Gardening guru opens Plantation Eco

An eco-minded gardening guru has converted his yard into a green space that is not only kinder to the planet – but offers a whole host of practical benefits.

It is this passionate love of nature’s green and the Cayman environment that has given him this opportunity to share his learned talent and taste for fruits and produce with those who visit the site in November.

It offers tranquility, healthy living, nature’s scents, saves you money – and is environmentally friendly, to boot.

Joel Walton’s Eco Plantation site is at #35 Doubloon Drive, South Cayman Palms, Bodden Town.

The eco site on two acres of land is a working small farm and residence specialising in limited-scale growing of tropical and sub-tropical fruits, nuts, spices, vegetables, medicinal and ornamental plants and their products.

Most of the traditional Caribbean plantation crops such as sugarcane, bottlers, bananas, mangoes, pumpkins, breadfruit, ackees and limes, grapefruit and orange are grown alongside crops such as, passion fruit, peppers, tomatoes, basil, mint, roses, plum, red java apples, sweetsop, June plum, carrots, radishes and Aloe Vera.

The site also has a small waterfall, stream and pool combination, a separate reflection pool and a fresh-water fish pond. There are many species of birds (including chickens) and the occasional agouti or iguana, which roam the natural habitat.

Plantation House Nursery is also on the property and has plants for sale in pot sizes ranging from half gallons to 15 gallons, as well as seeds and cuttings.

Visitors and garden enthusiasts are able to view these crops and learn about growing their own within limited spaces when the site fully opens in November.

The Garden Shop will offer fresh juices and food, preserves, teas and coffees. A fruit tasting table will also be available to visitors.

For about 15 years, Mr. Walton who originates from a family of farmers in Spot Bay, Cayman Brac, has been collecting temperate, tropical and sub-tropical plants for his garden.

Throughout this time he has worked to provide healthy plants by building healthy soil.

‘A more sustainable way of providing plant nutrition naturally is to compost all garden waste and non-meat kitchen waste,’ says Mr. Walton.

‘Composting simply put, involves cooking the waste to create natural fertilisers and soil. Cook is a term used to describe the heat that is naturally created by combining grass clipping, which are green, with dried leaves, which produce heat and leads to a breakdown. This compost material can then be used as mulch, natural fertiliser and soil builder. It also helps to keep the soil cool and conserve water,’ he said.

In addition, Mr. Walton said his farming team relies heavily on clippings from old trees to provide mulch and compost material. Most of these clippings are collected after storm damage around the island, placed in the chipper on his property and left out in the garden to cook.

Continuing in the scheme of using all things natural in his garden, Mr. Walton has also found a way to keep those pesky whiteflies, bugs and plants eating insects at bay – he uses the marigold plant.

‘Insects hate the scent of the marigold flower,’ he said.

Although Mr. Walton said he has made many mistakes and been through several hurricanes, Plantation House is the result of an on-going journey to create a diverse living environment to share with others.

Plantation House plants and fresh produce market runs from 7am to 1pm every Saturday at the Farmers Market at the Stacey Watler Agricultural Pavilion off Agricola Drive in Lower Valley.

Joel’s Plantation House Eco Site on Doubloon Drive in Bodden Town is the last turn-off on the right before Northward Road if travelling on the main road to Bodden Town from George Town.

‘If you are to be successful in gardening you have to work with the soil; spending time to get the soil right produces healthy plants’ – Joel Walton