Monday, November 19, 2012


Greens! Healthy Yummy Nutrient Rich Greens! Greens is anything leafy and green (not cabbage) in the garden cooked down with onions, garlic, red pepper, salt and pepper. Preferably served with a juicy spicy pork chop and corn bread. (I made the cornmeal from corn I grew and dried this summer then ground in my vitamix!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thai Roselle and The Garden

Lately I've been experimenting with odd plants that have a variety of uses.  I would like to let you know how these work out for me.  I am able to grow much that the rest of the you may not be able to grow simply because I live so far south.  This plant has been grown as far north as New Jersey (of course with the benefit of being started early under glass).

This is the first year I have grown Roselle. I grew the the "Thai Red Roselle" variety that is offered by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. The calyxes aren't as large as the ones I have seen in photos grown in Asian countries. I believe that is due to the fact that the variety offered was chosen to be less sensitive to day length more than for it's size. Most varieties do best in the short days of the tropics.

Roselle calyxes are used to make a healthful tea.  The tea is believed to lower cholesterol, help treat heart disease, it is a diuretic and is loaded with antioxidants  Roselle leaves and tender stems can be eaten in salads.  It also is loaded with pectin and a jam can be made from it.  I wonder if the pectin would be useful added to other fruits when canning?

I have already dried enough calyxes and plan to brew some tea soon.  I'll certainly let you know my opinion on this.  The plant did beautifully for me this year.  It's growth was so lush that it spilled into the paths and blocked passage.

This is a link on Growing Roselle from Mother Earth News.

Here are few calyxes I've picked
It's really a beautiful plant with lovely red stems.  The flowers look very much like okra flowers.  No surprise there since they are both from the hibiscus family.  It easily could be used as an ornamental in a front yard garden.  The HOA would never know you were "gasp" growing something useful!
Pretty!  You can order the seeds here Bakers Creek.
Here's the front garden.  I pruned back my lorapetalum bushes and killed them.  Oh well they kept getting too big anyway.  I'll have to look for a smaller variety of purple bush for that area.  I like the cloud of purple to provide a back drop for white or lighter colored flowers.
My windmill palm is getting tall and lovely.  It's hairy trunk is so cool.  I love textures and colors on barks and stems.  My Natchez crepe myrtle has a beautiful silky red under color when the bark peels, and the river birch looks gorgeous when the bark starts peeling.  I'll take pics and show you.
My rose vine is reaching the top of the pergola and is full of tiny buds!  Time for a late flush of blooms!  The lemon grass did wonderfully too.  When the swing brushes it you get a whiff of lemon!
Still picking green beans.....
...and now beets!  I fixed these for my girls their favorite way.  Boiled, peeled, sliced and sprinkled with sea salt, cracked pepper and balsamic vinegar.  They were consumed in less than a minute!
My girls lunches ready to go.  I made veggie sushi today.  Toasted sesame seeds, sushi rice, carrots, cucumber and cream cheese with a little bottle of soy sauce.  My sushi rolls...well taste great, but look not so well.  I'll keep working on it!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Around The House and Gardens

Feeling so much better. Although not completely well. There's been a terrible virus going around. My daughter Talia caught it first. Me next. Now my daughter Seleste is lying listless on the sofa. Sooo...I haven't done much lately, and I've just lately felt like venturing outside to check on my crops. Nice surprise! Boy they've grown.

I've also been thinking alot about those who have endured Hurricane Sandy.  Another awesome category one hurricane.  Storm surges are amazing, powerful and unstoppable.  Humans are just another piece of debris in the wake of a storm surge.  You cannot, cannot, cannot, stand up to a storm surge.  If caught in one you can just find some sort of shelter and hope it holds up and you survive. 

During Katrina there were stories of people who stayed who heard the sound of popping and explosions.   They looked out there windows to see the surge coming in.  The sounds were houses exploding as the storm surge hit.  These are houses of fishermen that were built many feet off of the ground.  One fisherman friend of mine only had three pilings left of his home.

This is one more reminder that you must, must, must, prepare for these things and be responsible for your own safety and future as much as you can.  The government can not and should not be your mother and father.  Everyone must learn to look out for themselves, their neighbors and those not capable.

While inside I put some Christmas cactus cuttings in rooting medium.  I hope plenty of them take so I can share.
I also made some tiny soil cubes and planted cabbage, broccoli, kale, onions, leeks, lettuce, and boc choy.  They sprouted right away.
The beds are looking beautiful again.
Look how large the cabbages are getting.  There's something snacking a little on them.  They are also forming heads now.
This is self blanching cauliflower.  It's leaves gather around the center hiding the forming curds from the sun.
My green beans love the weather and are producing prolifically.
I've collected enough recently to cook for the family and put up three full quart size bags in the freezer.  Nice.

The purple cabbages are just lovely.  With the sun shining behind it's outer leaves they look like purple angel wings.
Carrots are about 5 inches tall now.  Remember you can eat the tops to!  Throw them in your green recipes.

This is Thai Roselle.  It's the hibiscus you find in Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea.  It makes a very red health drink that is popular in Asia.  Supposedly it's extremely high in vitamin C.  I'm anxious to try this.
 My puny banana tree now is a beautiful clump of six trees of various heights.  The leaves were shredded in Hurricane Isaac.  The nice unshredded large ones were grown since.
Finally the Asian Winged Beans are blooming.  It takes a long growing season to get these babies to bloom.  I'm not sure it could be done further north without protection.  I'm very excited about this crop.  Lightly steamed and eaten with salt when young they are very delicious.