Monday, December 31, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I am fairly certain that this is the edible mallow I spotted in a Korean neighbor's garden some weeks ago. Now to get seeds!
Special thanks to Josh Jamison for making me aware of this perennial, edible nitrogen fixer!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Detailed kenaf overview

Kenaf News

Yesterday the seeds of the 'Whitten' strain of kenaf arrived in the mail, kindly sent me by Koreen Brennan. I will be sharing some of them plus some of my 'Everglades 41' kenaf seeds so folks can test both as a likely new source of raw and cooked greens during summers here, plus a possible source of poultry food and biomass for sheet composting. Thanks Koreen!

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Universe Wish List

I'd love to trade seeds, fresh eggs, or live plants for the following items:

1. A sleeping bag, for two even better if there is such a thing
2. A large stock tank
3. Potent cannabis
4. Seeds of Katuray (Sesbania grandiflora)
5. Bags of pine needles to mulch pathways with
6. A purple cattleya orchid
7. A Scarlet Mombin plant
8. An Angel Wing begonia plant
9. An own root Red Grapefruit sapling
10.Ramps bulbs to try to grow here in south Tampa.

Thanks in advance! John

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bread and Butter Pickles from Peeled Green Papaya Strips

I have nearly all these ingredients, will make a BIG jar of refrigerator pickles using a version of this recipe but using crisp raw green papaya strips, UNcooked, in place of the cucumbers.

Green papaya idea....I have a jar of Jamaican jerk that Mary Jo gave me, and I have two jars of home made jerk based on two very differing recipes...I will peel a green papaya, clean out the seeds, slice it into 1 inch thick "steaks", brown each side slowly in coconut oil and roasted sesame oil, then smear a thin layer of jerk on the top side, put the lid on the skillet to warm the jerk and meld it into the papaya, then serve. I suspect it will be yummy. Since there will be a hole in the center of some of the slices where the seed cavity ease, I might crack in a raw egg from the girls, put the lid on, and cook the egg within the slice to add protein to the dish.

I'm not wild about the taste of moringa, raw, all by itself, right off the tree, but nonetheless I made a salad this morning that was easily 1/3 moringa leaves, the rest being mixed brassicas, garlic and onion leaves....I forgot to add the nasturtium leaves. I tossed a handful of Jamaican Cherries on top. The dressing was kombucha tea/olive oil/left over basil pesto in the of THE best salads I've ever eaten and doubtless one of the most nutritious. I literally could not taste the moringa leaves, which I normally add to soups, stir fry, and omelets.

My kombucha tea is a few weeks old and wonderfully vinegary and so today I'll use some to make an olive oil Italian style dressing to pour on a salad of mixed brassica and nasturtium and onion and moringa and garlic and Lesbos basil leaves, and peeled cubed green papaya, topped with ripe Jamiacan cherries. While I'm at it I'll pick two papayas on the monster plant out by the street that are FINALLY showing signs of ripening. If all goes well they will ripen indoors in a few days and be transformed into luscious, nutritious fruit smoothies with frozen bananas and a whole range of added nutrients. Nothing like winter gardening in coastal central Florida!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Green Papaya Salsa Recipe

I have OODLES of green papayas on five plants, and so I am going to increase my use of unripe papayas in my main dishes. I very rarely eat salsa, but this recipe makes my mouth water. I need to buy just the orange juice, will use my own Filipino Mexican Tree Peppers in place of the jalapeno, and buy a big bag of corn chips!

So much for forecasts of 70-80% chance of rain and severe thunderstorms!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

First hopeful rain forecast in MANY weeks here!!

It seems to me that passionate gardeners are always learning, always being humbled by what they don't know, by the mistakes they make that they in turn learn from. I am fifty nine and had my first vegetable garden when I was fifteen here in south Tampa, and in all those years since I've met just a few gardeners who were legends in their own minds, who saw themselves as "experts" who had arrived at some plateau of "wisdom", carrying themselves like a guru. Such a contrast to truly brilliant, skilled gardeners and rosarians I've met and been friends with, who ask questions, who learn every chance they get instead of reflexively lecturing, whose egos were kept in check by being aware that what they don't know far outweighs what they do know. I might have the quote off a bit, but Thomas Jefferson said "I am an old man but a young gardener". No wonder so many happy gardeners live to a ripe old age!

