29 July 2016

The changing scenery

     My last post touted the benefits of pruning all the palm trees we've planted in order to make the trees grow faster.  Here are a few shots, all from pretty much the same perspective, that show how the tree growth is changing the view from upstairs in the house.  (Note that at least one of these shots was taken before there was a house that had an upstairs...)
     The first thing we did was clear all the breeze-stifling low stuff...small knee- or head-high shrubs that grew so prolifically and tightly that the breeze off the Caribbean literally couldn't get through.  And we sure couldn't walk through the stuff without long pants and boots.  We left any palm tree that was already growing and all the sea grapes. Cayman Roca is visible in the distance in the photo below, 2.5 miles offshore.

     Clearing the undergrowth made space for an impromptu volley ball game at the end of a day.

     But the "volleyball court" got filled up pretty quickly as the trees were planted and began to grow. It's easy to orient yourself by checking out the adult palm trees closer to the sea.

          And now, of course, this is the view from upstairs with trees and shade and lots of my favorite zoysia grass covering the ground like an emerald green carpet. Sure, we can't see Cayman Roca from upstairs anymore....but a few more years of growth and pruning will take care of that and give us back the view of that tiny island.

21 July 2016

Pruning the palm trees

     I've taken some crap about my habit of pruning the palm trees we've planted at False Bluff but recently I've had some people who previously questioned the habit ask for demonstrations at their own farms to teach their staff how and why.     
     It usually takes only a single swipe with a machete per frond (a frond is what passes for a branch on a palm tree but is essentially just a big leaf); and we have a lot of palm trees - literally hundreds - that are newly planted and young enough to have fronds still low enough to prune. 
     So the job to prune and then clean up is really time consuming but it's worthwhile for the aesthetics alone if nothing else. Pruning gets rid of the broken or yellowing older fronds and of the fronds that block the view of the sea. 
     And often I sacrifice even healthy fronds. This is especially true in the case of palm fronds that overhang the walkways, our pathways that are now really well defined by virtue of being lined with palm trees...or in the case of palm frond that might smack you in the face no matter where you walk. 
     I don't care if it's healthy and green: gone!
     But the most important reason I've found for pruning the trees is that the pruning at False Bluff has proven to make the trees grow faster - noticeably faster. 
     Since coconut trees are the ultimate single leader tree, when they're pruned there's only one way for the tree to grow and that's up. Kind of hard to miss the effects of pruning after a few years.

15 July 2016


     We've had significant damage done to two clumps of sea grapes close to the house...I'm not sure yet just what these things turn into after they've eaten their fill.

     The sea grapes have made a remarkable recovery considering the amount of damage they've incurred

     ...and they've even begun producing some fruit, tho not nearly what they've produced in the past.

     Next year we're going to use dishwashing liquid.

11 July 2016


     A couple of years ago I "met" Herman Downs via facebook.  He commented on a False Bluff facebook post and we've shot messages about Nicaragua and its Caribbean coast back and forth since then...Herman carrying most of the weight.
     Born in Bluefields, he and his family moved to Florida in the 1970's; and his knowledge of Nicaragua in general and Bluefields in particular is encyclopedic. 
     I described him once in a post somewhere as having the equivalent of a library in his head, a description that was only partly a joke.  He's a gifted researcher and very generous with what he digs up.  I have benefitted - and I thank him.
     Earlier this year Herman returned to Bluefields for the first time in more than thirty years and we met. Three of us - Herman, Herman's close friend Jimmy Lau Downs (they refer to each other as cousins but aren't), and I - hung out briefly in Bluefields and then we all made a trip to False Bluff.
     HD and I sat upstairs talking and listening to the Caribbean... 
     while Jimmy went looking for fresh coconuts which aren't difficult to find at my place.

06 July 2016


     In Bluefields, my very dear grandson and my very dear friend...life is good.