The chayote invasion

We have the sex motel on one side and sullen neighbors on the other. There is one good thing about the sullen neighbors, just one. Unlike so many Mexicans, they do not blare music into the heavens at full volume late into the night.

This is very unusual.

Nineteen years in this woebegone barrio, and the neighbors have thrown just one party, and they did it in the afternoon, not the middle of the night. We simply drove downtown till it blew over.

Because our windows were vibrating.

But they are not nice people. As mentioned, they are sullen, the mom, the dad and the two teen boys. It was the boys who broke a huge glass pane above our upstairs terraza some months ago.

We are convinced of that.

The neighbor couple is fond of planting things directly abutting the wall that separates our properties. The wall, by the way, is ours, not theirs. It’s been fruit trees, a nopal tree, etc., and all are trash tossers, much of it falling on our side of the wall for me to pick up.

Now they’ve outdone themselves. For what appears to be a stretch of about 10 miles in length, they’ve planted chayote, which is a form of squash that is versatile and tasty. I love it. But there is a downside. The plant is incredibly invasive. If you’ve traveled in the southeastern United States you’ve likely seen kudzu.

Chayote views kudzu as a role model.

Just yesterday morning, I made my first whack-back — the photo was taken after that cut — whacking the dangling onslaught back to the top of the wall. I then raked up what I’d cut, and heaved it over into their yard. Maybe they’ll get the message. Don’t hold your breath.

At least they don’t host concerts in the middle of the night.

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(Update: The above was written yesterday noonish. As mentioned, I had cut a bunch of the plant that had invaded our side, and I heaved it over the wall into the neighbors’ yard. In the afternoon, I headed downtown for my customary cafe Americano negro on the plaza and a little me time with my friend Kindle.

I returned to the Hacienda after 6 p.m., and this is what I saw. All of the invading plant had been whacked below the ridgeline. My tossing the trash over the wall had its effect. I am surprised but happy.

Clean as a Mexican whistle.

The depths of August

Fifteen minutes earlier, it was impossible to sit there due to the fronds.

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It’s worse every August, two months into the monsoon season. I curse my planting of so many things years ago when I was a horticultural ignoramus. The philodendron in the photo is an example. I’m resting my old bones after removing about a dozen of those huge leaves, which were drooping to the grass.

Speaking of grass, all of what you see and much, much more will be stone and concrete by January. That’s this fall’s reversal plan, turning greenery into lovely, maintenance-free rock.

By mid-August, the constant rain since early June has put muscle into the yard. I really should hire a gardener. But wait! I have one, Abel the Deadpan Yardman, and he does more than mow on occasion, mostly tossing what I cut into the ravine at the tail of the dead-end street out back. I just need to alter his job description.

When I replace this grass with stone, he’ll have even less to mow, but I’ll pay him the same, so I need to provide more chores.

Looking to another part of the yard, we encounter this below, the Willy-Nilly Zone, at least half of it. This is where the monster aloe vera lived until I had it removed last year. It was at the back, to the right. It monopolized at least a quarter of the space, and since its departure, eager beavers took up the slack. Most are weeds.

What is a weed? It’s a plant growing where you don’t want it.

I tried to control them at first, but it was an impossible task. Thankfully, the zone is trapped by stone and concrete! There are some desired plants in there. The datura tree, a stand of red-hot pokers, a bridal bouquet that doesn’t bloom much anymore, some lilies, that cactus in the foreground.

Also, a line of something I planted along the near border 18 years ago. And some ground cover my child bride tossed in there way back. But there are lots of weeds too. It all rather blends together, however. It’s not called the Willy-Nilly Zone for no reason.

Maybe I should yank it all out and lay concrete and stone.

That’s always a superlative option.

The Willy-Nilly Zone, full of Lord knows what.

Battling the bushes

twins
Aloe vera on the left, philodendron on the right. Both growing again.

THURSDAY MORNINGS there’s a mercado on the neighborhood plaza just down the way. Mostly, it’s fruits and veggies, but you can also find fresh fish flopping atop a tarp on the sidewalk, and used clothing and deep-fried pigskin from a copper vat.

