This Is an excerpt from my novel about Sri Lanka, "the longest tweet," where we take a breather from all the ominous stuff we've been discussing. How do you like it?
Let's take a break. And what the farmer farmed.
Let's take a break from the bad stuff. Let's talk about his friend's ginger crop that was coming up. His friend had had the planter plant about 200 tubs of ginger. When he first got here in January his friend was despondent. "They'll never come up," he complained. An outsider, he was more sanguine. He (well, actually his wife) had planted asparagus. They knew how intransigent these spoiled-looking monocot buds could be, placed underground. And. There were one or two bits coming up out of the soil. The soil was sandy with a bio charcoal fertilizer that was introduced. Bio charcoal he made as a by-product of the methane gas generator that used kitchen waste. The biogas had bacteria that broke down and provided micronutrients. This was when we talked about fertilizers. Magnesium and trace elements.
By now, the end of January, the
gingers were coming up in their hundreds. A good 180 of the 200 bins were fully occupied with ginger sprouts. It was a sight, them with their dark mesh pavilion above, just the tallness of a person. Should they be weeded? Could he participate? Assume that what he would have done in the West would "fit" here in this Eastern garden? He knew biology. He knew gardening. But still.
This was the season, the end of January right after Thai Pongol, when gardens were prepared and plants put into the ground. As if a miracle (it would be a miracle if plants could read the clock) the gingers came up at this time.
Also, okra was in flower and fruit, "ladies fingers," a taste so fresh the pallet didn't know what to do with it. Pumpkins and watermelons, in their well-prepared soil, enthused in their green vininess. Some would grow up on the stout sticks provided for them and display their fruit, hanging, from a tough piece of plastic wiring that was salvaged from somewhere. The leaves were getting enormous, you could say the plants were "waxing."
Tomatoes, shy tomatoes that had been put in the ground only a week ago, were peeking through the leafed branches put over them for shade. In a week they would surpass their shelters and in another week flower and start to bear fruit. Another thing his wife had seen and he had missed. Duly noted.
A pail of Areca nuts to be chewed with betel were prepared for market. Picked and gathered and then soaked to make it easier to break their shell. How nice the shade and breeze along the wide lagoon. The climate here on "Dutch Bar" so much cooler and more temperate than the sun-baked sandy main road. This delightful oasis. Now we're done with the nice stuff.