I’ve put this off far too long. With destructo-dog I absolutely have to have a fenced garden area. I’m not the most enthusiastic gardener, but I do have a bunch of seeds started, some of which (squash) will require substantial space.
Using what I had at the chacra, I cut posts to have 80 cm exposed. I had a roll of 120 cm fence wire already, so I figured I take off the top 40 cm and double it when I ran out of the roll.
It was pretty close — 2 meters shy! Had I not made a circular compost bin in the country earlier with the fencing, it would have worked out almost exactly right.
Benji, meanwhile, decided this was a nice place to hang out. No more. I trimmed the top 40 cm, leaving spikes, and built a gate. It’s not a pretty fence, and it’s not particularly well made, but it doesn’t have to be. It just has to keep out the dog and cat.
I haven’t determined exactly how I’m going to incorporate fish waste into my close-to-totally-disorganized garden, but it will have to be dog-digging-proof. I have decided to make a substantial fence. But deciding is short of doing, and we happen to have a puppy who likes to dig — and meanwhile no fence.
Beyond remembered tales of American Indians dumping a fish head or carcass below each corn plant, my fish-in-the-garden story is this: shortly after arriving in Mexico in 2007, I attended an organic gardening class by a massively overweight American woman who happened to be very good at growing things. Actually, exceptionally good. She was also an outstanding cook and baker, and, unh huh, liked to eat. She had a plastic-lined pit in which she made compost tea from fish, and shared her secret source. There was, she said, at the end of a short two-block street that ended at the railroad tracks in Pátzcuaro, a place where they processed fish from the lake. You had to knock on an unmarked door, have containers, explain your request, and then, Hod willing and goods delivered, back out the two blocks, because there was no way to turn your car around.
Sorry, that’s above my pay grade.
She also explained how they cultivated contacts in the daily mercado for composting. They had to they dress down, relate to the locals, develop trusted relationships in order to get the valued vegetable waste. Wow. Heavy social investment.
Reference: there is no way a home gardener can get enough compost from home vegetable waste. You need organic materials from somewhere else.
Anyway, visiting a project of ours on Calle Independencia near the cemetery in Pátzcuaro, I discovered something amazing: garbage trucks appear there every afternoon. Guys with hand trucks and 55-gallon barrels go into the market and bring out the waste. I showed up day after day, with a plastic tub like the one I bought here, and soon they wanted to know before they went into the market: was there was anything in particular I favored? Onion greens? Carrot tops? It was deliciously ironic.
But it got better.
One day, a little truck pulled up. Fish waste. From the fish place. You know, the one where you had do a little ritual of obscure door-knocking and reverse-driving. I said to the garbage kid (remember, I’m an old fart, so everyone is a kid), fish is OK in the garden, eh? and he enthusiastically agreed and personally took my plastic tub to the truck and proudly filled it with fish heads and bones and guts, and placed it in the back of my several-years-old Toyota 4Runner.
Fortunately, I had a plastic-rubber floor liner. Because, in his enthusiasm, the kid had maximally-filled my plastic tub. And despite my caution, over the first tope — speed bump — I heard the flop of a fish carcass. On the next another. No matter. I could always hose that stuff off.
The problem arose — as today — when I realized that I had arrived home shortly before dinner time and actually had to do something with this treasure. In Mexico, it involved feverishly turning over my extensive compost pile, inserting fish waste, re-covering and weighting down plastic sheeting so our animals couldn’t get into it. It worked. And apparently fertilized magnificently, but by then we were the hell out of Mexico. Another story that I probably won’t tell here.
Meanwhile, here, a couple concrete blocks over the bucket this evening. Tomorrow? Stay tuned 😉
Thanks for reading this. Gardening is weird at times, no?
This is what happens when you stick the bottom of a head of bok choy / pak choi in dirt and let it go. It didn’t make another head, but we did harvest quite a few leaves before it bolted. The bees love those flowers. Next: collect seeds ….
Those are heads of lettuce either side of it, from seedlings courtesy of our friends Don and Jan.
I was disappointed how long it was taking to make compost — basically, three buckets’ worth in five years. So I started reading about worm composting, found a design that looked good, figured I’d order some worms — without remembering something.
So I built a little worm farm.
I also built my first hydroponic unit.
I started making compost tea.
And I discovered that my first attempt to sprout sunflower seeds wasn’t unsuccessful after all. They loved the non-composting compost barrel!
Sheep manure, to be precise: the latest cargo of the pobre Meriva. It’s been very dry — too dry — for a while, so the abono is light and not smelly. I expected to do all the work, but the lovely Uruguayan couple insisted on helping. They have 120 animals. No shortage of shit 😉
My neighbor has offered to turn over the soil for a garden spot with his tractor. I may have a real garden this year, for the first time since the early 1990s.