May 17, 2009

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it. ~Author Unknown

Gardening doesn’t come easy for me in Santa Rosalia. I wallowed with indecision throughout our first year’s planting season, and thus missed the opportunity to plant the millions of flower and vegetable seeds I brought with me as I didn’t realize that November and December, the coldest months, are the time to start planting. And I could never settle on where to plant anything at Casa Boleo. So much of the usable beds are in the shade of mango and citrus trees. But in that I could never get organized with the watering of things, I fear my planting efforts would have been an abject failure.

First of all we only have water for a certain part of the day, but I have not been able to figure out when that is even after 8 months of living here. Secondly, the guesthouse has four rotating shift guards; our guards do all the watering, but selectively, which seems to mean the big trees and flower beds get lots of water, but my potted plants don’t get much attention. Even though I water them by hand I can never get to a functioning hose to spray the foliage off. When I go away I know they are somewhat neglected. This includes the two English roses I brought here which were doing great until we left for a month, but looked rather sorry when I returned. They became infested with everything known to man, and pesticides are not available here. The one miniature rose I purchased here must be better aligned to the climate as it only got aphids which I could handle using soapy water in a spray bottle. I’m sure when I get back this time after a month’s absence they will all be dead.

Then I tried to put in a small lawn with some Seashore Paspalum grass seed I purchased on-line ($50 for a pound-ouch!) suitable for our hot salt water climate. The gardener cleared the area I wanted planted and scattered the seed (quite unevenly). The grass was beautiful where it was in patches. Unfortunately a great number of nasty weeds and alfalfa that had laid in wait probably for years for water came up mixed in with the grass and overwhelmed it. It was such a mess the gardener finally cleared the whole lot out again. I am going to put crushed shell there now.

Then we finally found an olive tree to plant at Casa Abeja as Esperando has hopes of pickling olives, or whatever it is that you do to them. The Lads planted it and when I went back to look at it a week later it was almost dead because no one watered it. I don’t know if it will recover. My brother Juan-in-a-Million kindly took me around his yard in the Bay Area so we could dig up some baby olive trees to take back with us. I have just sent for some Jacaranda Tree seeds in hopes of planting one; we have never seen them in Santa Rosalia, but have seen a few in Mulegé which is more humid. I’ll see if they can grow there, I have some concerns about the wind in winter. We do have flame trees in Santa Rosalia and I would hope the climate requirements would be similar.

Right now at the guesthouse, we have an abundance of hibiscus—orange, red, white double and single blossoms (which attract the hummingbirds and orioles); the bougainvilla are starting in; Tree of India (ficus—here it is a grand stately tree reaching 40 feet); fruit-bearing fig trees; mangoes that are now about the size of a golf ball; Easter lilies (although ours have no fragrance); and the Noche Buena (poinsettia) which I had planted in the side yard after Christmas.
One day driving through the desert to the beach, it occurred to me that I would like to plant some of attractive desert plants of which there is a multiplicity. Although most of them have thorns, not all of them do and it would go a long way to solving the watering issues. Now and then, I would ask Esperando to stop so I could pick berries and seed pods off of appealing plants. When we got back to the house and I had to opportunity to consult our Baja California Plant Field Guide, I discovered that the bush with the pretty purple flowers and yellow berries was Deadly Nightshade, and the other with a deeper purple flower, simply known as Pega Pega (Glue Glue), had leaves that stuck to one’s clothing. And that has somewhat quelled my initial enthusiasm for natural planting. Nothing gentle grows on its own in this harsh environment. It seems that the thornless ones are just as contrary as the thorny ones.

1 comment:

Robby said...

Nice blog! How did the $50/pouch grass seed turn out? Check out for the right kind of grass seed for your climate. I hope this helps!