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!