Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Monday, December 22, 2014
Great day today...blood pressure and pulse on the way down, my 'Symphony of the Soil' DVD arrived today, and I just got home after spending $101 at Publix, a rare thing. For some reason I am wanting meat actively as I heal from this thing, and am eating several times a day vs. three big meals. As the turnips greens boil with smoked pig neck bones, my supper will be Publix fried chicken, Braunschweiger on crackers, and French Brie on crackers. Life is good!
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Sunday, December 14, 2014
A little over two weeks ago I had a mild stroke and spent 6 days in Tampa General Hospital. I am taking meds, though I am taking less of one as it causes me to speak in a "word salad". I am have no insurance but they tell me they have a plan for everyone. I am staying at home and doing light house and yard work daily.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
In Denver I grew several kinds of chenopods effortlessly for 15 years, and they reseeded freely....my twelve years back in Tampa all my efforts with several kinds, both winter and summer have utterly failed. Thankfully I tried Magenta Spreen once again with seeds I got at ROOTS in St. Pete...one seedling emerged in that back porch Water Wise Container Garden. It sulked and barely grew, even after I gave it fish fertilizer. But once I started peeing on the soil it took off! Today it is approx. 8 feet tall and making vast numbers of buds and blooms on the terminal tips of branches, so today I snipped off a few to dry indoors in a tub to see if there are viable seeds yet (I suspect that they are too green). Two gardeners near Gainesville tell me that up there Magenta Spreen self sows wildly, almost a weed but they love the taste and texture (it is related to spinach so the taste and texture are very similar raw or cooked)...their's froze to death some time ago. A woman I know in Missouri says the same thing, that hers too reach 8-10 each summer....she no longer even bothers to grow spinach. The leaves are biggest and most tender and most magenta when the plants are 3-4 feet tall...later on the new leaves are quite small and green as the plant (an annual) prepares to set seeds. The two guys pulls up surplus seedlings to feed the chickens...she immerses hers in water for several days to make a potent liquid fertilizer. Here in Florida it definitely prefers summer. All three folks tell me to expect about 750 million seedlings to emerge in my kitchen garden next summer, but that they pull up easily. I added some leaves to salads, other times I cooked them in water with salt and coconut oil 10-15 minutes to serve as a side dish...just about identical to fresh spinach. I expect to harvest a LOT of seeds and would love to share some. I plan on doing a bulk sowing in the back yard center food forest plus maybe the big southeast bed. So funny that just when I'd given up growing chenopods in Tampa I'd get raging success! I never grew it in Denver. John
Friday, November 28, 2014
Of the three Creole Garlics I've planted so far, 'Germinador' (yup, spelled with a "d") is by far the most vigorous growing. Today I plant 'Labera Purple'. Fingers crossed that one/all set bulbs here in central Florida come springtime. Day lengths are the issue with garlics and most onions failing to make bulbs here. John
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
Debbie and Jon Butts and their Sustainable Living radio show and WMNF 88.5 are perennially respected and supported by the community due to their well known integrity and hard work and dedication. Jon and Debbie's farm pioneered sustainability in Florida decades before it became a popular buzz word. If you've been burned by promoting and/or contributing to individual "permaculturists" who turned out to be less than ethical, as I have a few times now, make your contribution to that fine radio show and station, confident in the knowledge that it will be used prudently and creatively. For me, it's no more giving money to individual "permaculturists" asking for "community support" as all too often they seem to think that money grows on trees, and that it is up to others to rake it up for them. WMNF Community Radio 88.5 FM 1210 East Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Tampa FL 33603-4417
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
I have the Air Potato Beetle on what I used to call African Yellow (Dioscorea cayenensis) that some folks feel is just a form of D. alata. Just one beetle, I killed it. Those of us who grow the true yams have been trying to let folks know when they get it. A student in Temple Terrace has it, and Andy Firk and other gardeners in Florida are reporting damage to several cultivars vs. only the Air Potato (D. bulbifera) the state release targeted. Yams have been a staple for me here for more than 10 years...I sure hope it doesn't wipe them out, especially my beloved Purple Ube from the Philippines.
Friday, November 14, 2014
I've wondered why after being almost unheard of it is now rampant in the U.S. the last several years. Just a new "food craze" or power of suggestion/hypochondria? I've long known that our wheat is not GMO but was bred, INCLUDING transgeneric crosses with a wild grass to boost the protein (aka gluten) content during the Green Revolution. I'll poke around about the claims in this article I saw on FaceBook but in the meantime will share it so folks can do their own research. John
I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch, but the "shallots" from China that I bought at DoBond Market and that I suspect might be "potato onions" ( a sub-species of shallots that multiplies underground), and that I planted barely a month ago in a Water Wise Container Garden as single individual bulbs, are already seeming to be replicating! Normal shallots are taller than wide....potato onions are flattened globes wider than tall. Fingers crossed as the one I ate had pungent, in-your-face onion flavor. John
Monday, November 10, 2014
That rhizome of Maranta (Arrow Root) that Josh Jamison gave me at Andy Firk's I think two autumns ago has become two robust colonies. I've given some away and have tons left. I've mentioned before not liking how eating boiled ones leaves many tough fibers stuck badly in my teeth. So today I browned three, covered, in olive oil, with sea salt. I let it cool, peeled off the scales then ate it like corn on the cob, with most of the fibers left in the middle. But my teeth are still jammed with fibers! Next time I'll slice them into 1/2 inch sections and boil those to see if those much shorter fibers are simply swallowed along with the pleasant tasting starch. I will also try again running some raw in water in my blender, strain out the fibers, then add the starchy water to a soup, smoothie or stir fry. Craig Hepworth also does not like the fibers in Maranta rhizomes and has already tried what I was going to try next.....cut the raw rhizomes into thin "coins" as he puts it, boil then serve. This cuts the long fibers into very short ones he calls "tolerable". The plant grows very easily in shade, but websites and videos make clear that extracting the starch is a lot of work for a small amount after drying. Arrow root starch has been my favorite food thickener for years, especially in my home made Asian dipping sauces, but I can get a 1 pound bag for 99 cents at The Oceanic Market downtown. If the sliced "coins" technique doesn't result in pleasant eating (the fibers wedge deeply into my teeth for a whole day!) I may well give up on this crop. In the pic, Josh Jamison is on the left, Craig is on the right. Both are brilliant, truly decent men and excellent botanists/horticulturists/gardeners....Craig's effort to breed a PERENNIAL corn for Florida using one of our tall native grasses intrigues me because that is full blown inter-genus breeding, which has VERY few success stories (Fatshedera and that Potentilla/Strawberry cross and the Rosa/Hulthemia crosses are the only three that I can think of). He knows the odds are remote, but persists....last year he got hybrid seeds! He is using corn as the seed parent. I am continually amazed by the awesome people I meet in the Florida gardening and permaculture communities. John
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Whew! After growing and eating true yams (Dioscorea spp.) here for a dozen years, a few times this year I up ones from the center east bed and after the usual methods of cooking they had a horrible "plasticy" taste and a very unpleasant, wet "squeaky" texture. They were so bad I fed them to the chickens. But today I dug up a small chunk of a big one in the SE bed, fried the slices in olive oil with sea salt, covered, and served them with a new batch of fermented hot sauce, with fried eggs and raw Surinam cherries on the side.....EXCELLENT! My only theory is that the bad tasting ones came from a garden that Muscovy ducks lived in for nearly a year.....maybe their poop tainted the soil? So far, no signs of the Air Potato beetle here yet. John
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Last month's rains plus my usual obsessive water conservation steps here resulted in my new water use bill being just $2.09! Nonetheless I hope the forecasts for 90% rain chance tonight into tomorrow pan out. John
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
I am having a bumper crop of unusually sweet juicy Meyer's Lemons and even though I have a quart left over from last year, I'll make another quart of Moroccan Preserved Lemons, and I just put up a quart of pickled ginger root using lemon juice vs. the usual rice vinegar. Next I will make a quart of green papaya pickles using lemon juice, salt, brown sugar and hot peppers.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
About 10 days ago I planted in this Water Wise Container Garden a small bag of shallots from China that I bought at DoBond Market here in south Tampa. Normal shallot bulbs are taller than they are wide...."Potato Onions" are a replicating subspecies of shallots that are flattened globes wider than they are tall, which is why I got excited when I saw them and bought the bag. I ate one raw...wonderful in-your-face onion flavor. If by early summer each bulb has replicated into several followed by the tops dying back, signalling harvest time, I will have scored my first "red" potato onions!