Mystery Brassica

This wonderfully vigorous, mild, crispy-stemmed brassica has once again appeared in the baby pool garden that each summer I grow 'Fife Creek' okra in. It has been evolving a few years now, seemingly the descendant of an original spontaneous cross between Purple Kosaitai and Appin. It now shows none of the lavender that was apparent the first few seasons as it continues to back breed and evolve. Whatever it is, it is a very desirable winter veggie here in south Tampa.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mystery Vegetable

A couple of blocks north of me is a Korean family that makes intense passionate use of their very small front yard, with most crops grown in buried 5 gallon buckets....I wish they knew English so I could ask where the drill holes are! Recently I walked by and saw in container gardens what I was sure was a species/cultivar of Plantain (Plantago, not Musa) but the leaves dwarfed the wild European plantain that is a common lawn weed in Denver and that I always found WAY too tough and bitter raw or cooked. Plus these had leaves with small points and the growth habit was very upright vs. a ground-hugging rosette....but I felt 99% sure I recognized the club-like flower spikes as a plantago....that day there was no one home. Two days later I went back with my camera, but the plantains were pulled up and drying on a hedge. He and his wife CAUTIOUSLY came to the door, and relaxed a bit when they saw my interest was gardening. Due to our language barrier I did not learn the name of  it, plus what I saw was a mallow they were growing in a back corner, nor anything else. BUT....he pointed at the sun and the plantains,. made motions with his hands about "water" then listed some spices and oils as he tried to teach me the recipe. He gave me a few spikes of seeds too. After I gestured he let me taste what I feel 95% is Gynura procumbens, then gave me two big cuttings that I turned into four and am now hopefully rooting them to share...the flavor and texture was like Okinawa spinach but firmer and milder....I forget which species of Gynura that it is. After I took this pic of the drying plantains I obsessed for about an hour (who, me? obsess?) and feel fairly certain it is Plantago asiatica...I need to look up when to plant them here. I nibbled a piece of leaf raw that first visit...very tender and mild. The plants were EASILY 6-8 times bigger than the wild plantains in Denver, but had shrunk amazingly as they dried. OH what I could learn from those folks if only we could really talk! I left them my contact info on an index card, and will soon take them some envelopes of seeds in hopes they can figure out what they are. That is one thing I love about gardening....always a chance to learn, always barely scratching the surface!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Florida's Water Woes Worsen

This is scary indeed.

Hose Repair Tip

I have a sprinkler that got stuck onto the end of my backyard hose, so I cut it off and bought a black plastic male hose end repair kit at Home Depot. It can be VERY hard to insert the ribbed fitting unless you soften the hose end by letting it sit in VERY hot water for a minute or two...once the hose is hot and flexible it readily accepts the repair insert. As it cools it shrinks and grabs the repair insert tightly. Then just slip up the collar around the repair insert and tight both phillips screws. Water in a saucepan coming to a boil now.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pig Chaya v.s Picuda Chaya

My new plants of Pig Chaya SO out performed my old Picuda chaya (vaguely resembles cannabis) this year that I am likely removing the latter. Pig Chaya leaves are MUCH bigger, far more tender, lower in cyanogenic glucosides, and the plants themselves grow MUCH faster. I forget the name of the strain of Pig Chaya I have  (Ellen?) but I love the tender nutritious leaves in many cooked dishes. They very rarely flower unlike the Picuda strain...maybe that is why they grow SO much more vigorously. Special thanks to Mary Jo and Vicki Parsons for my starts!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Several years ago I dug a HUGE DEEP hole in the center of my back yard, lined it with scavenged carpet, then with the liner for an 18 foot diameter above ground pool I got on Craig's List for $20. I took two scavenged plastic milk crates, tied a swimming pool noodle to the top of each, then packed them with Louisiana iris and hot water cabomba,...this made them floating water purifiers. Goldfish controlled mosquito larvae. I could swim two lengths, and the depth was up to my lower chest. But in time the sides starting slowly pushing in, making it smaller and smaller. So I then added more water plants, pond snails, and Golden Apple snails which I harvested and ate for years. But last year I went in, punctured the sides about two feet from the bottom with my machete to set it up to evolve into a gigantic "Water Wise Containter Garden" that will support one 'Raja Puri' banana and one 'African Rhino Horn Plantain' once I fill it with logs, bags of leaves, plus the sand from a smaller, similarly lined pit I am digging soon a few feet southeast of to grow my guava in. The pic is of the west end from when it was a wonderfully ecologically balanced Golden Apple snail pond that helped to meet my protein needs. Each winter I grew arugula and various brassicas all around it. Cool to be consciously evolving it into a third incarnation!

