The sun is still going strong, but the rains have started here in the Southern zone of Costa Rica… We’ve been getting some awesome rainstorms in our area just as the green was starting to leave our valley.
We are learning to adjust to growing plants in the tropics, even though it may not seem much different than what we’re used to. Costa Rica’s beauty is marked by raw and powerful nature… which is both helpful and challenging for growing food. Hard rains threaten to wash away topsoil, damage plants or erode large sections of land. Planning for erosion was one of our first moves on the land… looking at potentially weak parts of your land that could succumb to the elements and then acting accordingly (and sustainably) is a priority. We planted vetiver grass and added drainage trenching on one of our hills that was in danger of turning into a wet landslide. Meanwhile, when we dig new areas for planting, we always try to preserve the top layer of sod, which has grass already growing in it, so that we can stick it in a new places to create natural walls.
Rain isn’t our only concern, however. Currently in Costa Rica there is a UV warning because the angle of the sun puts the UV index (sun power) at a 15 (out of 16!) for the next two to three weeks. For some perspective, the UV index in Southern California is currently at a 6. Skin cancer is a problem down here, to be sure, so the sun ends up sapping us quite often… but too much sun can also be a challenge for young plants. So for us and the plants, hydration and shade are keys to survival during the hottest months here.
The weather changes quickly and also brings with it new life, but not just plants. We don’t get many mosquitos on our farm, but the rain sometimes brings some of them to our door… and other insects seem to come and go like the breeze. Some weeks we’ll have a handful of beautiful praying mantids patrolling our house, other weeks they’ll be absent. It’s really fun to watch the changes here, and an important part of living sustainably is observation. Watching the land for changes and seeing how all the life moves is the only way to plan ahead. Learning to adapt is a major portion of our job!
I, personally, consider it a form of meditation. It’s a great break from work to just sit and observe and let your surroundings speak to you. It works anywhere. Do me a favor and take a moment for yourself today to sit and observe. I promise, you can learn a lot.