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Tuesday, November 18

Passionfruit Project

I had always imagined planting passionfruit, ever since my visit to the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Saint Lucia office in 2010. The production model demonstrated was the use of reused materials for low-cost trellis construction (see pages 15-17 of document). So this year I put my imagination to work.

In all things Project, there will be...

1. Failed starts
It began in August 2013 when I commissioned my good friend at Agrocomplex to make some seedlings. They were beautiful. I transported them to another location. And there, too far from my home for too long. So I gave to them to someone else who had more immediate plants for planting them.

Healthy Passionfruit Plants

2. Starting over
I did not give up on the vision of passionfruit  production. In March 2014, I started with 20 plants bought from CARDI and 2 plants left over from the Agrocomplex batch. CARDI sells highly subsidized passionfruit plants at XCD$2.00 per plant.
CARDI collection

3. Hard work
This has been a trying year for food production. Already a low-rainfall location, it was exceptionally hot during the Dry Season which is from December to June. The heat dragged into the Rainy Season which begins in June. It was not until August that we were able to enjoy a slight reprieve. These were ideal conditions to test the hardiness for which passion fruit is praised. With very primitive irrigation I nurtured them through the dry spelling, daily lugging water at 5:00AM before work and on evenings. But before that, preparatory work started with sourcing the wood and erecting a trellis.
Withstanding the dry conditions
Given the dry surroundings, the butterflies took to laying their eggs on greener leaves. Scouting was another painstaking task.
The crunching culprits
4. Success
And if the greenery was not encouraging, flowers are nice gifts that plants offer to reassure your efforts.
Flower by day's last light
I had misjudged passionfruit as a low maintenance crop. Nonetheless, it was a fulfilling endeavour. With the support of community I was able to manage. More posts will highight milestones on this journey. Please submit any questions on growing passion fruit.

Wednesday, September 24

The Buzz About Breadfruit

Dear Breadfruit,

I have never doubted you.


Breadfruit Progressive Portrait

A D.I.G blog post on breadfruit has been published. However, I am compelled to review the subject since coming across an increased number of online articles on breadfruit. Has it been my own lack of attention or is that breadfruit has under renewed (or new) attention?

  • +GOOD Article: In providing a background to an article on a donation to the breadfruit cause, the Caribbean gets mentioned! The piece provides a historical background of breadfruit in the Caribbean:"When the sailors on the HMS Bounty mutinied in 1789, they were on a royal mission to procure breadfruit samples to cultivate a new food source for Caribbean plantation slaves". This context has long been used as an explanation into why the food is unpopular with many: "It’s just not that tasty. Slaves in the Caribbean refused to eat the fruit when it arrived in the late 18th century, and it took generations before breadfruit cuisine took hold in the region."The article describes the changing environment which has led to an increase of supporters on the breadfruit bandwagon.
  • National Geographic Article: Could not agree more with Diane Ragone, Director of the Breadfruit Institute in her introduction to why breadfruit is a crop for food and nutrition security: "Well it is here and it has been here for a long time". Innovation does not have to be the next new thing; but to create solutions from existing resources.
  • Huffington Post Article: The article describes breadfruit as "a new superfood".This is not the blog post to debate the term "superfood". The nutritional value of the crop is however undisputed-breadfruit is a source of carbohydrates (dietary fibre), fats and potassium and calcium.
A beautiful day for breadfruit

Beyond dining table conversations, breadfruit is now the subject of round table discussions. An International Breadfruit Conference is scheduled to take place at the University of the West Indies -St. Augustine Campus on July 5-10, 2015. The theme of the conference will be "Commercializing Breadfruit for Food and Nutrition Security". Sub-themes include:
  • Historical perspectives/agricultural policies
  • Germplasm collection, conservation, evaluation, distribution
  • Propagation
  • Post-harvest technology
  • Economics, supply chain and value-chain analysis
Breadfruit root stock in propagation bins

While we count down the days to next year's conference, the Jamaican government aims to plant approximately 5000 breadfruit trees over the next six months as part of the project named "Trees That Feed Schools". Apart from the nutritional value, breadfruit requires minimal crop maintenance. The project's objectives are:
  • Food and Nutrition Security, particularly for the benefit of youth in the school feeding programme.
  • Reafforestation
More information can be sourced from online article.

