I haven’t really done much justice in the blog to Finca La Amistad Verde, the French-owned farm I volunteered at in Boquete, Panama, so I’m going to remedy that right now. The photo above shows one of the many varied and lovely polyculture beds that they have on the farm, this one boasting kale, fava beans, marigold flowers and other veggies.
So, among the many jobs I did at the farm, my most notorious project was to help build mini-terraces for strawberries, which they were not having much success with because as soon as the fruit touched the ground they would get mildew. The idea was to plant them in narrow terraces so that the fruits would hang over the edge, and also place flat stones on top of the mulch around them both to collect heat and help them fruit and again to prevent the fruits from touching the ground.
So, I was shown the area where the whole thing was going to be placed, a quite steep slope that would help towards making the terraces narrow and close together, and which would also help if ever they were to be covered, since it would imply less covering material and a quick installation.
Since I had never built a terrace before, on the first day Anal helped me and showed me the ropes, as we hauled long bamboo poles (some of which had filled with water and were quite heavy) to our work site and started digging and placing the posts that would hold the long bamboo poles in place. After that we’d bring forward the earth behind it to fill the space and make a flat surface and continue further up. We made three narrow terraces for the strawberries, making it still easy to reach into each of the terraces for picking time, and then a broad walkway between the first set of three terraces and a second set. Then the soil was prepared my mixing in biochar soaked with stinging nettle and comfrey teas and the strawberry plants themselves were transplanted into the terraces with some thyme and rosemary at the ends of the rows to intimidate bugs.
A second set of terraces just like the one I made has now been built by other volunteers right next to the first one, and it sure has to be a beautiful sight to behold! I might just get to see it in a couple of weeks when I return to Boquete to help my friend Juan Carlos make his cob pizza oven, but that is another story, for a future post! 🙂
The site before we started work on it
the site with all the heavy earth-moving work finished
the first terrace, always special to one’s heart…
at the end of the first day with Anal, the first three terraces completed!
the first plants in, which I temporarily surrounded with any stones I could find. Doesn’t look as good as the real thing but it gives you the idea. This initiative was frowned upon and has since been corrected with the proper slate stones that were available but the location of which had not been revealed to me…