My Home Gardening Upbringing
I was born and lived on the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean that has a lush tropical climate. There abounds a greenery of trees and flora.
My growing years
My growing years was in a large home and household situated among orchards of fruit trees. I learned from my parents at an early age hands-on caring for Mother Earth by tending to the upkeep of the family’s estate together with my brothers, sisters, other family, and friends. Gardening, composting, soil management and mulching, pruning of trees and plants, crop rotation, planting and harvesting, were a year-round ritual. Grey water from sinks was used to water some plants, mainly dasheens, which grew to big sized tubers. Around the house the family did site layout, drainage systems, built side-walks, designed and laid down gardens for flowers and vegetables. Surrounding all of these growing plants and trees were well-maintained lawns.
An early morning breakfast often consisted of some of the tree-ripen fruits. Cultivated trees consisted of such tropical fruits: mangoes, coconuts (Fijian dwaf), bananas, plantains, green bananas, oranges, grapefruits, (shaddocks and pummelos), limes, mandarins (tangerines, portugals), guavas, cherries, local plums, avocados (zabocas), sapodillas, pommecytheres, pommeracs, watermelons, breadfruits, durians (shatines).
Enjoyed were neighboring produce like cashews (cashew apples), berries, and different varieties of their mangoes. A real delight was savoring the taste in cocoa, balata, grugru bef, gri gri, cococrite, barbadine, chennette, passion fruit, carambola (five-fingers), papaya (pawpaw), peewah, tonka bean, soursop, caimite, sugarcane, tamarind, tipitambo, pineapple, mamey sapote.
The kitchen garden consisted of lettuce (some of which were sold to the local supermarket), tomatoes, cucumbers, chives, hot-peppers, sweet-peppers, cilantro, pigeon-peas, beans, ochro, dasheen leaves and the edible tuber, the cassava tuber, the eddoes tuber, carailli, sorrel, corn.
Flower gardens were resplendent with different colors of roses, tube-roses, gerberas, hibiscus, anthuriums, lilies, cacti, groundcovers, and lots of other local varieties. At one of the yearly local flower show, some potted cactus plants won top prizes. After home consumption and sharing with family and friends, any overabundance of fruits, seedlings, and produce were sold at the garden store.
In addition, my family owned a Farm/Garden/Pet/Agricultural Supply Store, that provided farmers, gardeners, agriculturists and hobbyists with seeds, nursery items, plants, trees, animal and pet feed, medication, control for pests and weeds, tools, equipment, and all that were necessary for their operations. Here I learned the “science” of products and procedure, the how and why, and was instrumental in sharing this know-how with customers.
From serving as a sales person I eventually assisted in managing the business. This experience fostered my close-to-nature skills and abilities, always lending a hand to family and friends in their landscaping needs over the years, sometimes as a property manager, wherever my travels took me (to New York and Phoenix, Arizona).
Coming to America
Coming to America, in 1990, by way of Brooklyn, New York, I studied Chinese Medicine – diagnosis, treatment, the properties and healing nature of herbs. Included disciplines were acupressure (applying pressure on the body’s meridian’s points), feng-shui (the art of placement), the I-Ching, the Tao of Management and reflexology.
It was during this period that I did extensive research on our impact on the environment, global warming, recycling, alternative energies like solar, wind, and hydro, and the sustainability of green living.
Arriving in Phoenix, Arizona
In 1995, arriving in Phoenix, Arizona, I worked in the health food industry, in the juicing and produce department. Did real-estate sales and then worked together with a new-found friend in his landscaping business dealing in aspects of designing, implementation and maintenance.
Again, I learned first-hand the vegetation of the desert which has added to my diverse but holistic approach to living with nature.