Mexico Connect
Forums  > Areas > Central Highlands


alcuban

Jul 26, 2005, 8:44 PM

Post #1 of 13 (3246 views)

Shortcut

Gardening Possibilities

Can't Post | Private Reply
Has anyone determined where SMA falls in the range of USDA plant hardiness zones? Or which area in the US would be roughly comparable to SMA as far as climate for gardening and farming? I'd guess it would rank as semi-arid like San Diego, but SMA has a much higher elevation. Colorado? (too hot?) New Mexico (too desert-like?) Outside SMA the landscape goes from dark, seemingly fertile, irrigated land, to almost desert conditions.
Thank you.



Carol Schmidt


Jul 29, 2005, 9:16 AM

Post #2 of 13 (3209 views)

Shortcut

Re: [alcuban] Gardening Possibilities

Can't Post | Private Reply
I don't what the official range is, but you could consider what is grown here and then look at what range grows the same things. Broccoli is, I think, the largest agricultural crop. I see vast fields of corn, cabbage and what appear to be alfalfa plants. We do hit freezing a couple of times each winter but not enough to sustain the heavy frost apples and pears and such require each winter.

Under those hot house roofs, plastic or something, the farmers around here seem to grow almost everything. Stirling Dickinson's heritage includes an orchid garden someplace that's supposed to be fabulous but I've never been there yet, so orchids must grow here, maybe in a greenhouse, though.

On Candelaria Day Feb. 2 when Juarez Park turns into one giant nursery to start the spring planting frenzy, all the herbs are sold in planters, and thousands of geraniums, pansies, the usual garden flowers that seem to survive most places. Bougainvillea seems to be the number one plant around here. The lavender jacaranda trees are everywhere--the whole town is lost in a lavender mist in the spring. Poinsettias grow well enough to become two-story trees here, making for gorgeous Christmases.

But I'm just guessing. You're talking to the black thumb crowd in our house. SMA is high desert, that's the only classification I've ever heard, but we get around 25 inches of rain a year while Phoenix usually gets only 7, so not all deserts are created equal.

Carol Schmidt


gpk

Jul 29, 2005, 3:50 PM

Post #3 of 13 (3181 views)

Shortcut

Re: [alcuban] Gardening Possibilities

Can't Post | Private Reply
According to my partner, who is the gardener, SMA matches no defined zone. The reason is a combination of altitude, making it unlike much of the southern US, plus the monsoon summers and long dry season, making it unlike the southwest US. He has found the Houston garden books to be the most helpful in covering plants that will succeed here. There is a garden club in SMA and it is very active, so the members know everything there is to know about gardening in SMA--check them out.


wmhwilson


Aug 1, 2005, 2:05 PM

Post #4 of 13 (3105 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Carol Schmidt] Gardening Possibilities

Can't Post | Private Reply
hi Carol,
We have a pond here. Are there many water gardens in SMA or is water an issue.
Thanks
Bill and Jackie Wilson
Bill and Jackie Wilson
Wallingford,PA


johnv

Aug 1, 2005, 5:35 PM

Post #5 of 13 (3081 views)

Shortcut

Re: [alcuban] Gardening Possibilities

Can't Post | Private Reply
I don't know about the USDA or it's zones, but the climate of this state can best
be described as a mixture of steppe climate and temperate climate. A steppe
climate is one where evaporation exceeds precipitation and is charecterized by
desert-scrub interspersed with small hardy trees. A temperate climate is
characterized by a mixture of chapparal, oak and pine, and grazing lands. It
might be said that major portions of the state are similar to tropical savannah.


alcuban

Aug 1, 2005, 7:30 PM

Post #6 of 13 (3067 views)

Shortcut

Re: [johnv] Gardening Possibilities

Can't Post | Private Reply
Thank you for the very detailed description. Never seen a steppe, but I can picture the temperate climate half of your description. Just last night I was looking at an USDA map--very broad brush version--and I figured SMA/Guanajuato area to be somewhere around Zone 9, where the temperature may drop to 30 degrees but you don't have any hard freezes or snow. Of course all kinds of things happen in Zone 9, I'm sure. In Chicago, zone 5, it can be 15 degrees warmer or cooler near the lake than inland. Sometimes it snows along the lake while the sun shines a mile in.

