August 18, 2006

The lonely organic gardener

I miss having real gardening friends. I have some internet gardening friends and have recently begun corresponding with the delightful
Gardener in Mexico. Not that they aren't real people! My internet friends help to fill the void but there is nothing like a friend stopping by to stroll the garden to see what's new and leaving with a bag full of cuttings or vegetables or seeds. Even better is when that friend is a gardener experienced in the area.

Most people I've met in La Ceiba aren't that interested in gardening. They hire someone to take care of all those things and never get their fingernails dirty. And the only suggestions I ever receive are to buy this or that deadly chemical which is sure to solve all of my gardening problems.

Gardeners I've known are the most generous people, always willing to share advice and plants. I've had extra plants from dividing, some very large and nice plants. I tried to give them away because I really hate to see plants go to waste. Most people acted like I was asking them if they wanted my old worn out shoes or something. Now I just compost them instead.

I've seen some plants that I would love to get cuttings or seeds from but I never have the nerve to ask. The culture is different here and I'm afraid I would be treated like a street beggar or something. Maybe not, but I don't want to find out.

It's almost impossible to identify plants here unless I already have some idea of what it is. Nursery plants have no labels and the names given by the workers mean nothing outside of Honduras, things like cangrejos rojos (red crabs) or amigo de la iguana (friend of the lizard). In Honduras, every plant with a bulb or corm is called a lily, sometimes further defined as pink lily or red lily. I have several gardening books and of course the internet in which to research, but sometimes you have to have some clue as to the name or family or it's just impossible to identify.

I'm not an organic evangelist, but on the few occasions when I've tried to talk to people about the benefits of organic gardening or the danger of chemicals, they just look at me with pity and I can just hear them thinking, "Poor gringa, too bad that she doesn't know about all these wonderful chemicals!" A veterinarian told me that they wouldn't sell these things if they weren't safe. Ha! I guess he doesn't know about all the 'cides that have been taken off the market because they have been proven not to be safe. Well, actually he does know about some of them but he thinks it is just American extremism.

Oh well, at least I have El Jefe. He loves the garden and he's a convert to organics. I guess I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and maybe they will come. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy strolling through my virtual garden.

Front garden, looking east
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