Why I do it.

I woke up with this idea for a blog post, receiving the following comment (and the unsigned anonymous comment  that I deleted because it was unsigned asking pretty much the same thing) convinced me it was a good topic.

Calypso said…
I can not wrap my brain around gardening here in Mexico – The veggies and fruits are so good here and inexpensive for the most part – it just doesn’t inspire an effort to grow your own.

Being from California, I am not all that impressed with the quality or variety of vegetables available here in Yucatán,. When we went to Chiapas I was stunned by the variety of vegetables and beans available. Huge cauliflowers, colourful beans, and berries. Here you can buy two types of tomatoes, either a paste type or a round one. Most of the vendors buy their produce at the centro de abastos (google translates this as supply center, I think of it as the wholesale market ). Costco has cherry tomatoes and sweet little grape tomatoes but I don’t do my grocery shopping there as a rule.
As for the price, yes, if you buy in season and what the locals eat, it is much cheaper than NOB produce.
All that aside, I just plain like to grow stuff. I like the taste of vine ripened tomatoes. When I stopped having a vegetable garden, La Primera complained to me that store bought tomatoes” taste like dirt”. I never asked her how she knew what dirt tasted like, because I understood the sentiment.
My goal is to eat more vegetables and salads, I cannot imagine a better way than growing them myself. While I like the carrots here, I bought seeds for red carrots, something you don’t find in the marketplace.
I’ve read where the home gardener doesn’t really save any money. I’m sure you have read about the $64 Tomato (yes, that is dollars not pesos!), and the guy whose book I cannot remember, but he tried to farm in New York City without having a clue of what he was doing. Since my resources are limited, so is my liability. I am a simple gardener, I save seed, I compost and it works for me. Buying the original seeds does cost, but it’s an investment in health and well being. It’s all part of who I am, another outlet for creativity.
I garden because I like it, same reason I do crafts, cook and blog.

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. Calypso, if you read “An Account of the Things of Yucatan: Written by the Bishop of Yucatan, Based on the Oral Traditions of the Ancient Mayas”
    it seems like the soil here is or was very fertile. The main problem is that it’s thin. Yucatan is on a limestone shelf so you need to make raised beds,which is traditional here. I have read that Yucatans are very conservative to adopt new foods, so they aren’t as likely to plant or buy new varieties of things.

    Lynette, I have heard hysterical stories about people smuggling in cheese and other stuff from Tabasco through the agricultural check points.
    I looked on Amazon and they estimate that the $85 pressure canner will cost $245 for shipping and duty! just about what it would cost to buy here. If I can’t get it here another way (my sil is coming down) I will gladly take you up on your offer.
    If you are canning, ship jars, rings and tops too. They aren’t available here. There’s jars you can use but not exactly mason jars.

  2. Wow, that’s crazy pricing, Theresa. We’re shipping a container early next year. If you can find one you want here ~ cheaper ~ I can bring it down for you.

    Well that sucks. I didn’t realize there were agricultural inspectors between the states. 🙁

  3. “I just plain like to grow stuff”

    A good enough reason for sure.

    The fruits and veggies available here in our part of Veracruz are so tasty – we still have top soil here and in many parts of Mexico.

  4. Hi Linda! they were good tasting just odd looking. I am going to plant more and see what happens. Maybe they will like the cooler weather we’ve been having. I should post the photos you took.


  5. There is a special taste of the fruits(of one’s labor) from one’s garden. I was fortunate to enjoy two of your little cukes. They were heavenly, really, thanks for sharing. You can’t buy the taste of the love put into homegrown fruits and veggies.

  6. Leah, I’m with you, I have planted stuff on balconies, inside the house, everywhere that I have lived I have planted something.

  7. Tancho, I have a huge seed supply now, but thanks for the offer. I am hoping that winter will be good for lettuce etc.

    jennifer rose,I love snipping some green onions to add to dishes. My parsley didn’t come up, but I read that it can take a month or more from seed to sprout.

    Cynthia, I loved the photos of your garden on the blog. Having finally found some large sunflower seeds, I am going to plant them too. This years were more for show than eating.

    Lynette, the secret to tomatoes in pots is well draining soil and watering daily so they don’t split. I bet there as many tomato growing secrets as there are tomato growers.
    The lack of ability to garden like I want to is one of the reasons I wouldn’t live at the beach. Though you can grow succulents pretty well there I think.
    The only problem with your plan that I can see is getting the produce past the agricultural inspectors unless you mean we should do the canning in Chiapas etc and bring that home.
    I just priced pressure canners and they start at three thousand pesos for a Presto 23 liter and five thousand almost six thousand for some other brand, I didn’t recognize. My brain froze at that point.


  8. I agree, it feels good to grow your own food. Here in the city I have no space to do so, except for a few potted plants. Even those bring me job, along with my flowers. 🙂

  9. I also like to grow stuff, so it’s going to be an adjustment to our place on the beach, with two small tree wells and a whole lot of tile. I’ve been thinking about planting the outside back wall, though, and growing herbs in pots. It’s so hot and dry in Oklahoma, I’ve not had much luck with growing tomatoes in pots, so I really don’t imagine they’ll do well in Yucatan either. We’ll see. I’ll have to try, because gardening is like breathing: I simply must.

    I’ve read your opinion of local produce before, Ms. T, so I’ve thought about taking field trips. It’s a long way to Puebla, but berry season might be worth it. A weekend in San Cristobal to gather enough good produce to can? I’ve wondered about growing a mesclun lettuce mix in boxes. Again, too hot in Oklahoma to do that outside of spring. Maybe Yucatan winter lettuce?

    But beyond any other vegetable, good tomatoes are a must, and I’ve noticed the lack in the local markets.

  10. I’m also with you, Theresa. You say, “I just plain like to grow stuff” and so do I. It must have been a science project in grade school where we all planted a seed of some sort and watered it and watched it sprout out of the soil and grow into something green. Except for our tomatoes we used seed for everything this past summer and it was very satisfying to watch little seeds, combined with water and love, turn into plants which then turned into food. Right now Mike has our sunflower seeds drying on the patio and Mr. Squirrel just came by to stuff his cheeks. Pictures to follow on the blog…

  11. I’m with you, Teresa. Beyond growing what’s not available to purchase here in Mexico, there is the convenience aspect. Picking your own scallions and parsley as you need it beats racing to the store for these things, which then leads to rooting around in the vegetable drawer for the same a month later.

  12. You are lucky living in the area you do, because the climate lends itself to a year round growing season…At our elevation the only thing that grows well are lettuces,carrots,potatoes and a few other items.
    Forget tomatoes since they long spells of high heat..
    An easy way is to make some raised boxes so you don’t have to bend over, and go for it.
    If you need seeds let me know, as I get them sent from NOB regularly and can forward designer tomato seed to you.

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