What Ants Don’t Like: Cactus

It’s la guerra de hormigas, the war of the ants. For several years now I’ve tried to grow lime, avocado and fig trees, and Bougainvillea with varying success. Mostly, not.

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The chapulines (grasshoppers) love these plants, too.  Both the ants and the grasshoppers consume large quantities of beautiful leafy green.  The local antidote is to tie a plastic bag tightly around the trunk of the tree or bush to keep the ants from invading and then pray. Since chapulines fly, we just wait for the season to pass, water regularly and hope the plant will not die.

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That’s why I’m starting a cactus garden.  No one likes those prickly, spiny barbs that protect the cactus from predators.  That’s why I asked friends if they would like to bring cactus starts from their own plants as a housewarming birthday gift to help me get my cactus garden going.

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That’s why I especially asked Josefina to bring me a cutting of her big, beautiful geraniums whose leaves are so pungent that anything that crawls keeps its distance.

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The rare and prickly Biznaga cactus

Some of these cactus are becoming very rare, like the beautiful bulbous Biznaga and the tall, graceful Gar Bii Dauu (a Zapotec word for this rare cactus from the Central Valley of Oaxaca).  Others are found in the countryside growing wild and can be easily transplanted.  Just break off a spear and stick it in the ground.  Cactus know where they belong. Here in the dry earth of Oaxaca.

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Yesterday morning after planting the starts into pots a huge, gunpowder grey cloud rose up over the mountains from the east.  By mid-afternoon a huge rain descended upon us and gave these new starts a proper watering.

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For now, the war is over and I win.

Thanks for the succulent succulents, for joining me in celebration, and for making my gardening life easier:  Soledad, Ernestina, Lupita, Tom, Jo Ann, Lupe, Daniel, Josefina, Magdalena, Rosario, Janet, Jan, Annie, Roberta, Lynda, Stephanie, Rafaela, Mariano, Luvia, Samuel, Fe y Lola, Omar Cha San, Janetita, Lori, Shannon, and Martha.

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