February 2014, fifth month
Goats: the new pigs
Since the report of tourists of seeing two goats in the garden during the last week of January, the goats have become residents. The group grew to about 12 during February. LVV didn’t come to the garden to shoot the goats for different reasons. Tourist helped chase out one goat. The fence became a topic for the board and STENAPA staff. Documents about the fence, property boundaries were tabled. Rebuilding the fence is on the EZ budget – approved but still not transferred since September (?) 2013. No other means available to address the issue. LVV made some animal feed and barbed wire available for temporary measures (baiting and improving the most vulnerable spots in the fence).
An adequate perimeter fence again proves to be a requisite for the success or failure of ANY planting project within the garden, including but not limited to the permanaut in residence programme. All attempts at building capacity for self-sufficiency and bio-based enterprise using the garden assets will fail without this first line of defense.
Food forest & vegetable garden
In the aftermath of the pig invasions in the past four months, we replanted the vegetable garden and the first two terraces of the Food Forest. The soil in the former tent sites has proven to be inadequate for planting. The soil there needs to be restored first. The first (top) tent site was transformed into a keyhole bed, filled with branches of Leuceana and Corelitta vines as biomass. This practice will need to be repeated regularly for at least one year before any planting can be considered.
Two small beds in the vegetable garden were fenced and netted off. The soil was covered with a cardboard sheet mulch and enriched with compost. Planted with nitrogen fixing peanuts as self-seeding ground cover. Beans and butternut squash were replanted along with basil. Mint still to follow. As nurse trees lots of Moringa were planted as well. Another bed (with the last resting place of the piglets that gave up their (miserable) life for the garden) was left unfenced but sheet mulched and planted with Moringa and Avocado trees. Here also a ground cover of peanuts.
We were able to harvest leafy greens from chinese cabbage and basil herbs. The peppers and tomatoes recovered from their close encounters with pigs, but are about a month away from a useable harvest.
We made some sketches for the development of the food forest and vegetable garden. See separate report.
Irrigation system Phase II & III gardens
This project is awaiting resources and essential infrastructure like the installation of solar power and irrigation pipes. Connecting cisterns depends on finishing these systems. No progress in February.
Work on soil improvement continued. Compost from the bins nearly gone now. New compost heap still a couple of months away from being processed enough to go into planting beds. Needs more input from biomass harvesting from the garden.
Roaming livestock management
The fence plays an essential role in the livestock management issue. The fence needs to substitute for resolving deeper issues with traditional farming practices. LVV and STENAPA need to work together with community leaders to develop and implement a long term solution. It’s become clear that this is not an issue that the permanaut in residence can resolve within the mandate and means of STENAPA, let alone the botanical garden.
Visitor Center: I’ve gone as far as possible within the means available. Rafters partly done. Still two to go. Still the last interior wall timbers to be removed before the new design can be implemented.
Depends on renovation and repurposing of the tool shed to kitchen.
Service Pavilion: I’ve gone as far as possible within the means available. One-third of the new roof structure in place. Needs weather proofing urgently.
Walls and rest of the roof to be built when EZ funds become available. Inspection by professional builder recommended.
Groen & Doen: permaculture education in conservation and management of public natural spaces
Visions were presented at 19 February meeting at the STENAPA office. Fascinating in different ways. The exercise has given some insight into the vision of different stakeholders as well as into their way of thinking and interests.
A planned exhibition has proven impractical due to lack of suitable space. So instead I’m including pictures of the submitted visions here.
Vision: Claire, Botanical Garden Ranger
Vision: Irving, Board president
Vision: Jeanette, volunteer
Vision: John, volunteer
Vision: Leo, permanaut in residence
Vision: Mike, board member representing dive shops
Vision: Nic, marine park intern
Vision: Sheila, permanaut in residence intern
Vision: Steve, national parks director
Missing in Action:
board members Gene, Hilda, Daniël, Kay (present @ meeting but no poster)
staff: Jess, Hannah, Nadio, Tutti
Garden Maintenance Plan
As a result of the vision presentations the first order of business is now to uncover this existing Master Plan, Garden Maintenance plan and integrate PinR, Service Area, Food Forrest and Vegetable Garden development.
Some simple standing orders should become common practice. E.g.:
- collect cardboard from shops and take to garden at every opportunity;
- collect aluminium cans (undamaged) to make labels to identify plants for sale
- keep ALL organic matter harvested in the garden for composting and mulching. An exception to this is diseased material, which should be burned on-site under strictly controlled and contained conditions. Other botanical gardens in the network can provide detailed guidelines.; Tree trunks and large branches should be chipped, while smaller branches should be cut to a suitable size and stored for firewood;
- when renovation plant beds and/or pathways, always restructure on contour and install permanent irrigation pipes on contour;
- when renovating pathways install weed suppressant material (either newspaper or artificial plastic woven material) and a top layer of gravel and ground rocks to achieve a hard but water permeable low-maintenance surface;
- when renovating planting beds install cardboard sheet mulch topped by woodchips;
There was one plant sale in February. Results were relatively good. We took fewer plants to market and sold more then before. In talks with people at the market, requests were noted to have annual vegetable seedlings for sale. This seems like a good compromise between freshly picked herbs and perennial food species we would be better off plant out for ourselves. Annuals offer a better opportunity for repeat business, with a greater turnover then perennials and less input from growing them to a salable state (a couple of weeks against a couple of months or years).
Passion of Statia
The first passion fruit cuttings from the ‘look out garden’ plant were planted out. The P. foetida fluminensis is doing very well with three vines creeping happily along in the experimental patch.
90 visitors in February. A bit below average.