Peace, Quiet, and Horse Manure

On this wonderfully overcast Tuesday afternoon we ventured to the Taino Permaculture Farm with our buddy Charlie. The peaceful farm is located near Savaneta, about 20 minutes away from Cabarete, on a beautiful piece of property bordered by a lazy river on one side.

The goal was to lend them a hand in starting multiple new banana circles from the extra banana suckers from the eXtreme Hotel permaculture garden, as well as start some more seedlings to throw into the food forest at a later date.

What is a banana circle you ask? Basically it’s a way of planting banana trees that maximizes fruit production while minimizing work. We like this energy return on investment ratio! Simple really, plant banana trees in a circle so as to throw all of your compost on the inside of the circle, the plants all benefit. Also, the banana plants become support for climbing plants. From your compost pile in the middle, you can grow natural ground covers like sweet potato, pumpkin or squash. You can also grow beans or other climbing plants.

A banana tree seems to be one of the most masochistic of all plants I’ve ever seen. The more you mistreat it, it seems, the more it likes to grow. The suckers we used for the project we just torn right out of the ground; to look at one, you’d never think anything will ever come of it, but a banana plant isn’t actually a tree, it’s a monocot, a relative of the grass family, and thus grows pretty much like a grass. To kickstart the composting process we threw in some horse manure which we had on-hand. Yum!

Digging holes in heavy clay soil in the tropical sun, and then carrying bags of horse manure will get you sweaty and dirty in no time (the equivalent of multiple P90X workouts actually, so I’ll be skipping a few this week) but therein lies the benefit of bordering a river! There’s a certain magic to the way sounds carries in the presence of water. Suddenly, all the sounds of nature are magnified, and a few steps disappearing into the water become a sanctuary where you can lazily soak up the sun like a lizard, or just let yourself sink into the chilly water. What a life!

On the menu for dinner: Mangu, sunny side up eggs, and fresh picked eggplant.

The deafening silence of the fresh night, spent in the cana-roof hut, which we shared with the nesting sparrows, got us all refreshed for another day of work shoveling more horse!@#$, and planting chili pepper seedlings. For future reference, DON’T get chili pepper juice under your nails. It hurts. For hours.

Oh yes Finca Taina, you’ll be seeing us again soon :)

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