Tag Archives: plants

Projects Around the Property

Posted by Cassie

There is always something to do around here. With four acres of land, two small casitas and a couple of bird coops we are always busy maintaining and trying to move forward with new goals. We try to do as much as we can ourselves with occasional outside help. Here are a few of the projects we have been working on recently.

ChainsawBritton sawing what I think is a fallen Indian bay leaf tree

Chopping up downed trees
Hurricane Maria brought down a lot of trees everywhere and our property was no exception. One of the many things we did right when we built the jungle cabin was to bury the electric line even though it was 500 feet away from the main. Otherwise, we would have been struggling like the electric company to get the poles up and the trees off the lines. We still had (and have) a mess to contend with however. The problem is that there is nowhere to bring all this wood. So we have a huge pile of wood debris in the quebrada.

It does open up our jungle area to a little more light and we have plans to plant more heliconias and gingers here as we expand our flower business. Britton mainly runs the chainsaw because I am a little afraid of the kickback when I’ve used it. I lopper some of the smaller brush around until we have an area that we can replant. We have a whole section of property (about 3/4 acre) by the Magic Mango and Camino de Pobres that we haven’t even touched and is still impossible to cross without scrambling over huge fallen trees that jut every which way.

Flower Truck Load
Truck loaded with flowers to bring to the market

Flowers and plants
This is one of the more enjoyable tasks around the farm. We go out and find plants -either dig-ups or at nurseries- and then the next day or so we plant them. When we plant a tree it’s really a tough decision because we know that some of them can grow to be huge and we’d rather not transplant too much. With the other plants that grow from rhizomes like bananas, eleplant ears, heliconias and gingers we’re not so picky because they are easily transplanted.

Cassie and bambooThis bamboo is bigger than me and weighed more too!

MonsteraI love monsteras and they look great in the flower bouquets too

Some plants are very difficult to find and/or transplant like the giant bamboo we recently planted. This probably deserves a post of its own because it took 2 days of digging and a full day of moving and transplanting. I love how the plants and flowers transform the place. The jungle is beautiful on its own, but the broad-leafed plants bring a certain classic paradise look that I just love.

Cabin in the woods
Our cabin in the jungle

The jungle treetop cabin
While there is always something to do with a structure, I would say that the inside of the jungle cabin is now complete. We finished the kitchen and our final touch this past month was to have screen doors installed. Now it is so fresh and breezy that I almost always have to have a blanket on at night! We have more plans for the area around it such as finishing the lower area as well as adding some railing.

Trim for doors
Trimming the screen doors

Mango cabana
Cabana at the top of the property

The concrete cabana got hit worse by the hurricane than our jungle wooden cabin because it has the ocean view and therefore the winds are stronger. It lost all of its upper railing on the rooftop and the front of the house got blasted like a water pressure treatment for 24+ hours. So we have some projects for it especially as we are now renting it out to guests. We are planning on repainting the outside areas that got blasted as well as the interior.

We also just recently finished sealing the roof again. This is a product called Crossco that is basically a plastic paint that prevents water from slowly seeping through the concrete into the house. Britton also refortified the small bridge crossing since it doesn’t have the other cabana rails as support for it anymore/currently. And I have a couple of ideas for interior decor.

Powerwashing then resealing the roof of the cabana

Cabana Roof Sealing roof
Before and after sealing

Of course there is always more, but these have been the current projects around the property. It’s hard work but keeps us busy and I love seeing the ever-changing beauty of this magical place.

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Lush Tropical Gardens

Posted by Cassie

One of our favorite parts of this big project we call our property/finca is the tropical gardening. When we first arrived, there was just a huge mess of competing underbrush, weedy trees, thorny bushes and vines that we could hardly walk through. Certainly not what you would probably think of when you imagine tropical gardens.

Path to lower area
After some initial clearing efforts in 2013: Hawk Alley

Making our way through the property when we first bought it in 2011

There was very little in the way of broad leaf classically tropical looking plants. We weren’t even sure that it was possible for us to grow them since Rincón can be quite a bit drier than some other nearby areas like Mayaguez and into the interior mountains. We thought we’d give it a try anyway.

Growing bananas is one of the most beautiful and fruitful of our tropical gardening

We give a little extra water to the new transplants than they would otherwise receive, but the irrigation is fairly minimal. We are constantly adding new plants and choosing new sites and always looking for new gingers, heliconias, bananas, palms and other tropical ornamentals, edibles and exotic fruit trees.

Flowers from the farmers market
Britton buying some ginger and heliconia starts at the Rincón Farmer’s Market

It’s an art to leave the jungle for the most part in tact while also making trails that are walkable even in the rain and planting new additions that we can tend to. We are getting better at it every day. The most densely planted area we call the Tropical Garden.

Britton umbrella
Britton looking cute with his umbrella in the Tropical Garden

It is down from the turkey coop and immediately west of Hawk Alley: the Roble tunnel of trees that hawks like to cruise through. It is really starting to fill in now and I love that this will be our walk to the cabin when we move there. Eventually we will probably put in concrete steps and other amenities to make the walk a little easier, but even in the rain it is already a nice little stroll through the jungle. Here you can take a virtual walk with us in the rain from the tropical garden to the bridge and cabin.

Tropical gardening is one of the most enjoyable aspects of our time here. We look forward to creating more and more lush tropical areas around the property. As these initial plants grow we will be able to separate their corms and transplant them too. When we need a break from the work of the cabin, this type gardening is a fun and easy reprieve.

Speaking of the cabin…it is almost all fully lit up with electricity woohoo! Next up…water. Then we can water the new tropical gardens over there too!

Cabin in the woods
Cabin lit up at dusk

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Beginning the Deck

Posted by Cassie

This last week we began the process of building a deck. This first entailed taking down the scaffolding from inside the house and using the materials to build more batter boards.

Inside of house without scaffolding
Inside the house without scaffolding

Batter boards for deck
Building the deck batterboards

Next was to mark and dig the footers and then to pour them.

Down below waldemar and jorgeHello down below! Getting ready to dig the footers for the posts

And then they worked to fill the footers and then the mini-columns that will hold the deck posts.

Deck footers
Footers/mini columns

Next up will be to put up the actual posts, headers and ledgers and then the supports.

In the meantime, the gardens are growing really good. Check out these pitangas we have been gathering!

Pitanga aka Surinam cherry

And these interesting ornamental ginger flowers on curving spiral stalks.

Ginger flower
Unique ginger flower

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Autumn Life around the Yard

Posted by Cassie

I love gardening, so it is sad to see our tomato plants and roses slowly wither away and die. The only plant that is great in the fall are mums, or chrysanthamums (sp). The white chicken is still the only one to lay, but the black one is getting big. She looks like she is about double the size of little miss leghorn. Here are some pictures of the cooling Colorado weather. Britton and I have decided to go to Puerto Rico in January with a closing -or not. We need to get down there, and this weather is ever the convincer.

Cold Dew on the Roses

Another Cold Rose

Leghorn and Kitty at the Back Patio

Schnoodle and the Mums

Close up of one of the mums

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