Thursday, August 29, 2013

I love how veggies brined overnight for kimchi already smell much like kimchi! I just packed 1.5 quarts of sweet potato leaf/green papaya/Mojito mint kimchi, flavored with a mix of garlic, hot peppers, panang curry paste, fish powder, honey, roasted sesame oil. Smells wonderful already! I'll eat the half quart in a week or two, age the full quart till year's end at least. I guess it is a legacy of my 15 years in Denver, but the approach of autumn always gets me in the mood to put up and preserve food. This is my second batch of kimchi in a few days, many more of many differing types and flavors planned.

I missed the August meeting due to forgetting the date, won't miss the September one! Free seeds, nice folks, informative meetings, great plant raffle, AWESOME potluck!

"Fife Creek" is my very favorite for a few years now, with pods often still tender when 11 inches long! I am letting a number of pods ripen for seeds for future seasons.

Thanks to Allen Boatman, I have SIX seedlings of super tropical Katuray (Sesbania grandiflora) after years of trying to replace my original plant lost many years ago to a hard freeze!!! I'll step these up to 1 gallon pots that I can bring in during cold snaps, then plant a few next summer in protected spots facing south. A Filipino neighbor years ago served me the blooms in a savory entree on rice, plus I want to try the leaves and pods as they are used in India and other tropical climates.

I've grown, enjoyed, promoted and shared the hyper-reliable summer crop Iron Clay cowpea for maybe ten years, but it is even more vigorous than I thought! I gave seeds to Koreen Brennan, I think at one of Andy Firk's events, and she recently reported that the vines had reached the top of a 25 foot tall moringa until it got snapped off by a recent violent storm over in Pinellas! Here at my place, all this summer I've studiously pulled up all Iron Clay volunteers to prevent them from cross pollinating two new cowpeas that I THOUGHT I was going to like much better...turns out both bear pods that are tough and fibrous even when young vs. those of Iron Clay being tender and sweet and stringless up to 5-6 inches in length, even raw, my preferred way to eat them. So I stopped pulling up Iron Clay volunteers from last year and they are already 5-6 feet tall and will clearly bear pods for me to eat plus some to replenish my seed supply. What a wonderful nitrogen fixing crop, plus the young, protein-rich leaves and vine tips are good cooked or raw in salads.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Great Muscovy Duck Adventure is winding down...the last male I had mysteriously died overnight, as had the others the last few months. The females are thriving as usual. But over the last two years VERY few eggs hatched, the two males I slaughtered and ate confirmed what I'd read...very good eating but VERY difficult to pluck. For me, skinning (what some folks resort to) was even harder. So an hour ago I opened the gate to the pen...those poor ducks had lived their whole lives in there but would not let me catch them so I could clip their wings to let them join the semi-free range ones in the various beds...poor things have never paddled as adults, just as babies in there in small make shift ponds. They don't seem to realize they are free to go, even though the chickens are now coming and going...I hope they have flown away by dawn. I put so much time and energy into feeding them all that the sensible part of me says to slaughter and freeze the remaining three females, but we shall see if the "softie" in me kicks in yet again. I enjoyed the many eggs I ate, the two huge males I slaughtered gave me a LOT of meat, and the free range flocks did WONDERS for weed control. But all things considered, chickens are SO much easier. I've always ruled out Pekin Ducks as they can be SO noisy...when I first moved here a neighbor one street over had some...their loud quacking did not bother me at all but REALLY bugged other neighbors who did not grieve when in one night a racoon killed them all. Live and learn!

Syria will be no "cake walk" the evidence all along STRONGLY suggests it was the Al Qaida rebels that the U.S. is backing there launched the chemical attacks...but years ago the Empire added Syria to the list of countries it would "take out" in its ambitions for global domination.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mary Jo and I had a great time with Allen Boatman today at the Lavoy Exceptional School. I'd forgotten just HOW good his bonsais are (in part because of his very unusual plant choices) and I got a kick out of just how much my vegetarian gardening nerd friend Mary Jo enjoyed time with the goats. Two greenhouses, one kept cool with an evaporative wall, chickens plus seed starting inside the classroom. I met Allen years ago when he was running a very progressive hort rehab program at the Falkenburg jail, all around nice guy and a brilliant horticulturist, compulsively generous too. Very fine day, plus I came home with cool Chenopodium seedlings and SIX Sesbania grandiflora plants!

Mix of chopped "Giant Green Callalloo" leaves, 'Morris Heading' collards, touch of moringa, raw onion and Chinese chives now pressed in strong brine until tomorrow morning. After it is packed into the canning jars I'll buzz in my Bullet Blender a bit of old kimchee, dried salted greenbacks, hot peppers, garlic, honey, roasted sesame oil, kombucha tea, pour over the mix of brined leaves, seal, date and let age. I am thinking adding a bit of ginger root and turmeric powder to the blender mix too. First jar to be opened New Years Day. Next batch will be based on Sweet Potato Leaves, Estrella chaya, touch of Mojito Mint. Now to shower, hit the gym then spend a few hours with Mary Jo visiting my old friend Allen Boatman at the Lavoy Exceptional Center. In views of the wonders he did with the Hort Rehab program at the Falkenburg Jail for many years I look forward to seeing what he is doing for these kids. All around great guy, brilliant horticulturist, excellent gardener and like Josh Jamison a passionate awesome Christian vs. the scary Pharisee kind! He and I have spent many fun hours yammering away here and at the jail, will be great to see him there after he visited here recently.

Thank heavens that in my DEEP purge of my home that I did not get rid of official kimchi leaf brining jug, all scrubbed up and drying out. Today I brine the leaves of 'Morris Heading' collards and "Giant Green Callalloo".

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Here in central Florida, calendulas are super easy from seeds IF you wait until cooler weather comes in late October. I've grown 'Radio' and others but this is my favorite by far.

Of the many ornamental sunflowers I've grown since the early 90s in Denver, this mix is my favorite hands down.

I just pulled some errant ruellia seedlings from the narrow bed hugging the west side of my home, and scattered right atop the thin mulch layer old seeds of two forage rapes...Bonar in the south half, Pasja in the north half. Radar says rain might be here in a while from the south, I'll just let rains pound the seeds down into the crevices of the mulch. I don't usually direct sow brassicas until mid October, but what the heck as I have lots of seeds....will be interesting to see if the seeds are still viable, and, IF they germinate, how they fare in the humid heat. Who knows, I just MIGHT get an early start on winter greens! If they don't germinate in 7-10 days I have fresher brassica seeds I can use to repeat the experiment. I personally learn best as a gardener by trial and error.