Help! Large leaves have invaded my pool, and they are winning! The poor pool sweep is constantly getting clogged-up with leaves, rendering it unable to do its job. Then I have to pull out the vacuum, open it up and take out whatever vegetative matter has incapacitated it. This I have to do just about every day.
My neighbors on the right side of my house have several security cameras pointed at my yard & pool. I don’t think they’re looking for burglars; I think they sit & watch the camera footage at night, with a glass of wine, and laugh at me–the crazy woman next door doing battle with the leaves. First I go through the ritual of scooping-up the leaves with the pool net attached to the long pole (I had to do physical therapy for my shoulder because of the strain of dragging that net thru the pool but that’s another story). Then I pick up the leaves by hand that have dropped close to the pool edge so they don’t end up IN the pool if a strong wind picks up. Oftentimes I “finish” by hosing off the patio and chasing the last remaining leaves off the patio into the yard with a stream of water. I am water-conservation conscious, of course, and only do this because the water is quenching the thirst of the mango trees, which are bordering the pool. If I punish the trees by withholding water, they’ll probably drop even more leaves. By the time I’ve finished cleaning up & have stored the pool net on the side of the house, more leaves have flown into the pool from the branches of the trees. So sometimes I even pluck yellowed leaves off the branches I can reach before they have a chance to maliciously make it into the pool. I even purchased a leaf blower/vacuum, which I use once a week or so, when I have time. With this cumbersome, noisy machine, I slurp up every last one of the offending leaves from the entire patio & back yard, including the ones hiding in the corners. I used to feel a tremendous satisfaction after vacuuming up all the leaves, but now I don’t. Because I know that by the afternoon, the ground will again be covered with a batch of new leaves. Oh well, at least my neighbors are enjoying the spectacle.
Yesterday’s smoothie was Papaya/Carambola. Today I made one with Papaya, Soursop and Banana. Papaya is often called Fruta Bomba or Lechosa in Spanish. It has the consistency of mango but is a deeper color. Soursop is the fruit of Annona muricata, and is commonly called Guanábana in Spanish. The scooped-out pulp is sweet and creamy. Here in South Florida, many people use the Spanish common names of fruits. If you were to say “Soursop” they would look at you quizzically, but then you say “Guanábana” and they’re like “Yea, I know that fruit…”
RECIPEIngredients: equal parts Papaya and Soursop, 1 or 2 Bananas (optional), enough water or milk to blend to desired consistency. You can use fresh or frozen fruit. The milk can be dairy, soy or nut milk–whatever your preference is.
Directions: If using fresh fruit, cut the Papaya & Soursop lengthwise. Slice the peel off of the Papaya and Soursop and peel the Bananas. Discard the peels. Discard the seeds from the Papaya and Soursop. Put all the ingredients in the blender and add water if you want a smoothie or milk if you want a shake. The bananas aren’t necessary, so if you don’t have any or don’t want to add them, that’s perfectly okay. I like to blend several fruits, if I have them, to maximize nutritional value.
Today was the day that Jorge, the gardener, and his assistant came to do yard care. They maintain most of the yards on my street on a bi-weekly basis. It was a hot, humid day, as usual. Even though they have a cooler full of water in their truck that they go to, to satiate their thirst; occasionally I make a pitcher of fruit smoothie and leave it on my back patio for them. When I’ve been around to see them drink it, I’ve noticed that they don’t guzzle it down fast, standing up. Rather, they serve themselves a large plastic cup from the pitcher and go sit in the shade to savor the refreshing drink. It kind of reminds me of my macaw. When I give him something to eat he particularly likes, he doesn’t devour it on the spot. Instead he carries it to the highest perch in his cage and there he’ll proceed to eat. I think he can better watch his surroundings from the high perch and make sure no one takes away his prize.
The fruit concoction I made today was a Papaya/Carambola Smoothie. The Papaya, I picked from my tree in the morning, and the Carambola (Star Fruit) I had picked a few months ago and frozen. It so happened that Ryan, the plumber, was in my house this morning doing some work in my kitchen during the smoothie ritual. So he received the first cup before I took the rest of the pitcher out to the gardeners. Ryan had never tried papaya before and was surprised by how sweet and tasty it was. I didn’t watch the gardeners, but I suspect they found a cool place to sit and relax while sipping their libation. And they probably had smiles on their faces.
RECIPE: Slice the papaya length-wise, scoop out the seeds and discard them. Slice the Carambola and discard the seeds. I put equal parts of the Papaya & Carambola in the blender and add enough ice & water to get a thick, creamy consistency when it is blended.
They are all over the place: lounging on my patio chairs and tables; filling the double sink in my kitchen; commandeering the shelves in my refrigerator; and I just finished filling a laundry basket with the ones I picked from one of my trees today. The composter is brimming with the discarded peels and seeds of the many that have already been consumed or frozen for later use. I have gained weight feasting on them and I’m trying to cut back from eating two a day, to one. It was only a year ago that I was mango-poor and would delight when any of my friends with mango trees would give me some of their delicious fruits. Now, having moved to a house with 3 mango trees, I get to be the one to give the prize away. Yay! Life is sweet.
My friend Liz said “call me when the flowers open; I want to come over and see them!” Liz is a lover of beauty. She had spotted the first buds that appeared on my Passion Fruit plant, while visiting me one day—even before I had seen them. So the next morning I excitedly went out expecting to see that the buds had bloomed, only to be disappointed at finding that they hadn’t opened but just shriveled-up. The next day, same thing. And the day after that, same thing. This continued for about a week. I had purchased the Passion Fruit vine (Passiflora Edulis) in October of last year and first placed it in an area that didn’t get enough sun. A month and a half later, when I noticed how much it was suffering from lack of light (and water), I transplanted it into a larger, self-watering container and placed it in a prime sunny spot on my back patio. Since then, I’ve diligently cared for the plant and it has responded by growing into a large mass of entwined vines and green leaves. It’s a variety which should produce tasty fruit in addition to beautiful flowers. But before it can give fruit, it MUST flower. So I went to Fairchild Tropical Garden—there was a Flowering Plant Show going on–to ask the “plant enthusiasts” their opinion as to why my Passion Fruit buds were shriveling-up without opening. I received a variety of different ideas. When I got home, I started puttering around my yard, trimming plants and watering. I walked over to the Passion Fruit to water it and WOW, THERE WERE SEVERAL EXQUISITE FLOWERS IN FULL BLOOM ON IT! Nothing was wrong with the plant…it just needed a little more time. These flowers are for you Liz.
The inspiration to start this blog is “The 100 Day Project,” a challenge to make something every day, for 100 days straight. My project is to write a daily story about edible gardening: the plants & people that are connected with it. I’ll write about trees and plants in my yard, easy recipes using the edibles; and some of the people and things that are related to food gardening. Let me know what you think. You can follow my daily blogs here, or follow me on Twitter. I’ll also be posting a picture a day (minimum) with each story and posting the photos on Instagram. If you get inspired to take on a 100 Day Project of your own, let me know so I can follow you too! You can get more information about The 100 Day Project at thegreatdiscontent.com/100days .