Monday, December 16, 2013

I just learned today of a new scam, this one about "nascent iodine" being sold at INSANELY high prices for EXTREMELY diluted solutions by Alex Jones at InfoWars and other sites relying on pseudo-science language and entangled claims of benefits. As I read these sites I have to shake my head at the incredible science illiteracy, poor grammar and spelling as they hawk a near valueless product. Ordinary tincture of the same size at SweetBay is $1.19, and is how everyone I know started supplementing iodine. Lugol's Solution was the preferred form for 100 years and for many people still is, being an aqueous solution of two forms of iodine readily absorbed by the body. Coastal Japanese have gotten theirs for centuries by eating kelp seaweed and benefited immensely despite not having access to this "energized mono-atomic iodine". No wonder I've long taken Alex Jones with a VERY large grain of salt, especially his "chemtrails" rants, but his hawking this stuff at a LUDICROUS profit margin and with simply false New Age mumbo jumbo to try to sound all "scientific" has simply now put him off my radar entirely. He and others selling this overpriced form of iodine should be utterly ashamed of themselves.

As always, Everwilde Farms filled my order quickly. I would recommend that anyone gardening in cold rural areas in Florida try this crop (actually a Vetch vs. a true bean) as for years as a Denver gardener I witnessed this ancient crop's mind boggling cold hardiness. The flowers are bizarrely beautiful...pure white with pure black markings. In Denver I ate them cooked, both when the pods were green and full of large tender seeds, and as a dried bean. The flavor and texture is very hearty and satisfying. In Denver we'd sow the seeds in the fall JUST before the ground froze and they'd emerge the next spring LONG before the end of hard frosts and even blizzards...the plants simply were not fazed. Since they LIKE cold I am probably growing them in one of my front north facing beds in between roses and glads and nasturtiums.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Donna Sue Wallace shared a turmeric tea recipe yesterday on FaceBook that has inspired me to today invent a salad dressing beyond my usual home made oil and vinegar, or store bought bleu cheese. After breakfast and sit ups I'll put into my Ninja blender the following: strong kombucha tea, Meyer's lemon juice, turmeric powder, ripe papaya, honey, sea salt, raw onion, raw moringa leaves, garlic, food grade diatomaceous earth, and coconut oil. I'll buzz it all up and store in the fridge to use on salads of mixed garden greens and raw green papaya. The health benefits of turmeric are well known and documented, but I am just not a fan of the taste in entrees, especially in the amounts that would be medicinal, so I've been experimenting with adding it to strong flavored things to mask the taste, like that awesome first batch of green papaya kimchi that I made in September. I suspect that its taste will be barely detectable, if at all, in this pungent salad dressing.

My catalog came yesterday....I can't speak well enough of this family owned and run company.....incredible assortment of certified organic seeds, grains, brassicas, green manure crops and more. Per pound prices of the various forage rapes like 'Bonar' are amazing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I've been making use of this out back using paper mulberry branches, and will soon be cuttings back my HUGE Bolivian Sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia) out front to use in the center food forest out back to nourish the soil and suppress weeds. Refurbishing the front bed that contains the 'Teasing Georgia' climbing rose that I pruned HARD a few days ago is the first time I've used rose canes cut off as part of a chop-and-drop layer on the open areas of the bed where a few hundred nasturtiums plus many hundreds of seeds of white sweet alyssum were sown Saturday. This was MUCH easier than hauling the thorny canes all the way out back to the compost barrels, plus was an easier way to add lignin and humus formers to a bed that has gotten sandy....I'm thinking/hoping that the nasturtiums, glads and white sweet alyssum will grow right up through them as they sag and decay... I might even add tithonia stalks to build up the soil there based on what I see the seedlings do. Today was my legal watering day, so I spread a 25 lb. bag of cheap white clay Publix cat litter all over the bed, then gave it a DEEP watering about 10 days, hopefully, hundreds of seedlings of 'Dwarf Jewel Mix' nasturtium and white Sweet Alyssum will begin to emerge through the fresh thin layer of aged wood chips mulch then the chop-and-drop layer of rose and turnera trimmings. Tomorrow I will splash onto that entire bed a Nutrient Soup of dried chicken poop, fish emulsion, trace elements and feed grade urea that steeped in water. In about a month I'll decide if I can add a layer of short pieces of Tithonia diversifolia stalks to add phosphorus and lignin formers as I want that bed's soil to get rich and damp. One red pentas, one dwarf yellow allamanda, one Lantana camara, one blue 'Victoria Salvia' and one Red Porter should round out the color palette. Barring hard frosts or freezes, this bed should look stellar by February. As soon as the new glads bulb order arrives, I'm planting about 5-6 dozen in this bed too as I want a riot of color and flower forms...the LAST thing I am is a formal gardener!

