry spells

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Gardening: Dealing with dry spells | The Thaiger

PHUKET: While we are used to the onset of the dry season in Phuket every November, this year has been a bit different, as the monsoon was more prolonged and the drought, once it did arrive, has been more extreme.

Not a drop of rain since New Year’s Day in my bit of the island means that we are having to reach for our hoses more often. If we don’t have a well or a reliable mains supply, it’s necessary to call more often on the services of the water tanker.

When workers dug my well seven years ago, they encountered a layer of granite so thick that not even dynamite could crack the natural barrier. So at this time of year when the main water supply is under pressure from the rash of condominiums, I too am dependent on the water man.

So what about priorities in the xeric garden? It’s a common sense answer, actually. Your container plants will need more attention since they will dry out more rapidly, so prioritize them. The same goes for any plants that are used to moist conditions and whose roots are used to lots of water. I am thinking of the usual culprits: canna lilies, heliconias, most varieties of ginger, leea rubra (commonly known as the red tree), sambucus or sweet elder and even jasminium rex.

Of course, small plants are always more at risk, since they have less developed root systems. Most perennials or sizable shrubs will fare better than annuals. Newly transplanted ones are the most vulnerable of all.

In fact, at this time of the year, I would counsel gardeners to put potted plants in open beds only when absolutely necessary. A daily inspection will reveal the struggles: telltale drooping foliage, leaf loss and in some cases, yellowing or browning of the leaves.

All these authorial strictures will be out of date once we have a couple of heavy downpours, but at the moment this outcome looks unlikely.

Most plants that thrive in tropical conditions are built to endure dry spells. They often possess leathery leaves, which allow little evaporation through their stomata (think figs, limes and plumerias) and many varieties are not averse to dropping any foliage that is surplus to requirements.

The magnolia tree (michaelia champaca) in my garden is a case in point: it is now shedding masses of large leaves and will continue to do so until it gets a real drenching or two.

Other shrubs and trees behave differently: they will stop producing sappy-green growth, which takes its toll on underground water supplies, and instead produce gorgeous displays of bloom. By producing flowers, the plant is saying that foliar growth needs to be superceded by reproduction, since blooms rapidly give way to seeds.

Thus we have magnificent displays of ixoras, allamandas and bougainvilleas at present, and down the road a coral vine (antigogon leptus) is in full flower, impervious to the fact that the soil at its roots is bone dry.

Other shrubs that are revelling in the conditions include varieties of verbena, lantana, acalyphas and, in my garden, an Indian rubber vine. Desert shrubs such as adeniums, crowns of thorns and cactus-like perekias are also dressed in their Sunday best.

This reminds me: My local temple boasts a fine display of Saraca indica or asoka. The trees – which are revered in Buddhist mythology – are currently bearing dense, upturned clusters of flowers, tiny orange florets, which massed together produce lilac-sized blooms. These flowers appear, as is the case with so many other shrubs and trees, after pronounced dry weather. Hence this year’s fine display.

The asoka is definitely a small tree to consider for your garden, especially if you have a shady spot, since these trees grow beneath taller trees in their native habitat. It has a neat shape and attractive pinnate leaves, and it will please your Thai visitors.

However, don’t try and plant one now. It needs lots of moisture while it is getting established. In the words of the song, “save it for a rainy day”.

Catch Patrick online at PhuketGazette.net Sunday morning next week, when he reveals more of his gardening expertise.

— Patrick Campbell

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

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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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Bangkok

Green Day heading back to BKK in 2020

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Green Day heading back to BKK in 2020 | The Thaiger

Green Day, five-time Grammy Award winners, are embarking on a global tour in 2020, including a stop-over in Bangkok during March. The rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Fame inductees will perform a series of concerts throughout Europe, UK, North America and Asia.

“Green Day Live in Bangkok” takes place on March 11, 2020 at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani. But it’s not their first time. Green Day sold out concerts in their last Thai live gigs in 1996 and 2010.

Formed in 1986 in Berkeley, California, Green Day is one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time, with more than 70 million records sold worldwide and 10 billion cumulative online streams of their music and performances. Their 1994 breakout album “Dookie” is widely credited with popularising and reviving mainstream interest in punk rock, catapulting a career-long run of No 1 hit singles.

In 2004, Green Day released the rock opera “American Idiot”, selling more than 7 million copies in the US alone and taking home the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. In 2010, a stage adaptation of “American Idiot” debuted on Broadway to critical and commercial acclaim. Entertainment Weekly called Green Day, “The most influential band of their generation,” while Rolling Stone said, “Green Day have inspired more young bands to start than any act this side of KISS, and that doesn’t seem to be changing.”

Green Day Live in Bangkok 2020 is on March 11, 2020 at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani.

Ticket prices start at 2,000 baht and tickets go on sale on November 2 at all ThaiTicketMajor outlets via www.livenation.co.th or www.thaiticketmajor.com or call: 02 262 3838 for more information.

SOURCE: The Nation

Green Day heading back to BKK in 2020 | News by The Thaiger

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