Wednesday, July 31, 2013
I've got ripening VERY hot peppers and "Gray Street Grapes" so time to choose a container to collect them in and freeze until I have enough to make my first ever grape-based hot sauce. One of the many good influences that Allen Boatman has had on me was turning me on to hot sauces free of the distraction of vinegar (which I DO like otherwise) by lowering the pH with other means. I think he uses bulk citric acid....I use bulk ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). I'll simmer the grapes in water, will strain out the seeds or possibly just run it all through the blender with the hot peppers since grape seeds are nutritious, simmer in the sauce pan with sea salt, coconut oil, roasted sesame oil, MAYBE some honey depending on how sweet the grapes are, add the vitamin C, simmer briefly, then bottle. I'll be sure to save a bottle for him.
Since the 70s, the Chickasaw Plums I've seen were small trees, with white to nearly white flowers, and with quite a few fruits. This remains a petite hedge despite the home being uninhabited a long time, the blooms (which look a lot like peach blooms) are cotton candy pink, and I've never seen fruits on it. I'll take pics when it defoliates this winter, and when it blooms in spring. My current best guess is that it might be the root stock of a previously planted peach or nectarine. Crushed leaves exude that "sweet cyanide" scent that I so associate with cherry tree leaves in Denver. I'm hoping someone can help me ID this shrub, thanks!
In the 11 years I've been back in Tampa from Denver I've grown cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) varieties like Purple Crowder, Zipper, Black Eye Peas, Corrientes, Cream 40, White Acre Field Peas, Iron Clay, two mystery ones that evolved in people's gardens from Whippoorwill, plus a few types of Yard Long Beans bred from a subspecies whose name I can never remember...the Asian long beans are sweet, mild and tender even when quite long, but the vines themselves seem to be short lived, with just one good crop before they fail. Of the other cowpeas I've tried (there are MANY MANY varieties) only Iron Clay bears young pods that are mild, non-bitter, sweet and tender up to 6 inches in length. The others seem best shucked or cooked edamame style when green, or harvested as a dried bean. Funny that all these years later that Iron Clay is still my favorite! The tender young leaves of all the cowpeas are good raw or cooked and loaded with protein. If I was a vegan gardening in a hot humid climate I'd definitely grow cowpeas. Next summer I will try one called Turkey Craw that is supposed to make giant seeds and pods.
Monday, July 29, 2013
Back in the 70s a lot of us well-meaning, super idealistic, enviro-hippies virtually paralyzed ourselves in our quests to be perfect pacifists/environmentalists/vegans, etc. And I feel that I am seeing that again in new generations of permaculturist/organic gardeners...."don't use scavenged plastic containers as gardens and rain barrels since they are made from oil plus might leach BPAs"....."don't sheet mulch with cardboard boxes and free wood mulch because the cardboard might contain sulphur compounds and the trees MIGHT have been sprayed"....."don't use city water as it contains chloramines but don't use rainwater because it contains atmospheric pollutants"....."don't use fish emulsion and kelp because they MIGHT contain heavy metals and involve bulk harvesting from the open sea ecosystems"....."don't grow any crops but native plants"....."don't grow any crop some have labelled as invasive"....."don't go to gardening and permaculture events if you have to use a car"...."you MUST be a strict vegan"...."don't use dolomite or any mineral supplements because they are mined"...."don't use manure or bone meal or blood meal or fish emulsions because animals were killed"...."don't use solar panels and batteries because they contain lithium and other toxic elements"..."don't use manures because the animals' foods might not have been organic, plus the animals are captive even on free-range farms".....and more. If one pursues ideological purities to their ends, you can end up painting yourself into a very small corner in a joyless life that affects VERY little change in the world.
Friday, July 26, 2013