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There can be water shortages in various neighborhoods, then water can become more expensive because it is tanked in to fill the reservoirs which most houses have here (some have two or three). But even delivered water is not so expensive to prevent gardening. There has never been a killing frost here and, for example, all varieties of plants which can be grown in Hawaii can be grown here. This does create a problem that certain insects are never eliminated. Last year, with a long, rainy season we had a problem with scale for the first time (at least in our location). Luckily the weather changed and we have not seen it back, so far. Mexican gardeners call the scale "Plaga". Some areas with poor ventilation and cool, wet areas get the Plaga every year. It can only really be treated by hand or destroying/burning the plant. You still have to pay attention to USDA climate zones - we are about Zone 9, but there is a seasonal factor which does not exist in the U.S., even including Hawaii, so really we are sub-tropical, not tropical.

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The gardening sounds terrific! And Garden clubs and orchid societies! Amazing. We are currently living in Cuenca Ecuador, at an elevation of 8200 feet, and around a Zone 9 equivalent, but with more rain here, so I am guessing it is quite similar to your area. We struggle with fungus problems here. Can you tell me more about the water reservoirs? Are these underground cisterns filled by rains? Are both Chapala and Ajijic good gardening areas?

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We are at 5000 feet so I would guess the climate is not that similar. It maybe more similar to San Cristobal that is at 7200 feet. We do not get stuck in clouds like higher elevations do not much chipi chipi here.

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North shore of Lake Chapala is USDA climate zone 11 (Sunset Climate Zone H1)

Water costs vary, as some locations are metered, others not. We have a large garden that gets watered daily.

Our water bill is $1100 pesos ($70 US) per year. Pay in January and get a 10 % discount off that.

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That is a large garden and a good price for the water. Are there talks in Jocotopec to meter the large properties like there are in Chapala? Here they told me I had to go with meters , I paid for the water and told them to come and install a meter they told me they

would come that week, that was in January..never showed up but I would think it is just a quesion of time, unless they drop the idea..who knows.

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Trying to read between the lines, it sounds as if we were to obtain a property WITHOUT a water meter, the cost for water will be small, say under $10-20 per month. But if we get a large property WITH a water meter, the costs could be $100 per month or more? Am I understanding you people correctly?

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You are understanding things. Remember there aren't just one or two different water systems there are hundreds. There are wells all over the place. Some systems have meters some don't. A well may serve one property or hundreds.

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Garth - did you know that in the "Racquet Club", San Juan Cosala, the household water is piped from a natural hot springs, unlimited hot water (it may be metered though, I don't know). $100 per month sounds rare to me. Maybe a small farm on waterless land? Anyone paying that price would drill their own well or move.

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Cedros, interesting. I read somewhere that Lake Chapala is the main water source for Guadalajara? Is that right? I just assumed that Lakeside water was drawn from Lake Chapala. But I am now understanding that the main source of water Lakeside is from wells?

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I have a non metered 1300 m2 lot in Ajijic and I pay over 5500 pesos a year. Wether it is metered or not does not depend on you but on the municipality┬┤rule. Of course if you

want a meter you can order one.

The Chapala municipality is pushing for meters for larger properties, I do not know what the Jocotepec municipaly is doing.

If you move to the Chapala area you may have to install a meter if you are on the city system. There are lots of variations and some larger properties have well so it all depends on the property.

You will have to check the water and electricity bills before moving .

By the way the underground rights do not belong to the property owners so you cannot drill a well like you could in the US.There are lots of wells though.

The water lakeside comes from wells. Some of the water from the lake goes to Guadalajara.

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Cedros, interesting. I read somewhere that Lake Chapala is the main water source for Guadalajara? Is that right? I just assumed that Lakeside water was drawn from Lake Chapala. But I am now understanding that the main source of water Lakeside is from wells?

Yes, wells.

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Garth - did you know that in the "Racquet Club", San Juan Cosala, the household water is piped from a natural hot springs, unlimited hot water (it may be metered though, I don't know). $100 per month sounds rare to me. Maybe a small farm on waterless land? Anyone paying that price would drill their own well or move.

