Tuesday, May 30, 2006



On the last day of the world

I would want to plant a tree

what for

not for the fruit

the tree that bears the fruit

is not the one that was planted

I want the tree that stands

in the earth for the first time

with the sun already

going down

and the water touching its roots

in the earth full of the dead

and the clouds passing

one by one

over its leaves

This is a poem my mom sent me by M.S. Merwin who was recently descibed by the New York Times as a "Poet of Their Own". He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1971. He and his wife live in a remote part of Hawaii where they are restoring an abandonned pineapple farm. I thought the poem was fitting because....

our first seeds have sprouted!!

The first seeds to sprout were the "marías" or Calophyllum brasiliense (I have also read they are called the Brasilian Beautyleaf). I was concerned that we were going to have trouble with these seeds because the condition of the seeds was not great, and they typically do not like to be stored for as long as we stored them. But at least 50 of them sprouted just this week. Marias are a very common canopy tree throughout Costa Rica. They are of a medium hardness whose wood is used for furniture, firewood, and sometimes in construction.


The second group of trees to sprout were the "nogales" or Juglans neotropica or Central Amrerican Black Walnut. I just read that these are actually not the same as the North American Black Walnut, which I had assumed. However, these are not native to this region of Costa Rica, but have been brought here from Nicaragua. Now they are becoming very popular because they grow very rapidly. The more I start to look around, the more I see them. Many are planted in agroforestry systems and sometimes for shade for coffee.


The system we are using to germinate our seeds is based after the methods used in this region to germinate coffee seeds. We begin by dumping the seeds in a shaded seed bed and cover them with banana leaves. Once they reach 20cm or so, we then translant them into a plastic bag with richer soil. We keep the bags in a shaded area for at least 6 months and then transplant them to their final resting place. This week we are moving these seedlings into plastic bags, and we plan on transplanting them next April when the rainy season begins again.

Other seeds I have sprouting on the farm right now are Avocados (Haas), Tamarindos, various palms, and hopefully cacao. Ironically people claim that neither avocaodos, tamarindos, nor cacao will produce fruit here because it is too cold. However, every year people claim it is getting hotter, which I believe, so this is sortof a test for climate change. And if they dont fruit, thats fine, because they are all pretty trees.

1 comment:

Portia said...

I was so happy to read about the trees coming up! Tom and I are planning to return to Costa Rica (Coopa Buena) in November and look forward to seeing Eliot and Brenden again.

We are enjoying the summer in our home in Michigan.

Portia Wilkinson