Friday, October 31, 2014
JUST finished making a quart of a wonderful tasting new hot sauce: 1/2 ripe papaya, 1 peeled Meyer's Lemon, sea salt, roasted sesame oil, handful of green and red "Filipino Mexican Tree Peppers", 2 frozen Raja Puri bananas, several cloves of garlic all run through the blender and poured into a jar just emptied of a previous batch of green papaya kimchi to inoculate this sauce. I'll give it at least a week on my kitchen counter to ferment.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Monday, October 27, 2014
For the umpteenth time, every single freakin' trash tree in my long southeast bed in back has been cut down to a stub. Now that the vast number of trees they suckered from in the lot east of me has (apparently) been removed, I'd reluctantly made peace with using a topical application of RoundUp on the inevitable regrowth from the stubs. But before I make that huge compromise of my values I'm trying something that occurred to me.....make a STRONG solution of potassium chloride (40 lb. bags at Lowe's water softener dept.....I buy torn marked down bags to give to my bananas) and spray it on the new growth since it is a true salt. If that fails, I'll try putting a few cups of the granules on each stub to leach down to the root zone. I've been fighting these suckers from that east lot since 1998 and I want them GONE!
Friday, October 24, 2014
Cracker's fur grows so fast and he is so heat sensitive, but once again the $148 professional clippers barely made a dent with the guides on, so for the third time I scalped him with the naked clipper...he cooperated wonderfully this time. Plus this time I did a better job of keeping it more even. Amazing how much fur came off. He is very heat sensitive so I think I will do this every 6 weeks or so. The first two times he struggled the whole time to get away...this time he calmly laid down, first on his belly, then on his back...I bet it took little more than 5 minutes. Mary Jo was right.....$148 for professional clippers as the groomer wanted $90 per hair cut!
Thursday, October 23, 2014
If none of the 4-5 Creole garlics I am trialing here set bulbs I'll be curious if it is due to my security lights and that of my neighbors plus two street lights as I gather that day length is the issue with alliums failing to bulb in Florida. A few of the folks I shared cloves with live in rural areas where I'm guessing there may be less light pollution. I guess we'll know by late next spring. I purchased the 4 in the pic from a family garlic farm out West, plus last July bought at Publix a garlic with purplish paper imported from Mexico...I call it "Publix Purple" and cloves are now planted along the outside rim of the baby pool garden that is home to my Allium canadense for several years now. "Cuban Purple" is now up and growing in another baby pool garden.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Lots of folks have tons of green papay now after that wet summer and are wondering how to use some as they wait for some to ripen. I use them to make excellent kimchi that has been a real hit at potlucks, like to add raw chunks to salads and stir fry and soups, have also pickled them with ginger roots. I also add them to smoothies as a very nutritious thickener. Just be sure to remove the peel and seeds as they are very bitter.
Monday, October 20, 2014
The Magenta Spreen lambs quarters that I got seeds of from ROOTS and that is now 6 feet tall in a back porch Water Wise Container Garden, has begun budding up just as Craig Hepworth said should happen...he says to expect it to self sow maniacally. And the self sown "Lagos Spinach" (Celosia argentea?) that Tom Carroll shared seeds of at a potluck here a few years ago that have thrived in 18 gallon Water Wise Container Gardens in my back east bed all summer have now begun to form bloom spikes....the edible leaves are so attractive as are the blooms that I'll scatter seeds in my front beds. Both are high in oxalates so I simmer the leaves in salted water with butter or coconut oil for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
I love pickled ginger with home made sushi or even as a snack, but most have artificial sweeteners added, some have artificial color too. For a fraction of the cost of one bottle of store bought I made two quarts. I took someone's advice and added carrot for color and crunch. I opened up one jar last night...I can't believe how good it turned out! Not a fermented food this time, more along the line of refrigerator pickles. Now that I am growing 3 plants of culinary ginger, and one of galangal ginger in four 1/3 barrel Water Wise Container Gardens beneath my avocado tree, within a year I should never have to buy it again.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Spraying Coke Classic on the weeds yesterday morning as a possible weed killer had no effect. Since it is 10X more acidic than white vinegar, I'll use the 2nd two liter bottle to make a scaled down version of that original home made weed killer with Dawn and Epsom salts that did quite a good job on my bricks driveway. But I'll wait until after Tuesday's rains. Paul Zmoda suggested I try the Coke when he saw I was seeking out phosphoric acid as a possible weed killer....Coke Classic has a pH of just 2.5 because of it. I've used it to remove mineral build up in my toilet bowl.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Josh Jamison is a brilliant, passionate and truly decent young man who embraces and exudes the very best of both permaculture and his Christian faith. It is always a joy to see him and his delightful wife Emily at gardeners' gatherings.