As far as you can go – the problems of growing veg.

Vegetables were grown on the island, but you tended to have certain people who were more savvy about making produce in quite a harsh climate.  Cathy and her husband had a lovely house perched half way up Side Path overlooking James town and James Bay.  They were distinctly  based in the dry part of the Mediterranean zone.  Not only was the rain water supply not sufficient for the vegetables to grow in , but the salty winds desiccated leaves with disastrous effects.  They had all sorts of canny tricks to trap the moisture in and shelter the delicate plants from the harshness of this hillside environment.  And every drop of water was conserved and reused.

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Cathy Hopkin’s veg plot – coping with salt, wind and lack of water

On the Sandy Bay side of the island, perched almost in the clouds, people had other problems, an excess of water and humidity which allowed fungus and invertebrates to thrive in amongst their produce.  The other predicament they tended to have here was that one crop would prodigiously crop for a couple of weeks but then not be available for the rest of the year.  So there were weeks when you were eating pumpkin till it came out of your ears and yearned for a dish of it the rest of the time.

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Sandy Bay (Mount Pleasant) had other problems

Seeing the number of microclimates and niches in the valleys and on the hillsides, I naturally assumed that you could grow anything anywhere, as I had been used to on several of the windward islands of the Caribbean but fruit especially was a problem on St Helena.  Having imported goods brought in on the RMS meant that diseases could easily be introduced and decimate local fruit bearing trees.  While procedures at the Customs department had been improved over the years, major infestations of several diseases in the past had destroyed many fruit trees and people were reluctant to put in the long term effort of re-establishing orchards with the overhanging possibility that all their hard work could be wiped out in one season.

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