Thursday, November 21, 2013

This is simply mind boggling and enraging! Now that the couple is suing, I hope they wipe up the floor with these petty asshole city officials! That front yard is lovely!

A few of my friends are pursuing eating aerial yam tubers with special cultivars of Air Potato that are edible, the concept being that the mother tuber remains in the ground and you eat ONLY the aerials. Each fall my Yams (Dioscorea spp. and cultivars) make FAR more aerials than I can plant or give away. Past efforts of boiling them were not good, even though I am a "garbage gut", so now I've tried this approach and the result was DELICIOUS! Despite the "binder" not doing a good of that (I had no eggs) my first ever experiment of making patties from aerial yam tubers was definitely a success! Yesterday I boiled them in salty water for about 20 minutes, poured off the brown water and let them drain and dry last night at room temp. Today I chopped them in a big pot with something that is either a donut maker or potato masher made of stainless steel until they were small chunks and crumbs, then poured in a "binder" I made in my Bullet blender from cooked Estrella chaya leaves, one yellow onion, a couple cloves of garlic, a dollop of sour cream, couple heaping tablespoons of soy flour to boost the protein, a little bit of olive oil and water. I mixed it all thoroughly, then put the hand made patties in olive oil on medium heat, covered at first, until nicely browned. I served the patty atop a bed of fresh arugula and Giant Red mustard leaves and two kinds of onion leaves, with ripe papaya and a slice of Meyer's Lemon on the side. EXCELLENT, plain or with ketchup. Since this was an experiment the batch is small, maybe enough to make 2-3 more patties. Next time I'll make a BIG batch and freeze the surplus. Had I had eggs I feel that the patty would not have fallen apart when I flipped it.

I'm getting tired of enjoying fresh rose blooms and eating home grown bananas and papayas and assorted veggies daily when I could be back in my old Denver house...maybe I should buy it back and "escape" Tampa?! LOL!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

At YamFest a Muslim gardener kindly gave me a bottle of the extracted oil, plus two bags of the seeds meant to be used as a spice...of course I have planted some. There are a GREAT many incredible anecdotal claims made about the health benefits, much like I saw in Colorado in the early 90s about crystals....vendors making incredible claims but offering ZERO empirical evidence. I posted about this issue on FaceBook when the claims popped up again, and my own efforts to Google studies yielded very little. But my remarkably brilliant young friend Timothy Lane turned his steely attention to the matter and posted on my wall this remarkably detailed study based on SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY vs. New Age woo woo...there is a LOT to absorb but it seems like it truly does have nutritional and medicinal value. Cellophane bags of the seeds are cheap at Indian markets. In Denver I grew the ornamental species Nigella damascena whose nibbled seeds reminded me and friends of watermelon. Both should do well here in central Florida as winter annuals is my guess. Thanks Timothy!!

A LOT of people are having vast numbers of them this year, but many are posting on FaceBook and elsewhere that they don't know what to do with them, especially the varieties that never become sweet and flavorful regardless of how ripe, a quite common phenomenon that makes some people that they dislike papayas. Here are the ways that I and others are using large green papayas that have had the bitter skins and seeds removed: small raw chunks in salads for a nice crunch chunks added to Thai stir fry pickled kimchi chunks added to soups sliced, dipped in egg, breaded and fried varying versions of Thai/Vietnamese/Filipino green papaya salad

Monday, November 18, 2013

Oldie but Goodie.....

