Grasshopper

IMG_1149 (2)Oh no! This yellow guy jumped out of the Spathiphyllum as I was watering! It’s a bright and kind of cool-looking insect, although I was scared of them when I was a little girl. Unfortunately grasshoppers are big plant eaters and can annihilate a garden, especially if they start reproducing in your yard. As you can see in the picture, this one is eating the leaves of the Spathiphyllum, which is one of the decorative plants in a shady area of my yard.

Grasshoppers are a food source for reptiles, insects, small mammals and birds. They are also eaten by humans in Asia and Africa. I’ve seen fried grasshopper for sale in Vietnam. No, I haven’t tried one; I’d rather eat plants, too. Perhaps one of the birds or large lizards in my yard will go for raw grasshopper. Just in case they don’t get it before it goes into reproduction mode or moves over to one of my edible plants, I called the grasshopper police (i.e. my feet) to stomp it out!

 
 
© 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.

Naughty or Nice (part 2)

Carambola
Carambola

Here are the first few people on my Naughty or Nice List (for mangos):

NeighborWithCameras on the right side of my house: NAUGHTY. They keep trimming their side of the Clusia hedge that separates our yards so it is so thin that you can see through it. And their security cameras are pointing right at my yard. Enough said. NO MANGOS for them.

Neighbor on the left: NICE. They are very pleasant people; we chat every time we see each other. They take care of my mail/newspaper when I am out of town and will even water a plant or two for me. I regularly leave Mango & Carambola by their side door and text them to notify them of the care package.

Madeline: NICE. She picks up a large jar of Almond Butter at Costco for me, periodically. It’s much cheaper there than where I normally buy it. Maddie had a small potted mango tree that her rambunctious dog ripped apart and ate so she is in need of Mango offerings. I bring her a couple of Mangos whenever I see her.

Brooke: NICE. Her son loves Carambola so I give her all the Star Fruit her family can possibly consume and they are demonstrably grateful. Most people don’t know what Carambola is or what the heck to do with it so I am always happy to find someone who likes it. It wouldn’t be appropriate to denigrate another one of my fruits and then expect to receive the king of fruits. She will keep receiving Carambola and has been added to the Mango list.

Gardener & Pool Guy: A LITTLE NAUGHTY. It’s kind of silly of me to gift them fruit, because they take whatever they want when I’m not around, but I keep up the pretext that they don’t and give them small presents of fruits to add to the collection they have already pilfered.

Physical Therapist: NICE. He does something magical to my shoulder to get me out of pain. I took a whole box of Mangos to him on my last session. Being able to carry the box is proof my shoulder is getting better.

Mom: NICE. She’s my mom; it’s impossible to pay her back for all that she’s done, so she can have all the Mango she wants.

 
 
© 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.

Naughty or Nice (part 1)

IMG_0585 (2)Most people compose their Naughty or Nice List before the winter holidays to determine who is going to get presents. I make my list in the summer to decide who will get precious mangos from my trees. I have other fruit, but mango is the king of tropical fruits. People who like mangos, love them. The general ranking criteria follows: for the people who rave about the taste of my mangos or any other of my edibles, they get on the NICE side, which means they will get more. Other good deeds that are unrelated to fruit can also get you on the Nice side. For the people who were unenthusiastic when I gave them the fruits of my labor, whatever those fruits may be, they get on the NAUGHTY side and – you guessed it – they either get no more fruit, are seriously rationed or they get the bruised stuff. Of course, there are other bad deeds that can get you on the Naughty side.

 
 
© 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.

Garden Peace

IMG_1327 (2)I couldn’t resist buying this meditating frog when I saw it at the plant nursery. He’s in my yard, here.

 

 © 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.

See Green

IMG_1303 (2)My kitchen is on the side of the house that faces the NeighborWithCameras. Several of their security cameras point right at my yard. I’ve talked about these folks before. I believe they amuse themselves at night, with a glass of wine, playing back their security video of me doing the crazy things I do in my garden: like chasing lizards and butterflies around with my camera phone; battling the leaves that are constantly invading the pool; climbing the ladder, long pole in hand, to cut fruit from the trees; meticulously pruning and primping the plants. My NeighborWithCameras don’t have any fruit trees or edibles in their yard so they don’t understand my mania.

