It’s often hard to believe when you look around you that Lima is sitting in the middle of a desert. Despite the cloudiness and humidity, rain here is almost unheard of. Even more surprising is the abundance of plants and greenery to be found, despite that lack of rain. However, because of its mild climate, Lima is actually a very good place for just about any kind of plant, from roses to fruit trees to tropical plants and orchids. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden or room for a few potted plants, gardening in Lima can be easy, even for those of us without a green thumb.
One thing that makes gardening in Lima easy is that the gardening season is, for all intents and purposes, year round. It never gets cold enough for a frost, so there’s no need to worry about your plants freezing if you put them in too late in the year. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some seasonal things to tend to. It’s always a good idea to prepare your garden in the spring for the upcoming growing season. Gardens and yards should be fertilized, and trees that bear fruit in summer should be pruned around mid-August. If you’re lucky enough to have a grassy yard, it will need to be cut about every 2 weeks during the summer.
Garden experts in Lima recommend watering gardens and yards twice a week in the sunny months (December through May, depending on the sun itself), and once a week the rest of the year. For grassy yards, make sure you water long enough for the water to sink in 4-6” – this insures healthier, deeper roots. A good compost or potting soil mixed with the dirt in your garden will make things much easier on you – the soil here is rock hard and difficult to work with when dry, so adding something loamier will help to hold moisture and make digging easier. You might find that potted plants dry out faster than you are accustomed to – check frequently, but twice a week watering is usually enough.
When buying plants from a nursery (vivera), make sure to only buy plants that are potted or have the roots wrapped. Some gardeners will take plants that they’ve removed from one customer’s yard and sell them to other customers. These plants might not be healthy if the roots have dried out, so only buy plants that are already rooted in soil and have a healthy root ball. A good place to go for plants and gardening advice is the Universidad Nacional Agraria (National Agrarian University) in La Molina. They have a good sales center where they sell not only plants, but also food and natural product sproduced there at the University.