I met this interesting man at Andy Firk's Permaculture event in Arcadia...

Mycol sure walks the talk!

Giant pot of soup simmers on my stove...from the store: garlic, frozen green peas, yellow onions, olive and coconut oil. From my urban farm....Muscovy duck meat, leaves of Pig Chaya, katuk, sweet potato and Allium canadense, green papaya, dried "Clay" cow peas, hot peppers, Caribbean White yam, Satsuma Imo sweet potatoes, velvet stage Velvet Beans. Some smart sweet guy with nice pecs should marry me for my cooking and insatiable sex drive!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I would LOVE it if someone could identify for me the lovely, low growing roadside wildflower I never see in Tampa but saw once again in the meridians in Arcadia on the way to Andy's. It is abundant in Okeechobee and Ft. Pierce. It makes a wide mat maybe 2 inches tall and 3 feet wide, packed with many hundreds of pale lavender bell-shaped flowers maybe 3/8 inch long. The blooms remind me of a mini-campanula. I tried to spot some in Andy's neighborhood but did not. I first noticed it a little over a year ago when I started making frequent trips to Okeechobee and Ft. Pierce and West Palm when Dad would fall ill. I wish I would have stopped and taken a pic on this trip! I looked up two suggestions by Green Dean and Mycol Stevens....species of Richardii and Campanula but not even close. I can just imagine it in hanging baskets or as a lawn substitute. It is not a salvia, penstemmon or a composite. Fingers crossed...thanks!!

Mycol Stevens gave a very pragmatic yet funny at times outdoor presentation about edible and toxic mushrooms, then later gave a very informative power point presentation in Andy's living room to help us visualize what he'd told us. The only edible mushroom I've ever felt comfortable gathering and eating is the puffball....I loved his visual cue of slicing one open....if it looks like tofu inside it IS a puffball...if you see gills inside it in an immature button stage of something else.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The last Muscovy duck in my center garden area, a male, escaped a few nights ago when Sandy's winds arrived....I'd assumed all those months of feeding and tending for duck meat were all for naught and it had flown far away...."kay sarah sarah". Well, today as Mary Jo and I chatted by the street, my new neighbor Kelsey drove up, walked over, said she and her BF were gone all weekend, came back today and saw a duck in their back yard! Mary Jo and I went back there and it was FRANTICALLY trying to get back into my yard by pushing against the chain link fence. So we cornered it, I caught it, and Mary Jo clipped its flight feathers with these mega-scissors I have (their feathers are TOUGH) as I held the wings (BOY are they a strong bird!) then I put it over the fence into my east bed to join one male and two females that share three ponds. This means that after about a year of a whole flock in my huge center bed out back rendering it weed free and loaded with duck poop, I can now deep mulch in there with paper mulberry and Cassia alata branches, plant the two Raja Puri bananas that Mary Jo gave me in what used to be my Apple Snail pond now evolving into a giant Water Wise Container Garden based on hugel kultur, dig another much smaller pit and line it with a scavenged above ground pool liner to plant my guava in, set up a small above ground pool with living plant filters for me and friends to enjoy in summer, then sow all over the remaining open areas seeds of winter crops for me, friends and Wimauma restaurant to use and enjoy.

