Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Throw and Grow Gardener

I’ve never been much of a gardener. My best garden was in Akumal, when I lived on Yalku Lagoon in the early 80’s. The soil was very sandy, so plant choices were limited. I worked 7 days a week, so I hired my first (ever) gardener. He planted cilantro, green onions, little tomatos, and chiles, plants that would grow in the sand. I loved making salsa right out of the garden!

That was the last real garden I had. Once we moved to Hawaii, I became a throw and grow gardener. If I could clear some weeds to expose the beautiful black volcanic dirt, throw some seeds into the ground and watch them grow,  I’d succeeded. I always planted some chile seeds, usually piquín or tepín, typical to Hawaii, and they thrived. Spearmint grew voluntarily as ground cover in the front yard of our coffee shack. Every pineapple top I planted grew and gave us fruit. I once tossed two squash down into the lower level on our hillside and the result could have been horror movie theme. I thought the vines were going to take over the house. I had so many squash I didn't know what to do.  Throw and grow had backfired!  It did so again when I threw and grew some cherry tomatoes. They also thrived in uncontrollable overabundance. 

When I finally tried to make an enclosed garden in Hawaii I had to move giant lava rocks around and build a little wall to accommodate the dirt. Like the Yucatán, when it rains there is pours and washes away the topsoil.  As I was nearly finished stacking the rocks, one fell on my finger and through the suede gloves and all, my fingertip popped open like a grape. That was the official end of gardening for me there.

Here in Mérida, the patio has slowly taken shape with a nice and sometimes colorful array of plants. I have my zen garden, which currently has only decorative plants. The cactus/succulent garden is bizarre and it's fun to watch it take shape.  But the coup de gras is the chile bush in the back yard.

The chiles are similar to what the Mayans call chile maáx, (mah-ahsh)…we brought some with us from Guatemala and applied the throw and grow technique. There are actually two thick stems but the two chile bushes grew up together and are the cheeriest bunch of chiles I’ve ever seen.

There is an habanero plant next to them that enjoys the company and has begun to put out some beautiful chiles also. I'd better mention that the habanero was introduced to our garden as a little plant, it's not a throw and grow. This one takes some extra attention, but it's worth it.

I threw some basil seeds around.

The first basil bush was magnificent – not only for pesto sauce and cooking in general, but the flowering basil wafted aromatic waves past us while we were in the swimming pool. Eventually the plant got too old and I pulled it, threw new seeds in the area and covered them with a little layer of dirt. There are going to be plenty of basil plants this season, as you can see from the photo above.

I have been enjoying working outside in the little gardens around the property. My garden areas are small enough for me to take on in sections...and I'm happy to work with the throw and grow method again - with some success. 


Merida Mikey said...

If folks took the time to add up the cost of seeds, potting soil, fertilizers, bug sprays, containers, decorative additions/paint for the pots, etc., and so on, they would see that the minute bunch of cilantro they harvested cost them 250 pesos! I choose to buy a bunch in the market or the super for 1 (one) peso! Throw 'n grow - good to go! I like it!

Linda Dorton said...

There is personal satisfaction in picking food out of your own garden, so I understand the serious gardener. Throw and grow is even more rewarding since there was so little effort put into the growing!