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Season 3 of the ISER Garden

The Garden at ISER

Two years ago we started a small garden here at the ISER offices in La Parguera, Puerto Rico. We have faced multiple environmental, horticultural, and ecological challenges. However, with dedication and determination we have been able to manage the challenges as they have come. We started with a small plot and a couple of garden boxes. The garden, slowly but surely has gotten bigger, we have expanded the cultivating area and we have diversified what we grow. We consume the veggies we grow and sometime we sell some of the surplus to  our community  and at the Aguadilla Farmer’s Market to raise fund for our internal operations. All of our veggies are organically grown, with non-gmo seeds and with the minimum amount of organic pest control. We let nature run its course at our garden.

Developing the garden has been a very fulfilling experience that has open our minds to a broad spectrum of issues that are associated to food. Our respect goes out to those that wake up everyday before the sun shines to work the lands for a living. Farmers and gardeners understand the soil and plant interactions without stepping on a lab or classroom at College lecture hall and that is what we want to learn, and share. So in honor to the men and women that work the land in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Latin America, we will be writing weekly updates of how our small plot grows this third season. For us the season starts in August, which brings the summer rains to the southwest corner of Puerto Rico, the southwest of Puerto Rico is in the rain shadow side of the island. This is some of the driest part of the island. Tropical Storm Bertha inaugurated the season a couple of weekends ago with much needed rain after 2-3 month of insignificant amounts of precipitation in the southwest of Puerto Rico. It was drier than normal.  This past weekend La Parguera got drenched by a tropical wave that eventually became Tropical Storm Cristobal. We love rain, it brings green into our lives! 

Summer Corn Harvest

The early portion of the summer the plot was planted with tomatoes, pepper, cucumbers, beets, and other veggies. However, as the average daily temperature increased we harvested the veggies and cleared the plot. Having the plot clear and always being curious about growing corn, on Memorial Day weekend we planted 200 corn  non-GMO seeds, 300 black bean seeds and various pumpkin seedlings. The corn grew great and we harvested 70-something days later a little less than 200 ears of corn. The beans did not do that well and the ones we harvested, we kept as seeds for this season. 

Right now we are rehabbing the soil were the corn was planted. Corn is a very big nutrient and water guzzler, it is a grass like the lawn in front of your house. It mainly consumes the nitrogen in the soil. We are adding organic fertilizer and compost. One of the problems of growing a graden in La Parguera is the slaty soils and low on nitrogen and phosphorus (two essential nutrient for vegetative growth and reproduction).  

Our Next Steps

  1. Select the vegetables that we are going to grow for the 3rd season

  2. Germinate seeds

  3. Start a new plot (the third one)

  4. Begin to prepare the green house where will grow herbs, spices and seedlings

This will be an on going longitudinal blog, that will document the development of our garden.


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