Gary’s Blog: The planting season is starting


Gary and bananas (800x533)

Gary and a small sample of our ripening bananas

The countryside from Whistler

The countryside from Whistler

March 26, 2015

From: Gary


Tami arrived home from Boquete yesterday, I waited for her with Whistler at the little San Antonio/Santa Clara bus stop, about 100 meters this side of Santa Clara gas station and super market, where our road starts to Valle Santa Nela.  I got there an hour plus too early due to a miscommunication, as it went through a Spanish only speaker, from a couple of women who are lucky if they are asking for what they think they are….While I was waiting I discovered that the neighbors had been tossing old rotted-off fence posts into the ditch. They were Locust, in the Acacia family, and everything above the ground level was still rock solid under the surface. I got half a dozen, and will keep my eyes open for more, as they are really a great resource for making tool handles etc.

While I was waiting I discovered that the neighbors had been tossing old rotted-off fence posts into the ditch. They were Locust, in the Acacia family, and everything above the ground level was still rock solid under the surface. I got half a dozen, and will keep my eyes open for more, as they are really a great resource for making tool handles etc.

We are talking about wood that makes Hickory look like a joke, on all levels.

Anyway, I finally saw Tami’s feet under a micro bus that pulled up to the stop, and when it left, there she was, with a box of plants.  Mostly herbs that she had had with her for days in a hostel room.  

She had traveled around with her good friend Jen, and made some interesting connections into the gringo community in Boquete, which I will let her tell you guys all about.  But most interesting was she asked local real estate prices, and was quoted $20 to $50 per square meter for empty land by the hectare. That works out to be $200,000 to half a million dollars, for what she got for $7,000 total, and probably with better soil and water, and the same climate.

Boquete is maybe 50 miles as the Toucan flies…

And probably a day of travel to the border. Where we can be there in an hour or so.

This morning, we were able to start planting things, after at least three different nursery stops.  And she got a couple things our neighbor Beto had never seen before.

So Tami is well started now towards her dream of growing an herb garden. We will baby everything, see what makes it, and propagate into large numbers from there.

She now has several types of mints, oregano, two types of sage, and maybe two types of Tarragon, Mexican and French,  and sundry other plants, including more Avocados, and also she found some Amaranth seed that we will test and see if it grows, as it would make excellent chicken feed and a high protein additive to breads etc.

One very minor success we have already gotten, is I found a few noodle wheat seeds in locally boughten lentils and peas, I have been told it will grow at our altitude, and we did get a head of seeds grown by us, and today I replanted a few and Tami covered the rest with a nylon stocking as the birds were getting them.  So hopefully we can multiply and get a patch of soft white wheat going to use in her pasta maker etc.

She also planted her first pineapples this morning.

And she is currently going crazy trying to keep up with all the ripe bananas. The dogs are being chastised if they don’t eat enough, and her blender is working over time, making banana smoothies…

Just something to do while not worrying about the heating bill, or frozen pipes…..

And by the way, found out that propane for cooking is about $5 for a cylinder here.

So when we get our water system in, we will hook up the propane hot water heater that my buddy had us buy.  A warm shower sure would be nice when it’s cooler out.

While Tami was gone, I finished the steel rod electric fence posts project. I made 92 posts, all 5 feet long, and painted the tops two tone pink.  So after the last terrace and a month of planting, I will finally be able to fence half the place for the dogs, who can then keep the Pizotes out of the corn etc.

It has been raining in the afternoon or at night for the last week, temperatures are cooler, and more clouds, but still very nice, and the soil is moist and warm, and time to start planting like crazy. 

And we have a huge garden now, about six to seven terrace deep and 50 plus yards wide.  It’s a bit over-kill, but in this climate, and all year growing, you can plant a lot of area in permanent food producing plants. And we have several times more land for fruit and nut trees etc. on the other side of our little valley.

Tami is getting quite adept with her pick hoe, attacking brush root clumps like they were G men from IRS….  The killing snakes analogy comes to mind.

I also learned from the neighbors that they had the local government representative out to look at the road, so if that gets fixed, land prices will rise.

One of the mistakes I have seen people make repeatedly here is assuming things will stay about the same forever. NOT TRUE!  I have seen real estate prices increase in Central America, doubling every two years until the ’08 crash, and now they will be coming back as people in the northern continents are just starting to figure out that climate change means a dusty pocket book.   They are just starting to hear about the drought in California, and still do not understand that it will be entire continents in their life times, and that what they think is a fat retirement will be a not funny joke ten or 15 years hence.

It’s all going to come down to food and water, and if you think a plastic card is a garden or a spring,  you are most likely in for many tears, on your way out to your personal nirvana after retirement.

In the future there will be two classes of people;

 Those who have food growing land with water.

  1. Those who have food growing land with water.
  2. Those who work for them, so they can eat.

I think I can hear the canned laughter in the audience. He who laughs last…..

Is probably a survivor.

One funny example is, even here in Panama in the low lands, they have desertification happening. They cut all the trees to make cattle ranches…   They now have a problem due to water shortages, and have yet to realize that it’s going to be a major crisis, and that they had better become tree huggers real quick, and lay off the cowboy swagger, unless they like drinking sand. 

The five C’s of environmental destruction: 

  1. Cars
  2. Chainsaws
  3. Cattle
  4. Chemicals
  5. Cities

 Suicide, spelled with a C.

And yes, this means you. Change now or maybe watch your children or grandchildren die.

It’s not going to continue how you want it to just because that’s what you want to believe. Reality is no respecter of persons.

Anyway, on a lighter note, Tami did her border cross with out undue hassles, and she managed a several day outing meeting up with Jen etc., and getting along on beginners’ Spanish.  They rode the local micro bus system, which is the very best mass transit system I have ever seen in my life, and I have been to over 25 countries now.

Basically you can retire here and not need electricity, a car, or buy much food.  Or you can watch it all go down the drain faster than you can use it, thanks to increasing taxation, inflation, and soon currency restrictions.  I have always been a student of the Great Depression, World War II rationing, and Subsistence and Survival skills. I hope you were paying attention to your grand parents when they told stories too.



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