I’ve been nurturing the Clusia hedge –which separates our yards- watering it regularly and fertilizing it. I might take better care of it than my fruit trees, actually. Looking out of my kitchen window, I can still see a little of the second story of the neighbor’s house and 2 or 3 of their cameras. In a few more months the Clusia will have reached sufficient height to cover the sight of their house completely. Yay! It’s not that I mind my NeighborWithCameras spying on me, it’s that I prefer to look at GREEN than at their house. Sorry, they’ll have to watch TV rather than me!

 
 
© 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.

Rosemary & Begonia

IMG_0755 (3)On my front patio I have the remnants of what used to be a large Rosemary herb sharing a planter with a Begonia. The aromatic Rosemary originally was a little plant, shaped like a Christmas tree, which my mom’s husband gave me for the holidays, about 8 years ago. I transplanted it a couple of months later into a large planter and it grew quite big. People would regularly admire it, when they walked by my front patio and saw it. Several neighbors would cut pieces from it, to use its needle-like leaves for cooking. Then I went away for a long trip. When I returned I found that the once splendid Rosemary had dried out and just about died. So I cut all the dead branches off, leaving only a couple of twigs that were still green. I planted a little Begonia in the same planter to accompany the Rosemary. The Begonia had belonged to my next door neighbor Stephanie, who gave it to me when she moved away. Now the Begonia has gotten huge and has practically taken over the container. Aside from being beautiful, this planter holds special memories for me, as both people who gave me the plants have passed away.

I’ve taken cuttings from both the Rosemary and the Begonia and started new plants with them. The new Rosemary plants I’ve given away to two friends; and the new Begonia, I’ve established elsewhere in my yard. Every plant has a story…

 
 
© 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.

 

Gardenias

IMG_1267 (2)There have been Gardenia plants around me much of my life. Dark shiny leaves… incredibly sweet fragrance… creamy white, smooth-as-satin petals… My parents had one when I was growing up. My grandparents had one. Friends have them. My next door neighbor has one planted alongside of my house. And my sister gave me this one as a house-warming present when I moved into my present home.

Gardenias are evergreen shrubs or small trees, also known as Cape Jasmine. Most people are familiar with the flowers’ strong sweet smell. They make an aromatic bouquet, hair ornament, corsage or boutonniere. The blossoms are also used as an ingredient in Korean mung bean jelly, called hwangpomuk; and the fruits are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

 
 
© 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.

Need Longer Straw

IMG_1265 (2)I had a craving for fresh Coconut Water today so I drove south to a fruit stand in Homestead and got this chilled coconut with a straw. Driving back home with it on my lap, and taking occasional sips between shifting gears, probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. But it tasted so good… I need a longer straw!

© 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.

Give-Up

IMG_0871 (2)There’s something to be said for giving up on a sick or sad plant after you’ve tried everything and it is still giving you grief. I had purchased a small Basil herb and transplanted it in a self-watering container. I made the mistake of giving it too much water, causing it to get a fungus, turn yellow and drop most of its leaves. I then tried to remedy the situation by placing it in the bright sun to dry out and watering it only sparingly.

I waited patiently for the basil plant to recover to be able to cut off leaves for use in salads and on pasta. A week went by, then another, then another. After three weeks, it still looked yellow and very sad and had only grown back a few tiny leaves. I’m a big basil user and am used to having a robust plant I can harvest leaves from continuously, so this was rather distressing.

When I was at the grocery store this morning I saw this beautiful Basil plant for sale, with large unblemished leaves, calling my name. SOLD!  I’m happy to have healthy basil in my garden again. My old basil plant is still in a coma, in intensive care. Perhaps it will recuperate. If it doesn’t, I give-up.

 
 
© 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.

Lizards Welcome

IMG_1212 (2)This guy, hanging out on one of my palm trees, is welcome in my yard. Lizards eat insects primarily and we have plenty of those in South Florida, especially mosquitos in the summer. So any help in ridding my garden of blood-sucking mosquitos is appreciated. If Mr./Ms. Lizard would like a present, like a bouquet of flowers perhaps, I would give him one. But what he really wants is for me to get the camera phone out of his face so he can get back to the business of mosquito-hunting; so I happily oblige.

He’s a Knight Anole (Anolis Equestris), which were introduced from Cuba. These lizards also eat other lizards (sad) and even small birds (sadder). I do think there are enough mosquitos & other insects here to keep him happy though, so he won’t need to resort to cannibalism or bird homicide.

I have other types of lizards in my yard and think most of them are cute, like this one. Yay lizards!
 
 
© 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.