making a little garden – tara e lia na vorau sewa

Recently, I’ve started a little garden. The only issue is I should’ve done it much earlier, but hopefully I’ll be eating my own tomatoes, beans and pumpkin on my way out the door in December.

Tomatoes in the front, beans under the sticks, marigold to the right and back, passionfruit by the fence, pumpkin somewhere in the middle.


I bought seeds when I was in Suva about two months ago to see my yaca (namesake), who came in from the outer island of Moala for dental work. He had a pretty good garden out there until Cyclone Winston destroyed everything, so he had good advice on what to grow and whatnot. I bought seeds for beans, tomatoes, leafy greens (can’t recall which kind, but they are growing), marigold and carrots.

I planted them all in trays at Livai’s farm, using his steamed manure, an excellent fertilizer. I left them a bit long, more than a month, so when I got back from the US last month it was a top priority to bring back and transplant them. I started bringing back a tray at a time from the farm, and Chodhtu even insisted I take a few passionfruit vines.

First, I had to choose the spot. I elected to do it right outside the kindergarten, under a large tree recovering from the cyclone. To make the plots, I corralled a couple boys from the dorms and got their help in digging up and creating the rows. Then we planted the beans and the passionfruit. As the marigold are to protect the plants, I planted them on the far edge, closer to the fence, which I’ve since thought might have been a mistake, as their extra exposure to the sun means they look rather wilted most days.

After a week in which I found sticks for two of the four rows, I went back and picked up my tomatoes and leafy greens. I also planted a few loofa seeds in bottle pots, given to me by my brother Jim, PCV Senegal doing Agriculture. Two of the three seeds are booming (in their own cut bottles in the back).

From left to right: marigolds, a leafy green, a different leafy green, two loofa vines in the back, some kind of bean and a few tomatoes. They’ve always called me a descriptive farmer.


The tomatoes were looking pretty poorly – tall, skinny, dying leaves, they had been left too long in the tray. So I quickly planted them and most look good. There is also an unknown bean type thing growing in the trays, which I’ve used to replace the other bean plants that have died. And to cap it all off, I was emptying my compost the other day and found two pumpkin seeds had sprouted. I transplanted them into other containers, and one of the two survived the transplant to the farm itself. And then did another line of marigolds, perpendicular to the first and slightly better shaded.

It’s quite rewarding, having a garden to tender. I’m afraid I need to build a fence around it though, because kids keep playing caqe tavaya – bottle-kicking – around it.


2 thoughts on “making a little garden – tara e lia na vorau sewa

  1. thank you for a pleasant read. I enjoy your headlong approach to gardening. I think many young people (of my kind) fear gardening for its potential to overwhelm us (not unlike parenthood). Nomenclature, brands of fertilizer, advice on sun exposure; the whole enterprise begins to seem precarious when you Google too deeply. Far better to plant liberally and see what grows.


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