Been hearing from's the good news "Indian Shallot" is a TRULY perennial multiplier, tops die back in summer, lift bulbs and store else they will rot.(I feel 99% sure it is a "Potato Onion", which is a shallot cultivar). Allium canadense truly perennial for me and others for years now IF grown in DAMP soil, tops die back in May, no need to lift the bulbs. "Chinese Chives" (allium tuberosum) super reliable, almost invasive but some folks not wild about the taste. I can deal with small amounts, tends to remind me of Society Garlic, which is not an Allium My strain of Allium fistulosum is proving reliably perennial for me and others, grows year round, great seed setter. Jury still out on a few strains of Potato Onions we are trialing but looks hopeful. Tops die back in early summer, lift bulbs else they rot. Chris moved to Live Oak, is trying some there in that colder climate. "Eliska's Bunching Onion" a good multiplier, truly perennial, good seed setter......VERY close to my A. fistulosum, possibly the same. Been growing a Mystery Onion from Jon and Debbie Butts a few months now....definitely multiplying all summer, Jon says about 1 of every 12 makes a viviparous reproductive stalk much like that of Allium canadense. Now the bad news: After growing EXTREMELY vigorously at H.E.A.R.T. in Lake Wales for just under a year, the base species of Perennial Sweet Leek (Allium amperalosum sp?) that Josh Jamison grew in large numbers, have now all apparently died and vanished. I checked mine yesterday.....still alive but has actually gotten smaller. BUMMER as the flavor was excellent and the clumps were huge and grew FAST from seed and division. He gets MUCH colder there than I do in south Tampa, is in a bowl, gets teens now and then, but even that extra chilling did not seem to help it be perennial. See pics.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I have a few friends who love to make fermented foods of many kinds, and Paul and I have been having fun making differing kimchis. I've gotten VERY fond of raw green papayas as it gives me CRUNCHY kimchi vs. the usual soft, almost mushy texture of the store bought Chinese cabbage kimchi. Today I started a big new batch of green papaya kimchi, but I am trying 4 new things.....vs. soaking the chopped veggies overnight in brine then draining and rinsing, I just tossed them with the amount of salt I want to REMAIN in the kimchi. My goal is to make my kimchis less salty, in part because I tend towards moderate high blood pressure, and also so I can taste more the flavors. For the first time I am flavoring/coloring a kimchi with genuine Korean red pepper powder...has little heat so am likely to add the last bit of homemade habanero sauce...into my biggest Bullet blender went some water, a whole small ginger root, several LARGE cloves of garlic, roasted sesame oil, approx. heaping tablespoon of sugar for taste and to feed the bacteria. Tomorrow afternoon I'll squeeze out the salty water, mix in the flavoring goodies in the Bullet blender, and pack it all into quart jars. The third new thing I am doing is that I'll inoculate one of the jars with a spoonful of Lifeway kefir and will label that jar as such. I MAY inoculate another quart with maybe 1/2 cup kombucha. The mix of veggies is: raw green papaya, yellow onions and carrots run through the food processor (I have yet to get the hang of the mandoline slicer), chopped onion leaves and daikon leaves and Giant Red Mustard leaves. I won't taste any of the jars until February. The 4th new thing I am doing is I will let one quart sit on the counter at root temp for a week before it goes into the fridge.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I'm going to risk sounding like an "old know it all" but I DO want to share what I feel is a valid thing to keep in mind. Some gardeners are trying crops here that thrive in much colder climates and I do too as trying "risky" crops (like my Windmill palm tree and "Florida" roses in my Denver yard) is a great way to learn and I am glad to see folks doing that. But bear in mind that sometimes the first year a northern perennial does well here, leading some exuberant folks to declare "this and such does fine in Florida". Often, they falter in year two or three due to lack of winter chill, or even in year four as happened with the VERY promising strain of Egyptian Multiplier Onion that Allen Boatman brought in and shared....first three years it thrived in ALL test gardens, large scale and small scale, then as we entered year 4 the bottom fell out in all test plots! I'm not saying don't experiment...DO and share the results. But I've gardened in Michigan, New Mexico, north Florida by the Georgia border and my first veggie garden was here in 1967 when I was in 9th grade, and feel that we should not forget that many/most northern perennials ARE northern perennials because they NEED winter chill. But I know a woman in Weekee Wachee who has gotten bearded iris from her summer home in Illinois to make it past that third year! It was my 15 years in Denver that I came to appreciate the role of winter dormancy for the longevity of MANY plants like peonies, lilacs, forsythia, hydrangeas, Oriental Poppies, tulips, daffodils, rhubarb, apples, pear, plums, asparagus, cherries, Concord grapes, comfrey, bearded iris and MANY other perennial flowers and herbs, raspberries, plus a vast number of roses....on and on and on. Sadly, northern folks move here to retire and end up badly missing so many of them, having assumed they grow here in "the land of flowers". Not lecturing, just sharing some experiences of mine with brave new gardeners.

My lifelong favorite leek, I started a flat today, one packet from this great company contains 1,000 seeds! In past winters I grew them in token amounts.....this year I want to try them in borders out front with the roses and nasturtiums plus of course in container gardens out back. I can imagine some wonderful soups made with them and true yams. (Dioscorea species).