Breadfruit plants in potting bags for sale at Barthe Propagation Station, Soufriere, Saint Lucia

You may also want to check out Facebook Pages dedicated to the promotion of breadfruit for food security and/or reafforestation:
If you are not already the proud owner of the globally celebrated breadfruit, start today. For added encouragement, this breadfruit recipe is sure to convert you to a breadfruit believer.

Thursday, August 28

When Chives Grow Flowers

"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul". 

What's more, it is not necessary to plant a flower garden. Flower gardens do have their unique allure. However, vegetables and herbs can provide flowers to beautify your garden space. 

So far, I have observed a minor leaf miner attack on my small plot of white and purple chive varieties. Leaf miners affect both the productivity and marketability of chives. Infestations cause yellowing, then subsequent browning of infected leaves. The irregular mazes of greenish-white mines are not attractive to consumers.

Can leaf miners be trained to carve out cute messages into leaves? Example "I Love You".

Nothing out of the ordinary until..

...imagine my surprise when I found my white chives with clusters of small white flowers! Was it good, bad; it definitely was not ugly. 

Upon enquiry, the first response received was that chives flower when they are under stress. My chives (local name: ti lonyon) under stress?! Was I misguided in believing that I maintain a happy garden? Not satisfied with that response, I consulted with the world wide web. In my online search I found that chives flower as per normal plant cycle. Most of the literature- written for temperate climates- states that chives bloom in May/June. However, in this tropical climate they are flowering in August. Consideration is also given to the fact that high rainfall consistent with the Rainy Season which officially begins in June has only just began, after a prolonged Dry Season. Either way, the dainty blooms are welcome.

They begin like this, shrouded in light veil of mystery:

,,,Then the light white sheath reveal closed buds:

...And then the buds open:
Beautiful bouquet

This source advises the removal of flowers after blooming to prevent the spread of plants throughout your garden. But what to do with all these blooms? The flowers are edible! They can be utilized in your culinary creations as garnishes, salads, flavored vinegar and other recipes available on the web.

The internet is rife with photos of purple chive flowers.No flowers have been observed with the purple chive variety as they were planted after the white chives. I look forward to a colour change in these flowers when they appear. 

Additional resources:

Wednesday, July 30

Fruit Feature: Cherries

Three's a crowd?

Why is it that I imagine that the idyllic picture of cherries have to be of paired cherries? The images I recall, though, are not of the West Indian variety. Nevertheless, I was excited to find a picture perfect pair of West Indian cherries.

A cherry by any other name...

Other names by which the West Indian cherry is known include:

  • Scientific Name: Malpighia Punicifolia L.
  • Barbados cherry
  • Native cherry
  • Garden cherry
  • French cherry
  • Acerola

When life gives you cherries...

More than your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C from a single cherry?! After the initial grimace when taste buds first encounter the sour shock, the antioxidant properties should return your face to its previously wrinkle free countenance. Antioxidants combat free radicals which cause cellular damage which contribute to aging and a variety of non-communicable diseases. A greater number of cherries can be consumed by crafting recipes which reduce the acidity, from simple juices to wines.
Fun fact: So sour are these cherries that "[w]ine made from Barbados cherries in Hawaii was found to retain 60% of ascorbic acid".
Cherries are additionally a source of dietary fibre, Vitamin A, Vitamin B, magnesium, potassium and iron.
West Indian cherry tree. Cherries are hiding in there.
Additional Source:

If you found this post interesting, visit the links below:

Saturday, July 26

Organic Pest Control

You have been attempting organic production. Land preparation and establishment of crops has been a success with Compost. In the process of scouting, you observe one caterpillar. Then two. And overnight you have two hundred on one plant! Abandoning your attempt at organic farming seems to be the follow-up activity in the sequence of organic farming practices. But wait, there is hope yet! At a training workshop held on Thursday July 24, 2014, the use of plants for biological control of pests was demonstrated.
L-R: Adelfa (red), Adelfa (pink), Neem

The plants selected for today's demonstration were:
  1. OLEANDER: A fixture of the home garden, this plant has great POTENTial for organic pest control. You can identify the plant by the dull green, slender pointed leaves with clusters of flowers at the end of the branches. The flowers range in colour from white through cream, pink rose and red. Participants were cautioned of the toxicity of the plant. In handling the plant, one should not eat, drink nor smoke. So poisonous is this plant, that even food cooked on the wood is poisoned. Does this leave any doubt in your mind that the Oleander can be effective in pest control? It can be used to control ants, flies, caterpillars and other insects. Other names by which this shrub is known includes Adelfa, Rose Bay and Rosa Fancesca.
  2. NEEM: The use of neem as a biological pesticide is known far and wide due to its commercialisation. The seeds are a more concentrated source of the pesticidal ingredient than the leaves. The seeds (kernels) are used to make neem oil. Neem is used in the control of pests such as beetles, termites, scale insects, mealy bugs and aphids.
    It's bubbling and it's not soup
  1. Crush and boil leaves, seeds or bark for 30 minutes
  2. Let cool 
  3. Pour into spray can
  4. Add soap mixture (Grate one bar of blue soap and add to 5 gallons of water; Use 500mL to 1 spray can)
  5. Spray!
  • The Oleander can also be crushed and SOAKED  for 30 minutes (See Step 1). It is more poisonous when boiled than soaked.
  • Neem is most effective under humid conditions or when the insect and the plants are damp.
  • Cover the container when boiling (regardless of plant selection) to prevent the entry of light as light reduces the potency. The cooled extraction should also not be be exposed to sunlight.
  • The boiled contents are only good for 48 hours.
  • After mixing with soap, the solution is only effective for 8 hours.
This can be tailored to both large scale production and production for home use. For home use, I would recommend Adelfa as the better option as it is widely available and can be soaked instead of going through the boiling method.

Saturday, July 19

Farmer Field School Open Day

"A farmer is a person outstanding in their field". Get the double entendre?

At Farmer Field School, farmers perform outstandingly at a learning program which is very practical and participatory. What is Farmer Field School? The following video provides an overview of the program with the description of the project, teaching methodology and participant feedback:

On Wednesday, July 16, 2014, an Open Day was held for the the Farmer Field School for the region of Choiseul/Soufriere. Field School for this region is conducted on the farm holding of Mr. Compton at River Doree, Choiseul. The program which is currently funded by the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund also benefits from technical support of the Taiwan Technical Mission. The sessions are also facilitated by the Ministry of Agriculture Extension Services. In attendance were representatives from the Embassy of Taiwan, Taiwan Technical Mission, Ministry of Agriculture, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Hotels and Ministry of Social Transformation.

The event was organised with a presentation on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) in the production of watermelon and corn-these were the two crops grown by the Field School participants. These GAPs presented ranged from production to post-harvest to marketing activities.

Audience to Mr. Pilgrim's (CARDI) presentation

Afterwards, the group was taken on a tour of the field cultivated by the Field School trainees. The varieties of watermelon planted were the Empire No. 2 and Dark Belle. The corn varieties cultivated were the White Pearl and America H5. 
Intercropped corn and watermelon

After the walk in the afternoon sun, we were refreshed with the Watermelon Tasting segment of the activity. The fruit of the labour of the Field School trainees were on display whole and sliced for the enjoyment of the visitors. Following which there was a Question and Answer Segment.
Taste test: Which variety do you prefer?
Congratulations to the trainees who will be graduating from the Farmer Field School at the end of the month on their achievement!

Wednesday, June 25

Fruit Feature: Canistel

In this account of agventures (adVENTURES in AGgriculture), I can provide no justifiable explanation why this my first encounter with this fruit. I have never seen it sold in local farmers' market. Sadly, this is not a familiar fixture of home gardens. Maybe, others are in the same predicament as I: clueless about canistel.

Almost ripe canistel

A fruit is often imagined to be dripping of nature's nectar. But the canistel, like this source describes, is a "powdery" fruit. The green fruit ripens to yellow skin and yellow insides. Inside the flesh of the fruit are large, shiny brown seeds enclosed in what I can only describe as a fruity "plastic" casing. The texture of the fruit  pulp which is described as similar to a hard boiled egg has gained it the name Egg Fruit. This name may also be attributed to the colour of the insides and shape of the fruit itself. 

The delicious insides

Green canistel

First impresssions of Canistel

  • Sweet! Very sweet. It tastes like apricot with a subtle undertone of sugar apple. No sooner had I completed the staging of the open canistel, when an ant came to the picnic by way of agreement.
  • The texture of the fruit is like cooked sweet potatoes (another reference to the sweet taste). It's like a slice of cake...It's like desert and food in one!
  • The scent, a heady pungence that I liken to that of apricot also. Before the fruit even forms, the scent of the flowers attract bees to the tree.

Although I have been told that the fruit is made into delicious drinks, a Google search will produce recipe results  such as ice-creams and pies. Nutritional value of canistel includes dietary fibre, carbohydrates, niacin, carotene, ascorbic acid, calcium and phosphorus.

Canistel flowers

Are you convinced yet that you should have this fruit tree in your yard? Propagated canistel plants can be sourced at the Barthe Propagation Station at Myers Bridge, Soufriere.

Additional sources:

Sunday, June 15

Gender Matters in the Aim for a Green Economy

A two-day National Round Table on Rural Women Agricultural Producers and the Green Economy was convened at Auberge Seraphine Hotel. The session was a combined effort of the Caribbean Policy Development Centre and the National Fair Trade Organisation (St. Lucia) Inc. as part of the project, Enabling Caribbean Women Farmers' Participation in the Green Economy. Women represented farmers's groups such as Belle Vue Farmers' Cooperative, Black Bay Farmers' Cooperative, the Saint Lucia Floral Cooperative, and Babonneau Cluster of St. Lucia Network of Rural Women Producers. We were also joined by male representatives from their respective organisations/institutions.

The objectives of the Round Table were to:
  1. Exchange information regarding the Green Economy in St. Lucia
  2. Discuss the findings of the research on the participation of rural women agricultural producers in the green economy process
  3. Identify the elements of a gender sensitive green economy policy framework for the region
  4. Generate information to inform the drafting of a Women Farmers Manifesto for the Green Economy

What is the Green Economy?

The Green Economy Initiative was borne out of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012. The working definition of the Green Economy by the United Nations Environment Programme is an economy that results in improved human well being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risk and ecological scarcities; this economy aims for sustainable development without degrading the environment. Thus, the critical areas identified for development are:
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Society
Additionally, the initiative promotes alternative livelihood activities which reduce pressure on the environment. These activities will reduce our ecological footprint ie. the extent to which human activity places pressure on productive land used for forests, crop land, grazing land, fishing grounds and built-up land.
As such, agriculture has been identified as a sector to be developed for a greener economy. The other nine sectors are fisheries, buildings, forestry, transportation, water, waste, manufacturing and industry, energy supply and tourism. Agricultural production places pressure on resources of fisheries, forestry and water. This underscores the fact that farmers-both male and female-play a key role in the management of the ecosystem.

Why does Gender Matter in the Green Economy?

To effect this paradigm shift to the Green Economy all members of society should be engaged. Women have been identified as a vulnerable group, uniquely affected by these proposed changes. In light of women's contribution to agricultural production and their gender roles in the society which are of economical and social significance it was important for dialogue among women on their unique experiences in the sector. As producers, women farmers contribute to the family's income and country's GDP; their agricultural practices impact on the environment; their farming activities also have effects on the culture in their communities.  This session was designed to explore gender-sensitive issues and implications to the Green Economy Initiative. Topics discussed included subsistence farming practices, organic farming, marketing activities, record keeping, security of land tenure, women's decision-making roles as mothers and providers in the household and how these affect the ecological footprint.

Today's  introduction to the Green economy concept was an interesting exchange which provided me with new perspectives on gender-based issues in the local and global agricultural sector.

Additional resources:

Wednesday, June 11


Today's agventures (adventures in agriculture) takes me to Terre Blanc Estate at Soufriere Saint Lucia. I have visited before, albeit briefly. Today, it is the venue for field training for farmers in composting. This training is part of a project to promote sustainable crop production through the application of organic agricultural methods for sustainable community development. We go right on to the banana plantation where the scent of the near by Sulphur Springs pervades.

The method demonstrated was Piling Compost.

Lucky for us, we are on a banana plantation where stems are readily available

  • Source of carbon. Banana stems were used for this demonstration.
  • Source of Nitrogen. Examples include green material such as grass or leaves. Grass was used in this training
  • Source of Micro Nutrients. Examples include Blood Meal, Bone Meal, Fish Meal, Feathers, Manure. In this training horse manure and chicken feathers were used.
  • Source of Micro Organisms such as mites, snails, ants, earthworms and woodlice. Examples include Soil, Compost. In this training soil was used.
  • Water
Spreading the manure

  • Garden fork
  • Cutlass
  • Thermometer
  • Wheel barrow
  • Bags

It was interesting to learn that local soils are lacking in phosphorus primarily because they do not occur naturally in the soil. Bone meal, feathers and fish meal are all excellent sources of phosphorus. Fresh blood is another source of this micro-nutrient. It is best used as fresh as possible. If not possible to be used the same day then it should be frozen. The application method is 1/2 part water to 1/2 part blood. Moreover, fresh blood acts as an activator, accelerating the composting process.

  1. Procure the materials.
  2. Clear the area for the compost pile.
  3. Lay the stems in a rectangular shape.
  4. Chop a layer of banana stems and lay them at the base of the heap.
  5. Layer on the grass along the full length and breadth of the banana stems. 
  6. Layer on the chicken feathers along the centre of the pile.
  7. Layer the animal manure.
  8. Layer on 3 bags of dirt.
  9. Add another layer of chopped banana stems.
  10. Add another layer of grass.
  11. Add another layer of animal manure.
  12. Add on 5 bags of dirt.

The Final Product!
The compost pile was not drenched with water as it was a day of intermittent showers. Although the Rainy Season officially began on June 1, no significant rainfall has been recorded. It still feels like Kawenm (french creole for Dry Season).

Management of Compost:

  • The pile should be watered daily
  • The temperature should be checked daily or at least three times per week
  • The pile should be turned
Since this pile was made with less hardy material (with banana stems instead of woody tree stems) the composting should be complete in three months. Bulkier, hardier material takes six months to a year to compost.

Saturday, May 24

Pepper Production

What is the beauty of bell peppers: The flavour? The scent? The culinary works of art that can be fashioned out of them? Maybe is is the bold colours that make our creations come alive.
Consumer preference for this large pepper also called sweet pepper, creates a demand and economic opportunities for the farmer. By farmer's account, the pepper of preference is for the Taiwanese varieties available locally: Blue Star; Bright Star and Yellow Star. These varieties have a greater yield compared to the variety, King Arthur.

Pepper Problems

The main disease challenges observed so far in my adventures in agriculture are fusarium wilt and bacterial wilt. These are both soilborne diseases.

Fusarium Wilt

This wilt is caused by a fungus. The plants, wilted in appearance begin to rot from the base of the stems upwards. On uprooting the dying/dead plants, white fungus is observed growing at the roots. Dieback is on one side of the stem accompanied by yellowing of leaves.

Chemical applications available at local input stores:
  • Banrot
  • Rizolex
  • Bio Life 20
  • Phyton 27
  • Capton

Bacterial Wilt

As this name suggests, this wilt is caused by a bacterium .In this case, the wilted leaves maintain their green colour.  The foliage will appear wilted during the day with seeming recovery during the cooler parts of the day. The lower stem will also exhibit brown discoloration.

Chemical applications available on the local input stores:
  • Phyton 27
  • Biolife 20 
With such close symptoms, simple science experiments allows us the capacity to diagnose this disease.
You can test for bacterial wilt by placing a cutting of the affected stem in a clear glass container filled with clean water and observing for the appearance of a white milky stream which indicates the presence of bacteria. 