I know SMA is semi-arid, but when I've been there I've wondered what could be done through drip irrigation or simply more judicious or frugal use of water. Last time I was in SMA I saw gardeners spraying their potted geraniums with a hose going full blast, water running down the side of the houses, and you feel like saying, you know, it's the geraniums that need the water, not the sidewalk. I've been to Israel twice on reporting assignments for my newspaper, and I've remained fascinated how the Israelis can get so much out of a land and environment that is so hostile. I've always thought it would be fascinating to attempt some sort of very water efficient gardening/farming in SMA.

Of course I have to get there first, and that isn't going to happen until November or so.

Thanks for the advice.


Carol Schmidt


Aug 1, 2005, 7:44 PM

Post #7 of 13 (3065 views)

Shortcut

Re: [wmhwilson] Gardening Possibilities

Can't Post | Private Reply
All the wealthier homes have pools or fountains or some sort of water feature. People garden as if there's no water shortage, watering their sidewalks, watering in the rain, etc. 80% of the water usage in the SMA area is for agriculture rather than domestic use so maybe that's how people justify it, they're not the real problem, the farmers are. The many fountains of SMA are a beautiful part of the city.

It is true that many areas around Atontonilco something like 10 or 15 miles away on the route to Dolores Hidalgo have free-flowing thermal springs on the properties. The mayor once said in one of his speeches to the foreign community that it is the high end of town, the south part, which has more of a water problem and there are often restrictions on getting new building permits, but the lower north end of town has less problems. The higher colonias include the wealthier ones, Los Balcones and Atascadero, and the lower ones include Aurora and Independencia where many gringos are buying now, if you've got a map to check out the areas. Plenty of new building is going on all over on the outskirts, high and low.

San Miguel gets about 25 inches of rain a year, according to the statistics I've seen, while Phoenix gets an average of 7 inches a year, to give you some perspective.

Carol Schmidt


sfmacaws


Aug 2, 2005, 3:06 AM

Post #8 of 13 (3056 views)

Shortcut

Re: [alcuban] Gardening Possibilities

Can't Post | Private Reply
I'm more familiar with the Sunset zones, I'd guess SMA is a zone 10. Here's what it says about zone 10


Quote
ZONE 10. High Desert Areas of Arizona, New Mexico, West Texas, Oklahoma Panhandle, and Southwest Kansas
Growing season: April to early Nov. Chilly (even snow-dusted) weather rules from late Nov. through Feb., with lows from 31 degrees to 24 degrees F/-1 degree to -4 degrees C. Rain comes in summer as well as in the cooler seasons.


I'm certain that you would benefit from the low water use systems common in Israel and parts of California. The problem would be convincing your gardener. Standing around with a hose is kind of like sweeping, a national pastime in Mexico.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




Carol Schmidt


Aug 2, 2005, 7:33 AM

Post #9 of 13 (3041 views)

Shortcut

Re: [sfmacaws] Gardening Possibilities

Can't Post | Private Reply
As someone said above, San Miguel traverses several growing bands. We lived at 1,800 feet in Phoenix, and it was much drier than here. And here the official growing season for homeowners starts Feb. 2 at Candelaria Day in Juarez Park, when we all buy this year's herbs and flowers.

According to Archie Dean's Insider's Guide, these are the amounts of precipitation on an average for San Miguel:
Jan. .5 inches
Feb. .1
March .2
April .8
ay 1.3
June 5.0
Jul 4;.7
Au;g. 4.6
Sep 4.7
Oct. 1.7
Nov. .6
Dec. .4

Carol Schmidt


Esteban

Aug 2, 2005, 8:08 AM

Post #10 of 13 (3037 views)

Shortcut

Re: [alcuban] Gardening Possibilities

Can't Post | Private Reply
I know farmers who use drip irrigation in Mazatlan. They use hommade emitters.