My hero of fermented foods!

You know it is December in Tampa when two clusters of Raja Puri bananas, and your 'Cramoisi Superieur' rose are thriving in your front yard.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas meeting of the Tampa Rare Fruit Council Sunday.

Perfect weather, low 80s, nice breeze, big turnout, TONS of food, no plants or seeds as usual, just food and conversation though some of us brought seeds, plants, produce to share with friends. Great way to wrap up a fine weekend., always nice to see favorite people. The Bayshore Garden Club is a very picturesque place for our monthly meetings.

Friday, December 6, 2013

This year was the first time that my 'Triumph' muscadine grape did not bear an abundance of fruit....I got just a token harvest. I wonder if the cause was last winter being SO mild that I did not have to cover tomatoes or even basil, so it got very little chill. It grew lushly in our first wet summer in eight years but gave me just several handfuls of fruits. On the other hand, the "Gray Street Grape" on the hen house bore very heavily. It seems that "Gracie's Grape" on the north end of the hen house may have died....I'll know for sure next spring.

Finding one of these growing wild in west Tampa in 1987 helped inspire me to move to Denver. It is a flower arranger's dream.....each floret is attached to the main stem by a tiny stem that behaves like copper wire....which ever position you push the florets to they stay! I'm assuming these seeds are the wild hybrid....I can't think of the name of the hybrid that I planted in Denver clients' garden. In Denver a true perennial...made a dense underground mat of rhizomes, utterly problem free...fingers crossed for here!

Live and Learn!

I love Everwilde Farm seed company....I just placed an order, mostly of things I grew in Denver just to try here as experiments that I'll not hold my breath over. Just $15  plus $4.50 shipping for literally thousands of seeds! Ordered: Broad Windsor fava bean, mixed coleus (a nostalgia order as coleus was my first plants obsession when 19 in Albuquerque), Obedient Flower (more nostalgia....finding one in the west Tampa trailer park I lived in in 1987 was one of the inspirations to move to Denver where it THRIVES), Scarlet Nantes carrot (I usually grow Danver's Half Long), McKana columbines (LONG shot for Tampa!), Maximillian Sunflower (LOVES Denver, long shot for Tampa). I'll be sure to share the results of these trials.


A Tampa gardener I know so far only on FaceBook surprised me yesterday with an odd pod of okra in the mail like none I'd ever seen before...very dramatic striping. On FB he told me it is Abelmoschus caillei from Africa, very heavy bearer and that the pods stay tender a long time. He got his seeds from ECHO...he says to cover them with boiling water (!) let cool 12 hours then sow right away. He then added a pic.....I love the intense yellow of the blooms plus the rich burgundy of the stems and leaf ribs. I'll be sure to share seeds with folks so we can get this treasure out there in the gardening community. So kind of Jim to mail me a pod out of the blue like that!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I LOVE fava beans of any kind but for some reason have not grown them in Denver they were brutally cold tolerant and self sowed readily, here they are a winter crop, so I'll buy a bag of dried ones from the store (hopefully) as a cheap source of seeds. The kind I grew in Denver had amazing white and black flowers that reminded me of zebras. For years I was paranoid to try them due to that possible, sometimes fatal, enzyme reaction that affects a TINY number of people whose ancestry stems from a small region in Europe (they are not a bean but a Vetch). Great source of protein and to me very satisfying eating. I was turned onto them not long after I moved to Denver in 1987 by a very gifted elderly gardening neighbor who grew vast numbers of them in his back yard. Today my 84 year old Italian neighbor told me the name her family called them (lupinta?) and that her Mom would soak raw ones in vinegar, then each bean had the skin peeled off to eat the inside as finger food just like my neighbor did except he picked them right up off the frozen ground and ate them right there. There are many kinds...I see bags of small seeded types at Asian markets but I will hold out for the giant ones I grew in Denver that I got from that neighbor.....much bigger than a lima bean. In Denver they were insanely cold hardy...late/early hard freezes and snows did not faze them, but as soon as spring warmth settled in, they failed quickly.

The revamped solar shower water heater is up and running and working great.

The 'Giant Red' or 'Red Giant' mustard is JUST mature enough to start to have that wonderful wasabi-like kick that is wonderful raw inside raw spring rolls, home made sushi and in salads. Cooked it becomes a mild green. Since 1984 I've also grown the VERY similar 'Osaka Purple' plus the very frilly 'Green Wave'. When mature and eaten raw they can make your sinuses explode! In Denver neighborhood kids would come to my front door each summer to ask for leaves and they'd "play chicken" to see who could take the biggest bite and NOT blow it out, their cute little faces bright red, eyes watering! I'm likely to try it in a kimchi once the plants are a lot can get knee high in good conditions. The mustard oil responsible for the heat is an excellent source of dietary sulfur.