Wednesday, October 31, 2012
This is the perennial relative of kenaf that Josh Jamison gave me cuttings of at Andy's event in Arcadia that I had obsessed understanding then obtaining after learning about it this summer. Cracks me up though to see that it IS the "manihot" I saw and tasted at the New Orleans Botanic Gardens in 1998 when I gave a talk that year to the New Orleans Old Roses Society! To think that it took me from then to now to get my mind around it. Comparing this to my 'Everglades 41' kenaf next summer will be fun I am sure. Thanks again Josh!
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
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Friday, October 26, 2012
Thursday, October 25, 2012
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.
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 include:www.evergreenseeds.com and www.everwilde.com
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
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.
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 years....as 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 is...to 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.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
My biggest papaya plant is out by the street and grows CLOSE to a Cassia alata shrub, which some feel is a nitrogen fixer....I can't help but suspect this is why it dwarfs others in the yard that are actually much better fed and watered. Visitors marvel at the size of the "trunk". It is a seedling of 'Caribbean Red', is seventeen months old from seed, and the ripe fruits are deeply colored and wonderfully fragrant and flavorful. I'm guessing it is about fifteen feet tall. I hope I don't lose it this winter to a hard freeze!
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.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
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 tape...it did WONDERS to lower my heating bills by keeping my house much cozier while still admitting light
Friday, October 5, 2012
A wonderful way to enjoy papayas either raw in salads or to add a touch of crunchy sweetness to a stir fry is to harvest them when they are "green" but JUST starting to show color in the skin. The color of the flesh is a delightful orange-salmon blush, the texture crisp, and the flavor halfway between the usual green unripe and fully ripe.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
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.