community gardening

I've been here for 3 months now in the Granada area. (I have visited 7 times in the last three years before moving from NJ). I live in a Nica neighborborhood and find the experience pretty good. However/ and I've heard it many times/ it drives me nuts that the idea of a beautiful yard here is to sweep the dust daily. Horrible erosion and unless you prefer the cafe color of the soil/ no color. Is anyone out there/ I know you have to be there somewhere! who is involved in or has attempted community gardening? succesfully or not! I remember as a kid/ saving my nickels/ to buy pansies for my garden/ it brought an immense amount of joy to me and pleasure in gardening/ flowers and vegetables. I see so many folks here bored/ not eating vegetables/ and surrounded by barren "soil". I want to get my hands into the earth and share that pleasure/ even though i fear that when the first Nica sees me gardening with my hands in the soil/ and on my knees(not praying)/ and not using a machete as my first choice of gardening implement/ will only reaffirm his belief that us gringoes are loco. Just please don't suggest planting ginger, banana and croton. Please let me know if you're out there! Either individual or group that would like to teach/ share their horticultural knowledge and do some community outreach. thanks. steve 23columbia@gmail.com

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Steve make sure to post some

Steve make sure to post some pics of your project!

I'm not in Nica, but I've been landscaping the family beach house when I'm there. Unless I'm there not much progress, at least the cuidador keeps everything watered and pruned (with a machette of course). I usually come down with a drawn out plan and try to put it into action. It's hard to do much without a truck of my own. The viveros don't have nice tags on their plants that provide the genus/cultivar or growth habits, but looking around your neighborhood to see what actually thrivie there is the best go-by. In Leon, I have seen Canna, Sunshine tree, alamanda vine, bouganville doing well.

Some cultural habits I have observed are that everytime I buy plants, the in-laws almost insist that the cuidador plants them. I guess it give him a job and some ownership of them, but none of my in-laws actually garden. They have hired gardners, more like a mow and blow crew, come by for planting and maintenace. My in-laws have nice lawns and the usuall landscape favorites (ixnora, crotons, dracaena, ti's and fruit trees), and theirs are also behind walls/wire. I don't really see any particular Nica style of landscaping other than what I would call a foundation planting scheme. Also lining the sidewalks with small evergreen hedges seems to be very common.

On my last trip, I wanted a statue of Mary for some garden sculpture and we got a ceramics guy in Leon to make one. He did a resin statue (Mary of Leon) and painted it so finely that it could have gone into a church. I told him, with my wife translating, that it was for an outdoor garden, so a simple paint job was all that was needed. He really took some pride in his work, so much so that the in-laws don't want it out in the sun without some type of surround to protect her (.. not it - to me it's a statue of a nice Jewish lady).

A lot of people in Jinotega have fruit trees

in their back yards and ornamentals. I think fewer people who aren't market gardeners grow vegetables.

Most people of working age are working and some of them work as gardeners/farmers. Everyone else buys from them, directly or indirectly.

Rebecca Brown

A good start to meet some like minded people...

Would be to visit the Finca Market (as its called on facebook).

Its on the 2nd Sunday of every month at Hotel La Bocona, 10am until noon.

``If you want it done right,...

do it yourself. The type of gardening and landscaping common in the US is counter-cultural here. The small yards, vandalism, and high cost of water all work against home gardens. Information on plant varieties is hard to come by, supplies are expensive and have poor selection, etc. Too a large part, gardening here is old ladies with a small, carefully nurtured flower garden hidden (protected) in an interior courtyard or backyard. Some people do have nice potted plants, ferns being one of the most spectacular.

Chat with people and you will gradually be invited to see their gardens. In a land of heat and dust and concrete, gardeners are a lonely bunch! Giving cuttings or small plants is a nice courtesy. Recently, my wife met somebody and started talking plants and we got invited to their backyard. The lady have a tree covered with orchids and various potted plants, including some southafrican succulents that do quite well here if you can keep them out of the rains in the winter. My nicest succulents are hung under a roof overhang where they get half-day sun and no direct rain. Watering them once a week keeps them happy.

As far as people with vacant land who don`t eat veggies, poverty is its own reward. I saw the same thing as a kid in the near west side of Los Angeles. We had huge backyards of the best soil and climate in the world and the only food gardeners in the neighborhood were my uncle and an old German lady down the street.

"Anything that is complex is not useful and anything that is useful is simple. This has been my whole life's motto."

Mikhail Kalashnikov, Russian inventor

What he said

Basically, what he said: ignore the norm. The norm is synonymous with failure. The fact that the failure has cultural roots is not the deciding factor. In most C.A countries, buying date-expired seeds is the best you can do - bar none. There is a reason for this. A good reason, just not good for those who need the seeds. Once you know the reason, you have some idea of the basis the solution will/must take...

What is the reason? I can

What is the reason? I can buy date expired seeds in the dollar stores here in New England, they will work if I had low expectations (low germination rate). I was asking my BIL about grass seeds, and he said he has never seen any for sale, just sod.