Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Looking forward

Well I entitled this post "looking forward because I'm really looking forward to our carambola harvest this year, we seem to have a lot of fruit on the trees and I hope to be preserving it by november when it ripens. Here are some pictures in case if you have never seen a carambola (star fruit) tree before. A funny interesting fact is that the leaves curl if they're touched, it's like some sort or reation the tree has to sensation, I though I was halucintaing. I'll have to post a video of the leaves cringing soon.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Surinam Cherry

I found this very interesting plant called the Surinam cherry at our local nursery the other day. It turns out that it's actually quite rare and each fruit contains more vitamin c than a single orange. Certainly something to have on our farm. Surprisingly it was only five dollars, not bad considering how nutritious the fruit is. If anything it may as well just be a bargain.

The plant is native from Surinam, Guyana and French Guiana to southern Brazil  and to northern, eastern and central Uruguay. It grows wild in thickets on the banks of the Pilcomayo River in Paraguay. It was first described botanically from a plant growing in a garden at Pisa, Italy, which is believed to have been introduced from Goa, India. Portuguese voyagers are said to have carried the seed from Brazil to India, as they did the cashew. It is cultivated and naturalized in Argentina, Venezuela and Colombia, also along the Atlantic coast of Central America; and in some islands of the West Indies, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and in the Bahamas and Bermuda. In 1918, Britton wrote, in the "Flora of Bermuda", that, as it harbors the fruit fly, the tree has been largely cut out in recent years." It is frequently grown in Hawaii, Samoa, India and Ceylon as an ornamental plant and occasionally in tropical Africa, southern China and in the Philippines where it first cultivated in 1911. It was long ago planted on the Mediterranean coast of Africa and the European Riviera. The first Surinam cherry was introduced into coastal Israel in 1922 and aroused considerable interest because it produced fruit in May when other fruits are scarce, and it requires so little care, but over 10 years of observation, the yields recorded were disappointingly small.

The Surinam cherry is adapted to tropical and subtropical regions.Young plants are damaged by temperatures below 28º F, but well-established plants have suffered only superficial injury at 22º F. The plant revels in full sun. It requires only moderate rainfall and, being deep-rooted, can stand a long dry season. It can grow in typically any type of sandy soild, which is a plus for those of us living in Florida.
Surinam cherry seedlings grow slowly; some begin to fruit when 2 years old; some may delay fruiting for 5 or 6 years, or even 10 if in unfavorable situations. They are most productive if unpruned, but still produce a great many fruits when close-clipped in hedges. Quarterly feeding with a complete fertilizer formula promotes fruiting. The plant responds quickly to irrigation, the fruit rapidly becoming larger and sweeter in flavor after a good watering.

The fruits develop and ripen quickly, only three weeks after the flowers open. In Brazil, the plants bloom in September and fruits ripen in October; they bloom again in December and January. In Florida and the Bahamas, there is a spring crop, March or April through May or June; and a second crop, September through November, coinciding with the spring and fall rains.

There is a warning though with these tropical cherries, the seeds are extremely resinous and should not be eaten. Diarrhea has occurred in dogs that have been fed the whole fruits by children. The strong, spicy emanation from bushes being pruned irritates the respiratory passages of sensitive persons.

The leaves have been spread over the floors of Brazilian homes. When walked upon, they release their pungent oil which repels flies. The barkcontains 20 to 28.5% tannin and can be used for treating leather. The flowers are a rich source of pollen for honeybees but yield little or no nectar.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Green Eggs & Ham

Well we have half of Dr. Seuss's recipe correct. I'm not too sure if the neighbors would like the ham part but they sure don't mind the green eggs around Easter. It's true comes varieties of chickens can lay green eggs. Not only can they lay green but also blue, gray, peach, rust red and every shade in between. Although not just any ordinary chicken lays green eggs, it's the arucana from south America who lays these beauties. The arucana's history is a little sketchy, they are believed to be bred by the arucan indians, (yes that's where the chickens name comes from) thousands of years ago in the Andes. Of course many think that Cortes or early explorers brought them to South America but they were there even before any of the Europeans arrived. This is an interesting fact considering all chickens derive from the red jungle fowl only native to south east Asia. What is a bird that's an ocean away doing in south America you ask? Well I don't know, many believe that south east Asian merchants brought them thousands of years before any of the settlers. Just an interesting fact to be noted. (It could be the aliens ooo, just kidding) To be honest I think it was just some merchants who decided to see what's on the other side of that thing called the pacific ocean. Some people think they were bred with other wild fowl in order to attain the colored tint of the eggs. Some say it was maybe a cross with a curasso or a chalachla, it's debated but no one really cares after all it is just a chicken.

