Gardening

When Life Hands You…

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Bananas. Lots of bananas. That’s what we have from hurricane Irma. Lucky us, we made it through the storm with minimal damage, except for our poor banana trees:

Poor-tree

We were pretty sure this would happen, so before we evacuated, we cut 4 of the most vulnerable stalks of bananas. Now, in case you don’t know, those clusters of bananas that you find in the market are called a hand, and are just a part of the entire stalk, which can have several hands of bananas.

This stalk has about 100 bananas. These are small bananas called Manzana, or Apple Bananas. Guess what flavor there is an undertone of…

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Right! A tasty banana with a slight apple flavor. Delicious! There is only one problem with a STALK of bananas… they tend to ripen all at once! A hundred or so, ripe bananas is a lot for a family, but we are just 2 people. Even after giving some away, we still have two stalks of bananas. Enough for a Congress of monkeys! (Yes, that is what they are appropriately called!)

In a day or two this is what we had:

ripe-cluster

Don’t let their looks scare you! These are Blue Java or Custard bananas. Yes, they have a sweet creamy flavor. Fortunately, even when they are this ripe they retain firm consistency. Peeled they look like this:

peeled

They are perfectly firm for slicing (and eating). These have a very thin peel and extremely tiny, rudimentary seeds. They remind me of the seeds found in vanilla pods.

sliced

You can see a few on the outside of this one. I once grew an unnamed banana cultivar that would have an occasional fully developed seed in it. The seed was black, extremely hard and about  the size of an unshelled pistachio nut. What a surprise that was the first time I found one!

So, you ask, what did I do with about 200 ripe bananas? First I sliced them lengthwise into thirds. Remember these are small bananas.

mini-seeds

Wondering why they are so shiny? Its because they just got out of their lemony bath.

lemon-bath

There about 2 teaspoons of lemon juice in the bowl. Not enough to change the banana flavor, but enough to keep the slices from turning brown.

I put about a third of the banana slices into my freezer. I spread them out singly on racks from my old dehydrator, so that they would freeze individually. When they were solidly frozen I transferred them to plastic, zipper, freezer  bags to use later. Believe me a frozen slice of banana is wonderful on a hot, Florida day!

But, I can’t have just bananas in my freezer, so the rest of the slices were spread out on racks and dried in my dehydrator. They make a very satisfying chewy snack!

dried-bananas

All of those bananas filled 2 pint and a half canning jars, a quart canning jar and a pint jar. With a few leftover for snacking. I will seal the larger jars with my vacuum sealer for longer storage.

By the way, Irma did hand us some lemons, too! Our little Meyer lemon tree looked like we didn’t water it for months. A really bad case of windburn from those monster winds! To give it respite, I cut it back . I cut off about fifty smallish unripe lemons and gave it a couple of gallons of fish and kelp emulsion. I hope it helps!

Not one to waste anything, I washed and squeezed the juice from most of those lemons. I remember my Mother every time I use my electric juicer. She gave it to me years ago, when my now 40ish children were very little.

I was pleasantly surprised that the  lemons were (mostly) juicy. Instead of my usual yellow juice, the juice is decidedly green. I poured it into some ice trays to make lemon cubes for later. Guess I will pretend that it is Key Lime juice!

What would you do with 200 little bananas?

Until Next Time,

Toni

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Where Did I Go?

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Again we have be doing some extensive traveling! It would take me the rest of the weekend to write about all of the places Mr. M and I have been to since last fall.  In October, we did a Mediterranean cruise which I won’t write about since I have done that before here, here,  here, and here.

Our latest travels were quite different . We started out in Florida, where we live, and basically went around the world. We spent about 10 weeks traveling through Southeast Asia,  the Suez canal area, Scotland, and Canada, to finally arrive back home in time for a week Caribbean cruise with 14 other members of our family.

I am planning to write about some of the areas we visited and to post some our travel photos. In the meantime, I am very busy sewing and gardening. I had to leave our little raised garden beds fallow while we were gone but as soon as we returned I planted them.

Before planting, this year I put drip irrigation, in the form of an “ooze tube”. It seems to be a good addition. I have found that keeping raised beds irrigated in the Florida heat too much for hand watering! Now I just  attach the hose to the tube, turn the water on just a tad, set a timer and, basically, forget about it for a set period of time, usually about 90 minutes to two hours. So much better!

Although I had to plant the gardens in late June, I chose heat loving plants and they seem to be pretty happy right now. I know they may look a little crowded, but I do that purposely, to help shade the soil. Also, I am hoping to “outfox” the wildlife here that regularly check out our homegrown produce. We actually lost a pineapple to some marauding raccoons!

Here is a photo of the ooze tube, most of it is buried about 2″ deep:

irrigation

 

The tomatillo garden:

 

tomatillos

The green bean and zucchini garden: Note that the yellow arrow here indicates where some purported bush beans seem to have become pole beans! I was unprepared for this, hence the jury-rigged trellis!

beans

And just for fun, our first bunch of bananas this year. They are Blue Java, also known as Custard Ice Cream bananas: (guess what they taste like!)

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If you are curious about the brown spots on the two bananas on the right, it is from the latex-like sap of the banana tree. It stains everything it touches, especially clothing! Ask me how I know!

Until next time!

Toni

Living Color

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zinnias

The zinnias in my garden are really putting on an exuberant show! The heat has finished off my tomatoes and green beans but I am loving the flowers that are taking over. What a treat from just a few seeds.

Have you ever Seen This?

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If you don’t live in a tropical or sub-tropical zone you may have not. What I am talking about is the blossom of the mango tree. We have two new mango trees in our mini orchard. This is the first time I have seen mango flowers! Read the rest of this entry »