Saturday, May 16, 2009

How DOES Your Garden Grow?

I just returned from traveling out to the village of Picot with my first team.  And it was amazing.  The natural assumption is that this post would be about that.  But I am still in the process of, er, processing everything so I’ll leave you with this one instead.  A post about the trip is forthcoming.

I am not much of a gardener.  I’ve tried and failed on numerous occasions.  I just don’t have the proverbial green thumb.  I once got a notice from my homeowners’ association asking me to remove the weeds from planters beside my front door.  True Story.  And once, I almost had tomatoes until a greedy caterpillar ravaged my harvest and in less than a day, the tomatoes were gone.  I think this is why I am so excited about the fact that there is a garden growing in my yard!  Of course I can take no credit for its success but I like the idea of having a garden, nonetheless.  Perhaps, when I become more settled in a routine, I will have Susanne teach me about gardening. 

Here is what I have learned. 

The soil here in Cayes is very temperamental and only certain things can grow.  102_5385-1Sometimes even though the soil can sustain it, the sun is too direct and will damage anything that could have otherwise survived.  Here in our garden we have tomatoes, lettuce, and pumpkins.  There are other things that could grow but Susanne said that these are the things that won’t get eaten by goats; so that's what she plants.   And just other day there were some chickens that got into the garden and ate a bunch of tomatoes.  So now, the tomatoes have to be harvested early and allowed to ripen inside.  I think there are three basketfuls of tomatoes in the kitchen right now. 

I also learned that celery stalks will not grow in Haiti.  The leaves grow, but the stalks do not.  Something, again, about the soil.  Even without the stalks, the Haitians still grow the celery and use the leaves for seasoning and cooking. 

There are also lots of fruit trees in the yard; this means that we will have fresh coconut, fresh 102_5390citron (basically limes), fresh avocado, fresh passion fruit, fresh papayas, and another kind of fruit native to Haiti (that I am unfamiliar with) as they are in season.  Right now we have coconuts and citron.  Haitians use the citron to make a fruit drink. Its a simple recipe with just citron juice, water, sugar and vanilla.  I tried to make it once while living back in the states, but somehow it turned out horribly wrong. I think I added too much vanilla.  I decided I would leave the juice making to those who do it best.  And man is the juice here delicious!  In the last week I have had passion fruit juice, watermelon lime juice, mango juice, cherry juice, and of course, citron.  And needless to say, all of them were absolutely delicious. 

Maybe that’s something else I can learn how to make while I am here.  I’ll keep you posted.

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