The long answer

Anonymous, asked me this question on my previous post. I started to answer and I did in part, but it’s really deserves a post of it’s own.

What is it you wish to grow, then? We had assumed you could have most anything fresh from the market so you would be using terracotta planters and decorating with tropicals–though real trabajo en barro is nicer, there are lots of cheap composite and resin pots and planters (here, NOB) that mimic them and weigh much less. Is that the concern? Weight? Those big plastic buckets on one of your links work–an old woman here has made her formal back garden into something from BBC’s “The Good Life”. Nobody complains because she’s generous with the home-grown tomatoes. Rooftop, you have only yourselves to please, but probably have restricted access and other issues we’d not think of. Hope it turns out just as you want. Oh, pics ar probably a hassle so no worries, they’re welcome but not essential.

I really like to garden, just planting a few things and then stopping isn’t my style. My gardening style is more of a cottage garden, vegetables mixed with flowers. Our yard is small with most of the space taken up by the terraza, the parking pad for the car and the big orange tree in the center of the remaining space. The pool will use up about 60% of that space. The bananas take up a good chunk too. The easily accessible portion of our roof which includes the space over the terraza is bigger than the yard currently is, let alone after the pool is made.
When we made the terraza we also had stairs made to the roof and a pipe stand for water is up there. Since our propane tank is there, it makes it easier to check on whether it needs filling or not and cleaning our tinaco is simpler too. I don’t like climbing 20 foot tall ladders very much.

Weight and of course, money is always a concern. Costco has nice looking resin pots but they are really pricey, twice what real terracotta or cement would cost. Terracotta has the less than charming habit of deteriorating and concrete is heavy. I’ve never had problems with the people who sell terracotta delivering the pots upstairs, but the concrete people refuse to do so. Which means that I would have to find someone to carry them upstairs or do so myself which is not possible. So that leaves plastic.

What do I want to grow? Tomatoes that taste good and oriental eggplants top the list. I also wouldn’t mind growing some guavas other than the round kind you buy here. I want to grow some more basil and a few other herbs. I’d like to grow different colored chard, yucca would be nice. I want to grow some yellow string beans and fresh garbanzo and maybe some other stuff.I’d like to grow nasturtiums for salads. Nicotania and daturas because of the scent.

Mérida is located in a dry thorn desert. I didn’t do my homework, I just sort of assumed it was the tropics like Veracruz. The Mercado Galvez isn’t like the one in San Cristobal de las Casas. Generally the quality is no different than going to the supermarket and the selection is smaller. You can buy roma tomatoes, most of which come from the same place, the Centro de Abastos, not someone’s garden. The same with the potatoes, white cabbage, carrots and green pumpkin. There are lots of chiles available and the common spices. You can buy papaya, coconut, pineapple and bananas all year round, mangoes and avocado when in season. The mercado is a great place to go for fruit and they sell yucca too. The last time I was there, I think I saw a vendor that had bell peppers. I have never seen jalapeños or serranos, I don’t remember seeing poblanos either, but those are available in the supermarkets. Sometimes there is kohlrabi there too.
I don’t plan on growing cabbage, carrots or radishes, I would like to grow some mesclun type salad mix this winter. I may even plant a papaya because it’s such a tropical looking plant. If I can get a plant or seeds I might plant another passion vine, this time the kind that fruits.

About Theresa Diaz Gray

Born in New York City, I grew up in California, and have lived in 3 countries and 6 states. I'm a first generation Cuban-American who lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I'm committed to living an abundant and creative life and helping others do so too through DIY!


  1. Hi Pete, I keep buying seeds at Home Depot and places like that, but I bet if we wander around the agricultural supply stores around (Calle 54 y 67?) there are more things available. I have sucessfully ordered seeds from Thompson and Morgan in the UK.

    Marie,You are so right. Gardens grow and change. I have changed my gardening ideas several times since being here. I originally thought that nothing would grow here, but now I am thinking differently.


  2. seems like these types of projects start with a plan, and then need to be modified as they unfold. adjust for real perspective and proportions. not always the same when we are thinking about things.

  3. Keep us posted. We are working on getting together some roof gardens too. I am in the information gathering stage now. Have had a couple of containers built and are looking for the right soil that is light weight, and looking for the right seeds and plants.

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