Saturday, November 26, 2016

Today I am planting these multiplier onions in a large Water Wise Container Garden next to the comfrey that Jim Porter gave me. These tiny bulblets are in a small paper bag kept in my produce drawer since summer until today. Tampa is SO not the desert southwest where I have lived in my youth but I won't know if I don't try. John.

For anybody I've shared seeds of the forage rape 'Bonar' with, these are now five weeks old in a baby pool Water Wise Container Garden by my avocado tree. The soil is about six years old, is home made compost containing quite a bit of Publix brand cheap unscented cat litter (made from calcium bentonite clay), one sprinkling back then of dolomite, and has been fed over the years with kitchen gray water and dilute fish emulsion now and then. This it been fed just once with organic 'Mills Magic Rose Mix'. And these plants are still babies! Raw or cooked the leaves are mild and tender, no fibers like in collards. If I still lived in Denver I'd be growing 'Bonar' as an extremely cold hardy crop.....years ago I gave seeds to a rural farmer east of Tampa.....we had a BAD cold front that made Tampa BROWN with severe cold damage.....his 'Bonar' was not even touched by a sustained 14 degrees! John

Saturday, October 8, 2016

I ordered for my Denver friends Michael Mowry and Amy Cara the Racombole garlic that thrived incredibly for me for 14 years in Denver, but that inspired me to AGAIN to research obsessively on garlics that MIGHT grow here in Tampa where day lengths and temps are SO wrong for garlic. For years me and friends in surrounding cities and in rural areas have tried SO many types of Creoles, Spanish, and Cuban garlics that MIGHT grow here but we all got the same results.....a winter annual with delicious leaves but an utter refusal to make bulbs. Garlic won't even grow at all in the summer here! So I looked on line, wrote down new candidates, looked them up, and ordered them from Filaree Garlic: Mexican Red Silver, Mild French, California Early, and Early Red Italian. $35 plus $12.50 shipping. I think of this as gaining knowledge to share....I am no longer a garden writer but share on FaceBook, a Florida gardening forum on Yahoo I've been a founding member of since 2002, plus my blogs. Each variety will be labelled and in different parts of my yard to avoid a mix up. IF any work here I will know by late next spring IF the foliage yellows and dies back and IF I pull up actual new bulbs from the planted cloves. Today I learned there are MANY types of Racombole.....I will never know if the one they got is the same as my Denver one. My instincts tell me that these four might very well grow in Denver.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

"The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both." -- James Michener

I THINK this is the ID of the tree that germinated in my southeast back bed.

My fifteen year old avocado seedling of a large green smooth fruit has never bloomed or fruited and has badly shaded my formerly productive container gardens behind my house. So I will do a severe crown reduction and use all the many downed branches as mulch. I will have light again for those gardens, and perhaps the new tree growth will bloom and fruit. I've learned that mine is a seedling of the tropical type called West Indian, and I was taught much about varieties, grafting, laurel wilt, own root and girdling by smart people like Oliver Moore, Craig Hepworth and Josh Jamison. Along with the intense crown reduction I will take Oliver's advice and do a full girdling of the main trunk with a single cut and leave the bark in place. I will use a hoop saw to remove easily 80% of the branches to admit light to my gardens and see what happens. I planted that pit long ago when I still lived 90% of each year in Denver (38 degrees tonight!) in my then empty yard to celebrate having my retirement home in Tampa. I will be so glad to going back to growing crops in those gardens due to the light, and surrounding the entire area with four foot tall goat fence to keep out my chickens...already I have planted the forage rape 'Bonar' that I love as a winter crop.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Yellow Passion Fruits

Years ago I grew two red passion fruit plants, each came from seeds from fruit I bought at Publix. One died maybe nine years ago after a freeze, the other killed three years ago by a neighbor's well meaning relative clearing out her yard. About eight years ago a few people and I tried a few differing varieties of yellow passion fruits, but all grew like crazy and made no fruit. Mine is a seedling of a yellow strain I bought three years ago at a Tampa Rare Fruit Council meeting.....they are packed with a truly delicious pulp I will freeze. Tea from the leaves is very mild and is great for treating high blood pressure. Even though squirrels ate maybe a dozen, this is yesterday's harvest of yellow passion fruit plus ones I gave to a neighbor and the one I ate. With this sudden huge abundance of yellow passion fruits today I made a delicious smoothie in my Bullet Blender using the pulp of four fruits, plain soy milk, the heart-aiding sugar D-ribose, food grade diatomaceous earth, and two capsules of magnesium glycinate. Future batches I will also add coconut milk. Wonderful flavor!  John

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Thanks to Josh Jamison for sharing on FaceBook this grand overview of Agroforestry!

I bought as usual a 'Caribbean Red' papaya from Publix in March, ate the flesh, and planted the seeds...and for a LONG time nothing happened. But now daily more and more seedlings are emerging to make a virtual "sod" in their pot! I will have tons to plant and share here.

I am down to two chickens and one rooster but I am still getting so many eggs. Lunch today was one half of a three egg omelet with garlic, chopped yellow onion and fresh arugula, salt and pepper, and several small chunks of brie. Life is good at Starnesland!

My giant version of this cornbread turned out wonderful in my new cast iron skillet. I sort of followed the recipe link below, (used a coffee mug vs. a measuring cup) but I used shredded cheddar vs. cottage cheese, half and half instead of broccoli drainings, a small pinch of garlic powder, used less salt and sugar, added a teaspoon of food grade diatomaceous earth for dietary silica, and used aluminum-free baking powder. I used "Bob's Coarse Grind Cornmeal" (yellow) instead of fine, and let the dough sit in the mixing pot for 45 minutes for the cornmeal grains to hydrate before putting it in my huge Lodge cast iron 3.5 quart skillet for baking. The texture and taste is wonderful....THE best cornbread I've ever tasted. This is my second batch of cornbread in my life.....I will never make plain again! I can see why the recipe said to leave it in the oven when baking is "done" for 20 more minutes....the residual heat adds to the browning.