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Why 0% Commission On Currency Is a Myth

Why 0% Commission On Currency Is a Myth

Why 0 Commission on Currency is a Myth!

Caribbean Ports Barbados

When you book a vacation or business trip, do you pay as much attention to saving money on your travel money as you do on your flights and accommodation?  If you do then you are the exception to the norm and very sensible.

The majority of us, on the other hand, spend hours researching holiday prices and travel costs and yet spend very little time, if any, researching the best ways to purchase foreign currency.

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Moving Towards Renewable Energy – Solar Solutions

Renewable Energy

Moving into a new home recently I got very enthusiastic at having a spacious kitchen all to myself and even with an abundance of non-cooked salad making I finished our gas bottle in just over 2 weeks! I was lovingly told by my partner that as much as he enjoyed every morsel that I made, I clearly had to be more efficient in my energy consumption. So in the absence of a pressure cooker and considering how long it takes to boil up beans and pulses, which I do regularly, I bought a coal pot.
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Liquid Gold – Making & Using Organic Fertilizers.

Organic Farming in the Caribbean with Organic Fertilizers

Yesterday I watched a short video about a family in California who have turned their city garden into a modern-day Eden which sustains up to 90% of their food needs on just 1/5 acre! They replaced their lawn with edible flowers and using organic fertilizers the whole garden burst forth with fruits and vegetables to feed the family. It further inspired me to keep planting in my own garden and do my part to combat the constant news of rising food prices and shortages.

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Food growing really is a quiet revolution that I want to be a part of!

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Of course being a person who always aims to be in tune with nature, our garden is 100% organic. Organic farming or gardening is a practice which has numerous benefits for producers, consumers and the Earth. The chemicals in artificial fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides ultimately leach into the soil and our water and whatever we do to the Earth we do to ourselves. I know that I’d rather eat some food that has a few bug bites on it than consume produce that is saturated and laden with toxic formula.

Tiled shopfront with fetilizer advertisement

A key philosophy and practice of the organic approach is to gradually build up the natural fertility of the soil so that it comprises the right nutrients to yield healthy produce and is resistant to disease and pest attacks. One great way to enrich the soil is to create compost and I’m pleased to report that with thanks to the constant weekend work of my partner, our 3 bin system is now up and running! Now I’m being tutored on other ways to achieve the goal of naturally enhancing the plants directly with a number of liquid botanical fertilizing agents.

To start with, our first compost pile has been set up with a pipe at the bottom to collect the liquid that leaches as the material breaks down. The dark coloured liquid that emerges is often referred to as ‘tea manure’ or, to emphasize its incredible value, ‘liquid gold’. This liquid is one of the best things you can apply to your plants for a quick boost as the nutrients are readily available in the water and are quickly taken up by the plants. The tea should be diluted to a 25/75 ratio for use as a foliage spray or 50/50 for directly on the soil. Apparently most root crops will be spoiled by the application of the tea so use it only for your veggies sprouting above ground. To capture the tea from the compost pile it is a good idea to set it above the ground on a structure with a drainage system so that the tea can drip into a storage container. Setting the compost pile directly on the ground will allow the liquid from the pile to seep directly in the soil and if you are able to move the pile after each compost batch is completed, the patch it was once on will be highly fertile.

Other liquid fertilizers can be easily made by soaking and fermenting plants in a large barrel with a lid for about a month and diluting when ready for application. The leaves from Gliricidia sepium, a tree commonly found in the Caribbean, produces a good fertilizer liquid and its major advantage over other tree fertilizers is that it grows back year after year despite severe pruning.

Comfrey is also very popular as the plant has deep roots that can tap into vital nutrients and trace elements that are below the range of plants with shallower roots systems. When planting a patch of comfrey do not that they can be quite invasive so do not put them in your best vegetable patch! Once the leaves have grown they can be cut and fermented in the water with the same process as above.

