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A living tin of food

February 9, 2012

After a period of dormancy during November-January with only limited native blossom, the native plants at Dokmai Garden and in the surrounding jungles in Chiang Mai now wake up. Pink shower (Cassia bakeriana), Pride of Lanna (Congea tomentosa), Malabar blackmouth (Melastoma malabathrica), Dendrobium farmeri orchid , Dendrobium primulinum orchid and Santol fruit (Sandoricum koetjape) and Climbing mulberry (Broussonetia kurzii) are some examples.

The upcoming hot dry season, which we also call the ‘flowering season’, makes agriculture without irrigation difficult. In older times that was a time when the Thai farmer had to feed on roots, tubers, insects and fish, and to use the harvest surplus. A fantastic Southeast Asian vegetable is the wax gourd (Benincasa hispida, Cucurbitaceae). Like a living tin of food it can be kept on the shelf until all other food has been depleted. The literature claims it can be kept for two years, I challenged that but sure enough, a one year old fruit was still good to eat.

Text and photo: Eric Danell

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2012 10:06 PM

    One of my favorite veggies. I prefer the variety with thinner softer skin that is more commonly grown in China, though.

  2. February 10, 2012 3:22 AM

    Hi Eric, have a look at this story please: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=%2F2008%2F9%2F21%2Fnation%2F2077222&sec=nation
    We would love to grow the big wintermelon. Our customers, tell us at our market stall where to cut them a section off from the main fruit. We were growing 40 kg ones many years ago. Lost the seeds. Have a look around Eric.

    • February 10, 2012 8:04 AM

      Sounds amazing! I have not seen those wintermelons but will keep my eyes open.

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