Gardening


Our two prickly pear cacti in the front planter had been dormant for a while, but just recently they have both exploded with new growth!

Crazi Cacti

I can see cactus quesadillas in our near future… yum yum! 馃檪

1 year and 100+ seedlings ago we started a project to grow and plant a hedge across the 200ft frontage of our property.

We used seeds from the single “Pride of Barbados” (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) plant in our front yard. It is an ideal hedge plant as it very woody and thorny and will grow low and bushy if trimmed. It also looks great when it is flowering and attracts butterflies and humming birds.

We planted the area directly in front of the house with 38 plants during the rainy season last year, but had to then wait a few months for the second batch of seedlings to grow. Last week we bit the bullet and in a few sessions planted the 61 plants we needed to fill the frontage on the other side of the driveway, making a total of 99 plants in all!

Now we just have to sit back and wait for them to grow! 馃檪

House frontage

House frontage

From this...


…to this..

to this…

And finally this!

A question I’d been pondering recently is what to do with all the grapefruit being produced by the tree we found when making our path through the jungle.

I tried halving them and eating them for breakfast. They are tasty, but getting all those little segments out and removing all the seeds is just more hassle than it’s worth. I found I was enjoying slurping up the juice more than eating the actual fruit, so the next idea seemed obvious…. juicing them!

With a lot of ‘elbow grease’ I managed to juice 2 grapefruits using our flimsy little plastic hand juicer and we both agreed that, when cold, it was very tasty (not to mention healthy). Our friend Ruth from The English Rose kindly lent us a spare electric juicer she had. I harvested 15 ripe fruit and juiced up a storm! We were drinking juice for several days afterwards and successfully froze some too.

Juicing

With the concept proved it was then time to find our own juicer. Miri, the queen of internet product research, did her thing and announced that we should get a Breville Die Cast Citrus Press. She found a place selling re-conditioned ones with the full 1year warranty for $100 less than the regular price… result! 馃槈

Our new juicer

We’ve only tried it once so far, but it seems very good. It is sturdy, quiet, very easy to use, easy to clean and seems to get all the juice out with a minimum of effort, even on large grapefruits. I’m now trying to figure out what else we can juice when the grapefruits eventually run out! 馃檪

Our great love of Indian food might have been mentioned once or twice on this blog… Since we don’t have any Indian restaurants around here, I’m in charge of keeping our curry needs in check. I order my Indian spices from the mainland, including curry leaves. I love the flavor that curry leaves add to a curry and therefore go through a good amount of leaves. In the spirit of self-sufficiency (and because fresh curry leaves are supposed to be even more amazing), I have been trying to score an actual curry leaf tree (Murraya koenigii) for a while and finally got my hands on one, courtesy of David of Montoso Gardens.

We transplanted the baby tree from it’s growbag and will let it spread its roots a bit and acclimate before we plant it in a choice (i.e., easily accessible) spot on one of our terraces. Now if we could only find a tree that grows actual curries… How amazing would THAT be???

Oriental Summer Squash flower

A very happy Black Panther Pumpkin Patch

First yield of large green mangoes, on the way to becoming chutney

Vegetable gardening in the tropics is an exercise in trial and error. After a good amount of error, I’ve figured out a few crops that work really well for us (as defined by the ratio of crops to effort). Our original asian eggplant bushes continue to flower and fruit, as does the Thai Pepper plant. 聽Every once and a while they get smitten by bugs, but recover well. 聽Our cucumbers did not fair as well nor did the tomatoes. 聽Unfortunate but asi es la vida…

Our Black Panther Pumpkins did extremely well for us last year (despite a constant battle with little green nasties), and we enjoyed many a pumpkin soup and curry. I recently started a bunch of new seeds, along with some Chinese Cabbage. We transfered them to the ground and they are going crazy! Its only a matter of time before the pumpkins spread to cover their side of the patch. 聽Soon to join: some Korean Squash ( a new experiment) and some lettuce and bok choi. Still far from self sufficiency on the vegetable front, but every little bit helps!

On the pottery front, Nick and I unloaded glaze kiln #11 the other day. Here are a few pics.

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