Saturday, September 3, 2016

Kale is delicious, nutritious and UNNATURAL?

Funny book about Florida.

The Harty Farm, the sink hole, terracing, and our flower garden named Giverny.

Photos from the garden.

ABOVE. One of many sissoo/Brazilian spinach plants that did excellent over the summer. Planting time did matter though. The ones I tried to plant when it was in the mid 90's are not doing as well.

ABOVE. A pretty but BAD squash bug.

ABOVE. Yield of sweet potatoes from one 7-gallon pot.

ABOVE. Same sweet potatoes with my foot for scale.

ABOVE AND BELOW. Before and after haircut: Jamaican Burr Cucumber. They keep producing!!!!

ABOVE. Jamaican Burr Cucumbers.

Below. Moringa harvesting. All the rain was starting to make the leaves turn yellow.

BELOW. Salad of Sissoo spinach, Moringa baby leaves, moringa flowers, moringa pods.

Our sink hole is stabilized. The insurance company said that if it was still in place after all this rain, it was stable. It will always be a conversation piece at our garden because it is exactly where a tree should be planted.

Water issue #1. We had to move one rain barrel and divert water flow. OVERFLOW was our main problem. It was eroding the slope on the other side of the corner. The pea gravel and stepping stones are dispersing the overflow from the top of the barrel as well as from the overflow valve on the left of the barrel. We will paint the recycled piping and clean the stones to pretty it up when it gets a bit cooler.

Water issue #2. Rain is washing soil away from under the concrete. So we did some homework and decided to terrace the side instead of making a retaining wall. This is a work in progress but here are photos of what we have been doing between the rain drops. We opted for ground contact wood that does not contain arsenic and will use a mix of pea gravel and stepping stones in areas that we would walk. The other terraced "plots" will have soil and plants. Probably flowers. Trying to keep the edibles on the new lot.

We decided we needed flat surfaces to walk on with bare feet. See below. Some blocks are recycled and others are new. Thus the color difference.

After our trip to France, and visiting Monet's gardens in Giverny, I have been inspired to start a flower garden where my raised beds were instead of grass. I needed a cover crop to help with keeping weeds down while I made up my mind so I took Gene McAvoy's advice and sowed sorghum before we went away. Since then, I started planting flowers, leaving the sorghum in areas yet undecided. While it might not look like much now, it has over 250 plants installed and that number is growing daily.


Do all elephant ear plants provide edible taro root?

I didn't know, so I emailed Gene McAvoy, Hendry County Extension Agent and 5-County Veggie Expert. His reply:
"No, there are couple of species of "elephant ear" plant. Colocasia escuelentum is taro and the smaller Xanthosoma sagittifolium is called coco yam by some.  Both have several synonyms depending on country and people.

There are several elephant ears in the family Alocasia (79 species) which should be avoided as while they are technically edible, they contains crystals of Calcium oxalate along with other irritants that can numb and swell the tongue and pharynx resulting in difficult breathing, and sharp throat pain."

I am glad I asked.

Other names for Colocasia escuelentum include: taro, dasheen, elephant ear, cocoyam, eddo, eddoe.

Here is an article about Colocasia escuelentum:

Other names for Xanthosoma sagittifolium include: New cocoyam, tania, yautia, chou Caraïbe, malanga marron, taye, tayove, tania, adão, costela de adão, malanga, ocumo, tanier, tiquisque blanco, yautía blanca.

Alocasia article here:

Thank you Gene for advising.

Agricultural vinegar instead of roundup.

ABOVE. St. Augustine that was jumping the edging.

ABOVE and BELOW. It knocked back the Asiatic dayflower. I will have to spray it many times. Perhaps I am meant to keep it as a ground cover?

ABOVE. Dollar weed. Knocked back much better. Not killed to root, but it is still not regrowing weeks later. I don't mind spraying it every three weeks.

I have called all around and cannot find a local source for AG (20%) vinegar. If you know of one, PLEASE let me know. AMAZON came through again. The best prices I found were for one bottle: For four bottles: Yes, I buy it here too. I just ordered four bottles for use around my edibles.

EASY year-round crop #3

Ceylon Spinach.

Don't be frightened of this plant just because you have never heard of it. Of all the tropical spinaches, this is my favorite. The taste is MILD and the plant is BEAUTIFUL. I grow this in my front yard landscaping. This is my "go to" lettuce year round. Read my previous post here

Grows year round
Never have to buy again
Grow in pots and in ground
Requires very little care
Easy to propagate
Self sows

Self sows in places you might not want it to
Frost sensitive (take a few cuttings before a frost)

EASY year-round crop #2

EASY year-round crop #2

Sweet Potatoes.

If you don't like them, you really need to find a way to like them. Excellent roasted or even microwaved. I drench in jalapeno vinegar. John loves with just butter. They grow like weeds. Photos above are from a recent harvest from a 7-gallon pot. My foot included for scale.

Grows year round
Never have to buy again
Grow in pots and in ground
Requires very little care
Easy to propagate from vine or slip

Can be invasive if grown in the ground
Whitefly and Armyworms
Requires lots of water

EASY year-round crop #1

Egyptian onions.

I am not growing bulb onions after this year. Egyptian onions are just too easy to grow and I never have to buy them again.

Grows year round
Never have to buy again
Grow in pots and in ground
Requires very little care
Self propagate
Multiplier onion
Fire ants have yet to attack

Not all the baby bulblets grow
Not bulbs
Not a storage onion

Interested in growing strawberries?

I am on the fence about this as an EASY crop in South Florida. Central yes, South only if Mother Nature is kind. Either way, we have to look at strawberries as an ANNUAL here in South Florida. The summer heat, nematodes, and disease just don't work as a perennial crop here. Alas, I've tried. If you want to try your luck, at least wait until the high temperatures drop to the 80s.

These are my best loved links about growing strawberries:

Harty food farm pictures and videos.

Not much new to report. We never planted a lot for the summer knowing we were going to be moving the garden to the new location. The red stuff is amaranth. We grew it as an edible ground cover.

Sinkhole is under plywood.

Here are two videos of the farm from different angles.

Video One.

Video Two.