Saturday, March 11, 2006

Chacala and Gardening

Chacala has a really different gardening climate than what I am used to in the US. I was gardening in Zone 5 and 6 in the US for almost 40 years and this is probably zone 16 or something. Never colder than 64 or so, and never hotter than mid ninties with rain and alot of humidity from late June thru early October. I am not sure about those temperature numbers because I only occasionally have a thermometer, but I think that's about right.

My current landlady here in Chacala, Esparanza, and her daughter -in-law, Henia, are both flower gardeners and we have been sharing plants and seeds during my stay here. On Thursday I went to the La Penita street market and got some plants. mostly for 20 pesos, about 1.85USD each. When I got home we divided up the plants and took cuttings and we all ended up with a bunch of new stuff. Very satisfying.

I am focusing on succulent type plants, plus the things I see other people growing here.
I think I might be gardening closer to the actual ocean water than anyone else in town, and I am worried about the impact of the salt water and constant breeze, but so far, everything is looking okay. I have been buying three gallon plastic buckets with handles for about 90 cents US. They are cheaper than the crappy plastic pots and the beautiful clay pots they have here and they seem to work okay. I have started lots of plants from seed, including coleus and morning glory vines, and they are doing okay. I was surprised about the coleus but so far they look good.

Yesterday Henia and I took the wheelbarrow over to the little streambed near Marde Jade and dug up some soil. Both Henia and Esperanza tested the soil by smelling it. We brought Henia's three month old, Wendy, and her two year old son Markito, and Esparanza's 6 year old, Carlos along. We had the wheelbarrow, with Carlos driving, and Henia pushing a stroller with the baby and Markito reading on the front wheel. Nice little walk. Felt like we were a little parade.

This morning I moved plants around and kind of mixed up the soil from three different sources: one of the La Penita nurseries, a local field, and the heavy soil from yesterday. Looks pretty good. We'll have to see how the transplanting goes. I have been starting plants by taking cuttings and sticking them in the dirt, and most of them are successful. Also mostly they are at Aurora's, because of the salt water air here.

I think Las Brisas wins the prize for the nicest plants/garden at a restaurant here in Chacala, and the Mirador and Aurora's tie for gardens at rentals. And then both of Berta's gardens at her house and at Casa Pacifica are REALLy really nice. Just my opinion of course.

The focus around Chacala is still on Semana Santa, about April 8th thru the 22 or so. New ramadas for rent on the beach, old ramadas on the beach road are being spiffed up, and some of the rentals than normally only rent for Easter Week are now being cleaned up, etc. Esparanza and her husband have build a new ramada for me for the two weeks of Semana Santa. It's more private and back away from all the families and stuff. We'll see how it goes I guess.

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