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Pineapple Tops Take too Long to Compost – I think I’ll Plant Them!

14 Mar

I love to garden, and where I’m from, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, I learned all about gardening from my grandma. I would watch her, on hands and knees, digging in the soil that crumbled between her fingers. The frigid days of winter had released their grip, the blanket of snow and muddied ice all but gone. Longer, warmer, sunlit days were doing their part to soften the land. The determined crocuses had already pushed their way through weeks earlier, soft, velvet purple blooms, to impatient to wait for the snow to be gone. Grandma taught me when to plant what. She explained what needed full sunshine to thrive, and what preferred to peek out from a shady corner. When the time was just right, she’d have a load of compost delivered and together we would work it into the waking soil, while she reminded me how much better our garden would grow, if we fed it well.

On Roatan, Honduras, a tropical island in the Caribbean Sea, it’s always summer. At least compared to what I was used to. There is no anxiously waiting for the snow to melt away, no crocuses putting on a show in early spring.

The first year, I marvelled at the beauty of plants, trees and flowers growing in the jungle, and lining the paths to the beach, to the road, to my Roatan home. These were species I had previously only seen in greenhouses or cut-stems of bird-of-paradise, and orchids at the flower shops that I would purchase as a special gift. I had never seen a cashew tree before, or mango, or bananas hanging from a banana palm, hibiscus that blooms all year round, or experienced the heavenly fragrance of the guava fruit.

Year two, I had to try my hand at gardening. I quickly learned to only work outside when the sun hasn’t risen to high yet, or just before it goes down. I learned to cover up, with light breathable clothing (or spend all my time swatting bugs.) And the most amazing thing I learned was if you snip a branch, or stem from—just about any plant that is native to here—stick it in the ground—it will grow!

Year three, I’ve started a composting program in my neighbourhood. As my grandma said, “Feed the soil, and watch the garden grow.” I add fallen leaves between each layer, I turn it, I water it daily, and I can’t believe how quickly a batch is ready. The scent of the dark soft compost is sweet, and citrusy, it crumbles between my fingers as I turn it in a new garden bed, or top up a garden I created last year. I do have a problem though, the pineapple tops, won’t break down as quickly as all the other fruit and vegetable scraps do.

…I know, I’ll just push them in the ground and grow pineapples! I bet it will work as well as planting sticks on Roatan does—my Island Garden Paradise.

This posting can also be read at Honduras Weekly

As always, thoroughly enjoyable… thanks Genny, you give wonderful balance and a breath of fresh air to Honduras Weekly. So much of our news is about poverty, Zelaya, aid, etc. After awhile it all weighs down on you a bit, and so it’s nice to be lifted up with your stories. You’re in… Marco

“Keep writing, you have no idea how much we enjoy it – Regards Marlene”

3 Responses to “Pineapple Tops Take too Long to Compost – I think I’ll Plant Them!”

  1. Linda Ladouceur 15. Mar, 2010 at 5:14 am #

    Glad to hear the composting is going so well! Everything is so lush without good soil, I can’t imagine what it will be like now that you are “feeding” it. Next time we are down (yes, we will be back!) I look forward to seeing all the new gardening projects.

  2. Lydia 28. Mar, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    We live on the mainland for 8 months of the year before returning to Canada for the summer. I would like to know more about composting. We do not have good soil here, so I feel composting will really be a bonus. But now I need to know how to compost. Could you please tell me how it is done. Thanks

  3. Gennyca 28. Mar, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

    Hi Lydia,
    Here in the tropics it’s real easy to get good compost quickly.

    All fruit and veggie waste, egg shells and coffee grounds can be included. Absolutely NO meat, fish, dairy or oils (would attract unwanted critters)

    The idea is to layer the food scraps with leaves (yard waste.) If there is any soft soil available sprinkle some of that in too (after a couple of weeks you will find the soil under the compost pile is good to use for this.)

    I have the pile under a tree in a sheltered area where it doesn’t dry out from the winds. You can also construct some kind of a bin (but it must have venting, and be easy to access from one side.)

    Every time you add layers of food scraps, leaves and dirt. You must turn (stir) the pile and water it. Keeping it moist is very important. With the climate here, within a couple of weeks the pile will look less like watermelon rinds and banana peels. It will be sweet smelling and dark. (I find the leaves take the longest to break down.)

    I have added some to existing gardens and it is amazing the difference.

    Good Luck!

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