Written by Leisa Mukai on Apr. 17, 2016
How did this tomato and pepper plant come to grow, here in Xcalak, in Mexico's Costa Maya? For those who know me, I can't grow anything that isn't a large acreage crop grown in rows. Even then, it's been 40 years since I was directly involved in the planting and harvesting of crops. I have a black thumb for indoor plants and kitchen gardens. So when long term Xcalak residents told me, you can put a stick in the ground and it will grow, I discounted this statement because they weren't privy to the full extent of my black thumb. Then Francisco, our groundskeeper, pointed out these plants.
The seeds came from cooking chaos. All three dogs huddle around my feet when I am in the midst of a cooking bash which usually includes pico de gallo and spaghetti sauce. They pounce on the bit of carrot here, tomato bit there like it were a bit of sirloin. So between the dogs' cleaning efficiency and my “too darn lazy to bend over and use the dustpan, I end up sweeping a lot of peels and skins and seeds and dog hair out the door to our front yard to ”biodegrade”. These seeds somehow found nurture in the sand. With my best attention and Miracle Grow, rich black dirt in little start pots, I couldn't get pepper and tomato plants to grow in Salt Lake City.
According to other garden wisdom I received, vegetables don't grow well this close to the ocean because of the high salt content in the air and in the rain water. The lee side of the Inn seems to offer enough wind protection. As for the salt, well I don't know. Those vegetables that do tolerate the salinity of the environment get scarfed up by the ever present, iguanas and insects. Lucky for these plants, oleander is poisonous to many bugs so the tender little sprouts were protected from the usual insect predators. Our dogs Maya and Blanca, aka The Tall Girls (you have to meet Lady to appreciate that moniker) love to hunt iguana. As a sign of their deep and abiding affection for us or a particular guest -- one who has proven themselves to be pet and treat worthy, The Tall Girls will deposit a dead iguana at the feet of their beloved. If they suspect the recipient is unfamiliar with the unique pleasures of dead iguanas they will demonstrate good tail gnawing technique. Iguanas, which are herbivores, love tender vegetation like morning glory and of course garden plants, are scarce on our property.
In answer to my original question, it took a lazy cook, two iguana-hunting dogs, utter neglect, and a host of poisonous plants to grow this vegetable garden.