Cultivation of organic produce in Mexico is growing as the country is stimulated by and responds to the interest from worldwide markets for the purchase of organics that Mexico, with its excellent growing climate for almost year-round crops, could increasingly be in a position to provide.
Although many of the Mexican organic agricultural products online are aimed at large-scale production, there are a number of suppliers now in Mexico who directly sell or distribute products suitable for the small homesteader or weekend gardener. Below are some of the products I’ve researched that are available in Mexico. If you’re thinking of pulling on the gloves and getting your fingernails dirty in your own garden, you might find them useful.
Open-pollinated, untreated, non-GMO seeds in Mexico
Las Cañadas Cooperative / Bosque de Niebla
The Cooperativa Las Cañadas in Veracruz offers a downloadable organic seed catalog and guide at http://www.bosquedeniebla.com.mx/sem.htm. Included in it is a table of the climatic zones of Mexico, categorized by type of vegetation, elevation, temperature range, and precipitation; a plant and seed reference showing the common and botanical names of plants; a sowing calendar; recommendations, etc.
The catalog offers a wonderful variety of seeds, including herbs, arugula, eggplant, tomatoes, beans of all kinds, broccoli, squash, onions, lettuces, cucumbers, okra, tatsoi, amaranths, and every kind of chile imaginable.
Natural insecticides, fungicides, and soil enhancers
Even if you have your own compost pile to enrich your soil, and even if you rotate your crops, keeping your soil healthy with organic fertilizers and soil enhancers can make your gardening days much easier and productive. And no matter how productive your garden is, you’re sure to have an occasional (if not constant) battle with leaf and root-eating insects, molds, and disease. You don’t need to resort to chemical insecticides and fungicides: there are plenty of other natural and organic options.
First of all, you can make your own natural and organic insecticidal and fungicidal spray:
A homemade insecticide and fungicide
There are many recipes out there with slightly different proportions, but I use this approximate formula: 4 liters of water (approx 1 gallon), 1 T baking soda, 1/2 T (1-1/2 tsp) neem oil, 1/2 T pine oil (or any other oil, even cooking oil), and 1-2 tsp Castille or other liquid soap. Throw it all in a hand sprayer, shake gently but well, making sure the baking soda is totally dissolved, and mist the foliage of your plants until the leaves drip water. This should be done either early in the morning before the sun hits the leaves, or in the late afternoon when the sun has almost set.
For an extra boost of magnesium and sulfur for your plants, particularly peppers and tomatoes, dissolve a tablespoon or so of Epsom salts in the water.
Another common insect deterrent can be made by pressing three or four large cloves of garlic into a gallon of water and adding a teaspoon or so of chile piquin or cayenne pepper powder. Insects do not like that combination when it is sprayed on plant foliage. Press the garlic cloves into the water (throw in the peels, too), add the chile powder, and let it sit overnight; strain it well before putting the water into the sprayer, otherwise the spray nozzle will get clogged. Don’t get the mist in your eyes or nose while applying. It won’t do you any harm but it won’t feel nice. A bit of oil and soap added to this mixture, too, will help it to adhere to the leaves and so have a more lasting effect. I’ve even combined the baking soda and neem recipe with this one to make one spray, and it seems to work just fine.
If you don’t want to put together your own anti-fungal and anti-bacterial concoctions, then look to the products below to give you a helping hand.
(Disclaimer: I have no personal or commercial relationship whatsoever with any of these companies or products. I simply believe that they are products worthy of consideration for use in my, and your, home organic garden.)
Grupo Ultraquimia, out of the town of Jiutepec, Morelos (near Cuernavaca), offers a line of natural pesticides certified by OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute–www.omri.org), the active ingredients of which include neem, cinnamon, garlic, chile, and other natural products.
Their catalog is viewable on-line and products may be ordered via Internet. Among Ultraquimia’s organic line of products you can find:
- Alfa, a garlic extract for the control of whitefly, aphids, thrips, fruit flies, ants, grasshoppers, beetles, etc.
- CinnAcar, a concentrated emulsion of cinnamon effective against soft-bodied insects and their eggs, whitefly, thrips, etc.
- Gamma, a combination of garlic, chile, and cinnamon for the general control of insects
- NeemAcar, a mixture of neem oil with cinnamon for control of soft-bodied insects.
Fungicides and antibacterials:
- Mega: Creosote bush or chaparral (Larrea tridentata) extract to control molds and fungal infections, damping-off, storage diseases and bacterial diseases.
- Nutripro Xtra Alga, containing seaweed, yucca, and amino acids to strengthen plant immune systems and aid growth
In its online catalog, Cosechando Natural, out of the state of Mexico, sells natural OMRI-certified insecticides and fertilizers of the same line as mentioned above, using neem, cinnamon, chile, garlic, BT, etc.
Biocampo has been around since 1996, providing organic, ecologically friendly agricultural products.
Biocampo’s organic products include natural and organic antifungal and bactericides, insecticides, growth promoters, nematicides, soil enhancers, and fertilizers. Its catalog includes these products in addition to many others:
- Sedric 4x is a yucca-based antifungal and bactericide for the control of molds and fungus infections on solanaceae (tomatoes, chiles and peppers, eggplants, potatoes).
- Killwalc is a 100% organic insecticide made with chrysanthemum extract, which contains natural pyrethrins. It is totally nontoxic for humans and animals.
Gaia Orgánicos is a distributor of natural and organic gardening and agricultural products out of Uruapan, Michoacan. Gaia Organicos also offers courses and consulting services in the ecological management of crops, lab studies, and advice on waste disposal and air quality control methods.
Their products include organic fertilizers and soil enhancers (vermicompost, fish meal, rock dust, seaweed extract, guano, biofertilizers, etc.) and insect and disease control products using naturals such as neem oil, bacillus thuringiensis (BT), diatoms, cinnamon, chaparral, citrus, etc
Nutritec, of Us Mex Nutrition Technologies, SA de CV located in Tonalá, Jalisco, México (greater Guadalajara), handles solid and liquid OMRI-certified organic fertilizers for a variety of fruit and vegetable crops.
Plant Health Care de Mexico
PHC Mexico makes a biopesticide called PHC-Neeem (yes, three e‘s), which is a 100 percent natural product certified for organic gardening and effective against spider mites, whitefly, powdery mildew, and other pests and plagues. It contains 3 percent azadirachtin, the active insecticidal compound in neem. View the product information sheet. PHC Mexico also makes other organic, as well as conventional, products
A final note: After seeing so many organic gardening products use cinnamon extract or concentrate as an insect deterrent, I’m tempted to try adding it to one or both of the homemade recipes, or even on its own in water.