When I first arrived in PNG in February, my house was just newly built, surrounded by gravel and rocks from the construction vehicles coming in and out during the wet rainy season. On the one hand, it looked rather plain without any flowers or gardens, but on the other hand I was given the gift of a blank canvas to fill to my hearts content. Every place I’ve lived in the last 5 years, I’ve always made a vegetable garden. Maybe it’s in my blood, having grown up on a farm, or maybe it’s just the joy of watching things grow and then enjoying the sweet fruit of my labor.
|My neighbors building a 'haus kuk'.|
In the foreground is my garden
plot before work began.
|Barets dug, ready for planting. Note|
neighbor's completed cook house in
Whatever the reason, I was delighted to find a plot of ground set aside for my garden. Many friends (from my language tutor to co-workers at the hospital to my housekeeper) have helped me get started: weeding, prepping the ground, digging ‘barets’ (ditches), obtaining and planting seeds, and the continual weeding and maintenance.
|Beans, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers,|
In addition to a vegetable garden, one of my co-workers built stone planters around the front of my house and filled them with beautiful flowers that have started blooming the last few weeks adding color and cheer. Now, after 5 months, I have started harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans. Other crops that are still growing include corn, peanuts, carrots, pineapples, and kaukau (sweet potato).
|Bananas hanging on the|
front porch to ripen
|Today's bountiful harvest.|
There are a few banana trees at the end of my garden and I was very excited when a large bunch of bananas on one of the trees was ready for harvesting. The bunch was hung from my front porch to ripen, covered in a towel to keep the flying foxes (a type of bat) from helping themselves. This week, the whole bunch turned yellow and I have been enjoying banana bread, banana fritters, banana ice cream, banana splits, and just fresh bananas. Keeping gardens is such a big part of the PNG culture and it has been a fun way to connect with and learn from my PNG friends.