Thursday, July 30, 2020

+++++ 3rd Week - ChangeMakers' Huerto in San Juan Cosala +++++

We continue preparing the soil of our new planting area.

And we continue to plant seeds.

As well as 'plantulas' or starter plants.  Axel and Monica brought some of their
tomato plantulas to add to the garden.

Bradley "Mulch" Mowers donated 4 green cotton trees and Antonio set
to planting and staking these.

My friend Jeanne started black zapote trees from seed 
and we brought a few for the huerto.

Rocio from Huerto Cafe gave us a beautiful Jamaica plant.

Irma's Garden is now providing chiles,


and corn

as well as lovely stripped squash.

My friend Priscilla Taylor from Northern California had the bright idea to donate
some used blinds, which we are repurposing
for plant signage in the huerto.

We have also planted corn in a small area of the huerto.

Everyone seems happy with our efforts.

Pineapple is also in the garden now.

Propietario Francisco and Monica harvesting corn.

My take away harvest....a lovely gift for our table.

Stay turned....and watch us grow!

ChangeMakers Huerto in San Juan Cosala

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

++++++++++++ ChangeMakers in San Juan Cosala +++++++++

Our second week at the ChangeMaker's huerto/garden in San Juan Cosala brought some new
community members who wanted to participate:  Jaime Compatzin and his son.
Jaime and his family own a floral shop in San Juan Cosala, so plants naturally
were or interest to him.  He also wanted to expose his son to a huerto and the art of
growing plants.

Today our lessons were Conscious Garden Design, Seed Germination and Soil

We discussed which plants the group wanted to plant, if they were in need of full sun, partial shade/sun or full shade.  We also discussed if the group wanted a large community garden plot or individual plots.  They unanimously chose a large community garden design.

So we set off to work sectioning off plots of land that would house different food plants.
We would use the found stones as borders for each food plant group.  As we progressed we saw a need for a wheel barrow, but had none.  One of the young ladies of our group said "I'll ask my uncle" and reappeared with a magic wheel barrow that made our stone lugging work much easier.

With our food plant plots identified, we set to work removing weeds and grass.

We spoke of the richness of the soil, not clayey as some other soils we have encountered.
We noticed if there were worms and beetles and other critters in the soil and discussed 
their beneficial attributes to soil.  We spoke of mycelial networks and new found
info on interplant communication via soil mechanisms.  

We spoke of nutrients and minerals and plant transport systems for these.

Then it was time to plant.

Berenjena Plants

We planted heirloom seeds of squash, watermelon, foot long beans, bean pole beans, radishes,
parsnips, tomatillos, jalapenos, bell peppers, 3 types of lettuces, spinach, beets, rainbow carrots
 and lastly cucumbers.

Oh yes!  We also planted 2 Berenjena/Eggplant starters that Monica and Axel brought.

How deep?  How long? How many seeds?  How much distance between plants?
These were the most asked questions when we spoke about
seed germination.

How do seeds germinate?  Under what conditions?

We discussed it all as we worked.

  Axel planting corn

Axel had also brought corn of many colors.  We decided to plant these at the far side of the
plot...allowing them to grow tall and strong without obstructing the view of the shorter plants.

We also spoke of watering needs of the plants. How often to water?  How do you know if a plant needs water or is getting too much?  Do we water now or wait for the rain?

And we also spoke of Mulch.  What can be used for mulch?  Why mulch?  What are the
benefits of mulch to soil and plants?

Since Jaime's flower shop generates a large amount of green waste, he will bring it to the garden
to be reused as mulch and in our compost pile.

 Beginning Compost Area

Then we set aside a corner of the plot for composting.  We will be bringing our compostable
kitchen waste next week.  We spoke of different methods of composting and the benefits and challenges of each of these.

All in all a very productive and informative afternoon.

Watch us grow!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

+++++++++++ Creating Change in San Juan Cosala +++++++++++

Recently I was asked to assist in a new community huerto/garden project in San Juan Cosala.

The organization is ChangeMakers. ChangeMakers is a non-profit organization focusing on empowering girls to become successful in their chosen fields of interest by assisting with education, information, and support. The girls strengthen their communities by sharing their skills and knowledge.

Monica Masini, Program Coordinator for ChangeMakers asked me if I'd be interested in teaching the young ladies of the program organic gardening.  When I learned of ChangeMakers and their goals and mission, I immediately said "yes".

We are about GIRL emPOWERment.  A ChangeMaker is someone who takes creative action to solve a social problem.  Our girls demonstrate that they are motivated to act. They are pathfinders, forerunners and trendsetters.  They develop and create methods to overcome obstacles in their paths to personal and professional success. ChangeMakers was formed to help girls to do exactly that.

ChangeMakers empowers girls to create personal changes and achieve success by providing them with the needed education and tools. The educational programs and support services for the girls are developed by the expat and local Mexican women listening, sharing, and learning from each other. ChangeMakers strives to be culturally aware, sensitive, and respectful of the Mexican communities.

And so we met on a beautiful parcel of land in San Juan Cosala, loaned to us by Irma Remeno Garcia's family.

Our first meeting was one of introduction and vision sharing.

We spoke of past gardening experiences.

We spoke of needed materials and what the young ladies would like to learn.

We spoke of schedules, timelines and work/family responsibilities.

Then we got to work clearing stones and boulders 
from the recently plowed plot of land 
where our sustainable garden work will happen.

We are only now just starting to plant the seeds of knowledge,
hope and change.

We are in need of donations: garden tools, gloves, wheel barrels
...anything you can think of that one
might need in a community garden.

Watch Us Grow!

Friday, July 10, 2020

++++++++++++ Viveroing In The Time Of Covid-19 ++++++++++

As most of you know Brad and I have been visiting the Vivero La Esperanza in San Juan Tecomatlan de los Chiles Verdes since March 2020, once a week in late evenings, taking a van load of water in garafones to water the existent plants.

One of the new plant additions to the vivero is that of white, brown and green cotton trees.

Brad's Cotton Trees

During the spring I noticed house sparrows taking strands of Brad's cotton bolls in their beaks
to their nests, preparing the nurseries for the babies.

One amazing find was a hummingbird's nest made entirely of cotton fiber. 
It is a marvel to behold, truly a master weaver's work.

This week, in addition to water (just in case the rains had not reached San Juan Tecomatlan) we brought out Brad's new tool rack for the vivero bodega.  He custom made the rack to fit inside
the family the transport was effortless.

Brad worked his magic and lickity split the bodega was organized.

With our rainy season now officially started I decided to clear a small bed
and plant pumpkins, squash, cilantro, basil, watermelon, radishes.

True to his name and nature, Brad "Mulch" Mowers started mulching.
We finished our planting bed prep just as the raindrops began to fall.

 Our germination table plants have been growing nicely, and now with the rain
they will be even happier.

I've also been isolating and cooking quite a lot at home and was inspired 
by the garden/vivero to make a 

Phyllo Mediterranean Veggie Pizza 

It was a welcome treat.

May we be able to see light, even in the darkest of times.