Mulching and other water saving ideas are not widely practised but with a little education, totally possible.

While I was up in the foothills searching for Pre-Columbian artifacts, I came across a few fields that were not plowed horizontally. They were plowed just the opposite of what EVERYONE knows to be correct. It was good for uncovering artifacts because the erosion was rampant. Environmentally correct techniques need to be taught. Another reason to learn Spanish!


alcuban

Aug 2, 2005, 7:21 PM

Post #11 of 13 (3011 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Esteban] Gardening Possibilities

Can't Post | Private Reply
it gets really complicated to change some of these customs, because you are fighting traditions and plain inertia. It happens in the States too, where farmers are very resistant to switching to other crops or methods of farming. A great part of the problem are federal subsidies which in many cases pay farmers to grow things that otherwise would not make any sense to grow. That's why we keep growing corn, even though we are up to our ears in the stuff, no pun intended.

At the other extreme, as I've travelled through Mexico I've always been struck by the tiny lots of corn that every farmer feels he must have. Twenty corn plants are not going to produce very much, and that farmer might be better off (and make a heck of a lot richer) planting stuff that is better suited to the space and climate, like spices (oregano, basil or whatever) and using very efficient cultivation methods. The same could be done with garden plants. I was surprised to see public gardens in SMA, some quite nice, yet the thought of mulching (to save water and cut off the weeds) didn't seem to have occurred to anyone. And you're right, those water hoses splashing in every direction but the roots of the plants...

I'd like to study this stuff when I get there (soon I hope), and get together with anyone who is interested and knows something about this stuff. (I know very little) There have to be agriculture departments at the public universities in Guanajuato or Queretaro, like ag extensions in the States. If not, the problem is bigger than I imagined.


sfmacaws


Aug 2, 2005, 9:11 PM

Post #12 of 13 (2998 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Carol Schmidt] Gardening Possibilities

Can't Post | Private Reply
According to Sunset, Phoenix is a zone 12 and Tucson is a 13. The extreme heat of the summers distinguishes them. Zone 10 in Az is found in places like Benson or Kingman, not as cold as Flagstaff but higher in altitude and not as hot as Tucson. I still think that this is the closest zone for SMA.

As to when to plant in the spring, tradition probably plays a big part in the Candelmas date. Planting dates by zone are set by the last frost and while you might not get a frost after early Feb, I'm betting that it does happen and isn't uncommon. Plants may live and produce that are planted while the nights are still cold but they often don't get as big or grow as quickly as ones that are planted later in warmer soil with warmer nightime lows. Still, tradition is often stronger than science.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




Carol Schmidt


Aug 3, 2005, 2:33 AM

Post #13 of 13 (2989 views)

Shortcut

Re: [sfmacaws] Gardening Possibilities

Can't Post | Private Reply
gpk above mentions the SMA garden club, and it would indeed be a good group to join, not just to learn local gardening tips. I have a friend who produces the Garden Club's annual photography calendar, a fundraiser for projects to beautify SMA, particularly Parque Juarez.

The people in charge of the Botanic Garden on the outskirts of town are doing a lot to educate everyone on environmental issues. The Jardin Botanico Conservation Area, 14 years old now, includes 250 acres, with a canyon, lake, ancient dam and hiking trails. There's a nursery with some 30,000 plants for sale, many of them local cacti and such, to help pay for the upkeep of the gardens. A nonprofit group called Cante manages many of the projects and also Stirling Dickinson's orchid gardens in Atascadero, Santo Domingo 38.

There's also a water advisory group that helps the city plan long-range water management policies, and I think citizens are invited to join if they want to do some hard work to bring about better water ecology practices.

Carol Schmidt
 
 
Search for (advanced search) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.4