“Homegrown Tomatoes” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

In the last edition ,under supervision by the Head Gardener, Rose, I hung the string on some of the hooks on the roof beams and Rose got to work fashioning a trellis for some of the tomatoes and cucumbers we are trying to grow .

We then waited for the plants to entwine themselves with the trellis and grow , hopefully produce flowers that would help to pollinate and eventually producing tomatoes and cucumbers .

While all this was going on though I had around a third of the largest raised bed (the one in the center of Q Gardens ) to fill with soil (black dirt ). So I ordered 8 sacks from Belize Scapes .

Rich and dark . Very quickly approved following Ziggy’s inspection.

And just as quickly shovelled into a bucket and tipped into the raised bed by me . Bucket after bucket until I created the base layer for the contents of a Bokashi bin .

Bokashi experiment area number 2 . Looks horrible, doesn’t it . The Bokashi bran though ‘kills’ the rotting vegetable odour (odor for non UK readers) to a sour, vinegar like smell.

Although the bran changes the odour , the contents of the bin are still mightily attractive to flies so I had to up my game and shovel the soil into the bucket and dump the content into the bed as quickly as possible. Changing gear at my age doesn’t come easy but I raised the pace. A bit . Well, a little bit actually but …

And calamity of calamities

I ran out of soil (aka black dirt ).

A phone call to Belize Scrapes and the next day I had a delivery. Great service.

Thirteen bags. Surely enough to fill the remainder of the bed.

So out with the shovel and bucket again and get those old bones and muscles working and before too long the bed was full.

And then it was back to ladder duties hanging the thread so the Head Gardener, that’s Rose if you didn’t know, could create another trellis.

It’s a work of art .

Ready to start planting some peas, Beefsteak tomatoes and sweet pepper.

Peas in.
Beefsteak tomatoes in.
And the sweet pepper.

Planting of the seedlings was going to plan but we had some casualties. The leaves of one cabbage and one cauliflower had been nibbled. We had an ‘enemy’ in the camp, or Q Gardens to be more precise. Time to bring out the big guns.

“Let’s see how you like the chili pepper “.

What’s that you said ? “ How are the other plants doing ?”. Very well actually. And thanks for asking.

The zucchini looks a picture of health but we are still patiently (OK, impatiently) waiting for female flowers to appear.
Basil, cucumbers ,beans, lettuce and marigolds‘doing’ quite nicely.
And the cucumbers flowering.
Look at that beauty.
Tomatoes coming along nicely.
And bearing fruit too. Very soon we will hopefully be enjoying some homegrown tomatoes !

Q Gardens is now a favourite (favorite for you non UK readers ) spot for Rose and I and Ziggy likes spending time in there too but he’s found another place that he quite likes too.

Lovely boy !

The headline for this edition is based on the single released in 1981 by Guy Clark which reached number 42 on the US Billboard Country Chart.

“Puppet on a String “ in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

If you read the last edition (if you didn’t then you SHOULD ) you’ll recall that I was slowly but surely (and, I might add, very tiredly) filling up the raised beds with soil.

As I toiled with the soil (nice ring to it that, doesn’t it ) Rose, the Head Gardener of Q Gardens, watched on intently. Or perhaps impatiently is the word I should use for her emotional state at that time ! She had seedlings that she was keen to transplant. So I did what subordinates should do. I was told to get out of the way. So I did ! And the Head Gardener got to work.

First to ‘go to bed’ was the zucchini that Charles from Estel’s Dine By the Sea (regular readers are aware of the place , it’s my 6 days a week breakfast ‘spot’) had given to us.

Remember it now ?
It grew a bit .
Looks healthy but where are the female flowers ? Waiting. Impatiently.

And then it was time for the Basil.


then some cucumbers.

Within a few days the Head Gardener (I’m quite getting used to referring to Rose this way ) decided that some of the seedlings were ready for an upgrade . Out of those little pots and into bed !

From the back left working right and then forward , cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli.

It was then time for the tomatoes and some use of Rose’s handicraft skills (I’ve mentioned this attribute before ) to create a trellis. We knew (well, we hoped ) that we’d need to provide support for some plants so we had Moses put hooks in the roof beams .

Look hard and you’ll see the string trellis.
And trellis for the cucumbers too. With some windows open and the front doors too the leaves of the cucumber plants entwined with the trellis sway like the arms of a puppet on a string (the worst headline link ever ? ).

We then remembered (we are learning as we go along ) that zucchini and tomatoes are not the best of bedfellows so the zucchini had to go . To another bed, that is. One on the other side of the greenhouse.

Looking down the bed – zucchini, habanero, two oregano plants and basil (different variety to the plants in the other bed. All of these plants kindly donated by Charles of Estel’s.
We have 2 habanero and one is nearly ripe !
And the oregano and basil look healthy too.

We have expanded our planting experimentation beyond Bokashi compost to now include the compost I produced using the Berkeley method .

Our Bokashi bin.
Contents of the Bokashi bin in a section of one of our raised beds after its two week fermentation period. This was covered with soil and is ready for planting after a period of two weeks has elapsed.
Compost from the Berkeley method. MY COMPOST !

And – providing I’m the one that handles it – we have included

I’d love my own worm farm but the Head Gardener has said no. And I mean NO.

And, thanks to Caye Coffee, we are also going to include the use of coffee chaff for some of our tomato and cucumber plants.

Coffee chaff.

It will be interesting over the coming weeks to see if there are any discernible differences in the size and health of the plants based on the use we’ve made of the various soil additives.

The headline for this edition is based upon the single released in 1967 by Sandie Shaw which reached number 1 on the UK Singles Chart. It was also the winning song at the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest.

