Thursday, February 27, 2020

Vivero Viviente

As is usual, we start our Saturday morning Vivero sessions with a meeting to organize our work day.

Weekly Watering Schedule Review

We start with picking up a week's worth of trash from inside and in front of the Vivero.  I'm happy to report that each week there seems to be less trash to pick up, a good sign that people are respecting the Vivero a bit more.

We are focusing on potting cutting donations in preparation for our April 25th Plant Sale.

Maintenance and organization are key to being able to work effectively.
Today we decided to clean out and reorganize our storage areas.

One of the many pleasures of being part of the Vivero crew is working with wonderful in point new volunteer Elaine Robinson.

Our anti-gallina structures have proved to be a great success, so Dr. Lalo and the 
Brigadistas continue to produce as many as possible.

Our scientist, Felipe brought his Weed-O to help speed up weeding.

And Priscilla is now bringing coffee ground donations from Dharma Cafe for our compost pile.

When we opened the container we found a slime mould, not a fungus at all but a type of amoeba that feeds on the bacteria growing on rotten wood or mulches that have not been completely composted. Slime moulds may form yellow, pink, or orange colored patches on mulch. These last for a day or two, then turn brown and dry up. Although unsightly they are not harmful."

We found another surprise when we lifted the tarp to the compost pile.  One of our resident gallinas had created a nest and laid 6 beautiful light Tiffany blue eggs.  So as not to encourage chickens in our garden, we took the eggs home.

Julianna's garden has been kissed by the temperature change and is growing quickly.
So much so, that she has had to transplant plantulas to a new bed.

The Keyhole Garden continues to evolve.  Design challenges are met with experimental attempts, sometimes needing redoing....we'll get there!

And we'd like to give a shout out to Allan MacGregor and Barbara Hildt for their recent donation, which allowed us to purchase much needed compost/soil for our fervent potting efforts.
Muchas Gracias!

At the end of the day our efforts help feed the community.

In San Pedro Itzican and San Juan Tecomatlan we also hold English Classes on Sundays.

Our wood burning oven is churning out delicious pizzas now.  We can't keep them in stock...
they fly out of the oven and are purchased as soon as they are made.

We also hold primary education classes (basic reading, writing and math) for the townsfolk
who have not gone to school.  This is an amazing opportunity to get your primary school education certification.

And lastly, I saw a vision of my ideal vehicle in Ajijic...someday I'll have one just like it.

A continued thanks to all the angels who help make our efforts possible.

I feel Spring in the air.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

++++++++++++ Steve Knoll, The Silent Gardener ++++++++++++

Have you ever wondered how our kiosko/gazebo/plaza gardens in Ajijic stay blooming and beautiful throughout the year?  I have, knowing how little resources the pueblo of Ajijic has to go around.

The answer is Steve Knoll, The Silent Gardener.

Steve has been in the Ribera area for 7 years now.  He has been a groundskeeper, florist,
B & B farmer and now Plaza Beautifier.

Steve, like most gardeners in town, works with a minimal number of tools, very little allotted time,
no working irrigation and without a budget for any new plant material.

"I do it for the love of horticulture and figure what better way to 
put a small smile on the faces of many."

I first met Steve Knoll at a garden group meeting in May 2019.  Steve expressed an interest in seeing our Vivero project in San Juan Tecomatlan and came out to Vivero La Esperanza. 

 Steve offered his truck and help and we immediately sent him, with the local youth Brigade to collect horse manure for our gardens.  He did not hesitate and soon was off to complete the chore.

From Steve

Pablo, the owner of the Jardín Plaza restaurant is a friend and my landlord, and supporter of my plaza beautification. He gives me free reign and pays for my plant and pot supplies that I use at the Jardín Plaza restaurant.  About a year and a half ago I decided on my own to work at beautifying the plaza/gazebo area. There were 8 large pots already in place around the gazebo, with an assortment of very sad, pathetic plants.  The entire plaza upon close inspection, from a horticultural perspective, was a nightmare.  I checked into it a little bit, seems the garden club poured money and effort into the entire plaza in 2014.  But as with so many horticultural programs, it’s all about budgeting and managing for maintenance, upkeep and a continual inflow of new plant material. 

Since I’ve been around none of these exist.  

The first year I maintained only the eight 30” pots, with about half containing permanent greenery and 1/2 more colorful material that I rotate as it has a short lifespan in a public/high traffic pedestrian area. I’ve grown accustomed to always discovering new varieties that have the ability to. “walk away”.  I expanded last year to decorating the gazebo itself for Christmas with 6000 lights, poinsettias, and other decorations.  The last few months I've been adding an additional 8 pots and am beginning to conquer the large, sad, garden zones around the gazebo. 

I’ve had a few donors, unfortunately the largest contributor cannot continue to contribute $.  And over time I have received a few donations from others.  I’ve personally spent $25,000 pesos on this endeavor.  To a degree I don’t mind because of the joy it brings to the townspeople, but to continue my plans for the larger garden areas I need support in funds.  Since it benefits the businesses to have a beautiful plaza also, I would think their support would be evident, but other than the Jardín Plaza restaurant and the Dollar Store no one has offered.

