One More Phase of Remodeling Finished!

For the past 5 or 6 weeks our place has been taken over by workers making some changes to our outside space and inside working on our kitchen.

Finally all is completed and Joe and I can start to clean up the dust that was left behind while they worked.

IMG_2936We had the bamboo fence added to two walls and it has turned a beautiful tan color. It was treated for bugs and then varnished.

IMG_2937Our driveway was plain concrete so we had that resurfaced and topped with granito and then varnished.

IMG_2938We also had the one section of our back yard covered in cement and they topped that with large outdoor ceramic tiles and granito to make a nice patio.IMG_2939I hated the way the top of the cistern looked so we had them put the granito on that as well.

IMG_2945The last item was the new gate with a built in door and a roof to protect it which was just completed this past Saturday.

Now everything needs a nice coat of white paint.  Well not right now, we need a break from workers.  ja ja

Botanical Garden in Portoviejo

San Clemente 8.4.2014 080We made our first trip to the Botanical Gardens in Portoviejo. It was a peaceful place but we missed the plant sale area as it is only open on Fridays.

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Naranjilla in Bloom

The other day while watering my plants I took a good look at my naranjilla plant (gift given to me by Deborah Millard just a few months ago) and was very surprised to see it was in flower. It is so small I just did not feel it would start to bear fruit for years, much less in a handful of months.

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My New “Old” Cactus Garden

“We can do no great things – only small things with great love.”
— Mother Teresa —

While living in Playas I started a few pots of cactus that have taken off and really needed to be re-potted. Then I purchased a small cactus arrangement at Super Maxi that outgrew its tray so that went into a bigger pot. Then Deborah, a friend from Bahia, brought me cuttings from about 10 different cactus plants from her garden. So it became a cactus garden looking for a home instead of 20 different pots in different shapes and sizes. Finally this week I planted that last tray and below is my beautiful cactus garden.

San Clemente 8.18.2013 017Now what I need to do is get someone to build a planter on part of the walkway between the driveway and the grass area of our garden. Then I can take all these other pots and put them in the ground along with being able to plant more herbs and making it much less work…

Horseradish Plant is Thriving

About two months ago Liz and Bill visited and brought me a beautiful horseradish root. I actually cut it in half as I could not part with the entire root and planted the one half in the ground at the beginning of one of my flower beds. I held out little hope that this would grow here after reading several accounts from other more experienced gardeners than myself that theirs never even came out of the ground here on the coast.

Below is a picture from March 24th where it started to sprout.

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The photo below was taken a few days ago.

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I actually don’t think I gave this plant enough room to grow but with our yard as small as it is, well I guess this will have to do for right now. I did a bit of reading and found out that the plant can grow to almost two feet high, is a perennial and will continue to grow for three years. The leaves can also be cut and eaten raw and have the same spicy taste as the root.

I am now researching how to can or somehow preserve what I hope to harvest..Just another day at the little house on the costa..

Trying My Hand at Planting

I wanted to share with you a few plants that have started to spring up in my garden. First and foremost a special thank you to Liz for bringing a horseradish root on the plane with her when she visited a few weeks ago. I cut it in half not wanting to ruin the entire root and followed the instructions I found on the internet. I planted it on an angle and it has started to grow. Now I am not sure that it will continue to thrive here because of how warm it is but I have faith that I am supposed to have a horseradish plant.

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Next to the horseradish plant I planted several cloves of garlic. They are springing up but again I am not sure they will do well in this heat so I am going to clip the tops and add to salads for a nice garlicky hit.

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I have also planted a few knobs of ginger and again they are starting to sprout so keep your fingers crossed that they will grow for us.

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I also planted the seeds from a Hawaiian papaya – they tend to be a bit sweeter than the big ones. I know they need to be thinned out but I just cannot make myself destroy these little babies just yet, maybe next week I will be ready to pull them up.

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I have several dill plants that are doing their best to make it. We could sure use some fresh dill for my mother’s chicken soup recipe.

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Now here are the bouganvilla plants that I cut from beautiful red-flowered plants growing on the fence of Vista Azul. I planted them months ago before the rain started and they did nothing for so long I thought they were dead. Look at those beautiful red flowers, these have the long spikes and will be added security on our wall on the street side of our property.

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Well, off to re-pot all my potted plants. Max our neighbor brought me two huge sacks of soil from his farm. It is so black and rich I know my potted plants will just go wild for it. Now all I need is that old straw hat my Dad would wear in his garden…………….

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Clipping and Trimming and Cleaning Oh My!

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Monday morning Jose returned to trim back our unruly trees, cut a few down and do some general cleaning of our yard and the lot next door.  I had him start with the two trees I wanted removed. Now before you get started being upset with me for taking out some trees look at it from our perspective.  Our yard is about 30′ wide by 20′ deep – 600-700 square feet…there were 14 trees in that space. Several were quite pesky like the cherry tree, always dropping partially eaten fruit to the ground for ants and wasps to have a field day. Or the one sour mandarin tree which has the sourest fruit ever – not even sugar helps. I did keep the other mandarin in the corner that Joe wanted me to remove but just for shade and privacy. We finally put the fig tree in the ground, this one is for Yusuf. I really hated the idea of removing these trees but between the cleanup, the bugs, and the fact that you could not harvest enough fruit that weren’t already pecked up by the birds it was a waste of space having it in the yard.

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Now there is air flow and sunlight between all the trees, the limons are not hanging over the driveway and whacking you in the head when you try to walk around. We feel this will allow the growth to be closer to the ground and easier for us to pick. Jose also cut the guava (guayaba) topping it off, again allowing for the growth to be lower and easier for us to harvest. This is also another tree that the birds just adore, and if we want to have any fruit at all we need to pick it early or else.

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Then I had him go into the lot next door and clean up all the plastic bottles, bags and other junk hanging around there. He filled two huge garbage bags with what others had dumped over the wall from our yard.

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Well it looks great.

Plant Stand

Several months back I watched a garden show that Joe had downloaded for me. They made this wonderful fountain with garden tiles that got me thinking. We really don’t want a water feature in our small garden but I did have an asparagus fern that has grown out of control and was dragging on the ground.

So voilà !

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These are floor tiles left over from the renovation of our bathroom.

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What the Garden Looks Like Today

We really have not made a great deal of changes to the garden, well I guess I need to take that back. We have had to chop down dead branches on almost every tree, cut foot long grass from the entire area and now pull weeds but have not put a great deal of money into the yard only time and hard work. So to look back on the garden and then look at today’s photos you would say we have done a great deal of work cleaning it up. First what it looked like beforehand, this was the first time we had seen the property back in May.

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I look back and you can’t even see the fence at the back of the garden it was so overgrown.  Here are todays pictures.

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Boy can I see a difference. And we have just begun…wait until we put in some furniture and I finish with making planters on the sidewalk…

What a Difference a Day Makes

So yesterday I took the great photos of the bush in bloom next to our porch, this afternoon the gardener came in and cut it down to around three feet…Almost all of the flowers are gone and it looks a bit sad to me.

Well it did need a trim, you need to have a good outlook when you are renting. Yet another reason for us to find our own home soon!