What you cannot find, at least today, are decent avocados. Prices are really high lately, and one effect of that is that street vendors do not buy them to sell because they don’t sell. You can still find avocados easily in supermarkets, however.

Returning home following my morning exercise walk, I looked about the yard. The rainy season does good things and bad things too. All have to do with rampant growth. The grass gets green (good), and it must be mowed (bad).

Plants that were chillin’ over winter and spring muscle up. Habitual passers-by here at The Unseen Moon will recall that I’ve eliminated quite a few yard plants over the last year or so, to my happiness and my child bride’s dismay.

Some, like the cursed peach tree and monster pear tree, are gone altogether. Here’s a shot from 2015. That’s the peach on the left. The pear is barely visible farther on, right side. Also, you’ll notice the old, stone Jesus Patio.

old
Olden days. Funky, funky and more funky.

We now sport a cleaner look.

new
These days. Sleek and fresh. Time to party!

That big aloe vera in the top photo is whacked back a bit, something I did this morning. I also trimmed the other aloe vera that sits outside our bedroom. I did that a couple of days ago. The cuttings rest in what I call the Garden Patio, below.

Abel the Deadpan Yardman will be here Saturday to mow the grass and weedeat. I’ll have him haul the aloe vera cuttings down the street where he’ll toss them into the ravine.

pile
Lots of burn treatment available in this pile.

Remember the colossal bougainvillea I had removed a few months ago? Here’s how she looked then with my child bride providing size perspective.

bougain

And then I had her removed, all but the base.

New Image

But like an unruly woman, she’s reasserting herself, but I’ve got the upper hand now and will bend her to my considerable will. She’ll learn who’s her Daddy.

bougain baby
Just you wait, Dearie.

In an ideal world, plants with attitude would be eliminated completely from the Hacienda property, and only polite ones would stay put.

shade
Yellow looks nice. Bugs love to get between the net and the glass. Then they die.

In other news, the fellows who installed the shade netting in the renovated upstairs terraza last month will return today or tomorrow to remove the yellow net we chose at first. The reason is that it hangs below the glass domo, trapping bugs which then die there. Due to the light color of the net, the bug graveyard is horribly visible. Creepy.

So the yellow netting will be removed, and a darker, greenish one will be installed atop the glass, not below. This will also add a bit of protection against hail damage.

Never a dull moment. And if you read this far down, a Gold Star and Honorable Mention will be added to your permanent record. Congrats.

House of horrors

phil
Seven feet high! Doesn’t look it. I just finished whacking it back.

I DON’T WANT this to become a gardening website, but awful things merit mention.

The plant in the photo, a philodendron, is about seven feet tall.  Before moving to Mexico, I thought philodendrons were little, potted plants for the home. Only sometimes.

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Better Homes & Gardens says this about philodendrons:

(It’s) one of the toughest houseplants you can possibly grow. Whether you choose upright or trailing/climbing types, they are perfectly happy in a home setting. Even people with so-called “black thumbs” are usually successful at growing these plants. Philodendrons are very low maintenance and can sit idle for long periods. You can train them up a trellis or simply leave them to their own devices — philodendrons will survive no matter what.

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By toughest houseplants, they don’t mean tough to grow. Quite the contrary. It’s a tough customer. Very low maintenance? Will survive no matter what? No joke!

Not only does this grow easily. It multiplies. It started with one little stalk about a decade ago. Now it has many and continues to add more. And the plant is creepy. As it grows, it tosses “stuff” below. It’s the sort of stuff you’d expect to see in a werewolf movie, the scene in which the villagers discover what happened in the forest overnight. Oh, gross!

But this is one plant I do not plan to remove because it doesn’t toss trash over a wide area, just at its base. I do wish it would stop the proliferation of stalks, however.

I foolishly planted another in the small, carport, garden area of the Downtown Casita. It too is beefing up at a remarkable pace. I never seem to learn.

trash
The wheelbarrow contains just a bit of the gooey, grim material found at the plant’s base. The photo does not do justice to the miserable stuff.