Friday, February 28, 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Yesterday I divided an "Eliska's Bunching Onion" for a visiting friend, broke two tops off accidentally, roots still in the ground...just ate one with my supper....MUCH milder and sweeter than my strain of Allium fistulosum. That, the very different manner in which it divides at the base, and the much smaller bloom size, now confirms my hunch that it IS different. The flavor was like a very mild sweet scallion......my A. fistulosum is more in-your-face onion. She got the original a few years ago as loose onion sets, unnamed, in a box at a Tru-Value store. Truly perennial, a true multiplier AND makes copious seeds!
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Monday, February 24, 2014
In the 70s as a young environmentalist I was made hopeful by the ZPG movement (Zero Population Growth), and the increasing awareness of accelerating damage to the planet's ecology. ZPG advocated 2 children per family to replace the parents, though over time, human population would slowly decrease due to accidental deaths and disease. Women and men having access to contraception methods was central to this. Sadly, conservative religious forces have done much to keep women from accessing both birth control methods AND abortion, a cruel no-win situation. On the other hand, men can have their Viagra prescriptions covered by insurance! I'm told that many men dislike using condoms due to reduced pleasure and "spontaneity". So ALL the pressure falls onto the women. Now the population is over 7 billion and growing, with deforestation, desertification, mass species extinctions, climate change, vast disruption and acidification of the oceans, famines, resource wars and more all on the increase. I'm not Christian, but my take on Genesis is that God told Adam and Eve to TEND the garden, not plunder it brutally for the satisfactions of the moment and no regard for the future. I don't understand deciding to add to the planet's burdens with large families knowing that those children will inherit an even more ravaged planet. Sadly, much of my generation went from supporting ZPG and living modestly and trying to heal the environment, to buying Hummers and huge SUVs and monster trophy homes and creating very large families, which strikes me as a form of self indulgent selfishness. We can be "green" all we want and grow our gardens and have rain barrels etc, but if humanity can't or won't choose to breed responsibly, this poor planet will only get more crowded, depleted and damaged.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
As I'd hoped my Hong Vit edible leaf radishes are sending up bloom spikes so I can harvest seeds. I got my original seeds last fall at ROOTS in St. Petersburg, a great event created by Jun J. Bustamante and Josh Bellian. The roots taste like a mild regular radish, but the large mild tender abundant leaves are great in salads and stir fry dishes. Since I have no other brassicas in bud, much less bloom, the seeds should come true.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Jim Mannino last summer grew a species called Abelmoschus caillei...there are many strains...this one came from ECHO. He and his wife enjoyed good solid harvests all summer, then in the fall he let several pods ripen, then kindly mailed me one. Notice the dramatic striping. Some strains can be perennial in Africa, so as an experiment he cut it back HARD and despite the chilly winter it is regrowing and flowering! It will be cool to see what it does this summer. I'm usually a 'Fife Creek' okra man as the pods can be tender at 11 inches in length (!!!) but a perennial okra would be wonderful. To insure no cross pollinations I'll cover several unopened blooms of each with either an envelope or panty hose feet. I can't believe how much I learn from people that I initially meet on FaceBook!
I've got sweet potatoes coming on like crazy and so am trying this and other recipes. Beer-Soaked Sweet Potato Fries 1 lb sweet potatoes (or mix of white and sweet potato, apparently Russets make crispier beer fries), scrubbed and cut into thin fries (leave skin on) 1 bottle beer (300mL) (any beer will work, we used a lime pale lager) 3 cloves garlic, pressed 1.5 tbsp coconut oil 1/2 tsp coarse salt freshly ground pepper, to taste 1. Preheat oven to 425F. 2. Place cut fries into a large bowl and cover in beer. Set aside and allow to marinate for 15 minutes. 3. Drain beer and toss with garlic, oil, salt and pepper. 4. Place fries in a single layer on a silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until browned and crispy.
