Category Archives: Gardening

An Agricultural Weekend -Ag Fair and Vivero Anones

Posted by Cassie

This was a busy weekend with a lot of activities to choose from. There was the Festival of Sweet Oranges in Las Marias, the Corona Surf Contest here in Rincon and an Ag Fair in Moca. We decided to not head down to the crowded Corona Surf event at Domes Beach that we have enjoyed in years past and instead went out to an Agricultural Fair in Moca. So many people descend on Rincon for the Corona event that it becomes crazy crowded, and we opted to mostly avoid it (though it is sort of unavoidable when 5000 more people are in a town of 15,000).

Corona Surf Sunset
We just drove past some of the Corona crowd and slooowly thru the traffic jams

The Agricultural Feria in Moca was actually held at the Labadie Mansion which I adore. I love the architecture and how it magically transports you to a villa in France.

Cassie LabadieMe and the mansion

The actual agricultural part of the fair was pretty small. Mostly it was like the majority of fairs and festivals in Puerto Rico. Lots of carnival food, carnival rides, people watching, and music.

Ag FairMoo watching over the festival

But there were some small aspects of agriculture to it. For example there were vendors giving out samples of chocolate milk and pony rides. There was a small tent of farmers and farm products and we found what we were looking for and that has overall proven to be difficult to find and acquire: some heliconia starts.

Horse Rides
Pony rides

Speaker carsIt’s not an event in Puerto Rico if you’re not blasting music from your car


Britton Pineapple tops
They were making fruit juices with fresh pineapples so we asked for the crowns to plant for free!

On the way out of town after the fair we also stopped at a small vivero and found a few more plants for our collection.

Plant store
Britton at the garden store

One of the reasons we decided not to go to the Festival de las Chinas in Las Marias was because we had made plans to meet with Sherry Ballester again at her Vivero Anones in Las Marias on Tuesday and didn’t want to drive up there twice in one week. She gave us a deal we couldn’t pass up: precious heliconia and ginger starts in exchange for some help around her farm. She and her husband Carlos are getting older and are having a hard time keeping up with the work at the farm, especially with the destruction from Hurricane Maria. There was still a lot of debris everywhere and she couldn’t even access whole sections of her farm. Well, we know all about cleaning up a property! We packed up the chainsaw, digging stick, loppers and machete along with rubber boots and pants and made our way up to the farm.

Britton and Sherry
Britton and Sherry with one of the tall heliconias

I helped a little moving some debris from the paths and bringing supplies and water to help, but Britton did the bulk of the work of chainsawing, clearing, digging and hauling while I wandered around looking at her gorgeous collection. Sherry knows all of the scientific names to these plants, but I can’t remember them all.

Heliconia (2)
Hanging pendant heliconia

Bright upright heliconia

Rabo de gato
This one is rabo de gato -cat tail

Palm tree
Huge palm tree making a comeback

Hummingbirds abound

Cassie jungleHanging out in nature

Dirty B
It’s dirty yet beautiful work!

Vivero Anones
Sherry took this picture of us after a long sweaty morning session

Britton was so dirty we actually had to go out and buy him a t-shirt before visiting with our friend Missy later that afternoon.

Water jugMoving the water tank with our new friend Ryan -look how dry the grass is!

We have been wanting to expand the flower gardens but have also been hoping for more rain because new transplants need a lot of water. It has been sooo dry lately that we have to give a little extra water and hand irrigation to the plants. The problem is that the water has been off and on (along with the power). We had some guests staying with us this past week and they helped us move the water cistern to the top of the cabana so that everyone  -plants and people can be wet down. We also installed another water spigot on the other side of the bridge to have easier access to water. There is always some sort of challenge around here, but we’re up to the task!

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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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Random Update: July 2017

Posted by Cassie

Once again it is time for the slices of life that don’t necessarily deserve a post of their own but have been fun and/or interesting.

We recently went to a beautiful celebration of life at a boutique resort in Añasco called Yukayeke. It was very touching.

Amazing sunset

Beach Memorial
Gathering of friends

Yukayeke pool Playing music at Yukayeke
And a pool party

Crab cage
It’s still crab (Juey) season here and a few people are out on the street offering them for sale

I love to stop and see the abandoned buildings and the fantastic graffiti art

Cassie mural


Even a flamingo!

We finally hung the closet pole and shelf!!

The cars on this island are almost as fun to watch as the people! So many questions…

One car
From this… a custom car that could never clear most of the potholes here

Two car
To this…a makeshift moving van?

Car balneario
To this…an abandoned and stripped out car. Why are there so many jugs of water?

Back at the farm, we’ve had quite the abundance of food and beauty!

Breadfruit – Pana in Spanish is also an expression here that means pal or friend

Peace Lily
Peace Lily is blooming

Our first limes from a tree we planted!

The cabin side of the property is filling in nicely with plants and the afternoon rains cause the quebrada to flow beneath the bridge

Ms Puerto Rico
The clothing selection in some stores is pretty fun -I had to try this one on: Ms Puerto Rico!

Broken Piraguas
Even the piragua cart breaks down sometimes!

Cassie and Britton
And the beach is always awaiting us


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Random Photo Update: June 2017

Posted by Cassie

It’s that time again to sort through all the photos that have no other real place but in a random photo drop. All the little moments in life add up…

Cassie Abandoned Cassie in the window
I love checking out old abandoned buildings!

Cassie abandoned 2

Britton and the tree
Yard work is always humbling in its scale

Baby Hawk 2
And its rewards like seeing this young hawk up close

Bird on a banana leaf
Or this little guy

Cabin in the jungle
Back side of the cabin as it is currently

Abandoned House
At another cool abandoned house

Randomness of life here…Viking helmets and old nuclear reactors

Buena Vista 2 Edit
So breathtaking -Spanish wall overlooking Pools Beach in Rincóñ

Pare sign
You know it’s a surf town when…

At the international folkloric music/dance night in Rincon -people from all over the world came like Turkey!

Jenn Cassie Culture
Slovenia! (With my funny friend Jenn! haha)

I thought the fiddles, overalls and square dancing was a funny representation of the USA, but somewhat accurate I suppose for folk dancing

Junk in your Trunk
Now that’s what you call a lot of junk in your trunk!! ;-)

Check out these cool mushrooms growing on rotting wood

White gingers
White torch gingers at our finca

Plumeria caterpillar munching away

Sphinx moth

Beautiful Boquerón -standing

Boqueron chillin
And laid out (thanks to Amanda for this photo)

Horny Cassie
You never know what you might see…ram horn helmet and a skeleton at a restaurant!

Crazy VanThat’s quite the paint job!

wreck 2
And that’s one heck of a wreck!

Jeff and Britton Cassie fedora
Laura and Trevor Salsa night

We went out salsa dancing with fedoras at a place called Hydra and had a lot of fun! It’s a cool, hip place and while I love salsa dancing and music it does seem to be dying off as a popular music style here on the island. Bachata, merengue and reggaeton are far more favored at most bars. Salsa is like 50′s sock-hop music would be to most people stateside.

We got some moves- haha!

Piramide Pyramid
Yah, you know there’s just a random pyramid in Aguada

Such beauty! Hermit crabs abound

Motorcycle ride
A nice guy at a bar gave me a ride on his motocicleta!

And these guys found a land crab at this place! Apparently it is juey mating season!

Britton and Roberto
Good times with friends like Roberto

Cassie up
Fun at Spanish Wall

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