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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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!

Everything is So Poky in Mexico!

 

Plants, animals, soil, sun, wind, scorpions, bugs…..the whole country is a wild mess of poky stuff, especially in our yet un-tamed yard. We debated on how to make at least one part of our yard comfortable and relaxing while reducing the pokiness of the flora and fauna.

Considerations: Time, cost, materials and effort.  We are getting older so if we want to really enjoy a space, it needs to get done in a timely manner. Besides, I am a bit impatient.  We are retired and on a fixed income but we do have a bit of savings for projects, just a bit.  Effort, like I stated……aging.  I used to pride myself on the ability to re-roof the house and complete other feats of strength but let’s face it…..there is a point when someone needs to be hired to do the strong arming.

Materials:  One cannot simply put down a zeriscape of crushed rock of gravel without inviting a horde of unwanted guests.  Scorpions love to hide out in rocky areas.  Dirt paths get muddy and when dry, the wind blows it into the porch area and then inside the house.  Grass….forget about it.  Too much upkeep, not my style and uses way too much water. Bricks or other stones laid out flat; could have worked but over the long run I was concerned about the poky plants making their way into the gaps.  Concrete is not my best friend but here in Mexico its used a lot so we decided on leveling the front yard and putting in concrete walkways.  A patio area will incorporate our boulders into a seating area and the open areas will be ready for low maintenance plants.

Cutting Shady Trees to get more Shade? What?

So I have written before about the less than ideal neighbor situation…..and the saga continues.  A few weeks back the neighbor teen was standing on our fence looking into our yard talking about what he could see from the view…..he also asked for our wifi password.  Then sent a friend to demand it.  Definately not normal.  Since the view from the roof and fence looks straight into our living room window, we decided to put up a shade cloth immediately which would have several benefits.

First, block their view.  Second, provide shade for our vehicles and chickens.  Third, Ana wants to plant coffee under the shaded area.  Fantastic!  Let’s see if it works.

We needed to dramatically trim the neighbors overhanging trees first to reduce the amount of leaf formation on the shade cloth.  One pic is Ana doing her thing with a machete or whatever it’s called and the other below is looking out our living room window.  We will use all the wood for construction, bonfires and leaves for mulch.  And in case you were wondering…..I have changed all the admin passwords to the 2 modems we have for our house and for Mom’s.

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Vision Emerges in Slow Motion

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Years ago, many years back….I had a small vision of building a small restaurant/B&B in Oconahua.  I figured with the then recent “discovery” of the Palacio de Ocomo it would become a place for tourists, eventually.  Also, it would give us busy body women something to do with our time and all the yummy organic food we would raise.  Plus it would provide some long term living space for friends and family.  I have many ideas in my vision.

Years have since past, and since everything takes so much longer than anticipated, it is still not complete.  Today, however, we had a great event happen!  The doors we ordered back in December finally arrived and were installed.  Hail the Blacksmith!

 

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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Time for Peace and Calm

Time for Peace and Calm

Beach house adventure with Ana, Paul and Dave.  We really needed this short but relaxing trip away to a lovely setting on Puget Sound. Friends Paul and Dave introduced Ana and I to kayaks and with my first try I wondered why it had taken me so long.  Now we are shopping for our own to haul down for fun at the coast.  Anyone know if they sell kayaks in Mexico? That would be the easiest action.

Beer Brewing

 

Alaskan Amber
Alaskan Amber

Ana and I became interested in making beer a few years back but procrastinated on starting the learning adventure until our friend Cliff walked us through the process one step at a time (Thanks Cliff!)  FYI: Cliff has since retired from his city job and started a local brew company on Vashon Island, appropriately named “Cliff’s Beer”  www.cliffsbeer.com/ .  Last year, we brewed up our first ever batch of beer at home.  The quality was acceptable to drink but not quite flavorful in my opinion.  Since it was our first batch, and a test, we ordered the ingredients and equipment off an internet site.  We were not too excited after this first test but with a last Tamale Party on the horizon, we finally visited a local supply shop, “Larry’s” www.larrysbrewsupply.com/ where we purchased fresh ingredients and some more equipment to make the process that much easier. FYI: the folks there are wonderful and extremely helpful.  We got a personal tour and assistance from one of the granddaughters of Larry (it’s a family business); she is wonderful and oh so sweet! 

In March we brewed up a 2nd batch using the recipe for “Alaskan Amber”; this time it was delicious and was consumed with tamales!  Fresh, quality ingredients are the key to success.  We have a 3rd batch, this time a Porter, in bottles aging for final consumption before we head off to Mexico (thank you to Gene for some lovely bottles).  Our plan is to grow some of the ingredients ourselves and then find a supplier in Guadalajara for other ingredients, if possible.  Since we are starting a small café/bar, wouldn’t it be fantastic to get the locals to love micro brews?  We also started a batch of alcoholic Ginger Beer to explore using easier to find ingredients; stay tuned for that outcome.  It could be fun to make brews using the local plants and fruits.

Prep: We started a batch of Ginger-Hibiscus Beer. Should be ready by the end of June. Update: The ginger beer was good but since we used champagne yeast, it came out too dry. Next time I will try a wine yeast to see if that changes the outcome.

Ginger Hibiscus Beer