A recent gathering of Pueblo Verde neighbors included culinary contributions from residents and homeowners, including a fresh salad brought by lot 13 owners, Craig & Casey. This salad was special; all of the ingredients came from Casey’s home gardens. Various types of greens, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers filled a giant bowl for the 14 or so guests who had come together that evening. Amazingly enough, there was more where that came from.
Our dry-tropical climate has its gardening challenges but with her many years of experience growing food in Vermont topped with a few years working at our local organic farm, Mi Tierra, Casey has been supplementing her kitchen’s pantry with fresh, organically produced food this year. We asked Casey a few questions about her gardens which were a new project on their lot this year.
Q: Roughly how big are your beds?
A: The beds are 2 x 20 meters.
Q: Will you provide a sampling of what you’ve grown this year?
A: In the garden beds we grew various types of tomatoes and squash, green beans, basil, kale, dill, sunflowers, and spinach. IN containers I have lettuce and greens.
Q: From whom or where did you learn the basics of growing your own food?
A: I started gardening in Vermont in the 70’s and was fortunate to be surrounded by fellow-minded folks. Sheperd Ogden, a well-known gardener and author was a personal friend.
Q: Did garden locations play a part in deciding which lot in Pueblo Verde to buy?
A: Yes, indeed.
Q: What do you find to be some of the most challenging things about gardening in the tropics?
A: Severely deficient soil, insects, and lizards. Irrigation and water supply are not a problem. That said, because I am gardening in the dry season, thereby forcing vegetable growth “out-of-season,” a host of other problems (pests and diseases) can arise.
Q: How do you envision your PV gardens evolving/improving over time?
A: It only makes sense to me to improve the soil that I am working with currently before expanding to other veggie beds. Composting continues to be a challenge for me and so I am experimenting with a few “recycle” options. Luckily Tom, at ECV, has been able to produce and sell some very nice compost.
One important note is that we have planted dozens of fruit and perennial crops that comprise “gardens” also. These are more at home in the tropics and require much less care.
Q: From what aspect of gardening do you derive the most personal satisfaction?
A: Having said the above, I am a gardener and so frustration and failure with crops is ever-present and perhaps part of the price we pay for the personal satisfaction of working so closely and attentively in nature. For me, this profound time is often enhanced by eating my own, organic food.
Casey’s produce will grace yet another Pueblo Verde residents gathering later this week and we are looking forward to it. With more industrious residents like Casey and Craig in Pueblo Verde, we envision a day where the table is full of food produced in our own neighborhood.
Take a tour of Casey’s gardens with this photo slideshow: