ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES IN SUMBA, INDONESIA
There are two obstacles I've faced, one is constant and the other is temporary. The rainy season has posed a constant risk of drowning the plants and wiping them out, especially if it's the torrential kind. If it's pouring for two days straight it's inevitable that all new transplants are gone. But if they can last for one whole week the chance of its success is multiplied because the roots settle and grow significantly stronger. The temporary obstacle for new transplants is the sun. The heat straight after relocation will make them wither and dry out because the roots are still weak.
I would build a roof for every struggling transplant after germination, but it is extremely time consuming. Instead we build temporary roofs by covering the remaining beds in banana and palm tree leaves, which are elevated and supported with sticks. It needs to stay on for at least one week. This technique is also successful in mild to moderate rain, but still at risk of getting flooded by heavy rain.
The compost tumbler installation was a great success, and it's currently filled with plant material such as dry leaves, dead plants, and specific kitchen wastes. Before it was installed it was painted black, but it was chipping because the water tank is plastic and the paint was thick. Once it was installed I sanded it all off and repainted with spray paint. I expect the compost to properly decompose into natural fertilizer within 2 to 3 months. You just have to lightly water it and give it a spin once a week!
For the month of February my main priority was planting Cacao trees. I gave our team a program to plant 20 a day, and it was a job well done. Within 3 weeks we planted 300 in Garden #1, 100 in Garden #2, 50 in Garden #3, and 5o in Garden #4. In 5 years all the Cacao trees will bear fruit and the gardens will be flourishing. Hopefully I can come back soon to see its progress.
The Germination Lab has been up and running thanks to Lukas and Matteus. We've already transplanted a bunch of seedlings from there, which are currently growing in the beds. I just wish the plants could miraculously grow faster!
One day I was picking the dried leaves off the passion fruit vines overhead near the germination lab, then suddenly saw something slither past my hand. I was very lucky not to get bitten by the notoriously poisonous Green Viper. I'm amazed how calm these creatures are, not aggressive and not easily agitated. I carefully took a photo, then had Timo remove it from the vines with a forked stick.
A week ago I decided I should get a buzz cut. I don't have a professional buzzer like they do at the barbers, so I used my face trimmer. It wasn't such a great idea to start the process in the morning because I was trimming random patches until my battery suddenly died. It takes at least 3 hours to charge so I had to continue work and walk around with a few bald spots in weird places. Even with a hat on it didn't feel right, but I finally finished the job after recharging the battery 3 times. At least the end result is good, I've never used so little shampoo and felt so free!
I've had an amazing learning experience on this journey, rich in lessons on gardening, hospitality, work ethic, life, and friendship. Sadly my time is up here, so I'll be leaving to Bali tomorrow and parting ways with all the lovely people I worked with and grew close with. Before writing this post I went to the gardens to say goodbye. It was really hard for me to explain to the gardeners that I'm not coming back for a while. Lukas placed his hands on his face and began to cry. I'm heartbroken. I know I've been very nice with everyone, but I didn't expect this reaction, so I gave him a big hug. Timo was next to Lukas and he began to cry as well. I gave him a long hug, and while weeping in my arms he said "Baik hati bapak" ("kindhearted sir"). Then Laiga came up to me and gave me a Sumbanese gesture, where he gently wiggled his nose on mine. I'll never forget this tear jerking moment, the hardest time in my life to say goodbye.
3/9/2016 05:41:11 pm
Mike, we glat u coming back . I love your stories u write like a professional writer . We love you and looking forward to see you soon.
Leave a Reply.