_MG_9046La Tortuga Verde is a little slice of heaven in its own right. The location, the waves and the vast array of activities on offer in this hostel/resort ensures it is planted on many a travelers list to tick off in Central America. The resort doubles up as a wildife sanctuary and is owned by an environmentalist owner, Tom Pollack, an eccentric big wave surfer from Hawaii. His ethos and passion exudes out of every corner of this place, so much so that you may find yourself woken up by him in the middle of the night to watch a Turtle laying eggs on the beach. Tom buys the eggs to stop them being sold to nearby restaurants and then asks you to take part in his TV show to film them burying them the next day. Surreal.

 

So getting involved in a place like this is definitely an opportunity to get something else out of your traveling experience. Whether you have a passion for wildlife or nature or you just want to use your skills to benefit a beautiful place like this there is full encouragement from the team and a once in a lifetime learning experience.

 

There is a large garden here, with many vegetables, fruits and herbs sprouting up nicely. The main focus of this blog entry is on my first volunteering experience in a garden. If there are other garden novices out there they will sympathize with my lack of knowledge and fear of ruining great past efforts at growing vegetables. However there are some great teachers here, Dallas being the main guardian to help with all my gardening woes.

Gardening in a tropical climate can be tricky, and there are many things that you mustn’t take for granted. I learned this the hard way when it came to the Papaya plants that needed replanting. Papaya grows to around 10-15ft tall, so having it in a garden bed was becoming problematic and one of my first tasks was to see that it was replanted in a more suitable spot. It is one of my favorite fruits, so i had high hopes for my gardening ability here. It is sweet, high in potassium and other vitamins and low in calories. You can make almost anything with it including salads, desserts, jam (or jellie) and it would be another great option to try out in the Solar Dehydrator.

 

To grow Papayas, you need a lots of sunlight, good soil and lots of water. So El Salvador’s climate and La Tortuga Verde have this down. There if you give your plant all of these conditions, then you can grow a papaya from seed and generally have fruit in 6 to 12 months.

Growing Tips for Papayas:

  • Climate: Thrive in subtropical and tropical climates. Zone 10 to 11. They do not tolerate freezing temperatures and are damaged or killed if temperatures go below 32 degrees.
  • Pollination: The female plants produce fruit and may be cross pollinated with others by insects and wind. There are plants that may be self-pollinating (bi-sexual).
  • Growth Habit: The papaya is a short lived, fast growing woody herb. They generally have a single trunk and grow 10 to 15 feet tall, but some plants have been known to grow taller.
  • Sun Light: Grow best in full sun. Papayas love the heat and sunlight.
  • Fertilize: Papayas are heavy feeders and require regular fertilizingAdding compost is also recommended.
  • Water: Papayas have large soft leaves and evaporate a lot of water in warm weather, so they need above average watering.
  • Soil: Papayas do best in rich soil that is high in organic matter. Make sure your planting location and soil has good drainage to avoid root rot.
  • Harvesting: Generally, fruit is picked when there is 1/5 to 1/3 color change in the fruit. After picking, keep at room temperature to fully ripen. Ripe fruit will keep 4 to 7 days in the refrigerator.

– See more at: http://www.tropicalfloridagardens.com/2011/06/27/growing-caring-for-papaya-trees/#sthash.g2Fd3eue.dpuf