For years, Jon Butts and Debbie have raised at EcoFarm a mystery sweet potato, which I grew for the first time last year (in the wrong place, a rose bed which was CONSUMED by vines!). I just dug up my first two, slowly browned three slices, covered, in coconut oil with chopped fresh garlic and sea salt. EXCELLENT! This year I am growing them out back in two beds, in part to hopefully achieve weed control as a bonus.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Visitors here soon won't recognize the pond/potted plants garden right outside my office...99.999% of that damned Boston fern is gone, three more BIG containers for roses are now in place, edging completely redone and pulled 3 feet closer to the house so someone can park behind me in the driveway, pulled up tons of Florida Pellitory, fed it to the chickens then covered the whole area with 15 inches of oak leaves that Al Steenson, our civic association president dropped off many bags of recently. Next a bunch of glads bulbs and nasturtium seeds go into the current roses pots. Looks to be room to tuck good sized pots in between the roses for red pentas, Salvia guaranitica. When I think of JUST how much STUFF I've given away, recycled, set out on the curb, plus thrown away this last year, and when I see JUST how more I have to go, it is clear that I'd become a pack rat dumpster diving hoarder! The amount of CRAP in the backyard remaining is daunting but I look forward to seeing it gone/re-organized. Good thing I get along great with all my neighbors else I'd have been turned into Code ages ago! Good thing I stopped dumpster diving for THINGS almost 2 years ago! But I DO have a new dumpster resource...a neighborhood pet store tosses out BIG bags of pine shavings loaded with urine and teensy turds.....gerbils? Hamsters? It is great for planting roses and making soil mixes.
SOMEHOW, seeds from the plantains (Plantago major?) that I grew in a container garden last year made a 12-15 foot journey in the kitchen garden to a back patio container garden where they are growing lushly. Despite my bitter palate I don't like them raw but will look into how to use the leaves that are supposed to be very nutritious, even medicinal. This "weed" from Europe was a very common sight in Denver yards and lawns.....I very rarely see them in the wild here in Tampa. I got the seeds 2 years ago from a Korean neighbor who knows VERY little English and whose entire front yard is all food gardens. Odd to see a wild veggie that I SO associate with Denver thriving here. Yesterday I chopped one large leaf into a salad and did not even notice the bitterness. My Korean neighbor dries his atop his hedges in the sun but since he knows no English I don't know how he uses them...I'm guessing a tea.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Friday, February 14, 2014
I've been growing sweet cassava here since 2003 I think and in all these years I've seen just a few seed capsules form, but this year I have many dozens. Is anybody else seeing this too? My guess is all the rain I got last summer in south Tampa for the first time in eight years is responsible. Right now I have 100% leaf drop on all of them but see now damage to the stalks.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Mary Jo and I have gotten very fond of Satsuma Imo sweet potatoes.....slight sweetness, quite savory. I like to slice them and brown them, slowly and covered, in coconut oil with sea salt. Her's, Allen's and my earlier attempts to grow it from tubers purchased at Oceanic Market failed...they rotted vs. grew. Two years ago I got a good start at south Tampa's DoBond Market.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Monday, February 10, 2014
Nearly free chicken food a success, took just a few minutes to gather and chop, simmered 20 minutes, let cool. Into a big stew pot went chopped aerial yam tubers, chopped thornless opuntia cactus pads, chopped pellitory weed, good sprinkles of kosher salt and hydrated lime, few drops of tincture of iodine, scary mystery left over gravy from the back of the fridge, water. They scarfed it down!
Awhile ago I checked the giant clear plastic cookie barrel that a neighbor saves tons of for me at a nearby Montessori school where she works....I am getting a great strike rate from cuttings of the Perennial Edible Hibiscus (Abelmoschus manihot) in coarse builders sand! I took the cuttings from the monster potted plant that Mary Jo gave me that she grew from cuttings that Josh Jamison gave me. Last year mine in the ground struggled then died....I am soon planting this monster one in my giant bog garden in the back yard food forest to try again. Once they are more mature I'll pot these cuttings into 1 gallon pots to share with friends and at events. My gut tells me it wants damp fertile soil. There are many strains....Josh got this from ECHO.
This is my winter for trying perennial flowers that LOVED Denver...have sown in pots seeds that were chilled in the fridge for a month of Obedient Flower and Maximillian Sunflower, next I sow today seeds of mixed color columbines, which I've loved since my childhood in Michigan. Long shots in south Tampa for sure, but I'm risking just $9 to see what I MIGHT be able to pull off. Plus I can give young plants to friends who garden in rural areas that get MUCH colder in winter than I do here to see if they make it there. Live and learn!
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Tanja gave me last week at her plants and seeds swap three rooted cuttings of this, the strain with the lavender toning. I've seen videos of this ABSOLUTELY THRIVING in regions of California, but I've yet to hear of anyone here having great success. I am putting them in three different container gardens with fingers crossed in hopes that by summer I can root cuttings for friends.
Quite a bit of nostalgia sowing seeds of this lovely native perennial in a flat today....finding a wild one in the west Tampa trailer park where I lived in 1987 was one of a few inspirations to move to Denver that fall. It THRIVES in Denver, makes big clumps, but that wild one in 1987 shows it CAN grow here. The name comes from the fact that each floret stays where you push it with a finger, as if it was attached by copper wire. My best hope is along the north side of my home. Excellent cut flower!