Island Notes-The Coconut Grove


I always wanted to have a coconut grove.  You know.  One of those botanical erogenous zones that provide sweet shade from the tropical sun, coconuts begging to be made into that afternoon elixer-a coco loco* and a place for hammocks to gently sway by the warm trade winds.

Now that I have a bit of island land I decided to plant a mini coconut grove.  I bought three Suriname coco palm plants from a lady in Hato, a neighborhood just down the hill.  Throughout the ages, these plants have traveled from Suriname via  the Guiana Current (#8)… f1-large-a massive ocean stream that sweeps between Trinidad and the northeast corner of South America, bends west entering the Caribbean Sea, and then steams toward Panama.  Coconuts that end up being beached have the potential of sprouting and, beyond those palms transplanted by people, that is how the ABC Islands received coconut palms. I was informed that my particular plants were offspring from a half dozen, towering Suriname palms that were planted on Hato’s shore in the 1940s.

My plan was to plant a triangle of palms equidistant from each other allowing for three hammocks to be hung simultaneously.  Easier said then done on my moonscape land formed by uplifted coral terrace that looks more like a Mauna Loa lava flow than anything else.  The trick was to find spots between the klip where some soil existed.  I found three such spots, but my triangle quickly went from equilateral to obtuse in a Havana heartbeat. No matter.  The differences in distance will be solved by longer or shorter hammock lines.


Natural hole in the klip (right of the palm)


The walls of the hole are built up with extra klip and soil put in.


Palm in ground.

I had to sledgehammer off some pieces of klip to form a circle in two locations.  Then I dumped in a base of soil, set the palm in the hole, put in more soil around the plant and formed a dish to capture water.  Next I’ll put in some drip irrigation that is fed by my gray water system.  On Bonaire we can get days or weeks without rain so the drip will help the trees during the dry times.dsc05608

Two hours and a quart bottle of water later, the trifecta was complete. My humble coconut grove has begun.  I have no idea how long it will take the trees to grow big enough to hold hammocks, but it will be fun watching the race.  And who knows, I may be drinking coconut milk before you know it.dsc05607

*coco loco  Cut off the top of a coconut without spilling the water inside.  Put in a shot of Mount Gay Eclipse rum, a squeeze of lime and a bit of ice.  Go find a hammock and enjoy.


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