How Does Your Garden Grow?

Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015

Workshop participants held an enthusiastic discussion about gardening.

Workshop participants held an enthusiastic discussion about gardening.

How do you keep iguanas from eating your tomatoes? Where do you find potting soil on an island of limestone? Which plants thrive in blistering sun, month after month? The discussion was lively—all about plants, seeds and challenges to overcome for the gardener in Cozumel.

For those of us who have grown houseplants, a container garden or even a whole plot of vegetables, it may not seem that difficult. Buy your supplies, read about it online, and voila! You have a garden. But imagine having the desire, but no access to supplies, or information. That was part of the discussion between 10 participants in a gardening workshop held yesterday by a team of Friends of Cozumel volunteers.

Participants brought seeds, plants and ideas to share with others.

Participants brought seeds, plants and ideas to share with others.

Two years ago, FOC volunteers helped construct gardens for the families of Antonia and Charo. They learned through trial and error and the gardens continue to flourish. Both women served as resources to others who responded to the invitation to attend the free workshop. Those new to gardening wanted to learn about how to grow plants to supplement their diet, use in natural medicines, or supplement the family income as does Antonia.

Not only was information shared. Each participant also brought along an offering of seeds or plants to trade with others—everything from a habanero chile plant to a start for a banana tree.

Maria (left) and Phyllis (right) experiment with making a water rich gel to keep plants hydrated.

Maria (left) and Phyllis (right) experiment with making a water rich gel to keep plants hydrated.

One of the concerns addressed was the challenge of keeping container plants hydrated in the tropical heat. Participants watched a demonstration mixing the crystals inside a disposable baby diaper with water to create a gel. Incorporating the gel into the soil helps conserve moisture and keep the plant watered.

FOC volunteers hope that providing the stimulus for exploring gardening will help families find one more way to reach their goals.

An experiment was conducted to make a 'super soil' with soil, water and gel created from diaper crystals.

An experiment was conducted to make a ‘super soil’ from soil, water and gel created from absorbent crystals.

“We all have different experiences and knowledge,” FOC volunteer Karen said in her opening remarks at the workshop. “If we come together and share that with each other, we’ll be able to do many new things.” ~ Phyllis from Nebraska

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