Sunday, June 8, 2008

"Mad Max" Shade Bed Upgrade...

When we got here the shade bed was in pretty bad shape. The soil was hard as a rock, the boards holding the shade cloth were sagging or broken and the cloth flapped and sagged under the weight of achiote tree branches. It reminded me of the Mad Max roadside stand on the way to Shacks...where they sell Brazo Gitano "gypsy arms" and other stuff to the weary or starving. I didn't do anything for several months because I wasn't sure I needed a shade bed. Wasn't sure I'd use it...a flung a few tomato seeds in it and they rapidly became non-movable! I started to take leaves and twigs and weed wacked grass and put them in the "bed" to amend the hard soil. I have since moved a lot of wonderful soil out of that bed. I have also figured out that direct seeding isn't how to do it here -- everything does better if started in the shade bed until it gets a good root set on it. So the bed needed reworking. Here you can see how the walls are falling and slumping. They followed the slope of the ground. The first Jeff did was use rebar to make the top frame. Then I re-stretched the shade cloth and used fishing line to sew it up trampoline-style.

Then we argued about the best way to configure the bed. The framework wasn't you follow the slope of the ground or make things level... don't want to dig into feeder roots of the you cut blocks or no...the fishing line laid it all out for how to do it - not easy. It got done the best we could - level but not square.

Today I did the finishing work on the cinder blocks to pretty it up. I will most likely paint when it cures (brick red like the front benches - shows dirt less than the limy-yellow). The lower step will be for cuttings and seedlings. The tall step will be for composting. Pots will undoubtedly line up on the wall as they ready themselves for a transfer out into the wild.

I also made little compartments for tools - used the cinder block holes half filled. I am always placing trowels and pruners and cutting scissors on the ground and then wandering around for an hour to find them. Hopefully this storage place will help! I've got 5 holes for a trowel, plastic name markers and sharpie, scissors for cuttings (only in dry weather), gloves, who knows what I'll put in there? If it is a bad idea I can fill them up... So now my hands really hurt, my wrist hurts, my back hurts and I have "cement skin" ( I did wear gloves). I always do too much - it could have been a 2 day project, but I figured I'd hurt to much to do anything tomorrow! So tomorrow I can perch pots on the edges and tidy up! As a bonus we FINALLY got a little rain, maybe 1/4 inch. The last little bit we had was when we did the other cement project!


Anonymous said...

Hey, the Quenepas have a large seed covered with a delicious pulp. You just bite into it and remove the top half of the shell and then scrape the pulp with your teeth. They are delicious but won't be ready until, late July-early August. Just try one once in a while when they get nice and big and round(ish). They are VERY bitter if they're not ready so you'll know. When they are ready they are very sweet and AWESOME!!!

Jeff and Katrina Kruse said...

Thanks! We don't know what things should look like when they are ripe and some fruit (like corazons - our favorite) are ripe for only a day and then they are bad. When are breadfruit ripe? I'm looking for other fruit to fill in the gaps between the ones we have so there will always be something. We've got chinojas, chinas, corazons, aguacate,carambola (only got one blossom, and is still a young tree), tamarind (young without pods so far), soursop, nonis (too stinky to eat but a really pretty tree), and quenepas. What would fill in the gaps? thanks, katrina

Anonymous said...

"Carambola", or starfruit is absolutely awesome in PR. My grandfather has a tree in his back yard and they are ready when they start turning "orangeish" They will give a little when you squeeze them. When you are ready to eat a ripe one make sure that you bring a towel because the juices will run down your arm!!! Breadfruit tends to get kind of soft but I recommend getting a better source on this one. Also, mangoes grow like crazy and but it's a large tree so you need to plant it with caution. I recommend planting it away from the house because rodents love mangoes.
I have a friend that use to have giant mandarin oranges. They were awesome and rare. See if you can find such a tree. Nothing better than sitting on the porch at sunset eating a delicious mandarin from your own back yard!!!
By the way, acerolas are my favorite fruit. I miss them so. You are going to love those little suckers!!!

Have fun enjoying your new daily treasures from your yard!!!