Sunday, July 21, 2019

++++++++++ 2 Steps Forward ++ and One Step Back +++++++++

This week at the Vivero La Esperanza has been a trying week.  We discovered that someone has been entering the Vivero and haphazardly cutting our plants.  In addition, we discovered our logo lona missing.  A stray horse found its way into the Vivero and ate a few plants.  A few mischievous children have been trampling my maiz plants.  This along with the wicked winds during the rain storms has dropped our spirits a few notches.

But just as we do every week with our shade cloth cover, we pick up the pieces and move forward.  The rains have started in San Juan Tecomatlan and the kids in the garden have switched from watering duty to weeding duty...the growth of plants is amazing once the constant rains begin.

Our Maestra Mino talked about the Keyhole Garden and its needs and benefits....we added compostable food scraps to the center to start the compost process.

As we walked the very clayey and muddy garden we spoke of reasons for development (or lack of) of our produce and what would be needed now in the rainy season to continue our harvesting.

Little by little we harvested as we walked and soon had a bounty!

Jayden was very happy with his eggplant.

Our Musk Melon was ready for harvest as well.

Mino took the reins for distribution of our food harvest.  Everyone took home a piece of the Vivero.

I also had prepared a special treat....Vivero Harvest Soup, from the produce of the garden...
I think it was a hit, as it disappeared quickly.

Anita Torres Guerrero paid us a visit and asked for a cabbage.

Other visitors today were Karen Rowell, Treasurer of the Lake Chapala Garden Club (LCGC).  Karen arrived and gave us a donation from of the Lake Chapala Garden Club.  The LCGC have been one of the main supporters of this project.  Thank you Karen and all the LCGC!

Visitors Faye and Richard also purchased Kale and Swiss Chard from the garden.

We also were given donations of a bag of yarn and extra fabric, along with some 
bigger plastic pots from Marilyn Primm.  Thank you Marilyn.

The Universal Unitarian Church also gave us a donation.  Our friend Joan Ward has been coordinating this effort...thank you Joan.

And a special Gracias goes out to our steadfast volunteers, the people of San Juan Tecomatlan
and the others who support and fuel this project.

We could not do this without your efforts.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

+++++++++ Rainwater Catchment and Keyhole Garden +++++++++

Some days at Vivero La Esperanza are magical, some days are surprising, others are was one of those days that encompassed all the above mentioned.

Rainwater Catchment System

While the children and I focused on cleaning and organizing our storage space and weeding our garden beds, our Maestros Brad "Mulch" Mowers and Felipe Gerard Contreras were busy inventing a rainwater catchment system.

Made of harvested bamboo and twine, along with a lona, the structure soon took shape.

These two individuals are great engineers and soon had the whole thing figured out.

Now when the rains arrive at our Vivero, the water captured by gravity and the hand built system will help fill our well.

Keyhole Garden

Another dream of ours was to show the children different methods of growing food plants.  One of the most popular is the Keyhole Garden, and our Maestra Mino lead the charge.

A keyhole garden is a two meter wide circular raised garden with a keyhole-shaped indentation on one side. The indentation allows gardeners to add uncooked vegetable scraps, greywater, and manure into a composting basket that sits in the center of the bed. In this way, composting materials can be added to the basket throughout the growing season to provide nutrients for the plants. The upper layer of soil is hilled up against the center basket so the soil slopes gently down from the center to the sides. Most keyhole gardens rise about one meter above the ground and have walls made of stone. The stone wall not only gives the garden its form, but helps trap moisture within the bed.

 Bricks arrive

A design is taught and the plan drawn out.

Soon the base of the garden takes shape.

Taking a pause to review the work, the initial design is deemed too unstable, so it is back to the drawing board.

A new, more secure design is attempted.

Everyone agrees that this design is better.

Our mesh basket is created and placed in the center of the keyhole shape.


Now it is time to start building the layers of the growing medium.
First cardboard is layered.

Than a layer of newspaper is applied.

Our horse manure has been composting and is ready for the planting bed.

Then a layer of ficus leaves is placed on top of the manure.

And finally a layer of soil and compost is placed on top.

Our new garden is ready for planting.

We had a most amazing insect visitor this morning...can anyone identify this fantastic creature?

One of our greatest joys is being able to harvest the food we grow.  

Mino taught the children the correct way to harvest without injuring the plant.

