Thursday, June 27, 2013
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
I've grown many cultivars of Sulfur Cosmos, but 'Dwarf Lemon Yellow' is THE brightest, cheeriest yellow I've ever seen. I've planted hundreds of seeds in front and back...here is the very first bloom. Very cheap in bulk at everwilde farms.
I've not had bananas bear fruit here in years due to ongoing drought, but this Raja Puri that Mary Jo gave me last year is prospering due to deep mulch, goat and horse poop, my watering much more out front, some decent rains, plus a few handfuls of food grade potassium chloride (aka 'muriate of potash' in organic fertilizers). Here are are two shots from today, morning light and after a rain.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
First bloom today from seeds sown barely 2 weeks ago of that Dwarf Lemon Yellow sulfur cosmos I got 7,700 seeds of for about $6...it is THE brightest, cheeriest yellow cosmos I have EVER seen by far...charming. Pics soon when there are more blooms. I am using these as heavily in the new food forest out back, and in various locations out front for effortless color that attracts butterflies.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
When I saw this in a construction dumpster yesterday I felt it was begging to be turned into a solar oven, perhaps using the projection TV fresnel lens I scavenged curb side 2 weeks ago. A home is actually being built on my street....I stopped to slip the shiny Mylar off AC conduits to use in the living room then saw this too. I'll check today as a slab of could make a great bottom for the oven.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
A trick I've relied on for many years with my weird yards here and in Denver regarding avoiding code violations is COLOR....people are MUCH less apt to complain, and enforcers less likely to write a citation, if your yard is the most colorful on the block. I have dealt with this company for years, had nice phone chats with the owner, and his bulk prices are VERY fair. Sulphur Cosmos and its hybrids grow effortlessly, self sow like crazy, attract butterflies and are a good bee flower too. An ounce of seeds sown now would have any sunny yard ablaze with color by the end of August and for many years to come. Today I sowed more seeds of Dwarf Lemon Yellow around the perimeter of the new food forest as part of the effort to make it the colorful showcase of my back yard. No annual flower is easier...they even self sow out front right by the hot asphalt where I NEVER water. In Denver, the related species Cosmos bipinnatus, which comes in pinks and whites and red thrives and self sows like crazy......I've always had VERY poor results with in Tampa in my yard and landscape clients' gardens in the 90s, and I've heard this from other gardeners who like me tried both winter and summer. The Sulfur Cosmos is an incredible performer here.
I can imagine extra firm tofu or chicken or duck meat, fresh fish working well with this wonderful sounding Ethiopian recipe!
- 1 tbs pomegranate molasses
- 1 tbs olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp sugar
- 16 raw king prawns, shelled and deveined
- 2 bell peppers, chopped
Mix together molasses, and next 4 ingredients. Season with salt and add prawns. Toss gently and chill, covered, for 2 hours.
Thread prawns on skewers, alternating with peppers. Grill 3 minutes per side, basting with leftover marinade. Serve immediately.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Now that the summer season is here I feel it is important for local gardeners to know that some years ago a local gardener whom I'd given cuttings of Hibisicus radiatus to, without benefit of a computer, renamed it as kenaf and has sold it as such ever since, which has caused folks a lot of confusion as there is growing interest in the real kenaf as a source of fodder, biomass, summer greens for people, and paper pulp. Apparently the cannabis-like shape of the leaves of that annual hibiscus, and tart taste of the leaves, is what inspired them to make this faulty re-identification which has now, unfortunately, spread through the central Florida gardening community. Last week I sowed seeds of the kenaf strain 'Everglades 41' whose leaves do NOT resemble cannabis and that is especially good for eating. But here is the simple way to get clear on this: Hibiscus radiatus bears maroon-magenta blooms (see the pic), usually in the fall, and has leaves much like those of cannabis...all the kenaf strains and cultivars bear pale yellow blooms that VERY closely resemble those of okra (see pic)...some have leaves much like those of cannabis, some have leaves resembling those of okra. They also have a tart taste. I feel that those of us who teach classes, and sell plants to the public, can best serve folks if we do our best to be informed ourselves, even if it means resorting to using a computer now and then. No matter how long we've gardened and studied plants and taught classes, there is always something new to learn, and we can now and then be mistaken, which is okay.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Today when planting papaya seedlings in the center food forest I went back to my old practice of planting clumps of 5-7 of them per hole vs. singly. I have such fertile soil I see no ill effects from crowding, etc., cut down the males when they become apparent, and I end up with a nice little colony that looks like a multi-trunked papaya that bears me OODLES of fruit. I watered them all in with rich water from the move-able duck pond that is simply a dinghy, and will daily as the week ahead looks fairly dry.
I prefer most fruits to be tart vs. super sweet, so it is a treat today begin eating nearly ripe fruits from "Gracie's Grape" that are ripening early in the season. Good grape flavor, decently sweet but a nice bit of tang too. Despite the super mild winter where I had to cover neither basil nor tomatoes, I am getting a very heavy crop from this vine and "Gray Street Grape" that consume the hen house. I'll be using ripe grapes this year plus some super hot peppers out front to make a new "sweet heat" type of hot sauce.
I can't imagine buying a papaya plant for $20 from Home Depot, as they are super easy from ripe fruit ( see recent pic of seeds scooped out of a Caribbean red from the store). But I've now seen three times in 10 years here, plus heard from other gardeners a valuable lesson.....seeds from a Caribbean Red purchased fruit give seedlings that bear in 6-8 months excellent fruits VERY much like a Caribbean Red. BUT....seeds from those second generation fruits either saved on purpose or popping up from compost or in my case, kitchen gray water, produce plants that bear MUCH smaller fruits with much less flavor, best used green Thai style. Seeds from THOSE fruits quite often become plants that bear very small fruits usually devoid of seeds. I now have tons of seedlings coming up in a baby pool garden from kitchen gray water...in the past I'd have transplanted them into gardens but I've learned my lesson and will pull them to feed to the chickens and ducks.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Friday, June 14, 2013
I came home from south Tampa's Wimauma restaurant with two buckets of scraps for the poultry, and gave kitchen manager Cody big green papayas, Greek columnar basil, and for the first time each, Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens) and Papalo, a Mexican herb with a flavor reminiscent of cilantro touched by arugula and rue. I'll be curious if he finds them useful. Happy ducks and chickens tonight.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Mary Jo and I love to cook with celery a lot, know regular celery is loaded with pesticides, organic is so pricey, tricky and thirsty to grow at home...like many she finds the taste of Chinese Celery too strong and bitter, plus it is biennial. So today I pulled up two fistfuls of that Water Celery that Josh Jamison gave me now thriving in that new bog garden out front.....I was amazed at the strong network of stolons down deep in the rich muck, I had to really yank. One handful went into the new shallow camp shell pond along with duckweed, the other in a one gallon pot of rich compost for Mary Jo for her to grow and taste. To me the flavor is much milder than Chinese celery, which is the exact same species as regular celery. Water Celery is an entirely different genus and thrives in the aquaponic tanks at H.E.A.R.T. in Lake Wales. The pic is from my bog garden...it has multiplied like crazy.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Monday, June 10, 2013
My whole house smells like Queen of Sheba restaurant.....I dug up and peeled this small Caribbean White Yam that volunteered by the south fence last year, peeled and cubed it, browned it with chopped onions and garlic, added a gallon of water, sea salt, home made habanero hot sauce, two browned pork chops torn into small chunks, BIG colander full of chopped Morris Heading collards, 2-3 tablespoons of home made nitter kibbeh, couple big sprinkles of organic berr berr curry powder imported from Ethiopia, can of tomato paste, some sea salt, should be ready in about an hour.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Good day to brew a gallon of sweet tea for the scoby, clean the kitchen some, polish the living room floor, empty rain buckets, and to use breaks in the rain to decide where to place kiddy pools from the south duck bed into the new center food forest to grow water celery and water spinach for me, and duckweed and azolla for the dinobirds, with gambusia minnows from the big ponds in them for mosquito control. I think Dad would be pleased if he saw my radically tidied up front yard, and outgoing efforts out back to PURGE excess crap, and organize what remains into effective systems for weed control (via ducks and chickens) and total food productivity while being MUCH more aesthetically pleasing and with a LOT more color from mixed sunflowers, cannas in wet container gardens, blue pea vine, and red pentas galore. Pretty sure I will be planting in front of each 250 gallon tote out front a young plant of the lovely deep yellow brugmansia that Norma Bean gave me cuttings of before leaving her home and gardens of thirty one years....within a year they should largely obscure the tanks plus perfume the air each evening. In view of the many seeds and cuttings I planted the three days before Andre arrived, in about a month I should see LOTS of new plants, edible and ornamental, out front and in back. John
As a man with a bitter palate and near-zero sweet tooth, I've found my upper limit...fresh rain-rinsed chicory leaves, simmered in rain water with butter, sea salt, a touch of turmeric (not a big fan of the taste) for about 20 minutes, served with a splash of in-your-face vinegary kombucha tea. I ate the whole bowl with relish, but have no desire for seconds until tomorrow. For some reason, I usually DO get a sense of well-being after feasting on bitter herbs. I think most people could not have gotten down what I just ate. Flower stalks are JUST emerging...in a couple of weeks I should have oodles of those lovely pale blue flowers behind my mailbox to reseed once again. I feel it is growing even better here than it did in Denver...and when I planted the seeds two winters ago I thought it was a long shot!
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
I hope this farmer wins BIG time and that others follow suit due to having been hammered by the drop in wheat prices that Monsanto caused!!!