The vanilla orchid (Vanilla planifolia) is one of the world’s most interesting plants. Of the nearly 35,000 species of orchid, the second largest botanical family of plants, vanilla is the only species that produces an edible fruit. True vanilla is a sought after product, usually the second most expensive spice in the world, yet we associate the word vanilla with plain, boring, and commonplace. Native to Mexico and Central America, the vanilla vine is well suited for any tropical homestead. Yet vanilla is a particular plant requiring special care, in particular during pollination where every flower must be hand pollinated.
Ever have a challenging time finding your favorite plant in Costa Rica? Or wonder where to get supplies for a new greenhouse? What about organic pesticides?
After nearly a decade working in country, our team has compiled a comprehensive list of nurseries, seed banks, botanical gardens, and farm/garden suppliers. In the past we shared this document with students and clients, but with our new website we have the means to make it available to the all the gardeners, landscapers, and farmers in country.
Members of our team will be teaching a number of Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) courses in 2017 and 2018. For anyone interested in our consulting and design services these classes are an intensive jump start toward understanding our shared design language, a space to get to know our team, and will greatly enhance your ability to design and implement your own project.
Salak palm or snake fruit (Salacca edulis or Salacca zalacca) is a high value understory species for tropical agroforestry plantings. Salak palm is native to southeast Asia, where it is commercially cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Java, in their wet tropical lowland climates. At higher elevations the "Bali" variety can be grown. It produces a delicious fruit, eaten out of hand, with a taste similar to strawberry with an apple-like texture. The fruit transports well and can be stored at room temperature for a week with little degradation in quality.
The tropical forest is constantly self mulching. After a walk in the woods I usually return with bits of leaves and twigs caught in my hair. Lying in bed at night, my partner and I often hear branches and even whole trees tumbling toward the great soil food web below. This self mulching is one important piece in the self-renewing fertility cycle of the tropical forest. And of all the functions of the forest that we can seek to mimic, generating and applying our own mulch may be the most important.