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Only one week left for the Downtown Growers’ Market. Sad face!

It was cold, cold, cold this morning! As the morning warms, I’m sure the turnout will grow. They have all sorts of Halloween festivities and live music planned, so hopefully lots of people will take advantage of the fun today.

Me, I’m just trying to stay warm.

I’ll be back Monday, hope to see you here.

Remember a couple of months ago when I started talking about chayotes? I’ve been slightly obsessed with them ever since.

Which is weird, because they’re ugly and you all know I like pretty things better.

See, they’re ugly:

A face only a mother could love!

I’d never seen a chayote before a couple of months ago. They’re in the gourd family, very similar to squash, native to Mexico.

Sandra asked if I’d experiment with growing them for her. She wanted to use them in her farmer’s frito pie that she sells at Albuquerque’s downtown growers’ market each summer (in an oriental take-out box, she layers lightly seasoned pinto beans, adds a layer of basmati rice seasoned with tumeric, then she pours her red chile calabacitas mix over the layers, adds a little cilantro, a dash of olive oil, sunflower seeds and if you’d like, Fritos. It’s vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free, and it’s one of best breakfasts in town.)

She didn’t know how to grow them but she liked that they are a little more nutritious than traditional squash. They also held up better in her calabacitas. Regular squash has a tendency to fall apart, but chayote is sturdier.

That’s how my obsession began.

There’s not a lot of information about chayotes out there, but from what I gathered, the seed can only germinate inside the fruit. So planting from seed is not an option.

One helpful site suggested putting the fruit in a sunny window to make them sprout. Another suggested putting them in a dark spot to force them to sprout.

I decided to give the sunny window a shot.

I went to one of the Mexican grocery stores in town and bought a bunch of chayotes. Some to eat, some to sprout.

Here are two, back at the end of March:

Within just a few days, something started happening. The monster began to open his mouth.

Oh yeah, for sure something was happening now. You may want to scroll really fast through the following photos to get a feel for the drama:

What is it doing? What is it doing? I can’t stand the suspense!


Hey, wait a second. What’s happening now?

Where did all that gross stuff come from?

We definitely have a problem.

It was too early to plant it outside.

That fruit is getting uglier by the day.

Pretty disgusting.

This experiment isn’t really going so well.

Oh dear.

That didn’t go well at all!

Luckily, I didn’t rely on only that one fruit. I also had these in a sunny window:

Within a couple of weeks, they looked like this:

And then there was this little champion:

Do that scroll fast thing again.

Go, chayote, go!

I experimented with five chayotes and each one was totally different. The one rotted, another sprouted a good six inches, one sprouted about 3 inches with several leaves, another did nothing, and the last one sprouted just a teeny bit.

I read that you should plant chayotes in pairs, so I planted four in the back yard along the fence. I’ll do a separate post about that. The fifth chayote was sent to live on Kitty’s farm, alongside one she sprouted.

The chayote has a long growing season, so Sandra won’t be able to use mine this season in her frito pie. But hopefully once they’re established, they’ll come back year after year.

While they’re outside growing, my kitchen windowsill is fabulously free of chayotes for the first time since late March.


Now I can concentrate more on eating the chayotes instead of sprouting them.

Psssst, hey, Albuquerqueans. Wanna good breakfast this morning? Then go to the Downtown Growers’ Market (8th and Central) and find these jokers:

Farmer’s Frito Pie…mmmmmm! It’s an oh-so-delicious way to begin your day. See you there!

I don’t know if it’s because I grew up on a farm, but I’ve always been drawn to the farmers’ markets.

In college, my roommate and I would go to the market on Saturday mornings for fresh flowers. And to scope on the hottie farmers.

After college, I worked long hours, I didn’t have time for my own vegetable garden. So I depended on the farmers’ markets to feed me.

Every new city or town in which I’ve lived, I’ve sought out the local market.

Now that I live in Albuquerque, I’ve found a great community at the downtown growers’ market. I’m grateful to have been on the “inside” for the last two summers, helping Sandra sell her delicious food and drinks. But now I’m sad – the last market of the season for us was this past Halloween weekend.

So no more of this adorableness greeting me each Saturday morning:

That’s Helen, Patty and Sophia – their booth was next door to Sandra’s, so they spoiled us. A LOT.

And no more visits from the fine Lewis Casey (sans his sunflower head you might be more used to seeing him wearing):

All summer, Lewis brought treats from his garden for Sandra and me – peppers, figs, pomegranates! Thanks Lewis!

It was a busy fun day, so I didn’t get a chance to get photos of everyone. But a big thank you to all the farmers, in particular, Viva Verde Farm, Chispas Farm, Amyo Farm, and Dragon Farm. You guys fed me all summer, so thank you! And thanks especially to Sandra for two very fun summers in a row. I’m going to miss your farm bowl, girl!