I had a wonderful time there at Andy Firk's permaculture event and seeds/plants swap in Arcadia, learned and laughed and ate a lot, slept lousily in the back seat of the Honda so am scoring a cheap tent, got to meet several people from FaceBook for the first time and see others again ( I LOVE FaceBook for making new gardening friends!), got to share some seeds and plants I knew that folks wanted, and in turn was blessed with wonderful things that people knew I wanted, I guess from my FaceBook postings and my blog like: That Perennial Edible Hibiscus I obsessed on a few months ago!!!! Josh (whom I'd brought African Yam tubers after Andy said he was lusting after as a yam obsesser and collector) walked up and put in my hand about 5 VERY nice cuttings! Then he put in my hands about 5 cuttings of "Longevity Spinach", that trailing green leaf edible and medicinal relative of Okinawa Spinach!!!!! Vicki brought me a big zip lock bag with two ripe seed heads of that giant Amaranth "Calalloo"! So now I have plenty of seeds to share. I met someone else who echoed her, Mike Urban and another woman.....easily 12 feet tall in summer, cut it back hard and it regrows, VERY large mild and tender bright green leaves good cooked or in smoothies and salads. Low in oxalic acid. Jim Kovaleski brought me from Maine a bulb of the Racombole garlic I grew for 13 years in Denver plus an entire aerial cluster of its bulblets, plus a bulb of a white soft neck garlic that he thinks MIGHT bulb up here. He's been breaking up the racombole bulblets and planting and selling the young plants as a garlicy "scallions". Josh gave me a true yam that has white flesh and a thin layer of purple right beneath the skin. People jumped on the "Clay" cow pea seeds I brought, plus the Chinese Celery seed that Pat gave me so much of. I gave Mary Jo this morning a cutting each of the Edible Perennial Hibiscus and the "Longevity Spinach" to root in her newly completed greenhouse. All say that established Calalloo does okay in winter, self sows like CRAZY, but that the most vigorous growth is in summer when mild greens are rare. Last week I scattered some in beds just to see what happens. The rest of the seeds I will sift out of the flower plume heads and put in envelopes to share with friends

Young people like her are giving me hope for a better future!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

If anyone is growing the old fashioned, tall growing, red or lavender pentas that was common in Tampa in the 70s and 80s and that was EXTREMELY vigorous and truly perennial, vs. the modern, frail, short-lived dwarf hybrids, I'd LOVE to swap for cuttings!! I've not seen either in many years and so want them for my gardens....incredible butterfly attractor, excellent cut flower too.

This was criminal!!
The more I look into kenaf the more I am intrigued and the more eager I am to next spring sow my seeds of the especially edible cultivar 'Everglades 41'.
Like wasabi? Grow 'Giant Red'/'Osaka Purple' mustard from Japan. Eaten raw, each leaf packs easily 80% of the fiery punch of the green wasabi we eat with sushi. Cooked, both mustards become very mild. Great sources of the seeds and

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Plain truth from nearly sixty years ago....

Callaloo refers to a few types of amaranth, plus taro and malanga leaves, plus the Jamaican and Trinidadian dishes made from them. It took me years to conclude that there is no "real" single callaloo, though most often it is a type of amaranth, often with some red in the leaves. At Brittany's permaculture event I met a woman I'd known previously just on FaceBook, and she kindly brought me in a small brown bag what she described as a BARELY mature seed head of a Callaloo that she and others had discussed on FaceBook....I checked the seed head today and she was right....not that many black seeds but definitely enough to share with a few friends to spread both the risk and the opportunity next spring. What caught my attention in that FaceBook discussion was the GIGANTIC-NESS of the form of Amaranth these women were growing as a bright green Callaloo...8-12 feet! They say it self sows well, does best in summer but can do okay in a mild winter. Today I scattered a SMALL number of seeds in my kitchen garden and in my southeast bed out back to see if they come up after winter rains. I grew many Amaranths for the Rodale Institute in my Denver garden in the 90s where they thrived in summer....I suspect this one would too. I MAY have encountered it Saturday when I paid my first visit to the Seminole Heights Community Garden on the way home from The Bird House Buying Club/Taste of the Heights event...when I entered the gate I immediately noticed some HUGE, BRIGHT green amaranths whose stalks easily were the size of my wrist, and even though they'd been topped they were taller than me. VERY robust, healthy-looking plants not in the garden beds but the paths where I guess they'd self sown. I nibbled a young leaf.....very tender, only the slightest bitterness vs. some very strong ones I've tasted since 1987. I wish I'd had my camera with me! Amaranth on steroids and crack! I'll ask these women if they can save me a full size, fully mature seed plume so I can be sure to adequately spread it around. Like a few of my friends who've influenced me, I'm now making smoothies using the Ninja blender that Mary Jo got me, and I can imagine these very mild, tender, super-nutritious leaves being useful that way. Plus I want to try some of the traditional Jamaican callaloo recipes. I gather that cooked it closely resembles spinach. From what I saw while Googling "callaloo", this giant bright green amaranth MIGHT be A. gangeticus (sp?) so I will pursue that lead. The only amaranth I've eaten that was this mild and tender is the PETITE green Pig Weed that self sows in a few of my baby pool Water Wise Container Gardens.

An EXCELLENT overview of Kenaf by an impeccable source!

Cassava Chimera Vs. A Hybrid


Sunday, October 21, 2012

just got back from the Birdhouse Buying Club/Taste of the Heights where I bought a loaf of wonderful Ezekiel Bread and a pot of a mint I'd never heard of...on the front of the label, handwritten it says 'Swiss Mint' but on the back is commercially printed 'Pepper Mint'. Ryan was setting up trays of herbs plus what looked to be ripe Seminole Pumpkins....he was super busy so I did not ask when I bought the mint from him. Willow was selling plants of "Kenaf" that she rooted from cuttings I gave her years ago of Hibiscus radiatus, which she told me today I had mis-identified back then, but when I pointed out to her the difference she stated that H. radiatus has yellow flowers, that I had misidentified Hibiscus cannabinicus (kenaf) as H. radiatus. She does not use computers, so once home I re-Googled to be sure I have not been mistaken the last ten I said to her it is Kenaf that has yellow flowers. It is my hope that as more and more folks sell edible plants that they make it a priority to do adequate research, especially when a 2 minute Google can secure accurate information so that misinformation about edibles does not spread through gardening communities. I told her I am psyched about next spring sowing my seeds of 'Everglades 41' kenaf that is supposed to be especially good for eating raw or cooked. As always, Cracker was very well behaved and got lots of attention. I hope that both events there today are a success. On the way home I paid my first visit to the Seminole Heights Community Garden where I saw many thriving plants including what I suspect is the GIANT form of green leaf callaloo that I was given seeds of at Brittany's Permie event....I tasted a young leaf...tender and much milder tasting than other leafy type amaranths I've grown and tasted. Now to Google 'Swiss Mint' to see just what it me the leaf shape and delicious taste was reminiscent of the 'spearmint' that grows RAMPANTLY in Denver. Now to change clothes and garden! Attached is a pic of the lovely magenta blooms of Hibiscus radiatus now in full glory in many gardens.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Excellent Video About GMO Crops and Foods

A few days ago, after a year of wussing out, I FINALLY slaughtered my first Muscovy duck, using a powerful pellet gun held to the back of the head. It went quick as I'd long desired. Today I slaughter another male I caught and put in the modified dog carrier cage. I have WAY too many males and they fight a lot, so not killing several is a form of cruelty. I now agree with folks who say that the meat VERY closely resembles roast beef in color, taste and texture. I froze up enough packets of meat from this one bird for easily 15-20 meals as I use meat sparingly in my dishes vs. big servings of it on the plate.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Each fall I buy a LOT of extra virgin olive oil at Big Lots, pecan bits (I am too cheap to buy pine nuts at approx. $16 a pound), parmesan cheese and garlic and harvest oodles of my Lesbos basil and make vast quantities of pesto to freeze for winter and spring. Even pecan PIECES are $11 a pound at Publix...then I noticed 1 pound bags of pecan MEAL for $5.50 a pound. Since it all gets buzzed in the blender the meal makes sense AND saves me a lot of money. Some smart sweet guy with nice pecs should marry me for my cooking and insatiable sex drive!

Back when Mr. Duck was free range, after liking to be carried and petted for months, one day as I was picking vigna beans wearing only shorts and flip flops he came up behind me and attacked with INCREDIBLE ferocity, like a Velociraptor in Jurassic Park...I got a HUGE DEEP gash in one forearm and he kept doing a downward flap of his wings to get a few feet off the ground for each new attack, with his bill VERY specifically targeting my crotch!!! Finally I grabbed him by the neck, trimmed his wings and THREW him into my shed as I quickly turned the east bed into my first duck area. This new male seems to be 90% as mean. I'll not be attacked while picking Jamaican Cherries in my own gardens....I think I have been finally forced to "man up". Since I LOATHE buying factory farm meat I need to own the full integrity of raising my own meat animals, including killing them since they have great free range lives here and feast on yummy scraps from Wimauma Restaurant vs. gnarly GMO commercial feed.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Months ago when I first started obsessing on the various "Potato Onions" I early on concluded that I might see them being sold as a food crop in produce markets vs. as a plant sold by growers. Today I went to the Green Market on Interbay to try to get plantains to ripen for smoothies...none. BUT as I scanned the produce section I saw a small tray labelled "shallots"....I should have read what I think was the suppliers' tag, will go back and check in a week or two after a new shipment. The cashier this is the ONLY kind of shallot they sell ever. These shallots are BIG! By definition, a "potato onion" is just a cultivar of shallot (Allium somethingorother I can never remember) that is MUCH larger than normal shallots, and that replicates a whole new colony per bulb underground annually. These are 5-6 times bigger than the usual shallots I've seen for years in grocery stores, and 3-4 times bigger than the ones I bought at DoBond Market as possible "potato onion" candidates maybe 6 weeks ago. II bought 5 of these today....I'd like to give one to Jim Porter to grow up there in cold New Tampa not far from SR 54, one to Tim and Cathy off East Hillsborough Ave., one to Mary Jo in central Tampa, then one for me and Pat to try here in south Tampa. The fact that one has already divided internally beneath the skin so that I can feel it is now almost TWO bulbs makes me even more hopefully that we might have a local source of red potato onions to buy to grow plus disperse ours to others. I can't cook without onions, and IF these turn out to be a "Red Potato Onion" that likes Tampa, plus the "White Potato Onions" I bought mail order, the Egyptian Multiplier type that Allen Boatman dispersed, the form of Allium fistulosum plus the Allium canadense that I've dispersed to friends and customers, and Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum) I might soon to never again need to buy onions.

NO to GMO!!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Very Promising Solar Cell Breakthrough

Imagine this on the roofs of homes and businesses, and on the hood, roof and trunk of electric cars!!
I did this each winter in Denver for the many years I had singled pane windows, though I did not use water....I taped the bubble wrap I scrounged from furniture rental and shipping businesses' dumpsters using scavenged rolls of extra wide clear did WONDERS to lower my heating bills by keeping my house much cozier while still admitting light

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My brugmansia always does best in early autumn....the evening fragrance is luscious, reminds me of a blend of lemon peel and jasmine.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Rain chances even better...

Relax....Conservative Republicans know more than climatologists....there IS no global warming....

Talk about a simple CHEAP solar cooker!

Fresnel Lense Solar Cooker

I periodically find old projector TVs dumped, and have long used the fresnel lens, plus the VERY nice glass lenses within the projector unit, as trippy decor in my home. I have in storage a big rectangular fresnel lens, so I'd like to give this a try despite my limited skills with tools, etc.

If this arrives I will have thousands of happy seedlings here

I've taken zinc for easily 20 years but will take more

Monday, October 1, 2012

Moisture coming this way from the tropics?

This is a pretty hopeful rain forecast for October....

Maybe because of the record-breaking heat, maybe because south Tampa ACTUALLY got rain this summer, or maybe because it is growing in a buried 7 gallon Water Wise Container Garden, my Purple Passion Fruit vine, less than 1 year old from seed that surprised me a few weeks ago with its first bloom (see pic) has now begun blooming HEAVILY. Barring an early hard freeze, I may have my first ripe ones to enjoy by Thanksgiving.

A tiny portion of one of MANY harvests I got from my previous vine that finally succumbed to a hard freeze a few years back after blessing me with MANY hundreds of delicious fruits over a few years.

Since the early 90s in Denver I've been peeing on my soil to add nitrogen, vitamins and trace elements, and of course to prevent all those wasteful flushes. For a few years I kept a wide mouth liquid detergent bottle by the toilet to slip my penis into, then would pour the urine where needed. But it can get smelly even in just a few hours, so for years now I pee directly onto my bananas, roses, chaya, grapes and other plants vs. on or in the veggie gardens per se'......I don't want folks to be afraid to eat my salads and nasturtiums! When I think of the thousands of times I've NOT wastefully flushed my pee away I am sure the water savings have been vast. Fresh human urine is sterile and poses NO disease spread risk unlike feces.... Give pee a chance!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

End Of Summer Weed Hell

All manner of weeds have erupted after our first wet summer in south Tampa in years, and as I yank and pull and sweat in the humid heat I remind myself that some become chicken and duck food immediately, and the rest get packed into 55 gallon compost barrels to add vital green matter.

Not good.......

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I garden more and more using this in some fashion, including in Water Wise Container Gardens....

Some years ago when I first discovered I had high blood pressure by trying out Dad's BP machine, I googled what neighborhood Caribbean people had previously told me about passion fruit leaf tea for high BP, saw it is empirical fact, so I drank a few glasses daily until the REAL corrective measures (cut WAY back on salt, some on caffeine, take in more potassium, and more cardio) kicked worked QUICKLY to get the numbers down. Back then I had a vine on my south fence. This last week or so I've binged on both pizza and a brand of frozen burritos plus smoked salted herrings as a rare splurge on processed foods....when I woke up this morning I could feel in my face and eardrums that high BP was back, put a new battery in the cuff.....159/114!! So when the wonderful rains let up I harvested maybe 10 leaves from my west fence vine, chopped them with my kitchen scissors into rainwater in a saucepan (2 quarts?) and simmered them on low, covered, maybe 15 minutes until I had that lovely familiar tea....totally clear, a tannish green, very mild flavor. I drank a coffee mug of it. About an hour later I checked my BP.....105/86! I'll go back to my usual low sodium/high potassium cooking, put a smaller scoop of Cuban coffee in my mini-expresso machine, and drink two glasses of the tea daily to get my numbers back to their usual ideal. If anybody local wants leaves to try my Passion Fruit vine has EXPLODED into growth, easily spanning 15 feet on the west fence and even blooming despite being less than a year old....I can give you oodles of fresh leaves right off the vine. It is planted in a buried 7 gallon Water Wise Container Garden. I have loved the stunning blooms for years and should have ripe fruits by Thanksgiving....the scent of the blooms in the morning is amazing. Health food stores sell tea bags and gel caps of the dried leaves for high blood pressure for ridiculous prices when I think of the productivity of this vine. Holler if you want to stop by for a bag of leaves. I learned my lesson....frozen burritos and pizza as an OCCASIONAL treat, not a week long decadent binge!

Passiflora edulis

One less duck in the center area out back that is an evolving food forest.... two days ago I go into my back yard and there in the chicken path is my giant white male Muscovy duck who'd flapped his way over the fence (I'd been noticing his regrown flight feathers. I grabbed a pair of scissors, somehow caught him by the tail then held his wings together over his back to keep him from attacking me, then re-clipped his flight feathers. I put down the scissors and took one wing per hand and carried him by the wings to the south bed where the other two just put in there have already made a big dent in the weeds. I could not believe this bird's strength as it tried to flap to get away!

That leaves just three males in there to remove so I can plant the bananas and the guava in lined pits that are in effect giant Water Wise Container Gardens. With SUCH a prevalence of males, who often squabble violently over the few females, I simply MUST do my first duck slaughter and preparation. I am told that they are VERY good eating, that the meat is almost identical to cow meat in color, taste and texture.

seeds sown, fertilizer spread, mulch down.....

I've known wheat sensitive people who assumed that glutens were the culprits...

I've never heard of gliadins until today, but this might explain folks I've known with chronic colitis.

Friday, September 14, 2012

This is VERY disturbing news

I remember people thinking of the oceans as "infinite", with even that one Russian clown, I mean, scientist, advocating dumping ALL nuclear waste be dumped into the oceans. I remember in the 60s the oceans being thought of an infinite source of protein...NOT!! I so wish that humans would breed responsibly vs. behaving like fucking bacteria in a sealed petri dish! We are dramatically simplifying various ecosystems into less stable ones.

I'm not good at building things, but if YOU are.....

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Thornless" Edible Opuntia Cacti

 Has glochids galore...yikes!!!
My smooth tapered glochid-free one

Students and others have told me of picking and eating what LOOKED to be a "thornless" Opuntia paddle-type cactus, only to discover tiny virtually invisible spines called "glochids" embedded in their fingers, lips and tongue....painful indeed, I know from experience! I grow and sell a TRULY spineless form of Opuntia cochenillifera that makes a VERY tiny number of VERY widely spaced glochids as to be meaningless. The differences between the two are easy to detect IF you know what to look for......the one with the hundreds of glochids has paddles that are more rounded at the tip vs. tapered, and has large number of small fleshy appendages on the pads. These pics should help you train your eye. Not only is the flavor and texture of the safe one yummy raw or cooked, it is very nutrition-dense and contain polysaccharides that if eaten daily, can do wonders to help stabilize blood sugar levels.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Home Made Moroccan Preserved Lemons

Last spring I made a small trial batch using cloves and hot peppers and peppercorns and more after seeing there are MANY variations, and after a three month room temperature ferment the results were delicious! It adds a wonderful spectrum of flavors to Moroccan rice and meat dishes, which I will be exploring further this winter. I have MANY Meyer's Lemons plus Persian Limes ripening on my trees, so will poke around the house for a larger, sealable glass container so I can make a good sized batch this time. This recipe looks delicious so may try it. It almost seems that one can't go wrong when it comes to the choice of spices.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Jamaican Cherry (Muntingia calabura)

I am so spoiled by daily feasting on this rare tropical fruit whose flavor can be compared to a mix of ripe watermelon and pink cotton candy. The tree itself was planted when young in a 7 gallon Water Wise Container Garden with extra large drainage holes drilled maybe six inches from the bottom.....I keep the area around it well mulched and the growth rate has been amazing.

African Yellow Yam (Dioscorea cayenensis)

Each year it is BY FAR the most vigorous yam I grow, sending out long, graceful vine tips seeking something to grab onto and climb. In early September 2012 my specimens are once again making my back yard urban farm look like 'Jurassic Park'.

My Jaboticaba

The poor thing has struggled here for easily 8 years due to my not addressing the fact that it is virtually a swamp tree that wants REALLY damp soil. A few months ago I moved it to a buried 55 gallon Water Wise Container Garden that I could keep damper but it STILL struggled. At the last Tampa Rare Fruit Council meeting a cute, energetic young man gave an excellent talk about the various Jaboticabas and their turns they want VERY acidic soil, as low as or even lower a pH than blueberries want! So I gave it some iron sulfate and Southern Ag minor elements mixed in a few gallons of rain water, and am giving it my retrieved daily 1 gallon backyard shower water more often....and it has taken off! Nice new shiny leaves just like in his  PowerPoint presentation! Dare I imagine my first EVER fruits next year?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cheap Easy "Organic" Pest Control

At this time of year in central Florida gardens, aphids and spider mites and mealy bugs can suddenly appear in large numbers. Just blast them off a couple times weekly with a forceful spray of water from a garden hose nozzle as they are VERY sluggish and VERY unlikely to survive the trek back to, then up, your crops.

"Filipino Mexican Tree Pepper"

A decade ago my Filipino neighbor Joe gave me a few pods of this perennial "Tree Pepper" that Hot Pepper God Allen Boatman identified as a form of Capsicum frutescens. The original plant thrived for eight years with just a hard cut back and feeding each spring until a very severe freeze killed. Luckily I'd saved pods and so this year I have a few growing again in large Water Wise Container Gardens. The flavor and heat is on par with a good Thai Pepper (a form of Capsicum annuum). My original plant had quite the impressive woody is an old pic of it plus close ups of the VERY plentiful pods.

Two Species of Moringa

My gardening friend Marabou posted on FaceBook this great pic showing the huge differences between the two most common species eaten, with oleifera being the one by far most familiar to gardeners.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lots going on and growing here as autumn approaches!

 driveway bed: two papayas, one Cassia alata. one red jatropha, one Blue Pea Vine, one Salvia leucantha
 Male Muscovy Ducks
 Canna  edulis: blooms, tubers and young leaves edible
 A deep pile of yard waste is allowing this drought stricken banana by my south fence to revive
This African Yellow Yam (Dioscorea cayenensis) has now grabbed my clothesline!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Identifying Edible 'Elephant Ears'

A nice discussion on FaceBook reminded me of my initial confusion about them when I moved back from Denver in 2002. The "wild" ones seen on Florida riverbanks can contain VERY high levels of EXTREMELY stinging calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves and tubers that sets one's entire throat and windpipe on fire for half an hour or more, with the emergency room a possibility.  But even  though  the types cultivated for centuries as a staple have enough in them to require boiling or frying to make them edible. The taste and texture is much like an excellent potato, often simmered or fried with butter or olive oil and garlic.  The entire topic can be confusing to gardeners seriously considering growing them as a staple in their subtropical garden. Here are conclusions I reached 8-9 years ago after very consciously obsessing for several months on the topic that seem valid and that work for me as a gardener and urban farmer.

1. "Taro" can be one of MANY cultivars of Colocasia esculenta that generally need QUITE wet soils. The
    leaves can be boiled twice and used as
    as a green. Look up recipes for Thai Taro Leaf/Coconut milk soups! Varieties include "eddo" and "lila".

2."Malanga" can one of many cultivars of Xanthosoma

A way of differentiating the two genus that I was taught back then seems valid and verifiable:

Taro leaves present a continuous curving edge at the back of  each leaf where it joins the stalk.

Malanga leaves have a cleft at the back of the leaf where it joins the stalk. I gather that malanga leaves are not usually eaten. Malanga seems to prefer damp but well-drained soil vs. the swampy soils most taros want.

Malanga leaf and tuber