I do often tip the existing gardeners for their extra help when I do pruning and a clean up. Also, I use a few of the street kids to assist me and buy them lunch and pay them an adult wage, again out of my pocket. And occasionally I get a few contributions from onlookers. I’ve been ambitious.

These last few months I’ve put in 100’s of new plants; hibiscus, asst sage, allium, ferns, hydrangea, and am trying to use lower maintenance, drought tolerant plants.  But as any gardener here in the semi tropical/ temperate/ dry 6 months/ inconsistent rainy 6 month/ bugs/ disease prone/ lack of quality soil environment can tell you, it’s a lot of maintenance, watering, fertilizing (a very expensive commodity down here as the costs of soil amendments are high).  Peat moss is $30 u.s per bale, Vermiculite and Miracle Grow another $60 u.s. which is also necessary for any attempt
at container growing.

I drive monthly from Chapala to Joco and buy what looks great at a reasonable price. I don’t plan as I have no tolerance for seeking out any specific plants. My wallet is my guide!!! I have a natural ability to design my gardens on the spot with the knowledge in my head and the plants at my feet.

Steve needs our support.

Won't you consider providing resources to his beautification cause?

If so, please contact Steve at

or you can send an email to Fco. at

We all thank you for your generous contributions.

Fco. y Steve


+++++ Allot Is Going On At Poco A Poco San Pedro Itzican +++++

San Pedro Itzican

Brigada Office Facade

Our Brigada office received a new fact lift.  We had all our logos and identifying
info painted on the facade by a local artists.

Office Garden Plantulas

Anita's office garden grows and grows.  The cuttings/starter plant program is generating
plants and income toward general funds for all the programs.  
All the work is done by the local townsfolk.

Paty Weaving Palm Chair

Paty, originally from Nayarit state,  will be taking over the Medical Office coordination soon.  She also showed us her skills at palm weaving.  The idea is to have the chairs woven
for use and sale in the town. 

Jewelry Class

Doris Wakeman continues teaching the local women's jewelry cooperative
new techniques and skills.
Literacy Class

We saw a need for basic literary skills (reading and writing) in Spanish in the town
and responded with the creation a our Literacy Class.  Maestro Fernando Baltazar, is our teacher and teaches twice a week.  He comes from Poncitlán. His plan is a one-year program and he will be able to give the students their primary school certificates upon class completion.

Knitting Class

Kari Higgins, along with volunteer Elaine Robinson, continued our knitting classes.

Knitty Kitty

Anita fell in love with one of the knitted products.

Food Despensa Pantry

Our food program, FoodShare, continues to provide sustenance to many families in the area, 
as well as to the families of renal patients.  As this is an immediate need, funds and dontions
of foodstuffs are always welcome.

Appreciation/Thank You Card

The youth of the town decided to acknowledge our efforts and created Thank You
cards...Doris was the first recipient.

Harvesting Bamboo

Bamboo Boys

Our Vivero La Esperanza, in San Juan Tecomatlan, is creating "anti-gallina" structures made of bamboo, so we go a-harvesting when we need the material.  Thank you to Doris and Peter Wakeman for allowing us to harvest on their property.

Vivero La Esperanza
(San Juan Tecomatlan)

Metal Structure/Hot House

In preparation for a major donation of Bromeliads we resurrected the repaired
2nd metal structure to be used as a temporary hot house, in preparation for our next 
Plant Sale in April, 2020

Jimmie's Bromeliads

Our dear friend, Jimmie Prather donated close to 200 bromeliad plants to our Vivero
to support our efforts.  Gracias Jimmie!

Structure Up

Anti-Gallina Bamboo Structures

We resolved our "stray horse in the garden" issue and now work to resolve our gallina intrusions
by creating bamboo structures to protect our seedings and plantulas.

Dr. Lalo also took the opportunity to teach the youth a bit of geometry
and math in resolving size and design issues.

From concept to creation, the team of "Hormigitas" worked beautifully together.

We also found that the local chickens liked our garden so much that they made a nest and laid eggs in the Vivero.  To discourage their proliferation, we took the eggs home....they were yummy!


Everything gets used in the Vivero.   Gracias Maestro Brad for the jade plant
cuttings.  They were turned into potted plants settling in for the plant sale.

Jimmie's bromeliad cuttings and plants were potted as well.

As watering is key to a successful garden, we update our watering schedule 
for February and March.


We saw evidence of horse droppings (again!) and figured out where the wayward
equine was getting into our a makeshift solution (door) was made and is working
well to keep our grazer out.


The kids also wanted to thank Jimmie for her generous donation of plants.

Carlos Alfredo got right to work.

It is through kind and generous donations that our efforts and garden thrive.

Thank you to all our steadfast supporters.

See you at our plant sale on April 25th, 2020
in Riberas Del Pilar.