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        Growing Coffee. Part 4

        Growing Coffee. Part 4

        Become a real Barista!
        Growing Coffee. Part 4

        The soil on my plantation, is quite stony; so the planting holes are "chopped" out with a pickaxe, a few weeks before the planting: the soil moved out of the hole is piled in a ring around the hole, to help kill off any weeds around the hole.

        Using a very narrow spade, the hole is deepened, a good double handful of compost ( with added Nitrogen, in the form of chicken manure, or Urea, fertilizer ) put in the bottom, and the new coffee bush planted; some water is poured on it, to "settle" the soil around the roots. The area around the sapling, about 12 inches, is carefully cleared of any grass or weeds, to allow maximum rain into the soil, and reduce any "competition" for the soil nutrients. Any available mulch, is also spread around the newly planted sucker, which helps prevent the weeds growing, and keeps the soil a little cooler, and therefore, damper.

        In this climate, compost rots away very quickly; but it lasts long enough to feed the sapling, and retain some moisture, to help the roots get established.

        Too much compost, and the roots will stay in the rich compost, and not grow properly, leaving the coffee bush vulnerable to the wind: we need just the right amount, to get the sapling established, and then for the roots to grow straight down, and "lock" the bush into the ground. With growing the coffee on such steep mountain sides, a long main root is essential for the plant to get deep down in the soil, to find the "deep" water, and to stabilize both the plant, and the soil.

        For the first 3 or 4 years, the newly planted coffee is fed with a high Nitrogen "diet" ( mixed compost and chicken manure, with a little urea fertilizer, added ) to encourage vegetative growth, rather than flowers and seeds.

        The theory is to get the coffee bush up to full production, as quickly as possible: and by limiting the amount of energy it puts into producing flowers and fruits, the more energy is available for it to grow, quickly. A high Nitrogen feeding regime, encourages vegetative growth, and by limiting the availability of Potassium and Phosphorus in the fertilizer, the plant is not encouraged to produce flowers and fruit, the loss of cherries is negligible, as the first 2 or 3 years that the plant produces any flowers, they are very few, it is not until the coffee bush is over 5 years old, that it starts to mature, and produce a decent amount of fruit, and around 7 years before it reaches full production ( the Geisha variety, is a little quicker than this, in reaching maturity ).

        As much of our "waste" as possible is recycled into the coffee bushes:-
        kitchen waste is added, indirectly, via the compost heap, along with non-woody vegetable matter, from the garden all paper waste, and old wood, is burned ( some to roast the coffee ) and the ashes added to one part of the compost heap: wood ash is high in Potassium, and is not used on the young coffee bushes.

        Empty tin cans are added to the bonfire ( in fact: just about everything is burned on the bonfire, with the exception of plastics, and glass; and a few other oddments, like batteries, old car engine oil, etc ) the ash from the bonfire contains many "trace elements" ( from the printing inks, as well as the cans themselves ): the ashes are sieved, added to the compost heap; and the "lumps", disposed of in a local skip.

        With the heavy rains, and the steep slopes, on which our coffee is planted; a lot of the nutrients in the soil are washed out when the rainy season gets underway: when we need to "top-up" the compost, with chemical fertilizers, and feed the coffee, the timing is critical, to get the fertilizer around the bushes when there are some showers, to gently wash the fertilizer into the soil, without washing it away.

        We are currently feeding the coffee with compost, fortified with a mixture of chemicals: into every 50 Kilo bag of urea ( almost 50% Nitrogen by weight ) we add 2 Kilos of Ammonium Sulphate, and half a kilo of table salt ( Sodium Chloride ) which is giving us excellent results, "topping-up" the major soil deficiencies ( Sulphur and Chlorine ).

        We always put more fertilizer on the plants at the top of the slope, than those at the bottom; as some of the fertilizer, inevitably, gets washed down from the upper ones, and helps feed those lower down the slope.

        Organic versus Chemicals.

        Much as we would prefer to grow our coffee, fully organically: it is just not a feasible method. The premium on the coffee, comes no where near covering the extra costs.

        With a more level plantation, and being able to mechanically move tons of organic fertilizer, easily to the coffee bushes, and it would be feasible: but: on the very steep slopes on which most of the local coffee is grown, the only way to move the "organic matter", is by hand: very heavy work, and very slow!!

        The only feasible way to do it, is to use a semi-organic method: as much organic matter as we can get to the coffee, and "topped-up" with small amounts of chemical fertilizer.

        Best wishes to all, my readers.

        Robin Plough, friend of m.wzdscp.com

        For questions about JBM, mail to: Этот e-mail адрес защищен от спам-ботов, для его просмотра у Вас должен быть включен Javascript

        See also:
        A New Year on the Plantation
        A Visit to Paradise
        A year in the life..What makes JBM, the 'legend' of coffee?
        Assessing your coffee (part 1)
        Assessing your coffee (part 2)
        Assessing your coffee (part 3)
        Economics of JBM. Part 1
        Economics of JBM. Part 2
        Everything you wanted to know about the Coffee Board
        Growing a coffee plant at home
        Growing Coffee. Part 1
        Growing Coffee. Part 2
        Growing Coffee. Part 3
        Growing Coffee. Part 5
        Growing: Part 1
        Growing: Part 2
        Jamaican food (part 1)
        Jamaican food (part 2)
        Jamaican food (part 3)
        Jamaican newsletter
        Living in Paradise: Part I
        Living in Paradise: Part II
        Living in Paradise: Part III
        Processing our coffee (part 1)
        Processing our coffee (part 2)
        Random thoughts on the end of the world
        Random thoughts on the end of the world (II)
        Special Report: Coffee Leaf Rust Fungus Part 1
        Special Report: Coffee Leaf Rust Fungus Part 2
        SPECIAL: Coffee borer beetle in Hawaii
        Trivia and other ramblings: part 1
        Trivia and other ramblings: part 2
        Tropical Storm Nichole
        see also

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