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.

Come Get Me

01f3ae0e246a (3)There are three papayas left on the tree from the latest crop: one ripe & ready to be picked, and two still growing. This tree was already in my yard when I moved here. It’s quite tall so it’s a little difficult to pick the fruit. I’ve planted a couple more trees. One of them I started from seeds from a tree in my old place. It is just starting to grow little fruits.  The other is only a seedling, started from seeds I got at the Fairchild Tropical Garden. Papaya is very easy to propagate. All you need to do is plant the seeds that come from the middle of the fruit. For more information about papaya, a picture of a cut fruit and a recipe click on  Papaya/Soursop Smoothie or Shake or click on my easy Papaya/Carambola Smoothie Papaya/Carambola Smoothie

© 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.

Magazine Invasion

018a7a89185I love gardening magazines. I look through them and want to buy just about every edible plant I see… How could I not want to have all these great fruits and herbs and vegetables growing in my yard?! What a utopia it would be. I have a small problem though, I don’t have the room to grow them all or the time to care for them. Also, the amount of magazines is a little overwhelming. It seems like I go to sleep and when I wake up there are even more publications scattered about…on my bed stand, on the living room table, on the kitchen counter, on the table by the front door, piled in the corner of the dining room… Since I have ordered plants from various publications, the publishers know I am a sucker for a pretty picture of a fruit tree and add me to new magazine lists. But really, I don’t recall all these glossy rags arriving in the mail. Where are they all coming from?! Are they reproducing? Help they’re taking over! HEEELLLPPP!!!

 
© 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.

Where’s my new Home?

0194994d9ea (2)This is a small Mango tree I bought for my friend Madeline at Fairchild Tropical Garden to replace the one she had in her back yard which had met with an untimely death. You see, her rambunctious dog Bruce likes mangos a lot. He had eaten the fruit off her old tree then proceeded to eat the tree itself. I’m not sure what precautions Madeline’s going to take this time to prevent her new tree from meeting a similar fate. I know she’s put Bruce through various rounds of obedience training but I doubt any of that is going to work once he is faced with the temptation of tasty mangos. Anyway, your new Rosigold Mango is at my house waiting for you Maddie… and Bruce.

© 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.

Rambutan

017e6c31ede (2)(2)Rambutan (Nephelium Lappaceum) is a tropical fruit tree which is originally from Southeast Asia. It also grows in south Florida. The medium-sized evergreen tree should be kept at 12′-15’ maximum so it is easy to pick the harvest. I bought some of the tasty fruit this weekend at Fairchild Tropical Garden. It has a sweet flavor similar to Lychee, which is more common here. To eat it, you slice the soft-spiny shell open and pop the fleshy white part in your mouth. There is a seed in the middle, which you don’t eat. Rambutan can also be added to salads, yogurt, smoothies and desserts.

© 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.

Mango Auction

Preview before bidding
Preview before bidding

Mango, the king of tropical fruits, was in full glory again today on the second day of the 23rd Annual International Mango Festival, at Fairchild Tropical Garden. One of the highlights of the event was the MANGO AUCTION, the world’s only such auction. Each variety of the tasty fruit was sold a few to a plate: from 4 to 8, depending on the size. While I was there, the highest price went for a plate of “Bombay” mangos from Jamaica. The winning bidder got it for $275, along with a clapping ovation! I spoke to him a while later, while we were both outside perusing a cooking gadget, and he told me he was very excited with his purchase. All proceeds are to support the work of Fairchild Tropical Garden.

According to the mango experts at Fairchild, the Bombay mango most likely originated from seeds brought to Jamaica from India. The fruit is similar in shape, taste and habit to the “Paheri” of India and “Pirie” or “Pairi” recognized in other Caribbean & mango-producing areas. The flavor is rich and spicy, reminiscent of the finest Indian dessert types. The trees bear only a few fruit each year due to their susceptibility to diseases. In local Caribbean markets they can fetch high prices since they are scarce. Congratulations to winning Bidder #14!

Mango Worship

mango cultivars
mango cultivars

The 23rd Annual International Mango Festival started this Saturday at Fairchild Tropical Garden. This is a pilgrimage site for mango worshippers. You can find all things mango here, including what is probably the largest display of mango cultivars from all over the world. It is truly impressive. There are also cooking and baking classes; mango-related cuisine & products; mango tastings; mango trees for sale; lectures and workshops. I attended lectures by Horticulturalists Dr. Richard Campbell, Dr. Noris Ledesma and Jeff Wasielewski. I also purchased a new Fruit Picker and a small mango tree (Rosigold variety) for a friend. If you’re in South Florida, come on over on Sunday if you can. If you’re not, please eat a mango in unity with those of us who are celebrating the delectable king of tropical fruits this weekend.

Noris lecturing
Dr. Noris Ledesma lecturing
Jeff lecturing
Jeff Wasielewski lecturing
line for mango tasting
line for mango tasting
tasting/rating mango varieties
tasting/rating mango varieties
tasting/rating mango varieties
tasting/rating mango varieties

Coconut Lounges Poolside

coconutThis Cocos Nucifera is relaxing by the pool, waiting to be planted. It was given to me by Noris Ledesma, Curator of Tropical Fruit, Fairchild Tropical Garden, at a workshop I attended about gardening. She cut it off one of the Coconut Palm trees at The Fairchild Farm eleven weeks ago. It has taken this long for it to ripen from the young green “looker” it was when we picked it, to the shriveled-up mature fellow it is now.  A little sunscreen needed, perhaps? So no more lounging for this guy; it’s going to be soaked in water for a couple of days, then put into the soil to sprout a new tree.

How to grow a Coconut Palm tree from seed: It is preferable to choose a fallen nut that has already ripened and you can hear water slosh inside when you shake it. Leave the husk on. Soak it in a pail of water for 2-3 days. Choose a good location in your yard where it will have room to grow. Coconut Palms do get large and wide. Place the nut on its side in a shallow hole, burying only the lower third of the nut. Water thoroughly twice a week. It should germinate in 3 to 6 months. The roots will push out of the husk into the soil and a shoot should come out of the end of the nut that was attached to the tree. Alternatively, the nut can also be planted in a container, where it can live approximately 5 years before needing to be transplanted.

 

© 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 Flowers

IMG_0557bMy 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.

© 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.