El Vivero – The Structure

View of part of the finished vivero!

The vivero structure has been finished! It was made of teak logs from on site so we only needed to buy cement, plastic roofing, and metal parts for construction. It was a very efficient construction time, with both our local contractor Carne Seca and Leaves and Lizards staff working tirelessly on the building. Construction began February 20th and finished March 6th! These guys impressed me with how quickly and efficiently they were able to finish the structure.

This structure will provide a covered growing area for seedlings and the more sensitive annual vegetables that will not grow well (or at all) outdoors during the heavy rains here. In this part of Costa Rica, the rainy season begins around April, and often lasts until November. It’s abnormal for a day to go by without rain this time of year. There is typically rain during the night, early morning, and/or afternoon. You know the rain is coming when the humidity becomes so think you can feel it in your lungs. Then if  thunder and lightning starts, you know rain is definitely heading your way!

The next step for the vivero is to design and build the inside infrastructure. We knew we were going to do raised beds and drip irrigation systems from the start, so we just had to do some final measurements and layout for the raised beds. The raised beds will take up around 2/3 of vivero space, with the other 1/3 for some growing mounds for larger and sprawling plants (i.e. squashes, watermelon, etc).

Raised bed design; not to scale, but gives an idea of the layout.
Hard at work making the raised beds

After a lot of discussion between the owners and I, we decided to ultimately make the raised beds out of concrete block. I was originally planning on making beds out of bamboo, but this decision was not just mine to make. The upside to bamboo is that it’s free (growing on site), a renewable product, and relatively fast to build with. The downfall is that it decomposes quickly, especially in this climate. If we had raised beds out of bamboo they’d have to be re-built every 1-3 years. That was prohibitive to the owners, so we decided on concrete block. There were a lot of spare blocks on-site already from past projects, so it’d be a great way to use those, and purchase the rest we’ll need since they’re not expensive. Concrete blocks also offered the benefit of a sturdy bed structure we will not have to maintain and replace in the future. We’ll also be able to build the beds taller and stronger than with bamboo to allow for easier access to the beds. For me personally, I can bend down to weed and/or harvest the beds. Since we want to include guests and students in the process, a higher bed with a strong edge to sit on will make it extremely easier for some folks to be able to participate in garden activities.

At the same time the raised beds were being made, underground water lines were dug, laid, and pipes put into each bed to set us up for easier installation of the future drip irrigation system. It’s a lot easier to plan ahead and be sure what you want to do than change your mind later. That being said, it’s very important to remain flexible and open to changes when a different idea might better serve you. Thanks for reading! Feel free and add comments or questions in the comments section below!

Framing, string level markers, and placed blocks ready for building

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!