I’ve been a professional musician/composer/teacher for many years and seldom thought about growing my own vegetables and fruits for my own consumption. A few years ago my doctor informed me that I could no longer perform due to medical reasons and I was devastated. I had to do something to pass the time instead of continually being on the road, therefore I started reading articles on farming vegetables and fruits. I would visit my uncle, a sugarcane farmer, and marveled at his gardens. I told him I was interested in starting my own garden, to which he chuckled since I was always a city dweller since childbirth. Suffice it to say, I was hurt by his response and I set out to prove him wrong.
Instead of investing in expensive commercial soil, I started tilling my back yard to loosen the ground and started a 24 square foot compost. My compost consisted of coffee grounds, food scraps, crushed eggs shells, tree leaves and fish heads with blood root. After a year of composting, the garden was ready to take her first seeds. To my delight I had a healthy harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, and bell peppers. I wanted to expand my garden, so I dawdled on the idea of growing pineapples. I bought 5 large clay pots and used some of the homemade compost and sand. I purchased 5 pineapple at the local grocer and trimmed the tops to reveal the base. I placed the pineapple tops in water jugs and set the pineapple out in the sun. After a few weeks, the roots started forming and I transferred the rooted pineapple starter to each clay pot. December was quickly approaching and knowing that the cool air could harm the pineapples, I built a makeshift greenhouse under my porch awning. Using 6-ply clear plastic and 1×6 boards, I was able to construct a 12’x12′ hothouse/greenhouse under the porch. I ran an electrical wire through the rafters and hung 6 heat lamps inside the greenhouse. The outside temperatures were dropping along with the humidity levels still at 65%, therefore the outside air was getting brisk. During the winter months, I was able to keep the inside of the greenhouse at a constant temperature of 75% and condensation had formed inside the structure. By watering the pineapple plants once a week and administering the flow of water to enter through the top of the plant, soon I had one pineapple fruit after the second year. One fruit from 5 plants. I was discouraged. I waited until the outside of the pineapple turned yellow and harvested it. Rather than enjoying the sweetness of the fruit myself, I honored my Pastor of the church with my first fruit. I am a firm believer in God’s word and I honored God by giving my first pineapple to my pastor.
I continued with my gardening and now have four 24 square foot boxes, and this year I am proud to say that I have been blessed. My five pineapple plants are producing 20 pineapples! My gardening has grown to where I now have 4 cucumbers, 6 different varieties of tomatoes, green and yellow bell peppers, Anaheim peppers, poblano peppers, onions, watermelons, okra, blackberries, and pineapples.
God has blessed me so I can provide for my family. My food expenses have been reduced and I am happy to say my uncle is flabbergasted about my success as a farmer.
My next project? Aquaponics!