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Container Gardening in Mexico

Container Gardening in Mexico

Omar prepares the beds...

Omar prepares the beds...

A new project–container gardening in Mexico. Although I suspect we will spend about ten times what we would to buy veggies in Wal-Mart, the lure of fresh baby beets and carrots and vine-ripe tomatoes is irresistable. Plus it’s fun–we love to see plants grow!

June 21, 2007

As if we need more plants. We may be eating bean tacos toward the end of the week, but we always manage to drag home something new from the nurseries.

We started by putting rolled grass in the front yard. The developer had delivered the house with rolled grass, but it was the dry season and before the water pipes were hooked up for our block, so the yard immediately curled up its toes and died.

Once we had water we bought grass and laid it out in the yard. The moment it started looking good we tore it up for two, and later three, flower gardens.

We made the back patio into a greenhouse for orchids, bromeliads, and carnivorous plants.

We rescued the park, and planted trees and vines. Omar discovered bonsai and cut everything back to 6 inches high. I barely saved the cactus from his shears.

After all this plant fever, I shouldn’t have been surprised when Omar wanted a vegetable garden—hydroponics, no less—on the roof. Out we went to buy seeds.

After looking at pumps and PVC pipe and pH testing kits, we decided that container gardening would be just fine. We would use soil-less mix (ProMix, developed at Cornell just before I got there in the 1970’s) and water-retaining polymers, to make the project space age and cool. Cool is definitely a requirement in all our projects. (In re-reading this I realize how quaint and outdated and, well, 1960’s “space age” sounds. When did that happen? What do they say now, “YouTube Age?”  “Tweets-time?”).

We went to a plastic store outlet and bought “milk carton” boxes made from recycled plastic—they were less than $5 each. We bought our ProMix at Home Depot (our second home) for $20 a bale. Seeds are tough to find here—there isn’t the selection you would find in the states. We finally ended up going to a farm supply store downtown.

Omar lines the milk crate with heavy black plastic

Omar lines the milk crate with heavy black plastic

Omar lined the boxes with black plastic, slit on the bottom for drainage.  We needed the lining because the milk boxes have openings in the sides.  On the bottom of each box went volcanic rock (scoria) for drainage, and then the boxes were filled with ProMix to which about a tablespoon of polymer was added.  The polymer comes in the form of crystals about the size of large grains of sand.  Upon meeting up with water, the crystals swell and grow until they are about a half-inch across and feel like gelatin.  The great thing about them is they release water to the plants as the mix dries.  Although they look just like clear Jell-o, they don’t go bad or break down.

Adding volcanic rock for drainage

Adding volcanic rock for drainage

The crate filled with ProMix and ready to plant

The crate filled with ProMix and ready to plant

About a week later, we have romaine lettuce, tomatoes (two varieties), beets, carrots, parsley, and cilantro seedlings coming along.  Only a few of the spinach babies are up, and the red and white onion seedlings are taking their time.  We also planted shallots and cloves of garlic, which are showing green sprouts.

Now that it is rainy season, we don’t need to water.  Everything looks green and nice.

We’ll let you know how our container garden in the Tropics experiment turns out.  Stay tuned!

Dan and Omar

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Categories

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.