Plant diseases take a toll on important resources of time and money. The farm can suffer from major economic losses as  these diseases can affect the plant at any stage of the life cycle. The disappointment of crop loss during the crucial stage of flowering and fruiting is a farmer's nightmare. But do not be discouraged. The adage, "Prevention is better than cure" holds true in this situation. Prevention begins before planting. Perform a hot water treatment on seeds; Practice crop rotation; Plant resistant varieties. Follow up with cultural practices of weed management, efficient fertiliser application and irrigation. 

Interesting Fact

Apart from the mainstream bell pepper colours of red, yellow and orange, purple and brown are also available. I was able to witness this on exhibit at the Ethiopian boooth at the Fruit Logistica 2014. How receptive would the local market be to those colours?
Purple Bell Peppers
Brown Bell Peppers

Recommended sources:

Sunday, April 6

Your Cup of Tea- Gwo ponpon

Commonly called Gwo ponpon, this herb of cheer-leader like pom-poms along the length of the stalk is probably how the plant derived its name. From these prickly balls, grow of striking orange flowers. Interesting to note is that the plant, which is a native to Africa is called lion's ear after these flowers. Naturally, the bright flowers are an attraction for butterflies, bees and birds.

Tubular flowers growing out of spiny round clusters

The leaves are used together with other medicinal plants in teas as a remedy for fevers, colds and hoarseness. In addition it is used for women after childbirth.

Leaf of gwo ponpon
This wild growing herb has continued to thrive despite concerns of the contribution of weedicides and herbicides to the declining population of local plant species.

Biodiversity in Agriculture: Hedge of gwo ponpon borders farm plot
Dried, these long stems make beautiful ornamental arrangements of dried flower bouquets. Therefore it has potential for use of local elements in the floral industry

Additional  Sources:
Gwo ponpon on

Plants of Saint Lucia

Thursday, March 20

In A Nutmeg

Deconstructed Nutmeg
You may be familiar with those nutmegs shaking loosely in their tough outer casing. Or maybe you are further convenienced in having packaged powdered nutmeg. Nutmeg has both culinary and medicinal purposes. However there is more over the surface of the nutmeg story.

I encountered a colleague at an agricultural conference and one of his first comments was that he had assumed that I was a national of Grenada from my then Twitter cover photo of nutmeg. Contrary to those who would be so inclined, nutmeg is also grown in Saint Lucia and other Caribbean islands. Interestingly, according to this FAO source, nutmeg was first planted in the West Indies in Saint Vincent in 1802.

Most intriguing to me, is that there are female and male nutmeg trees. Further, it is only the female plant that is capable of producing fruit. This blog effectively captures my sentiments on this subject:
"Just imagine the shock of a nutmeg farmer when he realises that the plant that he has been watering, pampering is a useless male plant!"
This begs the question: How does one identify a female plant before it gets to the flowering stage??? Complicated and costly DNA analysis is out of reach to the small-scale farmer and definitely out of my reach too! 
I recently purchased a propagated plant which I was promised has a 75% chance of flowering. It has planted it out and I patiently await the approximated 5 years to maturity. However to increase these odds, I will plant a few more to add keep my lone plant company. This source suggests that for the home garden the plants be spaced 10m apart. Wish me luck!

Nutmeg tree photo being photobombed by coconut palms
Nutmeg fruits on tree branches

Did you know that the nutmeg on the tree is encased in fleshy rounded fruit? When ripe, this bursts into halves to reveal the oval shaped nutmeg outer casing. On this casing is a red,lace-like membrane called mace or aril. Mace also has spice properties. They can be used in the same recipes that you would the nutmeg itself to add another dimension of flavour. The shell is then cracked to obtain the nutmeg seed.

Close up of nutmeg fruit

Nutmeg aflame-I am hot about nutmeg and it is hot about me too

While the nutmeg seed is a commercial product, I have yet to see mace on local supermarket shelves. An older generation birdie told me that the best fruit jams are made with mace for spice and I make it my duty to source them directly from the farmer. As with all things, there can be no substitute for freshness!

Tuesday, March 18

A Lesson in Grafting

Generally, flowering trees reproduce by seed. However, when flowers are cross-pollinated, the seed that develops in the fruit after fertilization contains genetic properties from two different plants. Therefore, the tree that develops when the new tree develops will not exhibit the same traits as the parent plant. Grafting provides a solution to the dilemma of how to get the exact tastiness, texture, firmness and other preferred traits replicated for future enjoyment. As you can imagine, grafted plants are the choice of the farmers.

