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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dragon Fruit

I’m getting my first Pitaya of the season , they are another fruit that requires little or no maintenance . Pitaya is a cactus fruit known a around the world by it’s common name Dragon fruit. Native to South/Central Americas, Pitaya is cultivated though out the world from Israel to Vietnam and Florida to Australia. It’s a hardy plant that tolerates hard frosts , extreme heat , drought and wet conditions . The dragon fruit sets on the cactus-like trees 30–50 days after flowering and can sometimes have 5-6 cycles of harvests per year. There are some farms in Vietnam that produce 30 tons of fruit per hectare every year. One reason I enjoy growing fruit is so I get to taste tree/vine ripened fruit. This fruit I pick right after it turns red, as it doesn't become sweeter if left on the plant . It’s also the easiest plant to propagate , stick a cutting in a pot and have a near 100% success rate . The cutting producing fruit within 2 years and flower on the same day as the parent plant .
The texture  is compared to Kiwi fruit , with its crunchy black seeds.  From what I read there are around 20 varieties,  Dragon fruit can be red, white, pink and yellow and can be sweet, tart or mild.
The plant loves the heat and sunlight,  first bud appear  in mid-June
The bud grows quickly
The flowers begin to open at sundown  insects and bees  find  it almost immediately and pollinate ,  by sun rise the flower is wilting and is dead by noon.
No words can describe how beautiful the flowers are
Immature fruit
Almost ready, I'm looking for the fruit turning red, the spikes will remain green
Ready !
This one weighs about 1.5 lb.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Contempt Prior to Investigation

 Summer 2003 I was putting in long days . I started building my house in remote area of Homestead. The parcel of land I had leased and farmed for 10 years in Kendall was sold to a developer , that property had a long interesting history but it would soon look like every other Kendall neighborhood, and its rich history forgotten. The new house construction was moving along well , I was working sun up till sun down. It was at this time I realized that the new farm was over run with rabbits !! OMG , My business is growing and selling lettuce , I have sold my house and moved my Kendall farm to a remote area over run with Rabbits ! Time for some basic problem solving . After much though and research I decided on the perfect solution, A 22 Magnum varmint rifle. I would have to shoot rabbits morning, noon and night in order to save my crop ,                                                                  November planting season I was vigilant, walking every row looking for rabbit tracks and damage every morning and night . By January I had come to the conclusion that the rabbits were not causing any crop damage , incredibly they have no interest what so ever in my lettuce ! It took new computer to solve the mystery ……. Marsh Rabbits are related to the big cottontail rabbits up north, except smaller love water and have a DIFFERENT DIET… . Marsh Rabbits don’t eat carrots and lettuce like “Peter Rabbit” and “Bugs Bunny”. I realized that my knowledge of rabbits was limited to bed time stories and cartoons .. Had I done my investigation first I could have saved much time and energy …. a w
Bugs Bunny  was always one step ahead of hunters

One of my favorite stories "Peter Rabbit " My Kindergarten teacher would read it to us at nap time..
Make sure you lose sleep waste time and money worrying about a problem ...Marsh rabbits are strictly herbivorous. Typically, they feed on leaves and bulbs of marsh plants including cattails, rushes, and grasses.[8] They can also feed on other aquatic or marsh plants such as centella, greenbrier vine, marsh pennywort, water hyacinth, wild potato, and amaryllis.[
Be vewy vewy quite !  I'm hunting Wabbits !!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Snails in the Garden

One of my favorite things is taking gardening at the market on Sunday mornings. The most asked question is; How to control snails and slugs. I just tell them the Organic text book answer, a shallow dish of beer. The fact of the matter I don’t have a snail/slug problem because my property is overrun with Toads ! The Cane Toad (Bufo marinus), also known as the Giant Neotropical Toad or Marine Toad, is a large, terrestrial
true toad native to Central and South America . This Toad was introduced all over the Caribbean and Australia to eat insect pests in sugar cane fields. First introduced in the US in Palm Beach Florida sugar cane fields in 1936 and 1944 and later in 1957 in Miami-Dade the toads are very well established . Their diet is nonselective they eat beneficial insects and agricultural pests as well as lizards, rodents, birds, dog food , plants and garbage. Because of this a 1963 study concluded that as the toad's diet included both harmful and beneficial invertebrates, it was considered "economically neutral”. In my case I can defiantly say the toads are beneficial .

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bloom where your planted

          I arrived at MIA very near DOA it was December 7 1978 . 4 days earlier I was riding my Motorcycle to Hull Bay in St. Thomas USVI. When I was hit by a car, I sustained multiple injuries the most serious was an open fracture of my right femur. The next 4 days I drifted in and out of conciseness , due in large part to infections from my open fracture.                                        Michigan summers are great ! Spring and Fall you see a lot of rain and mud , don’t ask me about Winter. The only thing I knew for sure about my life was I wanted to live in the Tropics !!                       “Graduating” High School with a GPA of 1.89 College was out , but you don’t need a PHD. To buy a plane ticket . So that is how I arrived in the US Virgin Islands , taking Bar and Restaurant jobs . My Restaurant work led to learning about and enjoying all types of food , witch led to Gardening and eventually to a small organic farm in Homestead . It’s over 33 years since I arrived in South Florida. I have come to believe there are few absolute truths in this world and you only fail when to quit trying .

Pool side USVI 1978 . a bottle of Rum is .79 cents.  Living an Endless summer, Bad things happen to other people not me .
Sleeping in Cars, on park benches , lawn chairs and in condemned buildings , but working on my suntan all day !
My Medical Highlights; 6 months in traction, 31 operations , 300 days in a hospital, 4 months in a body cast , not walking for 2 years , right leg 4 inches shorter , permanent nerve damage, over 100 hours in a hyperbaric chamber . years of pain full recovery.
2011, 33 years after arriving at MIA, " When life gives you lemons, throw them in the compost pile " :)
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.  I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.