Farming update

Somehow, it feels like only a couple of weeks, but it is now three months ago that we ‘started farming’ – a bit of a big word for what it was, but it sure felt like it. After three months, I can say: it has not gone very well, but it could have been worse. More importantly, all the experimentation is a lot of fun and growing plants continues to be a great experience. And of course, we are learning a lot … I hope. Here is what happened to all the little big projects.

Mint and basil

Of the five mint plants and the five basil plants, there is only one alive of each. The rest died because they dried out or got eaten or both. The two remaining plants have some ‘rust’ on their leaves. It is worse on the basil. My conclusion is that I planted them too soon. That is, their roots had not developed enough yet to be exposed to the forest elements. So, they lacked the mass or energy to fight the bugs and suck up enough water from the earth. It sure wasn’t the lack of water because, one, we’re in a rainforest, and two, I made sure to water them if we had a day or to without rain. Also, I am hypothesizing that the leaves being partially eaten actually helped the development: fewer leaves means less evaporation of water; thus less demand on the very young roots; and less chance of drying out.

In any case, we still have some more saplings ready in the nursery, so I am still hoping for some nice mint and basil some day. And I have not yet given up on two remaining contenders.


The pineapples that I planted in the clay did not make it either, because they started rotting. I knew they needed well-drained soil and clay does not really drain well, but I thought that putting them on the top of a hill would compensate for that. It did not, or not enough. In contrast, The pineapple that I planted in a plastic bottle with compost and some holes in the bottom, is doing quite well. It may actually be growing. Also, I added some more pineapples. We eat about one every 10 to 14 days, so there is a steady stream of new plants.


The mango is doing great. Every couple of weeks, it makes a new partition to its stem and a new set of leaves. First two leaves at the time, but the last set was three leaves. It is about 20 centimeters high now. Yesterday, I discovered that some bug had folded a leave into a completely sealed bag, which must function as a nest. I am not sure what to do with it. If the leave survives then there is no need to remove it, but what if the nest hatches and whatever comes out devours the entire plant … ? I will regret not having removed it.
In the meantime, we ate some mangos even though was not really the season. There were two extremely nice ones, which we planted as well. I am pretty sure that one will not germinate at all, because it looked black if not rotten. The other, is still enjoying the sun, but not doing a lot yet.


The papayas were a huge disappointment. They just don’t germinate, not the ones that I directly planted into the soil. They probably were too old. But also the ones that we tried to germinate in compost in our nursery. Well, Since writing the draft of this post, a day ago, and now, Cris suddenly noticed a tiny leaf sticking out of the compost. So, maybe there is still hope. In any case, I need to read up on breeding papayas before the next attempt.

Cas and mamon chino

The cas did not germinate either. I guess there was too much mold on and in the seeds. The mamon chino ( or rambutan ) did not germinate either, but that was to be expected. The internet told me that the seeds need to be at most a week old, and the ones I used were about three or four months old. A couple of weeks ago we bought and ate a box full of mamon chino and planted them within the week. The first two have germinated now, so for now, we can call it a success.

Cherry tomato

We also started raising some cherry tomato plants from – you guessed it – the seeds of a cherry tomato. That went quite well. They even resisted the afternoon sun, but we weren’t sure they would resist the bugs, so we brought them back into the nursery on our terrace and gave them a bigger box with compost. They continued growing but markedly slower than before. I am guessing because they get less light, so I put one small batch back in the wild. One batch is still in the nursery, so we can see which one will fare better.

The nursery

We have now dedicated a corner of the terrace for our “nursery”. We have some pumpkin plants that are ready to be grounded, some watermelon, the above mentiones cherry tomatoes and several herbs (mint, basilikum, thyme, cuban oregano. They are doing very well.

Vegetable garden

Today, Cris and I started our vegetable garden by fencing off a piece of the floor next to the forest road. I am not sure why we do this because the fence are just planks on their side. It won’t keep the deer out, not even the agouti. But at least, it will tell us where our garden starts.

Apart from the seeds that we collect from what we eat, we bought some packets of seeds ( they come from the Netherlands … ). The pumpking seeds germinated really fast and the plants probably will be difficult to stop. I think we are going to use them to fence our fence on the outside. Meaning, we will plant them just outside the fence, so that they will be eaten first by whatever will eat our veggies. We read that farming in the forest means that half of the yield is for the humans, the other half is for the other animals. So we know not to raise expectations too high.

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