First off, let me clarify the term “garden.” In the US, I had a nice little garden. It was about twenty feet square. This was acceptable. Here, that is laughable. When they say “garden” here, what they actually mean is “multi-acre subsistence farm.” When they say “kava garden” what they mean is “multi-acre hand cultivated cash crop.”
I have a very small garden.
It is less than an acre.
They tease me about it, but I consider it good integration, a claim to my independence and just fun.
I cut the garden out of the bush in mid-April. That was a solid morning’s work with a bush knife. The trick is to get the knife at an angle to hit the dirt just below dirt level. If you do it right, you sever the plant from its roots and make pulling it away easy. If you do it wrong, you fight with the stupid vines for hours and wave your knife around a lot. I’ll let you guess which way my day went.
I’ve been planting things little bit by little bit. The first day, we planted island cabbage and bananas. Since those are the absolute staples around here, it was appropriate. The next week, I went back and planted corn, cucumbers, tomatoes and watermelon. Those are just tasty. On my last visit, I planted sutsut, navisso, wild ginger, bok choi and more cucumbers.
Because I’ve done much of the planting on my own without the input of a Ni-Van, I apparently am planting things “wrong.” Some people here do rows of plants, but not many. Mostly, they just plant all about. I planted my corn in close packed rows, like you’d see in the Midwest. I have since been informed, that corn is to be planted all about. When I asked about the navisso, the little girl helping me promptly planted it in rows. The same thing happened with the manioc. I don’t understand.
Jason has just informed me that when we go to the garden alone, he gets teased. In a society where personal space is non-existent and privacy is totally optional for the person impinging on you, the garden is one of the few places not crowded with friends and family. Planting manioc is a euphemism. I chose not to point out to them that we have a perfectly good house, bed and door with an internal lock. It is more fun to have them tease Jason.