A number of other wells also have hot spring water.

They put some test meters in the Raquet Club to see how they would work but a number of them failed-I heard they failed because they used the wrong kind. About 18 properties (out of 350) are on meters now.

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As you have by now surmised, water is a fairly complicated issue here!

But back to the other issue you raised: crops. Some crops do better in greenhouses here; for example, tomatoes, which can get scalded by the sun. Greenhouses are fairly easy to make if you use plastic for the coverings, but it is an expense, and all I can say about growing large tomatoes here is to please email me if you manage to do so, as I would love a good beefsteak tomato off the vine! Some crops, particularly large root vegetables, do not penetrate the soil here well: for example, I will be surprised if someone suggests that rutabegas can be grown here, and large potatoes, particularly russets, do not do well here. I know it is possible to trench a row and fill it with light soil, but I have not seen that done here. We do have an organic market where small growers come weekly to sell their produce, and you can get a lot of good advice from those folks.

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JayBearll, In Cuenca, Ecuador, many tomatoes are grown in greenhouses, not so much for sun scald, but rather to protect from virus diseases from the cold rainy weather. I assumed that I would not need a greenhouse in Lakeside because it is so hot there. I am not understanding the problems with growing root vegetables in lakeside - is it because the soil is a hard clay soil?

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You are asking a lot of questions which I know the answer to - I hope I am not posting too much!

The soil in Chapala does not freeze. Some plants attract disease and once it is in the soil it can never be killed (by freezing). Again, plants which thrive a low USDA numbers do not do well. Many of them "bolt" - which means rapidly grow to go to seed. I am growing a Manalucia tomato and an Estrella pumpkin - both are thriving in this current weather, both have been designed for tropical weather and to resist the diseases common in the tropics. When they go to fruit, I would be more than glad to share seeds.

Potatoes and root vegetables are another matter. I am actually trying to buy potato seeds from the Andes - there are something like 6,000 varieties where you are, some of them the best tasting in the world. You notice I wrote seeds - most gardeners don't know that you can grow potatoes from seed - they know seed potato which are actual living plants. They are called TPS in the English speaking world - true potato seeds. The Spanish Conquistadors "discovered" potatoes in the Andes and thought they were perfect to trade for otter hides and such, as far north as the Colombia river. The ethnobotanists were surprised to find rare Andes potatoes thriving in the Pacific Northwest. The great advantage of TPS potatoes is that each new plant is not identical to the original. Seed potatoes, on the other hand, are identical clones of the original plant. This gives rise to catastrophes like the Irish potato famine, or the French wine root blight. I think TPS potatoes would do well here, different varieties would overcome different diseases.

As I have noted before, my experiments have been delayed by the fact that Mexican customs has started to Xray ALL packages, probably an automated, artificial intelligence scanner, and this kills most of the seeds. I am still working around this. My motivation is not just to make an excellent potato salad, but also to introduce possibly lucrative new crops to local small farmers. Next week, I will be contacting Sonia to see if her contact in the U.D.C. is able to help.

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Garth, I`ve grown most veggies here. Tomatoes are the hardest (hottest months are also the rainy months). One must learn to navigate the cold(er) months (Dec. and Jan.) and the rainy season (June thru September). Otherwise, it┬┤s gardening time year round. Soils vary from place to place. I`ve lived in 5 houses here and not encountered clay yet - pretty good soils on average. I always mix in compost from a large operation in Riberas (Chapala). I pile up good-sized beds with the regular soil/compost mix which keeps the roots away from fungus in the rainy season. I never need fertilizer. Plants grow very fast here. Seeds are a challenge for the avid gardener - stores stock some basics but not butternut squash, French beans, sweet corn, etc. so gardeners are ever on the lookout for a seed connection coming down from the US. I`ve been passing out Russian kale seeds from a large quantity I bought 2 years ago in the States (as you probably know they last 4-5 years). One great trick is to plant seeds just before the rains and put down serious mulch then let Nature do all your watering (you get 3 1-2 months like that).

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