Thursday, May 26, 2011

Life in Botswana: Garden

More excerpts from the journal, Life in Botswana, along with some before-and-after photos of the garden.

The back yard was almost bare when we arrived except for some acacia trees and some fruit trees (plum, peach, avocado, guava, mango and two citrus) that a former tenant planted, none of which were mature enough to bear fruit. The bare sand absorbed and reflected the sun's heat, so Nancy's first priority when she arrived in December of '88 was to cover as much of this sand as possible, a task which still absorbs much of her time and our income. 

A small garden had been started in the back which contained the maid's sugar cane (we thought for months that it was corn but no ears appeared) and yams. Nancy planted tomatoes there immediately. To her disappointment tomatoes are almost impossible to grow here and though she still tries she has little luck. Despite the dry weather, fungus of one sort or another is rampant.  

Herbs are a different story: parsley, chives, rosemary, lavender, basil, oregano, mint, bay, tarragon, marjoram, scented geraniums, rue and nasturtium thrive. Lettuce, broccoli and peppers do better. We soon squeezed out the cane and yams and planted flowers . We added a wooden fence for a short distance at the back to cover the adjoining property's maid's quarters (neither of us had privacy) and their carport and garbage dump. Vines, perennials and florist eucalyptus were planted there.

Nancy's next project was a large circular garden (growing larger every month) a few feet from the back door where the heat reflection was most prevalent. We gathered many huge rocks, most notably slate ones from our local dump (shades of Darien!). A jacaranda tree and some ficus are in the middle and various bushes annuals and perennials (including gardenias, one of Nancy's favorites) surround these. 

There are flowers all along the back fence and up against the house too. Nancy also planted a lemon, a lime, two orange and a male and female papaya tree. Her next project is a rose garden. There are already rose bushes in the circular garden and in the front but there is also bare ground to cover. Some grass has been started here and there. 

You may get the impression that we have acres of land but it is about a half acre or less. There are two blooming seasons here, summer and winter; most plants that bloom in one will not in the other. Planting, replanting and transplanting are constant so Nancy is well satisfied most of the time. Our lemon, papaya, orange, guava, pomegranate, mango and grenadilla are all producing!

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