Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Litchi Tomato

The Litchi Tomato also known as Morelle de Balbis, or Fire and Ice plant is a edible Solanum.  What makes it special is that you can grow a small fruit, that mocks the taste of a fresh cherry in your own backyard.  This easy to grow plant is similar to growing a tomato plant.  The only difference is the unique prickles that cover the plant.  But don't be alarmed by the prickles they don't prick at all.  A matter of fact I get more pricks from  an okra plant or an eggplant than from a Litchi Tomato.  

The Litchi can grow rather quickly and has beautiful decorative leaves with a zig zag shape.  What also makes them so interesting is the paper-like delicate flowers that they display.  After , the flower is pollinated it formulates the fruit within a thorny husk.  Finally, when the fruit ripens it turns a bright red and is exposed from the thorny husk.

The fruit has an excellent flavor which is reminiscent of a tart cherry.  The fruit are quite prolific and almost cover the whole plant.  I've been growing litchi for at least 5 years and I am always impressed by the full beautiful display of fruit received in the fall.  

* If you are interested in purchasing Litchi Tomato Seeds please check out my etsy page at https://www.etsy.com/listing/106524825/fire-and-ice-plant?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Really??!!! Rat-tail Radish?

I can be such a copycat, gardeners envy often gets the best of me and I want to show-off!  One day I was enjoying a television show I discovered on netflix called "People, Places and Plants".  It was a show about a gentleman with suspenders visiting different farms and introducing us to heirlooms that we don't encounter in everyday life.

On one episode, Roger Swain the host of the show showed off a lovely crop of Rat-Tail Radish.  He explained that the plant grows pods at the top that have the taste of the typical bulb radish.   He stated that the vegetable was so delicious, and he pulled off a pod and ate it.  He chewed with such satisfaction, that I insisted that I had to have a Rat-tail radish pronto.   I was not only amazed by his enjoyment of the veggie but I was also amazed by the concept.

Well naturally I got my fancy fingers moving on my keyboard until I could google the best place to find this odd vegetable.  When I finally discovered it I ordered it and patiently waited for its arrival.  I planted my potential meal the day it arrived and waited with great anticipation.  In about 1 1/2 months my plant was filled with white and pinkish flower.  I thought that was really sweet but it just reminded me of the simple flowers that you see with arugula, pak choy and most greens.  However, around the 2nd month those flowers turned to pods.  The pods were very much like the seed pods you see with most vegetables in the Brassicaceae family.  I did not find them to be particularly impressive at that time.  Finally, in the 3rd month I finally got my Rat Tail Radish pods, they covered my plant so much that it began to tip over since the harvest was so full.  With shear delight in my heart I finally had my moment to taste the vegetable the way that Roger Swain did, with anticipation and optimism.  I grabbed the freshest looking pod and chomp right in.

The taste .....oh the taste of it... Well .... the taste did absolutely nothing for me.   A matter a fact my feelings were a little hurt.. No way Roger Swain , why were you eating it like it was a strawberry.  It burned my mouth like the cross between a very strong ginger, and a very pungent arugula.  Well to be honest that was the first time I had ever tasted a radish, so it did throw me off a bit.  However, I did eat "real radish" shortly after that and they do have similar taste.  The "real radish" was not as spicy but it definitely was swinging from the same family tree.

My harvest from the Rat-Tail Radish was so large that I sold several packs of seeds on the Internet.  One of my customers was totally in love with it.  She told me about how many of her friends love it, and she shares it.   Since, I have way too much pride not to eat anything I grow I am going to try to serve it in another way this year.  I might try it roasted, pickled or fried I will keep you guys posted on how that goes. But, in the meantime, if you are interested in growing your own Rat-tail-Radish please feel free to check out my etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/listing/25035244/rat-tail-radish-seeds?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Garden Enthusiaist

I discovered the Bule Gourd by reading a seed catalog.  So I ordered them as soon as I could and patiently waited for their arrival.  Once I received the plant I was overjoyed and I planted the seeds by a gate since the instructions suggested that they are going to grow into a 15 foot vine and should be grown on a trellis or gate.  When I planted the seeds I was living in Wichita Falls, Texas ,and as they say everything is bigger in Texas.  My seeds took off the first week by the end of the month they had already reached about five feet.  On occasion I would look outside of my window and watch the plant grow before my eyes, It was faster than Jack and his beanstalk.  To my surprise in the second month the Bule was full of beautiful white flowers.

Upon seeing the flowers my curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to absorb their fragrance The smell reminded me of cornflakes.  Yes, you heard it right it smelled like cornflakes!! That had to be the weirdest thing ever but that wasn't the weirdest part.  The flowers were not all identical, some had a fruit at the bottom and others did not.   I discovered that that was a  distinction of which flowers were male and female.  Naturally the female flowers carried the fruit and the males pollinated.  Oh, how beautiful the joys of nature can be.  I had not received my first fruit, however I was on a long trail of discovery and knowledge.

Finally, In the third month I had a vine covered with lime green warty apples.  I think it was about 10 apples per vine.  Yes, as expected those warty apples looked fresh out of a snow white story.  It was such a feeling of accomplishment to bring a picture of a peculiar fruit into my own backyard.  My family marveled at the amazing fruit which originated in France and made its' way to my backyard in Texas.

But, that was not the best part!!! Bule Gourds like most Gourds can be dried and preserved to create crafts.  So when my vibrant lime green gourd had passed its' moment of beauty it dried out and showed off it glory in as a tan brown leathery looking wooden warty apple.

Being a garden enthusiast is an awesome way to live you find so many remarkable wonders. When I discovered this fruit that shows off beauty years after being picked off the vine, I realized that gardening is a never ending adventure.   If you are interested in purchasing the Bule Gourd  please check out my etsy page at https://www.etsy.com/listing/28805662/bule-apple-gourd-seeds?ref=listing-shop-header-2

What is Grabafruit?

Networking can be complicated for home growers. In most case home growers are limited to selling their produce at the local farmers market.  However, many farmers markets have strict regulations such as business license requirements, processing fees and other politics that limit certain people.   However, with the Grabafruit app you are not limited to the possibility of networking with people who are interested in purchasing your products.

Grabafruit is a app that could be downloaded to your iPhone or Android.  It allows you the opportunity to sell, trade and network with other local farmers or consumers.  It even allows the option of mapping out where to forage local fruits, mushrooms, nuts, and edibles.   If you decided that you wanted to trade your local organic watermelons with a fellow farmer who has heirloom cabbages you can allow Grabafruit to be the platform for that transaction. Grabafruit is beneficial to the farmer, consumer and community. For further information check out Grabafruit and download it on your android or iphone device.