Seaweed, invasive plant species, leguminous plants and many more can also be used in this way to create liquid fertilizer. Be warned though, these liquids can give off a foul smell so make sure that they are placed far away from the house and are well covered. A good covering also prevents them from becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes. When handling all of the liquids use gloves as many can be harsh on the hands

Another natural liquid fertilizer that I have been told about is fermented urine! Yes that’s right, you have to save your pee in a container, leave it for week and dilute with twenty parts water. (Undiluted urine can be used directly on a compost heap as an accelerator) It is reported to be an amazing source of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium and some trace elements. I am working on producing some so I’ll let you know! Of course it is not advised to spray any of these liquids directly onto edible leaves and best not to give the plants any tea at least 2 weeks before harvesting.

The liquid manures are a great boost to plants at particular points in their growth cycle. We are currently doing research and experimentation on the best times to supplement each plant and it’s important not too go too crazy with tea and let mother nature keep her natural balance.

So as for our garden, the lettuce we planted out at the beginning of the month will be ready in about a week and the new seedlings we planted out last week are already growing strong. It is a real blessing to be eating what we have grown. I invite you to share and circulate your best tips and techniques for Caribbean Organic gardening so both we and the planet can be healthy and happy.

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Pests in Paradise

Even in paradise it’s not always paradise.

Last week my house was invaded in the evening by a massive swarm of mosquitoes. I’ve never really been troubled by them before but this battalion came on thick and fast and are the size of flies! They whine, they bite and they suck blood – all of which are offenses punishable by death.
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Books on the Beach! – Going to University in the Caribbean

Attending University in the Caribbean

Studying for higher education is nearly always hard work but the burdens of exam stress can certainly be eased by having a relaxing environment and natural places to retreat to for some brain relief. Thus studying in the Caribbean can be a perfect place to reach for academic attainment whilst ensuring that life stays balanced and fulfilling. Continue reading

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Solar Solutions for Caribbean Properties

Solar Solutions

“Love and marriage, love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell you brother you can’t have one without the other!”

This week I’ve been humming the Frank Sinatra tune above and while the sentiments may seem a little outdated for some, I was reflecting on how some things are just meant to go together. In particular my thought was that Caribbean properties and solar technology were made for each other. I do hope that in the future we will ensure that you can’t have one without the other!
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Coming in from the Cold – The Return of the Diaspora

The Return of the Diaspora

In 1958 my Dominican born Grandmother boarded a ship and left for England. After the sea-sickening 7 day journey she was met by my Grandfather who had left a few months earlier. Ever since the Empire Windrush landed on the British shores with a group of Jamaicans in 1948 this scenario of people from the Caribbean leaving for a new life in England was played out many times over the next few decades.

My Grandparents, like many others who left home, were certain that they would only be staying away for a couple of years. However it was only when they retired 38 years later that they returned home to live.
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Getting Into Hot Water – Experiences of Hot Sulphur Springs in the Caribbean.

Caribbean Sulphur Springs

In my last blog I found out that bathing in seawater has so many incredible benefits to health that it even has the official name of thalassotherapy. I’m not sure if bathing in hot sulphur water has such a technical term but I am certain that it is just as healing.

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Hot sulphur springs are a natural feature of many Caribbean islands, especially the Lesser Antillian islands of St. Lucia, Martinique, Grenada, St. Vincent and some of the other more mountainous islands. These volcanic islands were formed millions of years ago as the tectonic plates of North America and the Caribbean slid over each other. The tectonic sliding continues to this day and gives rise to the many locations where sputtering steam vents and sulphur springs can be found.
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Caribbean Banking Secure in Financial Crisis

Banking in the Caribbean Is Secure

The current economic crisis is leaving countries around the world in a devastated situation. French Prime Minister Francois Fillon recently described the financial world as being “on the edge of the abyss” and even after signing a $700bn (£394bn) financial sector rescue plan, President George W Bush has warned that the US economy continues to face “serious challenges”. Global summits are currently being attended by world leaders to find solutions to the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.
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Carifesta – The Caribbean Festival of the Creative Arts

Festival of Creative Arts

Two weeks ago Dominica hosted its first Literary Festival and book fair. The weekend event bought local and regional writers together with publishers and book sellers to showcase and celebrate the best of local talent and to encourage further participation and awareness in the literary arts.

A small delegation from this talent pool, along with other creative artists such as painters and actors are now in Guyana to participate in Carifesta; a 9 day event which unites the cultural talents of the Caribbean. Carifesta has been in existence since the 1970’s and continues to get bigger every year.
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