“Stronger” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

With our greenhouse built and named it was time for the hard work to begin. Covering the tree trunks and branches in the raised beds. But first to organise a delivery of soil (or , as it’s colloquially known in Belize, black dirt ).

I did what I always do when we are purchasing something that will run into hundreds of dollars. I contacted the suppliers to get prices . And then see how much I can get them to lower their price by. It’s rewarding. Not just because of how much you save but also because you achieved something.

Now those of you that are regular readers will know that I do have a penchant for a little bit of Googling. Well, I let my Google addiction run riot and found a soil calculator . I knew that the outputs would not be exactly right – obviously the varying sizes of gaps between tree trunks and branches – but it would give me a reasonable indication. So, based on this I ordered a first delivery of 8 cubic yards from Caribbean Depot who barged it over from the mainland.

Tipped nice and close to Q Gardens. I wanted the shortest walk as possible. I’m not getting any younger you know !
And he’s off. Look at those rippling muscles. Can’t see them ? Oh well.

Shovelful after shovelful. Bucket after bucket the first bed started to fill. And with every shovelful of soil into a bucket ,carrying it and then emptying it into the beds was making me stronger. Very tired. But stronger.

They hold a lot of soil.
Nearly there.

And then I moved onto the second of the smaller beds. I must add though that the bed filling took place over days. It’s quite tiring work you know.

With this bed Rose, the Head Gardener, and I , the general labourer (laborer for you non -UK people out there ) decided that we would conduct some tests. Do you remember the Bokashi bin I told you about some editions ago ? No ?

Remember it now ? Oh good, I’ll get on with this edition then.

We decided that we would bury the contents of the Bokashi bin at either end of the bed between layers of soil and the middle section would just be soil with some potting mix. So I emptied the contents of the bin.

After 2 weeks encapsulated in the bin the kitchen waste had fermented nicely.
And topped off with soil. The far end is where the second experiment will be held.

Knowing that we were going to have a greenhouse built we had bought four tomato seedlings that I saw advertised on Facebook by GreenGo Organic Management which the Head Gardener looked after .

And Charles (he’s a keen gardener), the famous Grill Master at Estel’s Dine By the Sea , very kindly gave us a zucchini.

Baby zucchini at the ‘adoption’ .

A component of our planning for the greenhouse had included an order of numerous packets of seeds which the Head Gardener opened with glee.

And planted them in potting mix and took them to their new ‘home’ , Q Gardens.

Oh, remember the four tomato seedlings ? Yes? Good.

Look at them now.

The headline for this edition is based upon the single released in 2007 by Kanye West which reached number 1 on both the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Love Letters” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

A few editions ago I mentioned that Rose and I had drawn up a list of things in and around Highbury House that we wanted to tackle. Well, when we discussed our greenhouse project initially with Moses we told him what we wanted done and asked if he could do it . He answered, as we fully expected, in the affirmative.

One aspect of the house that had virtually always seemed incongruous to us – yes, I know we approved the architect’s plans but … – the railings closest to the house on the second flight of steps . So ( and it was Rose’s idea – she has so many ) we decided to relocate them .

The set of railings in question are at the back. My attempt at a pointer hopefully helps.

Rose has many, many attributes (and I’m not just saying this because I may have done something wrong – I probably have – but because it’s true) and amongst these is that she is a spatial thinker. She can look at something and within seconds will know how something will fit. Me ? I can stare at an area for hours , get a tape out and measure the space and … still be uncertain. Anyway, I digress (not for the first time, you’re thinking ), back to our railings. Rose just knew where they needed to be moved to !

We obviously used the conventional method as well and measured the area where Rose had suggested we move the railings to. And you know what ? She was right. They just – and only just mind – fitted !

So Moses first task when he turned up with Vilmer ( if you’ve been reading recent editions you’ll recall that Vilmer assisted Nicholas when he installed water and electricity for the greenhouse) was to remove the railings from their location on the second flight of stairs and move them to their new location .

New location – the stairs leading to the apartment.
Much better. Just need a primer coat and a couple of finishing coats. Sounds like a job for John !

The next job was to extend the ramp to our garage. Over the years we’ve lived at Highbury House the driveway has sunk and created a dip immediately before the ramp. We’ve used gravel to level things but eventually the rain washes it away.

Look hard and you can see the gap .

But first we needed to get the necessary materials delivered.

Just squeezing through the gate. And I do mean JUST.

A delivery of the essential items . Cement, sand and gravel and, my all time favourite , (favorite for you non-UK readers ) rebar !

Moses and Vilmer had already started preparing the area in front of the ramp.

Moses finishing off digging the hole allowing Vilmer to start working on the rebar.
Rebar getting its Ospho coat.
Much better .

Moses had a couple of other jobs which he took care of on his own . The first task was to fit the guttering on the greenhouse so that we can collect and make use of rainwater .

Fortunately for us it rained heavily the night after Moses had put the guttering and rain barrel in place and …

One night of rain and we’d collected 55 gallons.

Whilst Moses worked on the final element for the greenhouse at his workshop Rose – with the rake – and I – with a shovel and the wheelbarrow- put the surplus sand and gravel to good use .

And tidied up the entrance to our house .

Moses returned a few days later with a delivery which he left with me and my paintbrush!

To match the railings . Rose drew every letter by hand and Moses used her handiwork as templates. Told you she is multi talented. I love letters that Rose draws !

When the paint had dried I rang Moses who came to our house and set to work with the final touch. The naming of our greenhouse. Why shouldn’t it have a name ! And we decided to name it after the famous gardens in south-west London.

Any idea what we called it ?
How about now ?

Nowhere near as grand as Kew Gardens but grand enough for us.

The headline for this edition is based upon the single released by Ketty Lester in 1961 which reached number 4 on the UK Singles Chart and number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100.