Butternut Squash!!!!

We harvested and ate some of the butternut squash that the bad squirrel did not eat….it came back one day wih a friend,  Sigh…I have plans to build a large screened in growing area for the sensitive plants.  At least we got to enjoy these 2 and we have more almost ready to harvest, woot!

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3 Sisters and Fungus Among Us!

The 3 sisters are a well known combination of plants that are mutually beneficial; corn, beans and squash.  The corn acts as a support mechanism for the beans, the beans add essential nutrients for the corn and the squash helps keep things shady and weed free.  Win, win and win!  Today we were out weeding a bit in the sister’s area and came acros some mushrooms which I take as a good sign that our soil is alive and teeming with micro goodness.  Woot!

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Fermented Fertilizer in Mexico

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Our land where our house is built was an old family plot used to grow corn.  Stories from Ana and her aunt confirm that this land, and much of the surrounding land was owned by her Grandfather, then sold off or divided among family members.  This plot, roughly 4500 square meters (a little over an acre), was given to Ana’s aunt, and then to Ana.  It is a great honor to live on this land that has been in her family for generations.

The soil is not in the greatest shape though and we are slowly composting, using worm castings, bringing in other soil if needed and letting some of it go fallow in the hopes that wildness and decay will add to the quality of the soil.  Time will tell.

In the meantime; we want to grow vegetables, fruit and flowers.  Having chickens roam about certainly helps as they not only fertilize the soil, they irrigate by digging, eat harmful insects and look cute while strutting about.

I have been researching fermented fertilizer recipes as I read when added to the soil, they can help break up compacted clay soil.  Exactly what we need!

The challenge has been many recipes call for ingredients that are just impossible for us to find as either local stores in our area don’t carry them or we are still unfamiliar with the surrounding towns for availability.  Seriously.  A hunt for something as “simple” as molasses just got silly as people met me with a blank stare.  Finally found out that molasses is considered a waste product from local sugar cane producers and used by pig farmers as feed.  Frustrating.  (We finally found it at a health store in Guadalajara). Plus, since local farmers are not yet into organic practices, we are always told to just go get some chemicals.  Blech.

A few weeks ago, I finally found a recipe that has all the ingredients.  Today I was able to use some of the finished product for some new plants.  Success!  It’s a very simple formula….just rinse water from rice, water, milk and a bit of molasses.  Bokashi rocks. Plus, the chickens LOVED the leftover curds….ate them up quickly.  I think we need to get some barrels to make large batches of this stuff.

The recipe: http://www.hawaiihealingtree.org/how-to-make-your-own-em-1-inoculant-and-bokashi/

Supplemental Food Production

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This first (almost) year living full time in Mexico has been busy.  Currently we are experimenting with different plants and growing conditions for the long haul for more food production.

We have grown and harvested eggs, chicken, 3 varieties of corn for human and chicken food, kale, lettuce, green onions, corn, bananas and beans.  Right now we are growing 3 types of heirloom tomatoes; some are ok and others not so much. One type of garlic took forever to grow to harvest time and another is still growing after 7 months. Cucumbers, sweet corn, butternut squash and cilantro are all growing strong if the darned squirrel will stay away from the squash.

3 sisters have been planted this week (corn, squash and beans all together mixed up helps them all grow stronger with the sharing of nutrients, shading ability and providing stalks to climb).

At best, we are supplementing our diet with fresh, organic items but we are nowhere near to counting a percentage of groceries.  The growing calendar, soil, water quantity, sun and pests are all different here and I have yet to find quality resources to rely on for organic food gardening in Mexico.  Better get networking!

Loving the Squirrel, Hating it’s Behavior

We have a cute, adorable squirrel that sometimes visits our yard.  Ana and I love squirrels and used to feed the big mama one in our previous yard that used to beg for food. So cute.  Last week I was so excited to see small butternut squashes growing on the vines and I looked forward to harvest time.  So did the squirrel.  Not so darned cute anymore.

It’s full on non-lethal war now.  I tried spraying the squash with chili, but the little devil kept coming back, so now I have switched to placing a row cover cloth over the vines and so far (crossing my fingers) that has deterred the little bugger.  A dog would help too…..just sayin.

 

Collecting Seeds From the Garden

It’s easier than you think to collect your own seeds.  I have collected seeds and grown corn, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers….all pretty easy.  Recently our weather turned hotter and my romaine lettuce started to bolt so I let it to see what would emerge.  I read a new blog today that addressed collecting the seed from lettuce and I was delighted to learn ours was ready to harvest!  Here is the blog post if you are curious.

Here are the plants in full “bolt” mode

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And the final result…..seeds.

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Plant Covering, an experiment

Since we are dedicated to raising organic vegetables, we need several ways to keep insects from devouring plants before we get to use them. It’s tough to find ingredients for organic sprays and deterrents so one thing we are trying this season is lightweight row cover cloth to protect our young plants.  My dear friend Judi, brought us some cloth when she visited this Winter, and Ana and I just put it up on the new planting bed.  Let’s see if this works to keep out the critters!  If it works, next year I think I will make additional coverings from some lightweight cotton.

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