22 December 2012

Landfill harmonic (la orquesta reciclada)

     For those who have not seen this small video about a truly amazing project growing in Paraguay...great hope for the future.   
   This sums up the spirit of the holiday season:

11 December 2012

The gardening challenge

     Lots of stuff at False Bluff grows like the proverbial weed:  papaya, banana, casava, lemon grass, pineapple, cashews...   
   But stuff like tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers are a struggle.   It's too hot or the sun's too bright or there's not enough rain or there's too much rain.  Seeds sprout, shoot up a few inches, and then keel over and die. 
     To help offset some of the bad while taking advantage of the good, the vegetables and herbs are being grown under what in Virginia would be a shade cloth.  We 'planted' poles and then attached smaller poles to their tops and over that laid palm fronds.  The palm fronds provide some protection from the tropical sun to offset the worst of the heat; and from heavy rains while still letting water through.  
     Also, we're laying down mulch and continually adding to it (all according to Ruth Stout and her "No-work Garden").   So when stuff gets 'chopped'...grass, weeds, papaya and banana leaves, whatever...it no longer gets burned, which was the usual but wasteful practice.  All of that green stuff that sucks the nutrients out of the soil now, instead, gets piled in the garden where it will return the nutrients to the soil. Big things like banana leaves get a few extra machete chops to knock it down to a size that will rot quicker.  
     The heavy mulch keeps plant roots cool; mitigates rain damage; keeps the soil from going dry when there isn't any rain, heavy or otherwise; helps keep the weeds down; and feeds the soil.   The results are easy to see and have been surprising to people not familiar with heavy mulch gardening.  
   The 'shade house solution' is temporary though.  The poles rot too quickly and the roofing, not regular palm thatch, doesn't last long.  Growing vegetables is a puzzle we're still working on!