Gardening in the city

January 23, 2009

Paul and I love plants and gardening.  When we lived in the US we had ten acres and we worked outside all the time.  Part of the time we loved it but there were times where we realized we were working in the garden or yard so much we couldn’t do other things we enjoyed.  With our move to Mexico we decided that we’d try to be a bit more in balance.

Our central courtyard was planted just about a year ago.  All the plants are new except the windmill palm.  We remove palm fronds frequently and with regular watering it has grown quite a bit.  We planted a bright red coral vine at the base and now the blooms show through the top of the palm.  My hummingbird feeder is in that tree, and between the blossoms and the feeder, it is a popular place.

On thing we’ve noticed about gardening in the city is it is a bit trickier to get rid of the trimmings.  In the picture below the plastic bags are stuffed to bursting with the palm fronds; the stems are bundled together next to them.  The garbage men will take them if we do it this way.

Our backyard project is almost complete.  We still need to have the back wall scraped and painted and plant cannas at the base of the wall.

Last weekend we went to El Quelite with friends to visit an old man with a nursery-picnic area.  We found the place easily, found the old man charming – and fell in love with his gorgeous cannas.  Paul and I bought 12 beautiful deep red cannas to put against the wall.  And guess what we paid?  $120 pesos, or about $8.75!  For 12!

We are going to need to buy a lawnmower this week – the grass is growing beautifully.  I think we’ll enjoy mowing our little patch with an electric mower.


The one thing I do miss from our farm up north is our worm bin.  Next on my list is to figure out where I can get some worms to get a bin started here.  I know all my plants would love the compost.

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More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. I use a small weed whip to “mow” the lawn here. It’s more work but I get to be out in the sun longer! What about dirt for your plants? It’s really hard to get bagged soil here. Our nursery has it, imported over from the mainland, but it is full of jungle roots, bugs and sometimes diseased. Any easier in the big city?

    1. Islagringo, I have had a longtime love affair with weed whackers, but our landscape guy wants us to get a mower so we don’t cut it too short! He says we have to set the wheels at 3 inches for the best lawn. We can buy dirt here either bagged at Home Depot (which look like they’ve been sitting there a long time, or at the smaller viveros which is just dirt they dug up from somewhere. We like to mix the two, plus the expensive brown bag of peat moss for pots. If the soil is too rich in pots here (we learned this the hard way) the plants get coddled and then the insects attack. Our landscaper friend uses a kelp solution on everything and the grass just took off as soon as the sod was laid. I wonder if you have seaweed you could use around your plants?

      Michael, Paul is very content, he practices the art of zen watering.

    1. Your little back yard has completely transformed since I saw it last spring, I wouldn’t have recognized it. Plants must be cheaper where you are, they’re actually a little pricey up here in Sonora. And getting soil is definitely a problem. When I get back in March I’m going to do tomatoes at least, and will have to do a soil search.

    1. It looks lovely! I’m so impressed. The red cannas will be gorgeous against the wall. Are you going to paint it blue again or is that even the wall you mean?

      Dirt is easier to get in a city but you still have to pick between the old stuff at Home Depot and the bags of jungle dirt. The cheapest dirt is the deep red dirt from the area that is peddled in the centro and sold at nurseries. Some nurseries also have the more prized black jungle dirt and I’ve bought both. The big bales of potting soil at Home Depot seem to work the best for me, at least in pots. They have vermiculite and are lighter and not as clay like and sodden. I tried mixing them with the black dirt but it really doesn’t mix very well. I would like to find some seaweed emulsion or even fish emulsion, I’m sure it is here but I haven’t seen it yet.

    1. American Mommy – Thank you!

      1st Mate – It is a transformation, that’s for sure. I know that it will be a huge help keeping the house cooler in the summer, plus we just love having a little green to look at. The cannas were bought from a little old guy right at his farm…that is where you get the very best prices, I think.

      Jonna – We’ve decided to paint the blue wall yellow, the same yellow as the house. We painted it blue in the first place trying to spiff it up back there to see if we could live with it without renovating the space. So now we want it to be a soothing, calm space, so having the same color will do that. And the cannas and bouganvillia will stand out against it.

      We don’t have jungle dirt we have old dusty dead dirt when you buy it by the bucket. Jungle dirt sounds lush and dark…not at all what you can get here. And that’s why I need a worm bin!

      Beth – thank you!

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