Our International Studies class here at the University of Miami has lovingly labored to establish a perennial tropical garden that is now thriving. I’ve waited for a while to post about this project since the garden is just popping off. But at this point I’m ready to reveal the steps we went through to set it up and enjoy such vibrant results.
This garden started in August with nothing more than a stack of cardboard, a massive heap of compost, a dysfunctional wheelbarrow, and hella hoes and hands. In a kinetic flurry, the cardboard was layed flat over a large square surface with the compost spread on top of it, before being piled and raked into shape. We also added some organic fertilizer and worm castings to boost the nutrient content of the soil, which has amplified the growth the leafy greens while turning the hot peppers into miniature bushes. Incredibly, our reckless decision to plant all the seedlings just as Hurricane Irma was barreling through the Caribbean paid off. The plants survived and bounced back (as long as we watered them vigorously during the post-storm drought).
One half of the garden is dedicated to a perennial tropical “food forest” with boniato sweet potato as ground cover, and plantain, chaya, moringa, lemongrass, tomato (annual, I know), and green papaya. On the other side, we have two strips, one planted out with smaller perennials such as cranberry hibiscus, edible hibiscus, and katuk and the other spread green with strawberry, mint, spearmint, hot pepper, chard, and kale. Keyhole beds are divided among the 18 or so students in the class who’ve planted various brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, etc.) and other annuals commonly grown in the summer up north.
Now that it’s November and Thanksgiving approaches, I’m glad to finally share an example of how much abundance can come of some seed, soil, and human care. I’ve been making salads and juices with these plants and can taste the life-force humming through them. Even Whole Foods can’t provide food this nutritionally dense. It’s our birthright to have access to fresh, life-giving food. And the investment of time and energy beats any market index out there, even after just one financial quarter! Let’s plant some shit!
P.S. I had to finish with the ubiquitous kale smoothie 😉