Those of you who follow this blog know that we publish certain posts under the category, “Slice of Life.” “Slice of life” stories attempt to portray what day to day life is like here in San Clemente, Ecuador. This post will show pictures of some new plants in our yard, but could qualify as a slice of life as well.
First the slice of life story:
I ride my bicycle over to a small store in San Jacinto a couple of times a month to get some items for Mary. The woman who runs that store is perhaps ten years older than I am and has lived in San Jacinto her whole life. I often will sit and visit with her for a few minutes before returning to San Clemente. She never is rushed and often tells me about San Jacinto history. Occasionally she will give me some extra vegetables or fruit and will tell me how they should be prepared.
One day several weeks ago this kind woman gave me two big slabs of cactus leaves. (I admit right up front that I do not know cactus terminology and these things that I am calling leaves might very well be called by some other name.) My friend told me that I could eat them or plant them. I was not too keen on eating them, so I asked her how I should plant them. She gave me the, “silly gringo” look that Ecuatorianos often give me when I ask a question that has an obvious answer and responded patiently that I should stick it in the ground and water it.
The point is that this is not uncommon. Most of the people we meet here are kind, loving, and generous people who patiently explain things and give us fish, vegetables, fruit, and lots and lots of love.
Anyway, these grey-green colored cactus leaves were about ten to twelve inches long, about a half of an inch thick, and roughly oval shaped. I brought them home and showed them to Mary. We learned from internet searches that these are a type of prickly pear cactus which indeed produce edible leaves and pear-like fruit.
We were not too sure about what we would do with these things, so I put them outside the back door on a table where they remained for a couple of weeks. Finally Mary and I figured we had nothing to lose by sticking them into the ground as instructed. I selected as spot along the parking lot area where we already have some succulent desert plants and simply stood them up in the dirt and watered them.
As I planted them I noticed that one of the leaves had two small flower buds on the top. I watched those “flowers” become two additional leaves with spiny growth all over the outside. After a couple of weeks I went to check these new plants again and I noticed new tiny blossoms on the other big leaf. This time I got my camera out to document the growth and development of these new buds.
This is what the two cactus leaves looked like on July 7th. The new leaves are growing quickly on this the left plant.
And on this the right plant you can just see the new buds on the top.
A close up of the new leaves on the left plant clearly shows why these plants are called “prickly!”
I already knew how quickly the little buds become new leaves, so I went out each morning this last week to take close-up shots of the developing buds. This is a close-up of the buds taken on July 7th:
Not too much change was seen on July 8th:
Nor was there much difference on July 9th:
But by July 11th I could see the small buds flattening out and starting to get their leaf-like shape:
This morning I took this picture of the small leaves clearly showing how they are turning into leaves.
This close-up shows that these new leaves will deserve their “prickly” title as these former flower petals become brittle spines.
I do not know if Mary and I will ever actually be eating these little cacti, but we are having fun watching plants that are new to us grow and develop here where…
Life is good in Ecuador!