Freezing Temperatures Can't Knock out the Champ!

Wednesday December 4th 2013 marks the first freezing day we have felt here in the South Bay area in over 10 years. I will admit that about 5 years ago in the financial district of San Francisco we had icy rain/snow fall. Enough that it covered the ground about half an inch high and sufficient to scoop up a perfectly dripping icy snow ball, but this time was different. No snow as are the coldest days back east. Just a cutting breeze and dry cold cold air. For about a solid week after that we had freezing temperatures. I didn't believe it would happen. When it did it was too late to save the Banana and Plantain plants. Our grape vine instantly went into hibernation mode as well as a couple of our last green pepper plants.
After all of that I am happy to announce that many of the tested tropical plants survived the onslaught including the Neem tree. The Neem Tree is proving to be quite the fighter!

Garden Update: July 25, 2012

Corn overlooking the pool

Well since our last Garden Update we have lost some and won some. Here are the reports: The Strawberries were an awesome experiment, but they dried up in the hanging baskets I made. They definitely needed more soil and root space and I was unable to keep up with them, but next season we will go heavy on the strawberries.

The raised bed was deepened with hand laminated cardboard and the Spinach & Broccoli were taken out. We did get the opportunity to save some seeds for next season when we will plant the Spinach earlier and avoid too much direct light, which was part of the issue. The Broccoli would have done better with a deeper bed as well, but we needed to get our second harvest going.

Outback Garden
Pumpkin flower closed around 2pm

 The second harvest in our updated and deepened raised bed includes Peas, Melons, Cantaloupes, Onions, Pumpkins and Watermelons. Pumpkins grow very fast and quickly take over. We left just 2 plants on either side of the bed and on each corner we added another melon. The onions and peas are in the center, but it may prove to be too sunny for both of those more sensitive crops.
Pumpkin flower open for business
We have a customer! I wonder how many 'Hits' or 'Likes' we've gotten.

Right next to the raised bed are several containers holding our Sweet 'Tollie' non-bell peppers and regular green to red Bell Peppers Chocolate Cherry, Brandywine and a Striped variety Tomato. There are also Eggplants, Hass Variety Avocado Seedling, which won't set fruit for another few years, but will probably be used as rootstock for my West Indian/Caribbean variety avocado. There is a Cavendish Banana plant and it's suckered baby, which was separated and has been brought upstairs so we can keep a better eye on it and hope the Mother plant sets out a few more. In the Musa banana family is also a Giant Puerto Rican Plantain plant, a recently added Golden Pineapple, which will probably be ready for next season and lastly our Calamansi and Dwarf Orange trees.

Still have a few Sweet Peppers (Non-Bell)
Brandywine largest Tomato variety we currently grow
 In the front garden area, which falls within our community living space we have several Corn plants,  Soy, Carrots, Onions, Tomatoes (Sun Sugar variety), Hot Peppers and a few recently transferred Watermelon, Pumpkin, Cantaloupe and Melons plants from the back. The Pinto beans were already harvested and eaten tender before they hardened too much on the vine. No wonder I couldn't keep up. Most of these crops are experimental to see, which varieties grow well and tastiest. Next season we will focus on growing more of fewer better quality crops unless our space gets bigger! :) Enjoy the pictures.

Pumpkins already starting to set fruit.
Banana herb plant is NOT a Tree. This stem/trunk will never get woody.
This will one day become a true Giant Plantain Plant.

Some of this seasons fruit all Red-dy for action!
Towering Corn

Another Pumpkin fruit. Should be ready for Halloween!

Getting Started on Growing Cycle 2012

We're starting our garden beds this year with spinach and broccoli. Sweet Bellpeppers are starting indoors along with Eggplant seedlings.
We expect our first crop of Cavendish Bananas this season and possibly some Green Bananas (Plantains) as well. We just finished negotiating our tomato seeds and soy and will be started indoors this week and of course looking forward to the scent of our citrus representatives the Calamansi and Dwarf Orange.
See you soon with what we hope will be fruitful pictures!

Going Bananas over Bananas!

"Dominicano Soy" (in the voice of Fernandito Villalona) so you know I love Bananas!

"Dominicano Soy" means "I am Dominican" literally, but the real meaning is expressed by Fernandito Villalona in his famous songs, which exemplify being Dominican. Just like the Bananas and Plantains that have become symbols of our island country. Any Dominican will testify of being called a "Platano" and finding that breath of air deep in their lungs to shout back, "You can say that again!". I mean what's the harm? We Love Platanos particularly because they have always been that mainstay breakfast, lunch, dinner food in our plates. Boiled until it softens and eat. Boiled and mashed with a little butter and milk and eat it before I do: "Mangu" is the equivalent of mashed potatoes! Uuwee! Cut in lateral chip slices and fried or cut, lightly fried, smashed and re-fried so that they get a crispy texture and you've got "Tostones". You can call me a "Grandiose Tostone" any day!
Yellow Bananas are my daily sidekicks! I don't know what I would do if I could not have a banana by my side. That's why I had to grow my own. There's nothing better on the run than a banana. Sometimes in the morning when I don't really have an appetite for anything, but I know I must eat something, "Tantarataaa!!" "Bananas to the rescue!" And not just any bananas. You should try some of these delicious options if you see them next time at your farmers markets or grocery shelves. I think they all taste so much better/different than the bulk yellow Cavendish you always see in bulk, but that is my opinion. Go check it out for yourself or you'll never find...
Top Left: Green Plantains gone ripe to brownish yellow/black. Top Right: Over-ripe bulk Cavendish Banana. Bottom Left to Right: Yellow bulk Cavendish Bananas, Burro Bananas, Colombian Manzano Bananas, "Reds" Bananas, Baby Orito Bananas

Even the kids can't even keep their little hands off of them!
I am sure you all know what the bulk Cavendish banana tastes like and the Burro banana was creamier, fatter, sweeter and shorter. Compared to the Cavendish the Colombian Manzano was creamier, but not as much as the Burro. It was shorter and even though the banana was yellow, it was not ready to be eaten. It gives off a very starchy taste that will dry your mouth out, but when ripe and the peel is bursting at the seams it will taste delectable. The Reds were not ripe yet, but could be eaten. It is best to wait until this banana gets deeper color, almost purple. Today they haven't totally darkened, but they taste very sweet and creamy. In-between the creaminess of a Burro and Manzano and also has more of an orange color inside versus traditional lighter yellows. Maybe that is where that taste is coming from. A strong under current taste like vanilla or something very different than all the others I've tried. If anyone knows please pass it along. The last and certainly not least in this picture in the smallest of the bunch, the baby Orito bananas. These were actually my favorite because you can just pop them in your mouth and some of them were as sweet as candy. Very thin outer skin, with what was a perfect texture for me (not too creamy, not too dry) and then a little snap at the end of the bite as if you ripped a vine or cord from within this fragile banana. Just perfect to me.

...And you can always make banana bread. I also added semi-sweet dark chocolate chips.