Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Costa Rica GARDEN - My seedy process, Mi Processo de Semilla

Apparently rainy season has come early in San Isidro de GreciaWe were not expecting it until May, but we have now had rain nearly every afternoon for 2 weeks. After only being here 1 year, I should not judge so quickly, but after speaking with many folks whom have been here much longer, we all agree on 1 thing. Rainy season is our favorite time of the year in Costa Rica. After living in Texas with the crazy non-season seasons, Costa Rica must be a farmer's dream. In Texas, sometimes it is hot on Christmas Day and below freezing the next day after a rain storm that night. There is even a saying, "If you don't like the weather in Texas, just wait a minute and it will change." Costa Rica is completely different and extremely consistent. From May to October it rains every afternoon. From November to May it is dry, with little to no rain. So, while you can't ever rely on the rain in the dry season, it always rains in the rainy season, creating a perfect growing environment. I remember back in Texas, I was always looking up into the sky, checking the clouds for a rainstorm; also checking the weather channel for upcoming storms that had a 50/50 chance of actually passing my house. We lived on a lake in Texas and for some reason, there was always rain on the water, but never on my garden, requiring a fair share of water from our well. I always had to turn on the sprinkler. Then, out of nowhere, a rain storm would hit, and I would run out to the garden and turn off the sprinkler. So I am looking forward to not having a "guessing game" while gardening in my new mountainside garden. 
I have a funny way of sorting and drying my own seeds throughout the year to add to my little box, eventually to grow in my garden or start in small pots to avoid the nagging from my husband. He always thinks I spend too much on flowers, herbs and plants; I do kind of go crazy at the nurseries (vivero) here since the flora and plants are so plentiful and healthy. So anyway, back to my process. Whether I am walking down the street or eating some fruit, I always pick flowers up off the ground or spit seeds into my pocket for safe keeping, until I get home. Once at home, I pull out some coffee filters and write my labels on the the top. I like coffee filters because they do not stick to my seeds and they are the perfect size for wrapping, plus, they are cheap and always on hand at home. If my seeds were from fruits or veges, I wash them first and pat them dry, sometimes leaving them on the window sill for a day or two to dry out. I have to be careful because the ants can take over in the blink of an eye here in Costa Rica. We never found bell peppers in Atenas, so when we moved to Grecia and found red, orange and yellow bells, I bought them and immediately cut them at home to pull the seeds.
So after I dry the seeds, wrap them in a coffee filter, labeled, I stick the funny little envelope in a small wooden recipe box. So far, I have enough seeds to add to my garden, plus extra. I still need to buy some lettuce seeds and greens, radishes and cabbages, but my box is full of fruits, vegetables and flowers. One day on our morning walk, I found a perfect peach on the ground that had just fallen from the tree above us on the hill and it tasted great, so I put the seed in my pocket. I have already started the small peach in a starter pot and it growing well, and I remember peach trees to be fast growers. 
So, garden, here I come. The ground should be just soft enough to start working, so I will get my strong husband to till the ground before I plant some seeds from my box, yes, more complaining to be heard I am sure. While Matt is a strong, hard worker, he does not like digging holes, he is very clear about it.  So with a little nagging and begging, I will get him to help me. Here is the before picture and I will document the course of the garden after a few weeks in the rainy season. I am excited to see how it grows. 
Oh, I almost forgot. I turned my old dog crate into a composter. We had an offer to sell it for $20 US, but after thinking about it, I spent about $140 US on a composter back in Texas and all it was only a plastic crate with ventilation, so I turned the dog crate upside down and it makes a perfect composter. Who knew? Pura Vida!

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