Archive for December, 2012

Sandy’s embryo blew down a Fiery Throated Hummingbird

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Hurricane Sandy was born in the Carribean as a low pressure system off the coast of Panama and Costa Rica during mid October. Since MTCF is located only 2 km from the continental divide that separates Boca de Toro from Chiriqui, we experienced torrential rains from the low pressure system that formed Sandy. This happened again in late November when the low pressure system that flooded Colon also dumped a good 15 inches of rain at MTCF. At its worst the Rio Colorado at the border of our property became impassable and when the waters receded we had to repair the damage in order to be able to cross the river with our truck.

It was during this month of low pressure systems crossing over the continental divide that we had the first time visitor of a Fiery Throated Hummingbird on our feeders. We spotted this hummer only a few times in the past years when hiking in the upper elevations above 2100m in La Amistad NP. We assume the powerful northern rains that crossed over from the Carribbean, Sandy’s embryo, brought this spectacular hummingbird down to our feeders. Once the rains started to subside in early December this hummingbird was gone. Unfortunately I only had my point and shoot Lumix camera to document this incredible bird…… (The lens of my Nikon D90 is at service with fungus problems). We now have 14 species of hummingbirds that have visited our feeders.

Update on our petit MTCF Coffee Plantation

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

In the summer of 2011 we planted 1500 coffee seedlings  consisting of 5 different varieties; Caturra, Tipica, Geisha, Catuai and Pacamara. The results after one year are as follows; Cattura and Pacamara had high mortality and low growth. Typica had some die off but many healthy seedlings. Geisha and Catuai both thrived with low mortality. Main problem is control of Derrite fungus which we now have a good treatment regimen with two different copper based fungicides. Organic fertilizers are applied to roots during the rainy season and a foliage fertilizer is applied during the dry season.

In the summer of 2012 we purchased an additional 500 Geisha seedlings to replace the Pacamara and Caturra plants. Next year we plan on adding 500 Catuai, 300 on a minimal shade area 200 in shade to replace lost seedlings.

80% of the coffee area is shaded, the dominate shade trees are Inga sp., a nitrogen fixing legume tree of the area.  Geisha requires shade, Catuai can handle full sun. Local coffee growers at our elevation of 1800m have confirmed independently to us that Geisha and Catuai are the best adapted to our conditions.

Some of the seedlings have reached 30 inches already but due to the slower growth rate at our elevation (1800m) we wont see coffee production for another 2-3 years.  Our elevation is about the upper limit for coffee cultivation but we are hopeful that we will grow a superior coffee since Geisha and Catuai expresses its best qualities when grown at high elevation.

Our future coffee harvest is destined for our own consumption and to roast on site to sell to guests. Any additional production will be sent to the USA to support my nephew Robbie Dietrich’s business in Charleston South Carolina

Cherimoya Joy

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

The Cherimoya Anonna cherimola, native of Andean highlands, is well adapted to the highlands of Western Panama. We are greatful to the previous owners of MTCF who had the foresight to plant some trees. We are starting seedlings for future plantings around the cabins. They are perhaps the most delicious of the Annona genus as they combine the sweetness of the custard apple with the tartness of the Soursop. There is an arboreal mammal called an Olingo Bassaricyon gabbii (Mapachi) that has been coming around at night trying to feed on the fruit. We harvested these hard and let them riped wrapped in newspapers and stored in a dark place. In 5 days they were perfect.

Other members of this genus include custard apple (A. reticulata), cherimoya (A. cherimola), Soursop/guanábana (A. muricata), sweetsop (A. squamosa), ilama (A. diversifolia), soncoya (A. purpurea), atemoya (a cross between A. cherimola and A. squamosa). North America has the native pond apple Annona glabra and Pawpaw Asimina triloba