We all agreed that today's harvest would be for Vivero Veggie Soup, that I will prepare and
bring next Saturday for a taste testing.

Here is to a plentiful, rich harvest and rainy season.

Thank you, as always to our wonderful volunteers and the people of
San Juan Tecomatlan for hosting our Vivero.

Monday, July 8, 2019

++++++++++++ Moms, Birthdays and Anniversaries ++++++++++++

Mom in Puerto Vallarta

On my birthday and anniversary my Mom comes to Mexico to spend my birthday week with me.  This year was no exception and the familia always gathers around her.

My Mom loves the ocean, so she usually arrives in Puerto Vallarta for a few days of R & R before heading to Tlaquepaque to see the family.  My lil' sis Alice, my cousins Martha and Victor accompanied us this trip.

Mom and I swam everyday.  She chose the beach, we ate seafood freshly caught and
were both in heaven.


Cousin Gina from Autlan, Tia Ninfa and second cousin Sofi from Tlajomulco, Mom and Alice

A few quick days at the beach and then it was time to arrive in Tlaquepaque, where the family awaited my Mom Rebecca's arrival.

Where there is familia there is food....and fruit is one of my Mom's the table was spread with mamey, mango, guanabana, guayaba.  Just add limon y sal y chile and we have a party.

This year Mom choose El Abajeño Restaurant for my birthday comida or lunch.

A table for 40 isn't any easy thing to create, but Mexico rises to the occasion.

Soon the family gathered and we all started visiting, eating, drinking and sharing each other's stories.

Stories are my favorite part of our family gatherings for you see, there is always something new to learn about my family's past, small details that don't seem important to one may be the jewel that another treasures.

Oh yes!  There was also cake, courtesy of my Cousins Martha and Victor.

 2 "Chachos"

La India Maria

 Mom and Cousin Hector

 My cousin Claudia and my Mom have a special bond.  Claudia is the youngest of 12 children and was sponsored by my parents at University.  A psychologist she has offered to help me in San Pedro Itzican and environs.

San Juan Tecomatlan

Confetti Fco.

My family gathering now a beautiful memory, the next day was my birthday celebration at our Vivero La Esperanza.  The children of our vivero wanted to share my birthday so we planned a gathering in the garden.  Upon arrival they asked me to take off my hat.  I innocently did so and was showered with confetti to celebrate.

We had spoken about decorations for the festivities and decided against balloons.   I mentioned once that we could make decorations out of paper, that can then be composted.  They did a stellar job.

Ruth surprised us all with an amazing cake, baked by one of the town's women.

And my recycled and home made banner was the icing on the cake!

Doña Maria Elena, our vivero godmother, prepared a gelatina in my yummy!

Even though rain has been scarce, our crops grow....berengena or eggplant was found.

Our calabaza plant was thriving and beautiful.

Felipe had an impromptu class and kept the kids entertained.

Then it was time to eat!  Our menu: Turkey Dogs, Agua Fresca de Jamaica, Gelatina and Cake.

After comida Anita and the Brigadistas from San Pedro Itzican arrived.  They had prepared a special treat...a blessing ceremony for our garden and for my birthday.

The kids rehearsed a bit.

After the opening of our sacred circle and blessing from the elements, I was asked to step into the center of the circle.

I was given the honor to participate, basking in the lovely energy of intent and beauty.


 Job finds a rabano.

 So much joy is created in our garden.

 Maestros at Rest

New corn plants

 Pepino on the way

The amazing thing about our dance troupe from San Pedro Itzican is that they are just recently formed and taught.  The children of San Juan Tecomatlan had never experience this ritual.


We spoke of the ritual's age, its significance, its importance to our our memory.

The kids were mesmerized.

As the morning progressed, gifts materialized....I was given 3 pairs of socks.  What a wonderful gesture.

Anita Torres Guerrero is the soul and brainchild of our group.  She was proud of our kids and their presentation that day.

We kept celebrating our Vivero, our efforts, the support of the community, the beauty of our work.

What a perfectly wondrous day!

Gracias to the town of San Juan Tecomatlan for allowing us to have our Vivero,
to the San Pedro Itzican Brigadistas and dance troupe,
to all our constant volunteers,
to Mother Earth for protecting us, giving and showing us the way.

May your gardens grow and grow and grow,
be they plant based or otherwise.