February 2006: Creating Space

Creating Space, Growing Abundance.

From the begin­ning, we have looked at what’s grow­ing on the land here with an eye toward cre­at­ing a more wel­com­ing, nour­ish­ing place of sanc­tu­ary. There are a lot of trees on the land, most of them unin­ten­tion­al (that is, inva­sive species) and quite large. It will be the work of many years and some heavy equip­ment to ful­ly trans­form all of it, but we took a few sig­nif­i­cant steps in the last few months.

In late September 2005 I got a vis­it from a local tree cut­ter and he offered (for a price) to cut down some of our trees. We had this very large and threat­en­ing banyan tree grow­ing on a very old avo­ca­do tree, and I have been try­ing to fig­ure out what to do with it for some time now. This banyan was about 30 feet from the house, and that is way too close for a tree that can cov­er a quar­ter-acre if you let it. That it had com­plete­ly enveloped that avo­ca­do was unfor­tu­nate, as it bore good fruit, but it would have to be sacrificed.

Fortunately, avo­ca­dos are fair­ly easy to grow and I have a plan to put in some real­ly high-grade vari­eties: the seedlings for the root­stock are grow­ing in our nurs­ery right now. We are buy­ing some real­ly good fruit at the Lotus from some peo­ple with an avo­ca­do orchard, and I’ve arranged to col­lect some scion-wood from them this spring. These will be graft­ed onto the root­stock, giv­ing us avo­ca­do trees of known vari­ety and bear­ing sea­son that can begin fruit­ing with­in two years.

So I asked our tree cut­ter to cut down the banyan/avocado and the two large schef­flera grow­ing on either side of it. These were all on a small slope not far from the house and I am plan­ning to put a cou­ple of fruit trees and a pond for the grey­wa­ter sys­tem there. It is a prime loca­tion for papaya, as they will be very hap­py to suck up that yum­my (if you’re a papaya, that is) grey water.

The large tree in the cen­ter of the pho­to is actu­al­ly three trees: the Shefllera in the front, and behind it the banyan/avocado. Hidden behind all that is anoth­er Shefllera (or octo­pus tree) that we cut.

In the next pho­to you can get an idea of the space cre­at­ed by the tree removal. The pho­to is not tak­en from the same angle, but you get the idea. It’s also brought a lot more sun­light into this area, enjoyed main­ly for now by the weeds and a few papayas I plant­ed in antic­i­pa­tion of the clear­ing. They are now grow­ing rapid­ly and fruit­ing already.

Opens things right up, does­n’t it? The orange tree (with fruit on the right) is very hap­py to have the space.


Meanwhile, var­i­ous things con­tin­ue to grow for us. The vanil­la vine that pro­duced 9 beans for us last year I divid­ed and plant­ed in var­i­ous places around here, look­ing for a place they would be hap­py. The vines grew read­i­ly wher­ev­er I plant­ed them, but only this one flow­ered. I pol­li­nat­ed it (and the orig­i­nal) last May, a process that entails get­ting up there every day with a bam­boo skew­er and deliv­er­ing some pollen to the pis­til on the new­ly opened flow­ers. Most of the time, it is suc­cess­ful and we are expect­ing a very much larg­er har­vest this spring. This is one plant that could have com­mer­cial pos­si­bil­i­ties for us if we can per­fect the crit­i­cal cur­ing process. The grow­ing is easy. We are exper­i­ment­ing with a new, sim­pli­fied process that is real­ly just dehy­drat­ing the beans in a dehy­dra­tor. The clas­sic method is far too lengthy and labor-inten­sive to be prac­ti­cal on a small scale.

We very hap­py with how this vanil­la is doing. There are more pods up in the tree, too.

Another plant eas­i­ly grown here is cur­cuma lon­ga, oth­er­wise known as turmer­ic or ole­na in Hawaiian. This rel­a­tive of gin­ger is a very use­ful med­i­c­i­nal plant pri­mar­i­ly for it’s ben­e­fi­cial effect on the liv­er. It also works as an effec­tive anti-inflam­ma­to­ry. We grate the fresh root and make a very pleas­ant tea, being also a good diges­tive. We sell it occa­sion­al­ly to the juice bar as turmer­ic juice is one of the med­i­c­i­nal addi­tives they sell. Mostly, we just use it ourselves.

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