Food Forest Odyssey

Howdy, I’m back on YouTube! I’ll be posting videos there about my building my food forest if you’d like to follow my journey there.

Take a ‘before” garden tour!

As usual, its ready, fire, aim. It’s nonscripted, of the moment, but I’m excited to be back on my channel. I’ll check out how to make better-quality videos with an iPhone while you walk around soon.



How Does My Garden Grow?

Pretty Damn Well!

lettuce growing in Nicaragua

Here come my Asian greens!

I planted the Monday of the new moon. I like to grow with the new moon for its witchyness and tradition.

Rowcover Nicargau Garden

Row covers for my lettuces.

Cabbage moths demolish lettuce, kale, broccoli rabe, and chard. I put the row cover on immediately after planting. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough material for the whole garden.

spagetti squash seedling

Fingers crossed!

The squash and cucumbers will have to be de-bugged by hand. But it’s easier than trying to dig cabbage moth larvae out of the center of lettuces.

The luxury of installing a row cover reminded me of growing clay beans in Mexico.

We bought a bagfull of beans you could eat as pods, and they were delicious as dried beans. They tasted like clay; things that taste like the earth are comforting when you’re a farmer.

We planted about a quarter of an acre. They were doing well; we had several meals of Marion Cunnihagm’s simple, satisfying Green beans and Potatoes. Providing anything for ourselves was a significant accomplishment. Everything you grow yourself tastes better– even when it doesn’t. I think your heart grows tastes buds when you’re a farmer.

One day, I picked clay beans. To my horror, I found they were inundated with aphids. Not, just a few. The plants were coated with them. They had their rotten armored friends, the ants, backing them up. I’m sorry, but I hate ants. Ants and Termites are the bain of my existence in Nicaragua.

Within two days, my vision of dry beans put away for winter faded. I rescued what I could of the green pods and tried to avoid the bean plot.

But a few days later I walked by, and the plants looked perkier; I stepped into the bed to investigate and saw hundreds of little speckled alligator larvae. Lady bugs!

I knew what they were because I had murdered a congregation of them in Chicago when they showed up on my hibiscus plant to eat the aphids that infested it.

I thought the plant was weak and overrun, but nature was coming to the rescue. I sprayed tobacco juice on baby ladybugs.  I was heartbroken when I realized my error years later; I mourned them.

When I saw my beans covered in a brigade of ladybug larvae, I fell to the ground and cried. I’m not exaggerating, and I also am not a drama queen. Farming will do this, destroy you, and burst your heart.

The ladybugs didn’t win, but they helped. We had enough dried clay beans for the year for the two of us. Farming will do this too, make it ok to have just enough and to share with nature, even if it’s aphids and ants.

Does anyone care to share gardening sorrow, victory, or both? Your stories inspire me.

I’ve been a pro-writer for over a week now. It’s awesome! The company is excellent, and I love my editor. This new world of working online is perfect for me. You can check out what I’m doing over there if you’re interested. You can click here to see my writer bio, and if you scroll to the bottom, there’s a list of my articles. Let me know what you think of the headshot…some like it, others (me) not so much.


Total Eclipse of the Garden

blackout bed covers

I couldn’t resist the title. There is a full moon lunar eclipse in Scorpio tonight.

Let’s see what’s going on in the garden. 

A proper understanding of how big my house and garden are hit me about two weeks ago.

When we moved in, we were both employed, and we hired someone to trim and repair things as we needed. We did a little remodeling and painting but little if any preventive maintenance.

Now that I’m here all day long with little extra cash for hiring help,  I’ve taken a close look, and there’s A LOT of work to be done. I was overwhelmed for about a week. The result was not work, but reading.

I read my journals from Mexico. I remembered I know how to garden, which was reassuring. And that I can fix all kinds of things with just sticks mud, sweat and perseverance. I was reminded that a good deal of what I accomplished while living in Mexico, I did alone. I give him most of the credit, Felipe is a rock star, but he was often working; he had his fires to put out or was too exhausted to care about every need of our homestead. I could not have done without him, but I did become quite self-reliant.

If you don’t journal, I recommend it.  To have a written history available to you, biased or not, is invaluable. Buoyed by my records, I got back to work.

The first thing I did was clean and organize the bodega. I found essential tools I thought I was going to have to buy. The machetes need sharpening, I’ll give it a shot with my stone, but I think they need a pro.  I hope to find an afilador with a bicycle attached to his wheel!  I promise a picture if I do.

Gardening tools Nicaragua

Tools unearthed in the bodega!

Then I rounded up all the bricks, roof, and floor tiles I could find and carried on with covering the beds in plastic to kill weeds before I plant on the new moon. plasic covering to kill weeds

More overwhelm set in when I realized how many weights and bags it would take and that I still had to cut all the posts and PVC for the row covers. I’m doing this with my jeweler saw.  Yes, you can cut rebar with a jeweler’s saw, but I hope the hacksaw I found in the bodega will be a better option. I’m going through a lot of blades.

Yesterday, I took the day off and trekked out for supplies, including a stop at our local thrift shop. Finding this excellent gardening hat and long socks for my boots helped get me back to the beds today. They make me look like Gilly, but,  this is a killer hat, and no boot rash is a big plus.

More improvements! Most of what I’ll put in will be direct seeded, but I have these fancy new seed pots made of tofu containers. They’re a significant upgrade from the pizza boxes.


Tomatoes in the tofu boxes, and volunteer chilis and papayas.

Something I’ve learned about housing and gardening is:  there will be trial and error.

A few examples:

Our roof needed repairs, and it was cheaper to put a new roof on top of the old one. They’re both made of corrugated roofing sheets.  The original is fiberglass, and the top layer, the one we installed, is corrugated tin. Felipe thought it would be too hot for an animal to nest between the two.

Guess what bats hate: wind. Guess what bats love: heat. Our roof is a bat condo. I got a sonar bat repellant, and it works-mostly. I also installed a bat house. It’s unoccupied. Why live in a box when you have a condo?

The previous owner left us many fabulous trees. But now they’re so huge they’re blocking out the sun of the citrus trees.  I’m left with a sad dilemma of what wonderful trees to cut down. I’ll start with some serious pruning. Hopefully, it will be enough.

Mother addressed the issue of my surami cherries gone wild. She’s ruthless!


The small kitchen garden is now in full shade, and little is prospering. It is a winter garden. The tomatoes, which will not grow without enough sun, are too big to transfer.  I’m hoping the herbs will not need to be moved…vamos a ver.

My final garden fancy for the week.

Years ago, I got it in my head that Central America should have Papasan chairs. I wanted to grow bamboo in Mexico and start a cottage industry. Felipe wasn’t hot on it, probably because he was working a grueling full-time job, growing his own crops, and raising pigs. But, I still think it’s a grand idea, and 3 years ago I bought these black bamboo plants.

Black Bamboo, Nicaragua

The crowning glory of my garden.

This plant was about two feet when I bought it, and is now over 20 feet tall. And it has over 20 corms.  It looms in my sunset view and makes me happy every time I see it. I have four others. When the dry season returns I will cut enough to dry and learn to bend bamboo.

There are many bamboo benders in Catrina, but I’ll probably learn how to do it from youtube videos. It’s how I learned how to butcher.

The full moon is a time of illumination, but what is it when it’s dimmed or blocked from sight? Darkness when we expect light is an opportune time to look within.

Today is a perfect day to get your hands and feet on the ground. Dig in your garden, pull your potted plants out for a sunbath, and walk the dog barefoot in the grass.

Do your work, wait for the light, and plan your papasan.