Coffee vs Smoothie

18 (2)Oh my dear coffee, how I love you and hate you…let me count the ways… I love the ritual of getting up in the morning and first pouring the water into the stainless steel espresso maker, otherwise known as a Moka Pot. I love packing you in, ground-up fine, and putting you on the stove. It’s comforting. I love the smell of you and your taste. So what don’t I like? That the time it takes to perform this ceremony could be used to support a healthier habit, like making a fruit or veggie smoothie. And what I hate is that I’m addicted to you. This morning I tried to split-up with you. I didn’t drink you; I made a fresh juice instead. By the end of the day I had a splitting headache. When you look at the overall picture coffee, you’re not that bad of a habit—I mean you’re not nicotine or heroin. But the caffeine withdrawal is unpleasant. So now that I already survived the first day of a horrendous migraine, I think I’ll stay away from you for another day, and maybe another… we’ll see how it goes.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Pomegranate

16 (2)My little pomegranate tree is starting to fruit. This is a dwarf variety, good for growing in planters. It does best in zones 7 through 11. The tree reaches a height and width of approximately 3 feet.

 
 
© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Avocados

13 (2)Got to love it when my friend Tom leaves avocados from his trees on my front porch. He also writes the names of the varieties on them. Thanks Tom, much appreciated!

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

How to Make Pineapple Juice / Grow a Pineapple

A (2)If you have a strong blender it’s easy to make pineapple juice or a smoothie. I use a Vitamix, which will totally pulverize the fruit. Start with a whole pineapple. Cut off the crown (top) and bottom. Then slice off the outer layer of the pineapple so you are left with the yellow part. Now slice that crosswise and into wedges. No need to slice out the middle core. A strong blender will puree that. Toss the wedges in the blender and add water and/or ice, depending on the desired consistency. Blend on high. If you add water it will look like the juice that I made in the picture. If you add ice, it will have the consistency of a smoothie. Either way, it’s sweet and tastes great.

If you want to GROW a pineapple, just take the crown that you cut off and set it aside for a couple of days to dry out a bit. Then place it loosely in soil, either in the ground or in a planter. Pineapple grows shallow roots so it is fine in a planter. It will take approximately 2 years to grow an edible fruit so it is good to have a few plants, started at different times. Pineapple is a tropical fruit; it does need sun and warm weather. Good luck!

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

First Pineapple

1 (3)This morning I got to harvest the first pineapple from my yard. I had bought the plant over when I moved here a year ago. When it changed colors from green to yellow, I knew it was ripe. I have six other pineapple plants, in different stages of development. It takes approximately 2 years to grow a pineapple. This fruit can be easily grown in a container as well, because the roots are shallow.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Peanut Butter/Banana/Fig Shake

peanut figC (2)I love peanut butter—spooned straight out of the jar, on bread, in a pie, in sauce, and in a shake! The ingredients are non-hydrogenated peanut butter, very ripe bananas, fresh figs and soy milk. You can use a nut milk or dairy if you prefer.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

A Turtle in the Garden

IMG_1585 (2) IMG_1584 (2)I came across this cute turtle at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Turtles eat plants that grow in the water, insects, snails, worms and aquatic animals & fish.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Clothes & Carambolas

clothes (2)I cleaned out my closet today to donate clothes to Lotus House…and I also picked a bunch of fruit from my Carambola trees to give them. Lotus House is a women’s shelter, dedicated to improving the lives of homeless women and their children. The clothes that are donated to the organization are either given to the women who live at the shelter or they are sold in their Lotus House Thrift Boutique, to help fund programs such as employment and life-skills counseling.

If you live in the Miami area, please stop by the store at 2040 NW 7th Ave. The ladies also operate a coffee bar there; and serve pastries, sandwiches and desserts.
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© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

The Earth Machine

Master Gardener explains composting
Master Gardener explains composting

Saturday morning I attended a 1-hour composting workshop taught by the University of Florida, Miami-Dade County Extension. They gave me and each of the 50 participants a free composter: The Earth Machine. The plastic bin is only 33” high by 33” wide, so it can fit unobtrusively into most yards.

If you don’t know what compost is… it is the decomposition of organic waste such as food and/or plant material by microbes, worms & other organisms. The end result is humus, a rich material that you can use to fertilize your plants or enrich the soil. (Not to be confused with Hummus!)  It’s very easy to make compost. They suggest that you use 1 part GREENS to 3 parts BROWNS, though this is not a definitive rule. GREENS can be cooked/uncooked fruits & vegetables, breads & grains, coffee grounds & filters, and grass clippings. BROWNS are sawdust, hay & straw, wood fireplace ashes, yard trimmings (leaves, twigs), used potting soil, wood chips, shredded newspaper, eggshells and nut shells. As you fill the bin with your waste material, you should keep it moist and mix it up every now and then. In 4 to 6 months you will have a batch of rich compost.

Things that should NOT be put in the compost bin are aluminum and other metals; glass; meat, dairy and other animal products; yard trimmings treated w/chemical pesticides; and seeds. For more information on upcoming workshops and how to get a free composter if you live in Miami-Dade, you can go to Miami-Dade/UF Extension

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Coral Gardening

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Maintaining coral fragments. (Me on right)
Did you know that corals are animals? Many people think they are plants or rocks. They are actually hundreds to thousands of tiny creatures called polyps that band together and take root on the ocean floor. According to the University of Miami’s R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, 95% of staghorn and elkhorn corals have been lost due to a variety of stressors. Corals are vital to the health of a reef; they provide essential habitat for reef organisms. To help restore the reefs with threatened Caribbean staghorn coral, they started a program of “coral gardening;” and this year they began taking “citizen scientists” with their scientists and students to help in this effort. I was able to join them on a recent expedition in Key Biscayne.

We were first shown (on land) what the structures would look like that the coral fragments are hung on to grow; how to clean the structures and how we would “plant” pieces of coral on a reef. We then boarded a dive boat, which took us to the first stop: the coral nursery. Those of us who were certified scuba divers donned our gear and went down with scrub brushes to clean the PVC structures that held the coral fragments. Once we were finished, the boat took us to our next stop, which was the reef where we “planted” coral fragments. This consisted of hammering large nails into the ocean floor (easier said than done) and then fastening a piece of coral to each nail with a plastic tie. The corals will eventually grow over the nails and cover them completely.

This is a great project and it was such a pleasure to spend half-a-day working with the scientists in their restoration efforts. If you’re a certified diver, the next expedition is on Saturday, 8/29/15. It’s also possible to help in other ways. For more information, check out Rescue A Reef

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela. Pictures are property of Rescue a Reef program.