Thursday, July 20, 2006

Everyday Gardening in Chacala

I don't know who took this picture of a little papaya tree,
or even if it's in Chacala or not.
Can't remember where it came from.
I went to bed last night with big gardening and weeding plans for today. However, last night was one long, very intense, thunder, lightning, and rainstorm that went on for most of the night. It was so loud and local I couldn’t sleep until I remembered the earplugs Nancy gave me. Then, after 4am, I feel asleep. Didn’t wake up til after 10am. Amazing for me. '

I ended up spending the morning washing off the front patio and the veranda, sweeping up this mornings new collection of dead bugs, and starting to wash the inside floors. Along with a little interneting and some weeding. Then Juan showed up, coming to collect some money due him from the owner of the house where he housesits. He called me from outside. People here never knock of doors. When they come to your house, first, they make subtle noises, or talk to the dogs, or whatever, so you’ll know they are here. Then, if that doesn’t work, they call out your name or hoot or something.

Anyway, when I heard Juan, I went outside. He was weeding the tall grasses that had grown, up around the potted palms in front of the patio while I was in Morelia. He is a very good weeder. I told him to stop, that I was going to do in the morning. But he wouldn’t stop, so I joined in and we zipped through those weeds like human weeding machines. That area is gravel and the soil was wet from the rain, so it’s easy weeding. I found a bunch of vinca babies in the weeds and transplanted them into one of the big pots.

Juan wanted to check out my new plants out on the veranda that faces the ocean, which he can see when he walks about and forth to my nearest neighbor’s house. Berta is the housekeeper gardener over there, and Juan works there quite a bit, painting and spraying mainly.

We went out there to look, and he fell in love with this beautiful red blossomed vine. I bought it about a month ago, and it’s growing like crazy. It really needs to be in the ground, but I want to take it with me to my next living space. We tried to look it up in new book, “Ornamental Plants and Flowers in Tropical Mexico”, skimming thru quickly, but didn’t see it. (Later I checked "Tropical Gardening" from Fairchild, but no luck.) I think it is the same vine as the yellow vine that grows everywhere here, but the leaves look different. I am learing how to identify plants from photos on the internet, but it's still hard for me. Maria calls it "Preciosa", but I doubt it that's it's name.

While we were out on veranda I noticed that all the desert rose plants had lost their flowers over the last five or six days. I thought, “That’s strange, what’s different?” Then I remembered I had pulled all the potted plants in under the varanda roof, so that they wouldn’t dry out while I went to Morelia and Patzcuaro last week, or drown in the runoff from the roof. Berta watered while I was gone. I was just being cautious. But I forgot to move them back out in the half-sun when I got back to Chacala, and all the blossoms dropped off. Not very observant of me.

Anyway, while I was giving Juan the money, and having him sign a little receipt (another little Spanish lesson for me), he noticed the really aggressive vine that is coming up all the bouganvillea vines along the south side of the house.

He insisted on going down and ripping the vines out. I have been afraid to walk around in the now knee-high weeds and grasses because of the creepy little creatures, cangrudos (six inch- across land crabs) that are everywhere these days. Especially hiding under plants. But together we cleaned everything up. He loved the small pruners belonging to the owner of this house. If I ever want to give Juan a gift, it will be some pruners. He really liked them. I did give him the first lime (called lemon here) off the planted lemon tree that by former landlady at this house bought for the house. There are about fiften lemons on a six foot, potted tree. I will taste the next ripe one, but not today.

Then we got into an laughing-type argument around using Round-up on the weeds. I absolutely don’t want to use toxic chemicals except (sometimes) when I am invaded by scorpions, and he thinks I’m nuts. He speaks a little English and we argued in English and Spanish until we both gave up. I am going to look for some Spanish language sites about environmental issues and get him to look at them sometime. Or find a magazine on the subject of garden chemicals.

After Juan left, another neighbor, Maria came back over, looking for starts from the red vine. She had a new name for it, but she can't write, and I couldn't understand what she was saying. After she left I fixed up a new pot for starting plant babies and took cuttings from the Desert Rose (adenum obesum), a jasmine, and from both yellow, red centered hibiscus plants.

Then I divided some portulaca's. Those are big favorities here, and people always are interested in a small plant. The colors of the portucala blossom seem to be fading. I mean the new plants I start from cutting or division. Which fits in with an article I just read about plants changing as you make cuttings, and even divide them. But it might be bad soil nutrition too. Or my general gardening incompetence.

Anyway, other storm is brewing and I want to more some of the plants away from the roof run-off.

No comments: