Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Last Days at my Summer Garden in Chacala

Today, Ginger's are my Numero Uno plant, since my true heart's delight, the Desert Roses, are just starting a new blossoming cycle, and aren't too earth-shattering at the moment.

A couple of the little local boys were walking along the paved road with me a few days ago.We were on the way to check out the new addition to their house. The homeowner has already moved into the new, left side, although the roof is off on the old side and not yet built on the right side. But people in Chacala are very flexible and tolerant of weather related changes. The new part is on the left, and the old part on the right. The lot is very narrow, about 18 meters maybe.
I had my camera, and was taking photos of the boys. Osvaldo ran over to this plant, and wanted me to take some photos of his precious little face, next to the blossoms. What an interesting mind that child has. Very original and dramatic. This was the plant, growing in the "yard " of a batchelor fisherman, who is also the town bellringer and fireworks display person on many occasions. Anyway, I had never noticed this plant before, even though it's only about five feet off the paved road.
He, Juan, came out to talk with us. He told me it wasn't planted there, next to the barbed wire fence. It has just grown wild there. He didn't have a name for it.

Later: Brenda (of the blog Brenda and Roy Going to Mexico) , and then Robert Brinkmann, identified the plant as a Plumeria rubra, aka frangiapani. Robert says I can grow my own by sticking cuttings in the ground. Which I intend to do.
Because of the lighting condition and my general photographic incompetence, the kid photos didn't turn out. These shots aren't so great either. I am hoping someone will tell me what the plant is.I will be moving away from this housesitting house in a couple of weeks. It's hard to leave the plants I have been taking care of, some of them for three long summers now.
So I have been been doing some weeding, and tidying up around the few domesticated plants that are growing the ground around this house: ginger, handkerchief. Saying goodbye for now I guess.
The gingers are especially appealing to me. They are a new plant for me. When I lived in the nasty world of Zone 5, i brough some starts back from Hawaii but there never did well. Probably
because it was often -10F at night, and cold in the house too. Maybe 45 degrees on a cold night. Anyway, I love the color of these blossoms. I tried taking a photo from above but it didn't turn out very well.The two Hibiscus plants that live in pots on the teraza here are both ill with a disease that has spread all over Jalsico and Nayarit states. But it's blossoming, and I want the landlady to make the decision about what to do with the plants. And to actually see the disease so she'll recognize it next time.
The portulaca is coming with me. I gave all the other portulaca's away, but this one is so lovely I had to keep it. I love the color. Actually, it looks different from most Portulacas so it might really be something else. Like a Lacaporta.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Packing up My Stuff

Mid-November I will be moving to my winter abode here in Chacala. I am feeling kind of anxious about packing up, and leaving the house just like it was when the owners left six months ago. This house is alway clean and tidy, but it's different when the owner is coming back after six or seven months. Especially in a buggy, insect-filled environment with endless windy rainstorms and a leaky roof.

Today I brought my rolling suitcases upstairs from the bodega/storeroom, and started thinking about making some kind of order out of my moving process. Which I did, I think.

But now, I am sidetracked. I got into taking peculiar (not on purpose) photos of some my my stuff. I have a few favorite things besides plants. Including my gardening tools: clippers, pruners, and a trowel.And some of my artsy-crafty stuff.And my four favorite books. (Actually I also have some learning Spanish books too, but they are definitely not my favorite books.)And a little dish of playthings for visiting kids.
And some of my favorite pieces of fabric.And my most valuable possession, my trusty Apple iBookG4. I I haven't figured out how to take a picture of the camera. Oh, I could take a picture of it, post it on the ocmputer, and then take a picture of the picture of the camera on the computer. Totally ridiculous. In fact, this whole post is ridiculous, but it was fun doing it.

It's kind of a relief to see the sum total of my possession in one place. I don't have that much stuff. In my mind I had collected truckloads of miscellaneous whatever. But really, it's not that bad. Especially with alot of the plants gone.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My Little Chacala Vivero

When I returned my visit to the nurseries/viveros of San Miguel de Allende, I didn't have enough pots for the new plants I brought home with me. So a lot of the smaller plants, plus some cuttings I got in SMA, ended up in crowded into buckets. But soon I will (I hope) get some of my buckets back from the Plant Giveway. And I still have two gunny sacks full of very nice soil. Then I will be able to sort things out a little better. The bucket below has a oleander cutting stuck in it. It doesn't seem to be bothering the other plants. At least not so far.
I am still out of English-language fiction books, with which I like to mindlessly fritter away my evenings. So I am still reading and re-reading my two books about Succulents and various other Tropicals. There is so much to learn. I get nervous when I read the Garden Message Boards. Those people know so much more than I do, I feel like an idiot when I read some of the things they write about.These two trays the last of my babies, the rest have moved onto other gardens or other pots here at home.

I keep forgoting to move these trays back from under the drip-line from the veranda roof.
We are now waiting out Hurricane Paul, our third or fourth Hurricane/Tropical Storm alert this season. Last night the Harbor Master had all the fisherman move their boats out of the water, just in case. The remmants the boats destroyed by Hurricane Kenna, in late 2003, are still scattered around the town. Some are still being repaired or rebuilt or salvaged, even today. Some of them are just relaxing in the weeds.

Paul seems to be even with us right now, latitude-wise, but is so far out in the Pacific Ocean the expectation, last I checked, was it would hit lower Baja Califoria and then Sinoloa/ Matzatlan. But you knever know until it actually happens.

