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!