I managed to get a shot of the pet costume contest:

Haha, bulldogs dressed as tiny sharks – people are funny with their dogs!

I’ll be back manana, hope to see you here!

Hi peaches, and happy Wednesday!

I want you to race through the following photos of Miss Mimosa, the Sensitive Plant I picked up at the farmers’ market, as if they were in one of those flip books. Ready? You have to scroll really, really fast. Ok, go!

Haha, did it work? Could you see it move? It’s exactly like a flip book.

On Saturday, there was a lull at Sandra’s booth, so I dashed over to the booth with the gorgeous plants, Rio Valley Greenhouse. When I get a break from work, I don’t normally look for plants – usually I’m busy buying vegetables from the farmers. But this past Saturday, I decided to check out what they had.

Among other plants, they had Mimosas. My heart skipped a beat and I walked around to grill Kathy. “Kathy,” I asked (probably a little too eagerly). “Where did you get those Mimosa plants?” She answered, “I grew ’em from seed.”

From seed? My God, woman! Just like that, she skyrocketed to the top of my list of favorite farmers’ market people. I mean, she was already pretty high on the list because she’s super sweet and her kids are adorable and her husband helps Sandra set up the tent and he’s the one who roasts the chiles, too. But now I learn she grows Mimosa plants from seed? That’s like plant goddess status in my mind! I was (am) so impressed.

Why am I so crazy about these Mimosa plants? It’s long been my dream to get Mimosa plants into classrooms around Albuquerque. As evidenced in the photos above, the leaves literally close when you touch them. Kids would be able to see proof that plants are living, breathing creatures. What a masterful teacher a Sensitive Plant would be!

But I hadn’t seen one in years. Dad had one at the farmhouse when we were kids. I remember being enthralled.

Now, not only do I have one – Kathy gave me one (I tried to pay!) – but now I know someone who can grow them for me. Yay! Oh yeah, I am smitten with this plant! I might even venture into video for something this fun.

What do you think I should name her? I’ve been calling her Miss Mimosa because it rolls off the tongue pretty well. But I’m open to something more specific to a gal like her. If you have experience with Mimosa plants (not the cocktail, although I’m sure that would make for fine stories), I’d love to hear about them.


See you manana!

One more reason why September and October are the best times to visit Albuquerque, New Mexico:

Hi pretzels, and happy Thursday!

So, I’m working on a post for today that I’m excited to share with you. Buuuuuut, I’m not done with it yet, so you’ll have to wait until this afternoon when I’m home from work.

In lieu of plan A, here’s plan B – a shameless plug for the Downtown Growers’ Market on Saturday:

Come have breakfast with Sandra and me this Saturday. I’m going to be helping her sell her Farmers’ Frito Pies. I’ve talked about her food before – she serves it in an oriental take-out container, it’s a layer of lightly seasoned Pinto beans, followed by a layer of Basmati rice, followed by a layer of red chile Calabacitas (mild red chile, squash, corn, onions, garlic), and then she tops it off with a little Olive oil, some Cilantro, a few sunflower seeds and Fritos (all optional). It’s vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. And unbelievably delicious.

The market gets busy this time of year, so come early! I’ll be there from 8ish to 11ish. She’ll be there earlier, like 7a.m. The market is on 8th and Central in downtown Albuquerque.

If you live in Iowa, start driving now!

Besides the delicious food, she also makes drinks – Hibiscus tea, Jasmine tea and Limeade.

Ok, I gotta run – check back this afternoon and I’ll have a proper post for you! It’s a beautiful morning in Albuquerque – I hope it is in your neck of the woods, too!

Here’s wishing the Internet could transmit smell:

Aaahhhhh, chile roasting has begun in Albuquerque!! For those of you who’ve never smelled chiles roasting, it’s a spicy, hot smell that comes in waves. Ok, that’s a lame-o description, but I’m not sure what words can describe how the smell gets stuck in the back of my mouth because I try to drink the smell. It’s that delicious.

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About Me

Hi! My name is Liza. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting! I'm a Midwestern gal now living in Arizona, after many years of living in and owning a plant care business in New Mexico.

Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if they're indoor plants, they are 100% dependent on human care. They cannot water themselves.

I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

Please let me know if you have questions or if you would like help with your plants or garden. You can reach me at lizatheplantlady (at) gmail (dot) com or follow me on Twitter, Lizawheeler7.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. All content is also entirely my hard work. If you'd like to use any content or photos, all you have to do is ask. If you take without asking, you are a thief. And thieves suck. So don't suck. We have a deal? Good.