Sunday, October 20, 2013

Growing Nopales in the USA

One of my favorite vegetable is Nopal, or cactus pads, like they are known in the USA.  They are very common in Mexico City, where I grew up and I used to eat them every week.  My favorite nopal dish is one where they are cut in pieces, boiled and then used in a salad with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and oil,vinegar and spices.  This salad is sold at the market and it is delicious.

I rarely eat nopales here in Florida because you can only find them at Mexican groceries and there are not many near my home.  Well, the other day I offered to spay a female cat that a family was feeding.  When I returned the cat to them, I asked them if the plant they had in the front was a nopal that you could eat.  The mom said yes so I asked her if I could have some pads to cook.  She gave me a dozen and I happily cooked half of them.  Then I started thinking how great it would be if I could have a plant in my garden and I could just go and cut some whenever I wanted to.  I researched how to grow them and the info on the net said it was easy, just to let them form a dry "scab" on the place where they had been cut from the plant and after a week, put them in some sandy soil.  They said not to overwater them and to place them upright.  I did it and today I saw that they had roots!!!.  I planted two in the garden and I am keeping one in a pot just in case something happen to the other ones.

Usually nopales have a lot of thorns but this variety had only small ones.  I do use gloves when handling this ones because I do not want to end up with little thorns in my hands.

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