In Spring last year we started talking about planting a peanut garden with our Kovol friends. But a peanut garden is lower on their list and first they have to plant all their root gardens such as yams, kaukau and taros. So just before we went on our break in September, they started cutting a huge area for a shared clan garden. Sadly we weren’t able to be part of that preparation work. But it took them weeks and weeks to cut all the big trees, bushes.and brush and then put a fence around that area using the cut trees. They did that while we were almost 2 months in Goroka. (They did other work during that time as well.) On the other side of the gardens they have pigs digging around in their old gardens for leftover food. So in the new garden they have to build a solid fence with no holes in it so that the pigs not only can’t get in but also don’t smell the food in there. They also lay tree logs to mark the gardens belonging to the individual families of the clans. Sometimes even a wife and a husband get their own patches.
They start with planting some taro here and there spaced widely apart in the garden. Then it is time to burn all the leftover dry pieces of wood, brush and so on. They make many, many little fires to also create better soil for the garden. It also kills unwanted weeds and bugs. After that has cooled down, it is time to plant.
They put their stored shelled peanuts, which have been kept in bamboo, into water for a couple of days. Then they take them out and wait for the shoots to come. As soon as these pop up, they go to the garden and with a stick they loosen the ground where they want to plant the peanuts. Every half a meter or less they stab holes and place 2 or 3 peanuts in each hole on a very steep slope. If it is too rocky or strong from roots, they leave it. Places where there are trees stumps and burnt places are particular good for planting. They cover the peanuts with some loose dirt.
After we finished our shared area, we took a little break and ate a small watermelon together. As we were hoping to go soon because of our kids, I went quickly with the ladies to finish the work. We still had to plant the corn in between the peanuts. Now that was a little challenge to go on a steep slope and try not to step on any planted peanut areas because if I step on it, I press down the dirt and it’s not loose anymore. With a knife, a lady made a tiny hole in between the planted peanuts and I threw about 3 corn seeds in. Then I shoved some dirt over them and pressed it down with my heel . Those were okay to not be in loose dirt.
I think that the work is done for now. Maybe in 1 or 2 months we might have to go and weed the garden. Then we will harvest the corn first. After that is eaten up, the peanuts will slowly ripen. And then some time next year we can hike down again and dig them all up. =) Louis and Timon particularly like that part, but we will see if they can handle it or if it will be too steep for them. =)