Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gardening, Two: Gardener and Garden

Gardening in Africa, continued...

In a stroke of good luck absolutely not of our doing, we acquired one of the biggest yards in our capital city, a gorgeous 2 1/2 acre plot. The yard must have been owned by a drunken horticulturist at one time, because it's full of fruit trees, exotic plants, and hundreds of broken alcohol bottles.  The perfect place to rehabilitate with a little TLC.

To clarify before I introduce our gardener... It's an awkward thing- telling people in the US I have a full time gardener. But here in our (purposely unnamed) African country, it is expected.  I feel tacky talking about it, but here it is.  If you can afford to employ someone, even for the minimum wage of 90 dollars a month, you are expected to.  It's a way of supporting a family.  We have been spending $250 a month to support three adults, their four children, and whichever relatives they are most likely supporting.  In return we have received oodles of help, countless hours of assistance, loving friendship, and enthusiastic aid in settling into a new country.

Meet our gardener, Shoman:  Terrible at English, obsessed with over-watering every plant until the borehole dries up, terrific with Jonas, obsessed with over-watering every plant until the borehole dries up, always smiling, obsessed with over-watering every plant until the borehole dries up, prone to re-planting the same plant in twelve different places until it shrivels up and he blames it on a lack of water.  Shoman and his wife live in our cottage behind our house, where they live with their two boys Alista, a bouncy 2 year old nicknamed Lilly (even after five months we still cannot convince Jonas that Lilly is actually a boy), and Shown, who is five.

In preparation for our move, we contacted the school about what outdoor equipment to bring for the gardener. "Oh, he'll have everything he needs," we were told.

Shoman had half a shovel and a machete.

But he was ready to work.  Five months later, we joke with him that he is no longer a gardener; we have turned him into a farmer. With a few additional tools, a few seeds, and an overworked garden hose, Shoman has helped us to slowly rehab an empty, dumped upon half acre in back that has become the perfect location for a large garden.

To read more about how we use bamboo in our garden, check out this link:

Though Jonas was obsessed with gardening before we moved, in Africa he can't get enough.  Poor Shoman is stalked wherever he goes...