Chicago, IL Garden

Hello Beautiful People!  I moved from Chicago to Ecuador and Ecuador to Florida with dreams of building a permaculture food forest with a small kitchen garden.  Being a city girl with little or no experience gardening, I had my work cut out for me.  I started my gardening experience in Chicago.  I started with two small raised beds.  Composting was easy, rake leaves and leave them all winter to compost and in the spring the soil was ready for the beds.  The dark soil in the mid-west is ideal for growing.  There is some clay in the soil too but just add a little compost and you are good to go.  We would start our seeds indoors with lights during the winter so that we could transplant our starts and have a longer growing season.  Growing food in Chicago was easy and fun!  The soil there along with a little compost allowed the plants to take off and they did!  We have tons of collars, tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, herbs, you name it.  It was really fun, except the growing season was only a few months.

 

Vilcabamba, Ecuador Garden

Then we moved to the Andes Mountains in Ecuador for six months.  I specifically rented a small house that had some land so that I could play in the dirt:) . One issue that I ran into in Ecuador was that most of the top soil was gone so I had to add a lot to build up the humus, that top dark layer of soil.  In Ecuador, the locals like to put compost in a hole in the ground.  I like to have my compost above the ground to let air go through it.  The ground is hard as a rock in Ecuador literally!  They even had special tools that chisel the ground just to break up the rocky ground.  Rocks were literally everywhere.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because they help make the soil rich, they irate the soil and they can help give structure to the plants.  It’s just not what I was used to.  The rich mountainous soil in the Andes was very fertile.  Everything grew and grew effortlessly.  The weather was 75 degrees year round so nothing was harsh about the climate other than rainy season.  When it rained in Ecuador, it RAINED!  We made our garden beds into pretty mandala shaped designs and grew peas, tomatoes, lettuces, bok choy, herbs, amaranth, bananas, etc.  It was so much fun because with a seed and some nice soil, plants took off in Vilcabamba Ecuador.

 

Clermont, Florida Garden

Then I ended up in Florida and started another garden.  At first I thought I wanted a lot of land and I ended up with .7 acres.  I’m really glad that I didn’t get a lot of land as I find .7 acres to be a lot to care for in and of itself!  Florida is on a coral reef with sand over it.  Everywhere I dig, I find sand.  Plants don’t like sand very much.  I built about 8 raised beds in the yard and had compost delivered.  I filled the beds with compost, bought nice seeds and my seeds started to take off.  My squash does have a dark mold on it but I know there are remedies for that.  The big issue with Florida is the pests!  There are tons of different kinds of bugs that infest your plants.  Not only that, I have an Armadillo who likes to trample my garden to eat slugs.  I would have to put chicken wire around each bed to keep the Armadillo out.  I started planting in October and only a could of my seeds survived the stampede.  I just did another round of planting and we’ll see what happens.  I am growing pineapples, papayas, mangos, mulberries, peaches, lychees, figs, avocados, tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, herbs and kales.  There are two planting times in Florida.  One in the fall around October and another around February.  I just planted my second round early since a lot of my plants didn’t survive the first round.  I didn’t put the chicken wire up because I like the garden more open.  Armadillos don’t climb so maybe next year I simply make taller garden beds or I switch to grow towers.  I have a friend who does hydroponics grow towers and her garden has a much larger yield than mine with the compost.  So much to learn.  I attached a photo of my Florida garden update in January 2020.

Playing in the dirt is so much fun.  Please get your hands dirty and learn about gardening, your food and becoming one with mother nature.  She has so much to teach you:) . Peace out beautiful people!  Much love and light to you all:)