Today I am fortunate to witness, refresh and broaden my knowledge on the process of grafting fruit trees. The subjects today are cocoa trees. 

1. The scion selections are prepared: The top is wrapped with a strip of plastic; The end to be fitted into the stock is trimmed into a wedge shape. It is important that the scion must be about the same size of the stock: not too big and not smaller.

Skilled hands

 2. Stocks are neatly cut off.

 3. A cleft is made down the middle of the stock.

4. The scions are inserted into the stock

5. The graft union is securely wrapped with another strip of plastic. This is meant to prevent water entry and prevent the growth of fungus. The new growth of the graft will gradually stretch and break through the plastic strips.

The finished product!
It is an optional step to spray around the completed graft union with the fungicide, Kocide for added measure. Growth progress is checked in fifteen (15) days.

Other tree crops which are propagated by the grafting method are mangoes and citrus.

Additional Source:

Sunday, March 9

A Berry Good Time

Once upon a time...

Those classical words draw us into storybook adventures of characters in a time long, long ago in settings that are out of this world. The adventure that is my life began in a rural community. In younger days my cousin, sister and I would accompany our grandfather to the "Countyside"-a place more agriculturally prime than the rural community where we resided, a place of rocky uphill footpaths which were inaccessible by motor vehicles. Thus, the trip there was by foot. The hour-long walk required starting before dawn. The early morning coolness made the distance more tolerable. All good tales are marked by journeys; even more so the ones that take place in the half light.

One of the unique features of this trip was the berries that grew in the "Countryside". They flourish in the lower temperatures at this high altitude. "Brambles" is a very English word that I first encountered in childhood books by Enid Blyton. These berries grew on prickly, wildly growing bushes. 

Saint Lucia's Wild Raspberry

These berries are called Wild Raspberries (Scientific Name: Rubus idaeus). Today the berries have a place on the "Fruits of Saint Lucia Chart" sponsored by First Citizens Investment Services. The initiative is a production of Nasser Khan for Trinidad and Tobago, but has been adapted for Saint Lucia. The chart was launched last year on January 29. According to the article:
"The initiative [...] aims to familiarise students and residents alike with the variety of local fruits, vegetables and herbs which are available on the island. This is in an effort to help foster consumption of locally grown foods and help reduce the country's food bill"
 As these berries are so tiny and so sensitive to the environment, I do not believe that they strong candidates for food security. But they are excellent for biodiversity and should be conserved as an indigenous Saint Lucian plant.

The berries were photographed at Deraches, Fond St. Jacques, Soufriere.

Wednesday, March 5

Your Cup of Tea- Panadol

"Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them" quotes A.A. Milne, author of childhood literature Winnie the Pooh. It is easy to pass this wildly growing bush as a weed. However, this apparent weed is the useful Panadol Plant.

Panadol-Spreading Succulent Herb

"Panadol" with active ingredient paracetamol, has become a household name as a brand of pharmaceutic pain relievers. The active ingredients of pharmaceuticals are plant derived. However, I have found not yet found any information that the "Panadol" brand is derived from the panadol plant. But what a fortunate coincidence if it were!
Pain relief purposes are the same for both plant and drug. According to this source it is also used to treat tooth and gum disease.
Panadol upclose

A low spreading herb in the mint family, the scent is nothing light and refreshing like peppermint or basil. This smells like medicine. Older folk say that the more odious the scent, the better for the body. One whiff of this herb is sufficient to heal. At the imagined taste of the actual brewed leaves, you will instantly begin to imagine yourself well. Suddenly, you are not sick enough for medicine. Alas, that excuse does not work well when you are in the care of parents.
Panadol grows well in full sunlight

As if it was not enough to learn that Panadol is a plant, it was awesome to observe the beautiful flowers that the plant produces.

Panadol Plant Flowers

The photos in this post were shot at Soufriere, Saint Lucia.

Additional sources:
Panadol Plant