Having learned a bit about PNG culture from our years here we made sure we stocked up on seeds to plant for when we arrived in the bush. Pretty flowers, vegetables and fruits – we’ve kept some of our favourites and we were looking forward to seeing if things would thrive in our new home.
Gardening is a huge part of life in PNG, and by Garden, we don’t mean manicured lawn and flower beds; gardens in PNG are a family’s food supply. Initially, it can be hard to tell them apart from the jungle, they cover a lot of ground and they are full of plants that we’re slow to distinguish but seem as different as black and white to people who grow up here! They, of course, can’t quite believe we’ve never seen how (or even thought about how) a pineapple grows and that we can’t distinguish weeds from edible greens. (I remember trying to help a guy weed his garden once, I ended up standing around not doing much unable to identify the food plants from the weed plants.)
Anyway, the Kovol guys have been delighted to see Rhett planting oranges, avocadoes and mulberries. We’ve been planting corn, flowers, peppers, aloe vera, spring onion and papaya.
They jump at the chance to help us and get involved in their area of expertise. During house building, we’ve been using all kinds of tools they’ve never seen before and while they like to help, they’re a bit like I was in that guy’s garden weeding!
There’s always a crowd when we bring our seeds out and behind our houses has been turned into an ever-expanding garden.
Whenever someone wants to help, but isn’t quite sure what to do (quite often) they come and cut away at jungle to expand our garden 🙂
Gerdine planted her corn seeds under the watchful eye of the community and while we didn’t notice (and probably never would have) that a village chicken had dug up and eaten our corn seeds the village did and were alarmed that the white man’s seeds had been eaten!
So they decided to build a chicken (and pig) proof fence so our garden’s wouldn’t be eaten up by the local wildlife. As you can see the fence was no small project, but people really seem to love being able to help us out and they are the experts.
Language learning looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun! We’ll be going into their gardens and helping them, and we’re sure it’ll be the talk of the town!
We’ve noticed that some of our plants are taking already. The strong sun and plentiful rain make for good growing conditions. I’d really love to be able to grow some sugar fruit here, but we’re not sure it’s the right climate for it.
Thinking about it now we didn’t do our Australia trip properly, the cultural thing to do would be to bring some seeds back to introduce them to Kovol 🙂
We’ll have to see how the gardening works out. I have a feeling it’s going to grow to a size where we’re unable to keep on top of it and we’ll be the silly white people who let their garden go to bush – but for the moment it’s a lot of fun.
When the crops come in we’ll have to figure that out too. Should we eat them ourselves, share some, share all? We don’t know how it’s done yet. Once we figure that out in a year’s time maybe we can expand into pigs and chickens? We’ll see!