Snooping is a key step before planting

Now that everything is prepared……oh wait.  What about that compost we talked about?

Compost is wonderful stuff and you can make it yourself.  There are many different formulas but the most basic is a third manure, a third torleyheader062314vegetable matter (kitchen scraps, leaves, grass clippings, and such), and a third garden soil.  A little starter from an old compost pile is a good idea.  Turn about once a week and voila!  Compost!

You can also buy compost, but what fun is that?   [It’s also true you can buy wonderful pelleted fertilizers here in Costa Rica and
they can really move things along.  Just don’t tell my “just organics please” friends I said so.]

Now we have everything in place and want to plant something.  If I left it up to my husband, he would plant sweet corn and Idaho potatoes (and more sweet corn).  Sadly, neither seems to grow very well in Costa Rica, at least not where we live.  Not that I haven’t tried, but three failures of my corn crop have convinced me that something is wrong.

So, what do we plant?  First, we want success.  I hate to plant something (like corn) and discover that it won’t grow.  No one gardens for failure. It’s just too frustrating.  The problem with being expats is that we just don’t know what will grow.  And you can buy seeds here in Costa Rica that aren’t really meant for Costa Rica (there’s my corn again).

My answer?  Snoop.  Snoop in your neighbor’s yard.  Snoop in your friend’s garden.  Keep asking, “What’s that?” and, my favorites, “Do you have some seeds to share?” or “May I take a cutting?”  Sometimes you don’t even need to ask.  Sometimes there is something growing by the side of the road and you can just snip off a piece to take home.   And once at home?  While it’s true you can just stick your cutting into a pot and keep it watered, I like to add a little rooting compound, sold at most gardening stores.

The amazing thing is that, once you have seeds or cuttings in the ground – and they are seeds that are really made for Costa Rica – they grow like mad.  True, you may need to water a bit in the dry season, but that is a small price to pay for a lush garden.

And don’t forget to keep spare garden sheers in the glove compartment.  They make roadside snipping so much easier.

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