Nopales and More

So when Panda fell into the nopales in Peru, he said they were just like the ones at Carlos and Kate’s house…

panda in cactus bigger small
Find out how this happened in “The Dark and Stormy Night.”

nopales at Carlos house..and he wasn’t terribly far from the truth. This is the one from Carlos and Kate’s house. (We still don’t know how Panda actually got that information, but anyway.) I thought it would be fun to do a post about nopales, because I like them so much.

nopales cooking
I found this photo, along with a variety of recipes for nopales at

I can’t say that I like them that much for food. I have cooked nopales in the past, and I would say they taste somewhat like green beans. But mostly I like them for the way they look in a garden, and for the fact that they grow quickly and are relatively hard to kill.

nopal farmNot far from here there is actually a nopal farm! I had noticed it a few times within the past year, but never managed to get a picture of it.nopal farm 2The last time I drove by it there were no cars behind me so I was able to stop in the middle of the road and take photos. (Mom, you did not just read that!)baby nopalIn my post about Sunny, the ill-fated sunflower from last year, you may have seen my baby cactus, which grew from cuttings from Carlos and Kate’s. This was taken in August of last year.small nopalesHere is another view that shows both of the cuttings I started out with. closeup of baby nopalThis is how new nopal pads look when they are first sprouting. Here we might take the opportunity for a quick Spanish lesson. “Nopal” is the singular of “nopales”, just like “tamal” is the singular of “tamales”. Both words end with a consonant, so we add “-es” to form the plural. Hence, the words “tamale” and “nopale” don’t actually exist. Just so you know. (Truth in blogging: I may be retired, but I guess I’m still a teacher at heart. Don’t get me started!)nopales recentSo here they are just over a year after I planted them. nopales bendingI’ve had nopales before, in a different yard, and I’ve never seen them do this. Either they got too heavy for the base pad, or they needed water. There had been a part that bent all the way to the ground on the left hand side, but it righted itself. Maybe it was leaning toward the sunlight. I keep meaning to look it up.clipped nopales But not to worry! Like I had done with the first cuttings, I merely clipped off the pads that were causing the problem and planted them to grow even more nopales!replanted nopalesI didn’t plant all of them here, because I don’t really want a whole cactus forest in my backyard. But I may try planting one in the front yard, so I didn’t throw the extra ones away.with spiky plantYou will notice the “spiky plant” behind the nopales. I don’t know what it is, so I just call it “the spiky plant.” sprinklerI’ve discovered that if you keep them watered, the “spiky plants” grow pretty well, and they even seem to have “baby” ones that could be separated and planted elsewhere. I’ve decided that, given my previous (lack of) success with the plants I buy, the best thing for me to do is propagate the plants I already have, so more on that later.

And while we are on the subject of cacti…

Thinking about this post brought to mind some other cactus related photos that would be fun to share. I didn’t buy any of these ceramic pieces at Hobby Lobby, but I did take a picture and text it to my friend Kathy, because…

In 2012 our Sunday school “puppet class” did a skit that required me to make some cactus props. I was pretty happy about how this one came out. The base was made from two green dollar-store collapsible cloth cubes stuffed with old towels. But my favorite cactus creation was…john by rock…the cactus costume, surpassed in realistic “life-likeness” only by the famous “corn on the cobs”, which you can read about herewanted posterIn this story, two dastardly villains, Shady Blackheart and his side-kick Slimy (the “y” is silent) Jim,  conspire to keep a group of cowboys from finding the gold nuggets of scripture in the Bible Verse Gold Mine. john by cactusSlimy Jim disguises himself as a cactus in order to steal the map to the Bible Verse Gold Mine from the sleeping cowboys.cactus costume 2 (2)The plan was almost a success, but not quite. In the end the cowboys get the Bible Verse Gold Nuggets and Shady and Slimy are foiled again.

mark with apronMark, one year into chemo, had the now famous role of  Señor Pedro, a lovable shopkeeper who is so bilingual he can play the kazoo in both Spanish and English. markYou will notice the appliqued nopales on the front of Señor Pedro’s house. Not only are nopales easy to grow, they are also easy to applique.

They’re pretty easy to draw, too.

nopales in Bible artWouldn’t you rejoice too, if you were that cute?