garden 20
April 2022 Report

April has been something of a whirlwind, with a burst of new investment enabling substantial progress.  The most important part of this has been the new processing area.  This is now ours for the next twenty years. We have cleaned it up and prepared the ground for a concrete base in the top yard.

For the time being, this is most of the work that needs to be done. This concrete area will be where we dry vanilla.  Around it will be where we process the vanilla and in the main building we have secure storage.

Making the area pretty and creating offices can wait till we've sold some vanilla!

We have become aware that the Guyana, and by extrapolation the entire Central American crop, has failed for the second year running due to unseasonal rains.  Madagascar, with the majority of the world's crop, has famine in the south, revolt in the North and cyclones. The Indonesian crop is severely reduced. This leads us to suspect the price will rise substantially by the end of the year.

This leaves us with a quandary, which is should we buy green vanilla and process it in our new facility? Right now, vanilla is for cheap, because a number of farmers are selling beans harvested 4 months early. We won't touch these. Impossible to create A grade from it.

In 3 months time, we would like to buy maybe 500kg, more to test out different processing methods than anything else.  We are not aiming to be vanilla processors with all the enormous risk that comes with it.  I have an aversion to risk.

Last year's rainy season was the wettest in living memory.  This one was worse. Last year, we didn't lose a vine.  This year, we didn't either, but we did lose the majority of our flowers and hence the fruit.

This has caused Dadap and I to think heavily about how to grow vanilla. Traditionally, the vanilla goes up a support shade tree and is circled around to get the required length of 20m. Our system of raised beds and compost created much thicker vine clusters with the promise of double the crop.  In an ordinary year.

With the deluges we have experienced, the clusters are just too thick and close to the ground. The humidity is too great and the movement of air negligible.  If you know your orchids, you will know that breeze is vital.

The good thing about being so big is that we can experiment,  whereas the poor little farmers just give up. Both Dadap and I have created frames for the vanilla, Dadap using second hand ironwood while I am using the living shade trees, cropped in Espallier fashion. We will keep the vanilla going up the shade trees and circle it until it is a big shoot, then we simply allow it to grow sideways along the frames. Dadap is pruning all the lower leaves, while I am leaving them. We believe this will work and be more effective, promising a better crop. The only issue we have is ensuring the frames are not too high for the workers! Ibu Ganis who looks after Garden 5 is particularly short!

Now the rains have ceased, we are seeing a great surge in growth and many vines are flowering out of season to make up for missed time.  This doesn't bother us, indeed we appreciate it as it spread out the work load.

One restriction on our growth has been the cost of land.  The Kings have proved to be a little short on usable land and farmers want is to contract for their land, paying everything in advance. Recently, I discovered that when one farmer doesn't want to use his land, he rents it to another who will pay him in rice. Not money.  Genius.  So, we offered to rent land for rice.  Not money.  Consequently, we have a number of farmers offering us land.  We pay 50 kg of rice for 10 are of land every 4 months.  They are happy with this, but we have added the rider to the contract that they get 5% of the vanilla harvest as well. This suggests we shall add more than 15,000 vines this year and well under budget.

We are also experimenting with different shade trees.  The Gliciridia has many advantages, but it makes us a monocrop.

Composting now in place for gardens 5,10 and 18. Working on 17,19 and 15.


From our lobster master, specifics of what we currently have.  The first are breeding ponds:

Pond D5 200 females and 10 males with an average weight of 22.9 grams.

Pond D6 200 females and 10 males with an average weight of 27.2 grams

Pond D9 110 females and 10 males with an average weight of 21.4 grams

Pond D10 205 females and 10 males with an average weight of 9 grams

Among this breeding stock we found 2 females with berries and another from the original breeding stock that was supplied some months ago. These have been placed in pond D7 for hatching.

We also have counted the pond that hatched about 2 months ago and found 52 females and 18 males with an average weight of 16.6 grams these lobsters have been absorbed into the other ponds for future breeding.

Pond D1 has  88 surplus males that we found during our inspection with an average weight of 31 grams.

With a total of 718 females now in the ponds at Tampak Siring we are approaching the target number of 1000 which we hope to supply in the next week or at the latest the end of May.

In addition, we have 30 males around the 100g mark, whom we are going to keep on growing to see how big we can get them, economically.

We are devising ways to add more fish farms at present.


We held our  General Shareholder meeting on 20 April 2022.

Our warehouse and processing facility has been cleaned up and this week we will pour concrete for the drying area. Further renovation, beyond that which is absolutely necessary, will be held back for around 2-3 months. As previously mentioned, it will be 3 months before we consider buying green beans.

As ever please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.


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