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Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

Have I mentioned most of the potting soil here leaves much to be desired?  As a result, over the past 6+ years, I’ve been experimenting with ways to enhance the soil I’ve been dealt to help my rooftop garden grow.  Besides, freezing (to speed up the fiber break down) and then adding green kitchen scraps, augmenting the soil with sawdust and sand, I’ve added worm farming to my arsenal.

Back in early August, blogger buddy and gardening guru Chris and I, armed with our new red bins, headed out to Sikanda (just outside Santa María del Tule) to purchase and be schooled in earthworm (lombriz, en español) farming.  P1130268

Our goal was to provide a nurturing environment for earthworms to go forth and multiply and to produce worm casting (aka: vermicompost, worm humus, worm manure) to enrich our soil.  Since then, I’ve spent the last five months keeping their home moist and feeding my worms more green kitchen waste, coffee grounds and tea leaves, and garden clippings.  Saturday, I finally harvested my first castings.

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There are several ways to separate the worms from their castings.  I chose the photosensitivity filter method — laying cheesecloth over another bin filled with compost and placing it in the sun, I transferred a thin layer of my worms and their castings onto the cheesecloth.

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Earthworms hate the sun and most quickly started burrowing down through the cheesecloth in search of cool moist darkness..  Once the worms had made their way into the moist compost of their new home (stragglers received hand-picked assistance), I removed the cheesecloth, now filled with worm-free castings, and dumped it onto my sifter, where I sifted the nutrient rich castings into my soil bin.

P1160372It’s rather time-consuming, but what else did I have to do on a Saturday?  It was well worth it and I get to do it all again in three to five months!

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… it must be time to water Casita Colibrí’s growing garden!

Casita Colibri sign

The 112 containers, from 6″ to 24″ pots and 30″ x 8″ x 8″ planter boxes decorating my entry and terrace, are brimming with one to twelve succulents and cacti.  They are watered weekly with gray water — shower water, dish water, and rain water, the latter when and if it ever rains again!  Oh, and then there are the 2 bougainvillea, 1 plumbago, 1 gardenia, 1 geranium, and pot of herbs, which require watering two to three times per week in this 90+ degree heat.  Water is an especially precious resource here in Oaxaca and we tenants must pay for all water deliveries to our compound.  So, in order to nurture my garden, everyday I haul buckets and dish-pans out through the terrace gate to my collecting barrel, a 32-gallon (not so sweet-smelling) plastic garbage can.  The plants don’t seem to mind the hand-me-down, fetid, murky water — in fact, they appear to love it!

Water barrel

With a few exceptions, my original garden was propagated from slips lovingly cultivated by my neighbor G, from his own exuberant and thriving terrace garden — a garden so profuse that there is scarcely room to walk!  When I arrived ten months ago, I was a disbeliever, never imagining that my terrace, too, could become home to a lush riot of greens, grays, magenta, red, yellow, orange, white, and blue.

An added bonus, besides (hopefully) filtering at least some of the exhaust from the diesel buses that race each other up the hill, the vegetation attracts a host of critters — giant friendly bumbling black bumblebees zeroing in on blossoms; geckos skittering across the pottery and terrace walls in the morning and afternoon, catching their breakfast and dinner; large brown crickets that like hang out in my “greens” recycling basket, not minding or even moving when I add more spent flowers and cuttings; and birds, including my home’s namesake colibrí, flitting back and forth across the terrace, chasing insects and sipping nectar from cactus and succulent flowers.

Garden God presiding

My garden never ceases to inspire, reward, and delight.  And… the garden god watches over it all!

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