On Monday, we began planting coffee and made great headway on getting the shrubs in the ground. Fortunately, José Luis, Xandari’s head gardener, and his team (or should we say “coffee crew” in this case?) had already done significant work in preparing the soil to receive the plants. This particular area had a good many stones in it that had to be removed before work could begin, and in order to jump-start the growing process rich soil had to be brought up from the composting heaps. (Pictures of the prepared field, and more on the story of coffee at Xandari, can be found in the the last post on coffee.)
There are a number of steps in planting the coffee. Once the land is generally prepared, it must be measured out, and stakes must be placed to indicate the future locations of the plants. Next, the top layer of grass has to be removed (typically with a large, flat shovel) and carted away. Then, we had to excavate holes large enough to take the earth-pods covering the plants’ roots. Next, the shrub is placed in the hole and rich soil is packed around the roots. In between layers of soil, a natural calcium-phosphorous compound (the white powder evident in the top picture) that helps to balance the acidity of the soil and provide inorganic nutrients for the growing plants is sprinkled in. Finally, more earth is placed around the top of the plant and securely tamped down to prevent it from running off in the heavy rains (aguaceros) common in the rainy season in Costa Rica.
After Monday, this piece of land was basically squared away with the exceptions of a few rows added today (Tuesday). In a future post, we’ll cover the same process on another piece of land so you can see it from start to finish. Here was the more-or-less finished product–only possible with the hard work of José Luis, Jesus, Isaac, Huberh, and Pipe!