My Plants, Waiting to Move to Our New Home

Since I winnowed out my plants, giving away the ones that might not care for salty beach air on the Chacala Playa, two things happened. First, it's possible I might stay somewhere else this coming winter, further from the ocean. And second is that I have more time to enjoy these sweet plants, and to start new cuttings. I think, without realizing it, I had gotten carried away with having some many buckets of plants, maybe fifty. And many with multiple plants in one pot. At the moment, I am enjoying the smaller collection.

And third, I am having mixed feelings about the care some of my ex-plants are getting. I think I will take some photos, in a few days. Maybe this afternoon, when everyone in town with be at the perenegracion and Missa for San Rafael. And then the barbeque and Talent Show, and dance.
These three photos (above) show most of the plants I still have in my little movable garden.
I love this little plant. It seems to be very prolific. I bought it at the little cacti section at Soriana in Tepic. Soriana is sort of like Wal-Mart, but with a much larger and more creative variety of stuff. Plus Soriana surrounds itself with lots of little shops and food stalls, and it's
fun to shop there.

When I bought this plant for 15 pesos, maybe 1.35US, there were three stems. Everyone who saw the little guy wanted a piece of it, and I quickly ended up with one stem. I know that's not what it's called , but whatever.... And it's grown back quickly, in maybe three months.

I only have four (three photos below) Desert Rose plants left right now, in three different sizes, plus a few babies. But I am getting ready to start some new babies, and we'll see what happens. They are also very popular. Everyone wants one. The blossoms are so gorgeous. And as long at they have direct sun for five or six hours and the dirt is watered regularly they seem to be happy. Cross my fingers.
This Desert Rose (Adenium Obesium) started as a cutting late last spring. This is its first or second blossom.I like these two spikey plants (Above and below). The.....had eight little cousins, all who have gone on to other gardens.
I feel so lucky to be able to grown the plants I always craved in Zone 5. Like these plants, and Bouganvillea, and Hisbiscus, and Ginger, and many others. The climate is wonderful for plants here. The hillsides and roadways are starting to blossom out, and everything looks so green and lovely.

I guess I should miss the Fall Color and the freezing nights of up North, but so far, I don't. I do miss harvesting my carrots, beets, potatoes, and apples for winter. And canning tomatoes and fruit. But that's life at 22 N latitude.

Around Chacala, Flowers and Gardens

I started out this morning thinking I would tidy up my Chacala photo collection on the computer, and get rid of pictures I don't really like. And then take some photos of my little bitty garden, for a post for today. I am worried my laptop with get filled up with pictures. I don't know if that's possible, but it seems likely.

But deleting photos is hard to do, and I ended up saving a few and stashing them here, on this post.

This pink hibiscus is in Esparanza's beach garden, sort of. It blossoms alot, and they are very large blossoms. This state, Nayarit, and the next one, Jalisco (home of Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta) has a disease problem currently with Hisbiscus plants.

I can't remember the name of the disease, but there are service crews that come into a town and search out every hisbiscus plant they can find and inspect it, and possibly spray it. Then, theoretically they return later. And either okay the plant as clean, or destroy it. As far as I know they haven't come back to Chacala. I have the impression that plants growing in the ground don't tend to get the disease. But that could just be a rumor.
This is the guest palapa at Mirador, a small rental complex, six units. It overlooks the ocean directly below, and is surrounded by trees and flowering shrubs. Which are hard to see from this view.
Wild flowers, growing everywhere this time of year: Coral Vine and some kind of
Opoema/Morninglory, I think.
The view looking up to Mirador from the Malecon (walkway) along the oceanfront. Isreal, who owns Mirador with his wife Chata/Inez, is a professional gardener and this is one of his gardens. Its lovely year round, and always looking healthy and colorful. It's about 12 feet from the ocean.
This is my pet butterfly, sunbathing and snacking on one of the Bouganvilleas around the front patio. I call him/her Bogie, short for Bouganvillea.This is one of the little two-legged flowers of Chacala, with her pet (dead) Crocodile.
Vero's Rose Garden in front of her home is about thirty feet from the ocean. It's amazing how well they grow considering they get about two hours of sun a day, maximum.
Senna (Senna olligophylla) is blossoming all over the hills and roadsides right now, and probably for another month or two. Based on my reading, I have started some cuttings, just for fun. I was thinking of trying to keep them pruned into small, blossom-laden shrubs. Which sounds like an exercise in futility, but I am curious, yellow.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Making Tortilla the Chacala Way

Probably everyone remembers La Gringa's post about making tortillas in Honduras. This is my friend and beach landlady, Esparanza, making tortillas, this morning. Most days, however, one of the Tortilla Boys comes zipping up on his moto, with a load of tortillas in the cooler strapped on his bike. Always just in time for breakfast and then again about 2pm, for lunch.
But on the days when no Tortilla Boys show up, Esparanza starts her outdoor fire, and goes to work. As the only woman in a household of between 4 and 7 men, she makes a lot of tortillas. Luckily two of her boys and her daughter are at University, so there's usually only her husband and the three sons still living at home. Plus two next door with their wives.
The stove is made of bricks piled loosely on top of each other until they are waist high. A very very smokey set-up. The cooker is a piece of curved, concave painted metal.
This is the tortilla dough, and the tortilla press.Esparanza rolls up little balls of dough, and used the tortilla press to make uniform tortillas.And cooks them over the fire....
This is Esparanza's youngest son, Carlito, who is seven or eight.
He was helping her this day, with the firewood.Just so you know, the tortilla cooking area is outside, and separate from where Esparanza cooks meals in her indoor, but open, kitchen.
The brick fireplace is surrounded by her garden, and occasionally a truck or two.