Thursday, October 24, 2019

A garden for Doña Gladys

A new project the PUMAs have been working on is creating organic gardens for families who have an interest in growing, using, and selling produce beyond the typical stuff found in markets on the island. One PUMA guide, Edgard Condega, has a degree in agronomy and is very excited to share his organic gardening knowledge as a way to bring better nutrition to the island's residents and visitors through more sustainable farming.

Edgard and the PUMAs started building the first garden as a pilot project recently, but have done an immense amount of work already.

First order of business: a stout fence. Chickens and
pigs roam freely here, so penning in plants is the only
way to guarantee they'll grow.

One of the reasons for the fence
visited us while we worked...
Most of the beds had been prepared in the previous weeks, but it definitely is a process to build them.

First, loosening the dirt is a must on this volcanic island. Fortunately, this particular spot had been a farm for plantains (a large monoculture crop here), so the ground was relatively easy to work.

Elieth breaks soil with a
barra (spud bar).

Once the soil is the proper texture, other additives are mixed in as needed including sand, compost, and ash.
The volcanic rock here produces
soil that usually needs its pH
raised, so here, Edgard adds ash.
Some plants go in beds:

Doña Gladys plants some
eggplant seeds.

But larger plants like vines, shrubs, and trees usually go in their own small holes.
Edgard, Elieth, and Ramon Ivan
 plant pepper starts.
Elieth adds stones around the
seedlings to protect them.

It is a fair amount of work to put these together, and nothing is cheap - especially the fence. But if this project works out well, the PUMAs hope to have a stall where the garden owners can sell some of their produce. This garden is our first attempt, so we'll keep you posted on what happens!

The benefits of hard work on a
garden - Doña Gladys let us have
some green coconuts. Yum!