How I picked a career and came to Mexico

It started when I was 24 and searching. I had just finished college, I had embarked on a bicycle trip from Minneapolis to Seattle (in March! That’s a blog post in and of itself), and I had flown back home to….my college town.

So now I was a townie. Great. One of those weird older people I had hung out with as an actual student, wondering in the back of my mind why they didn’t go forth after graduating.

I had graduated in Spanish, without any actual plans as to what I wanted to do with my life. I found a job as a teacher’s aide in a classroom designed for high school students with autism.

It was definitely fascinating and challenging, but I guess I wasn’t ready to settle down because soon I grew weary of being stuck in a building all day. I distinctly remember being bothered by not experiencing weather. If it had rained that day and I didn’t get to feel it because I was working, I was very disappointed. Continue reading

Little chicken farmer

Leon is pretty much the hardest thing in my life right now. If you haven’t had a toddler in your life recently, you have no idea. If you used to have toddlers in your life, you have forgotten how terrible it is.

Now I understand the “terrible twos”. I used to think it was about tantrums and being stubborn, but in Leon’s case, it’s all about GETTING INTO EVERYTHING QUICKLY. Continue reading

How to Build a grow tunnel

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Here it is. A crowning architectural achievement. Our very first pest tunnel.  You could use it for any crop that is prone to pest damage in your area.  For us, that’s tomatoes.

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It’s a particularly organic solution to pest-control because you don’t need any insecticides or repellents.

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Above is a steamy eggplant, totally blemish-free. Without the pressure to battle pests, she is free to pursue other interests, namely blossoming and fruiting. I harvested many more eggplants from the plants in the tunnel than the ones outside of it.

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Here are green zebra tomatoes–something we had no luck growing out in the savage wild.

We may be onto something here!

Instructions

  • 1-inch diameter PVC, 5 meters long
  • foot-long pieces of rebar
  • old drip-tape or rope
  • grow cloth, at least 2.5 m wide
  • clothespins

Bend your PVC into an arc and mark where the points reach the ground.  Then hammer your rebar into the ground, leaving enough out of the ground to slide the pipe on.

Wind your old drip-tape or rope along the sides of the structure to create support for the grow cloth.

Drape your grow cloth over it and secure with clothespins or even a quick stitch.

Resourceful, affordable, easy, functional!

Irrigating with drip tape

Carlos is out catching up with a ranching friend who lives near where we have a few cows. He wants to make sure our cows are still grazing in the area and is going to ask his friend to corral them next time he sees them.

It was getting late, so I decided to take care of his evening chores for him: I fed the goats and the chickens, and checked on the irrigation. I had little 3 month old Peter with me, in the stroller, and Leon, our 14 month old riding on the front step!

Now I am alone. The kids are all in bed. Carlos is not back yet. It’s dark, quiet, and I’m sitting in peace outside, enjoying the night. No one is crawling on me. No one needs me. And it feels so good! I’m going to take this time to write without interruptions! Ahhh….

We just put in some additional beds here at home, so I’ve got irrigation on my mind. In this post, I’m going to show you how to install drip tape, for easy watering.

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In this photo you can see a thick black hose connected to a white T. Off the trunk of the T is the drip tape. Also black. The thick black hose is the main artery, and the drip tape goes down the beds.

Here’s my favorite part.

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We cut off a piece of the drip tape a little over a foot long. Then we cut that into centimeter-wide strips.

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This material is slightly stretchy and perfect for sealing the drip tape to the connector! Stretch it out just a bit to start.

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Now wrap it around, pulling tight on each pass and tie a knot.

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This will create a perfect tight seal that won’t leak. Best of all, it’s cheap, easy, and takes advantage of a resource you already have on hand, if you’re irrigating with drip tape.

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A garden is born

Every year we battle with growing lettuce, a spring crop, in the hot summers here on the Tropic of Cancer. Why bother?

Our restaurant clients depend on us, and I hate to let them down! I tried explaining that it’s a spring thing and that they should invent a summer salad, like a Greek tomato, cucumber, feta mix. They looked at me like I was crazy.

It seems that their clients depend on them, and that everyone is in the mood for a cool salad in the hot summer. Makes sense. So where does that leave us? Continue reading

Chicken tractor, chicken coop, chicken buffet

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We’re lucky down here in Baja California Sur that the weather is almost always really nice. My brother is staying with me, and he commented that “a really beautiful day is when it’s cloudy and they are so nice too look at. And then you realize it’s the first clouds you’ve seen in weeks”. It’s true! It’s always blue skies and 75 degrees.

Even still, it gets really cold at night, and our chicks need protection. Continue reading

Never count your chickens before they hatch

Well by this time in the season, no actually by about three months ago, we should have been harvesting rows and rows of cherry tomatoes, green beans, beets, and carrots. We aren’t. I’ve been avoiding writing this post because it means admitting our shortcomings to the world, damaging my identity as a professional grower. After three years of struggling, I’m ready to be an expert! Isn’t it time?? Continue reading