An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Watching My Garden Grow

Going away for five weeks of holidays next week has not made me worried about my garden. There is one thing that is almost guaranteed in the tropics and that is the plants can survive quite well on their own. In fact the only slight worry is that the weeds may take over, and give the proper plants a run for their money.

The reason is obviously that here we get an average of something like 4500mm of rain a year, if you work in the old scale that is 177 inches! Thankfully though the best thing about all the rain is that majority of it falls at night. This is a double blessing, as it means that the days are usually nice and sunny, except during the rainy season from May to September, and the nights are cooled down by the rain. I am really digging this weather.

In terms of gardening it is too easy here. Long term readers will remember how the security guard for our street fixed up the dead area out the back of my house by planting cuttings from various "flower" plants (not really flowering plants, but anything that is not something you can eat and looks pretty gets called a flower). Well the majority of those cuttings are well established now and have taken hold - leafily blooming.

My other attempts at the green thumb are equally doing well. About six months ago I chucked in a hole planted some turmeric, that me and Martin (next-door neighbour) bought from Papindos. They had little nodes on them and looked like they would grow well. They have certainly done that and have virtually taken over a whole area.

Not long after planting the turmeric, Martin gave me some cuttings of galangal (any fan of Thai cooking will be know about this little gem), which he was delighted to find growing around the academic area. I put this in near the turmeric and that has since gone the same way, very happily.

After those successes I thought I would see how some plain old ginger would go (funnily enough ginger is always sold here at markets and used in most of the cooking, but turmeric is hardly ever used and most people would not even know that you could eat galangal). Well surprising the ginger after a slow start is now going great guns as well.

Is there nothing I can't grow? By the looks of it no. I have not even mentioned the lemongrass yet, which is going berserk nearby.

My turmeric, galangal (flowering), ginger and lemongrass

My major problem that has arisen is that I need to pull some of them out and replant elsewhere, before they start to strangle each other. This shouldn't be too hard to do and I will get onto it this weekend before I head back to Oz.

The other thing that I am proud of is the coconut that I planted near the drain at the back. Although it is not growing as quickly as the turmeric or galangal this little guy will someday be a massive coconut tree. If I ever come back in ten or twenty years time I hope that I will be able to look at my coconut tree and say "I planted that", and then get a mangi to climb up and fetch me some kulau.

My coconut palm

So far, all my plants are doing fine, without any help what-so-ever. If only PNG as a whole was like this.