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Friday, June 24, 2011

Benefits of Recycling

Recycling has been an important part of Gardening and Farming for me for over 20 years. In 1989 I would drive around in a Toyota Corolla  and pick up bags of Grass clipping and leaves from peoples houses . I graduated to pick up truckloads of mulch from the County and manure from horse county . Later on I found a great source , a lawn service that would dump truck loads for $10. Today I have 65ft. Trucks deliver 100cu yard truckloads from a local horse track as well as composting my neighbors plant nursery refuge ( freeze damage plants, clipping and palm frowns) . The compost made from all this organic material is how I build and condition my soil. My business is built on what  people discard                                                                                                                                      So it only makes sense that one day at work I go tired of seeing pineapple tops in the garbage and began taking them home and propagating them . This years pineapple crop is around 70 up from 18 last year, however right now I have 250 plants in the ground and dozens more plants nearly ready for planting . Pineapple growing takes a big commitment as pineapple tops can take over 2 years to fruit. However once established, plants produce 5-8 starter plant per year( suckers, hapas, slips). The hapas in particular are prized in that they come with a small root system and will produce fruit in 1 year with reasonable care. I don’t know where this experiment is going but this morning my daughter and I shared a delicious ripe pineapple .
Suckers, Slips and Hapas develop below the fruit.. This plant will yield 6 starter plants including the top
beautiful purple flowers bloom on immature fruit
A member of the  Bromeliad family  the plants "spike" in late February
New  Pineapple bed 1of 5
Pineapple tops in a shade house
Homestead Farm, 65ft. truck dumps 100cu yard loads from Calder Racetrack
A great relationship with Franks, they would dump 12-15 loads a season (Kendall Farm) 1999
Kendall Farm 1992  a few months before Hurricane Andrew.    The kids; Erin, Timmy and Tess (stroller) help dad . Pickup truck loads from " horse country"

Monday, June 20, 2011

Peak of the Season

Irwin Mangoes
 I remember the first time I tasted a mango. It was 1968 I was a 10 years old kid in Burlington Iowa. Jack Daley my neighbor served on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific during WWII , He spent many months in Hawaii and the Philippines . Like a lot of veterans he would not talk about the war, but he would talk about liberty call in far away ports with exotic food and customs. One day he brought home a strange fruit called a mango , he explained it grew on trees all over the South Pacific . Mr. Daley cut up the fruit and gave everyone a taste . Mango was and still is today the most delicious and exotic fruit I know,                               Experiences like this influenced with my life style choices. Right now we are in the peak of Mango season in South Florida , and Miami-Dade is the heart and soul of Mango production in the US. There is something old fashion and small town about a smiling neighbor giving you a bag of mangoes and the road side stands with handmade sign’s all over South Florida advertise “Mangoes 4 sale".. " Robert is Here" in Florida City,or "Norman Brothers" in Kendall both have large displays of local mango . First brought to Florida in 1833 and were an important crop right up to 1992 when Hurricane Andrew forever changed the landscape. World wide we can only estimate how many different varieties there are, some where around 1500. At the Fruit and spice park in the Redland they grow around 150 varieties. Tommy Atkins, Haden, Carrie, Glen and Irwin are good examples of South Florida Mango, relatively trouble free and big yields ( do you remember citrus kanker) .All the mango differ slightly in taste, size and texture and its worth your time and effort ,Right now we are in " The Peak of the Season " so enjoy the best of South Florida !

"Robert is Here" a friut and vegetable stand in Florida City since 1959  has a great selection and is worth the drive

Mango peel and sap contains urushiol, the chemical in poison ivy and poison sumac that can cause urushiol-induced contact dermatitis in susceptible people
Redland  Fruit and Spice park  show cases 150 different mangoes on its 37 acres.
Valencia pride
Give a tree plenty of sunlight and don't bother it
I let the fruit fall and pick it up

"Robert is Here"

Monday, June 13, 2011

Man's best friend

"Zoey",   three year old female  7lbs. Chihuahua .  aka.  sneaky sneakerson
have you seen my boots ?
Last August I was harvesting bananas from the back of my property. I have 2 stands of Mysore bananas I planted 10 years ago, they are in my windbreak/spray drift boarder so they are in dense brush . On this particular day I had 3 stalks of bananas to harvest weighing around 40 lbs each so I drove the truck next to the trees. I was not listening to my “Walkman” today as  I normally due, the dog had chewed the earphones. (That darn dog !! Those earphones were $12. I didn't spend that much an engagement ring ). I walked down a narrow trail to the banana trees and heard strange a noise, I dismissed the noise as brush scraping my pants leg. I harvested the first banana stalk and walked back to the truck, I passed the area where I heard the strange noise before, this time there was no mistaking it. The noise was some kind of snake warning me I was to close . I had my machete in hand so I parted the grass to get a better look at what type of snake it was. At that time the snakes hiss was loud and menacing . I parted the cane grass enough to see a large well camouflaged snake of unknown species , being a country person I never kill snakes as their diet is primarily rats. Unfortunately this snake was to large and had to be destroyed . In the truck I always carry a pistol(and a concealed weapons permit) I grabbed the gun and shot the snake 3 times . It was only when the snake was thrashing about in death throes  I could see just how large it was . I was beginning to realize just how lucky I was that day, as the snake was coiled right under a stalk of bananas that was next to be cut. Had I been listening to my “Walkman” that day, blasting rock and roll music I never would have heard the snake . The dog saved me that day, maybe not in the Classic “ Timmy & Lassie” style , but I’ll take it… lol
how would you like to step on that ?
10 ft. Burmese python vs 38 special
nearly 30 lbs snake, too big to fit in a 5gal. bucket
The Burmese Python has an arrowhead type marking on the head
I now harvest bananas wearing leg guards

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Planting Fruit

Tommy Atkins , a good tasting Mango, trouble free trees and big yields
My lettuce season ended in early April. After Farm clean up and moving the compost piles, my attention turns to planting and harvesting tropical fruit. Our rainy season historically begins around May 15 more or less. I use the 30 day window to plant tropical fruit. I think that cloudy skies and plenty of rain is beneficial to newly planted trees, plants and shrubs. This season I have planted 2 mango trees , 3 bananas, 1 kaffir lime, 1 passion fruit vine, 3 red dragon fruit plants , 50 pineapples and 1 blueberry
this one will be harvested 6-17-11
My front yard, 50 new pineapple plants.  In 2 years time my goal is 500 plants
Chef's love the Kaffir lime leaf, we could not get it for years b/c citrus canker
Hua Moa

Passion Fruit vine, in time it well cover the Oak tree
new blueberry
New Mango, "Carie "  I got it in just before rainy season
The blackberry vine has worked out well , yielding 6 pints in 3 weeks . I will plant more of these
This pineapple will yield 8 new plants .  they normally yield 4-8 starter plants
Mysore Banana beginning to ripen
Beautiful  Dragon fruit flower,  A night blooming cactus flower
Valencia Mangoes , this year a  low yield