By Francisco Nava
Effective Communication With Your Gardener
A few tips I’ve learned along the way.
Many people ask what is the primary difference between gardeners at Lakeside and gardeners north of the border? Aside from language, we primarily see two types of gardening jobs. First is the garden maintenance of an existing garden. Second is landscaping/renovation garden work, which may include maintenance.
Most clients do not tell their gardener what they want. They expect the gardener to know or guess accurately what is needed and then do the job. For a gardener this can be stressful and trying.
Sit down with your gardener, offer them a glass of iced tea and really try to tell them what you expect, what you envision. Make a plan and then execute it. Take time to exchange ideas and skill sets. The more details the better. A photo of what you have in mind is extremely helpful. Get to know your gardener.
A little bit of Spanish helps the gardener…a lot! Even understanding 10% of spoken Spanish will work.
Ser amables. Be respectful and kind to the gardener, even with items outside of gardening.
“We are not handymen. Please do not expect us to do jobs outside of our gardener’s agreement. We will be happy to consider other work. Speak to us about this other work as if it were another job.”
Most gardeners here are aware of what gardeners are paid up north, and feel that their work should be fairly compensated. “Why is there such a discrepancy between salaries here and there?” they ask.
Mexican gardeners should have a knowledge base of local plants, seasons, conditions, pests, etc.
Most gardeners have experience in other fields of work. Most did not work exclusively as gardeners…they may have been construction workers, handymen, etc. Keep this in mind as you utilize your gardeners for work around your property. Perhaps these other skills will prove helpful in your garden.
Honesty is primary and key. Tip your gardener when they do an exceptional job or when they go that “extra mile.” Even a small tip of $20 pesos is greatly appreciated. This tells the gardener that they are doing a good job and that it is noticed.
Get from and give feedback to your gardeners, be it positive or negative. Let them know if they do a job well or if the job is not being done to your liking. This helps them learn your preferences, your likes, etc.
Unlike May, regular rains come in the month of July which means things are perhaps too wet for some plants to thrive. Let your geraniums dry out between watering, if possible, and herbs too. At the viveros, you will find dahlias, gazanias, zinnias and lisianthus. You may have to protect some things from too much water, particularly new seedlings in flower and vegetable gardens. And it’s still quite hot. Keep up with the garden pests and beware of diseases like powdery mildew. Think about planting asters, balloon flower, cone flower, lobelia and freesia. You can still plant Swiss chard, peppers, eggplant, leeks and okra. Container gardening gives you an opportunity to add more interest to your patios and terraces and also to move things out of heavy rains and hot sun. With the heavy rains, fertilizers leach out of the soil very quickly. Compost helps.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com