Anyways, I though it would be interesting if I brought up the matter because we in fact keep the arucanas here at the homestead. The ones we just bought are only about three months old, they are both females, one black  and one blue. Hopefully they'll start laying by October, every arucana we've had always layed early, and I mean early, at about five months of age. I was told these would be the green egg laying strain, if not, our green eggs and ham special will be spoiled. Hopefully that's not the case. It's near fall now so I look forward to having omelets just in time for the cold. I'll get some pictures of them as soon as I can.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lemon Eucalptus

Today I though I'd do somthing on my favorite group of trees, the ecalyptuses. 

The leaves are leathery in texture, hang obliquely or vertically, and are studded with glands containing a fragrant volatile oil. The flowers in bud are covered with a cup-like membrane (whence the name of the genus, derived from the Greek eucalyptos (well-covered), which is thrown off as a lid when the flower expands. The fruit is surrounded by a woody, cupshaped receptacle and contains numerous minute seeds.
Eucalyptus trees are quick growers and many species reach a great height. Eucalyptus amygdalinis the talled known tree, some reach to be 480 feet, exceeding in height even the california red wood. Many species yield valuable timber, others oils, kino, etc.
There are a great number of species of Eucalyptus trees yielding essential oils, the foliage of some being more odorous than that of others, and the oils from the various species differing widely in character. It necessarily follows that the term Eucalyptus oil is meaningless from a scientific point of view unless the species from which it is derived is stated.
The Eucalyptus industry is becoming of economic importance to Australia, especially in New South Wales and Victoria. Many of the old species which give the oil of commerce have given way to other species which have been found to gave larger yields or better oils. About twenty-five species are at the present time being utilized for their oil.
The oils may be roughly divided into three classes of commercial importance: (1) the medicinal oils, which contain substantial amounts of eucalyptol (also known as cineol) (2) the industrial oils, containing terpenes, which are used for flotation purposes in mining operations; (3) the aromatic oils, such as E. citrodora, which are characterized by their aroma.
The British Pharmacopoeia describes Eucalyptus Oil as the oil distilled from the fresh leaves of E globulus and other species.
 E. globulus the best-known variety (its name bestowed, it is said, by the French botanist De Labillardiere, on account of the resemblance of its waxy fruit to a kind of button at that time worn in France), is the Blue Gum Tree of Victoria and Tasmania, where it attains a height of 375 feet, ranking as one of the largest trees in the world. It is also called the Fever Tree, being largely cultivated in unhealthy, low-lying or swampy districts for its antiseptic qualities.
The first leaves are broad, without stalks, of a shining whitish-green and are opposite and horizontal, but after four or five years these are succeeded by others of a more ensiform or sword-shaped form, 6 to 12 inches long, bluish-green in hue, which are alternate and vertical, i.e. with the edges turned towards the sky and earth, an arrangement more suited to the climate and productive of peculiar effects of light and shade. The flowers are single or in clusters, almost stalkless.
The Eucalyptus, especially E globulus, has been successfully introduced into the south of Europe, Algeria, Egypt, Tahiti, South Africa and India, and has been extensively planted in California and also, with the object of lessening liability to droughts, along the line of the Central Pacific Railway.
It thrives in any situation, having a mean annual temperature not below 60 degrees F., but will not endure a temperature of less than 27 degrees F., and although many species of Eucalyptus will flourish out-of-doors in the south of England, they are generally grown, in this country, in pots as greenhouse plants.

It was Baron Ferdinand von Müller, the German botanist and explorer (from 1857 to 1873 Director of the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne), who made the qualities of this Eucalyptus known all over the world, and so led to its introduction into Europe, North and South Africa, California and the non-tropical districts of South America. He was the first to suggest that the perfume of the leaves resembling that of Cajaput oil, might be of use as a disinfectant in fever districts, a suggestion which has been justified by the results of the careful examination to which the Eucalyptus has been subjected since its employment in medicine. Some seeds, having been sent to France in 1857, were planted in Algiers and thrived exceedingly well. Trottoir, the botanical superintendent, found that the value of the fragrant antiseptic exhalations of the leaves in fever or marshy districts was far exceeded by the amazingly powerful drying action of the roots on the soil. Five years after planting the Eucalyptus, one of the most marshy and unhealthy districts of Algiers was converted into one of the healthiest and driest. As a result, the rapidly growing Eucalyptus trees are now largely cultivated in many temperate regions with the view of preventing malarial fevers. A noteworthy instance of this is the monastery of St. Paolo à la tre Fontana, situated in one of the most fever-stricken districts of the Roman Campagna. Since about 1870, when the tree was planted in its cloisters, it has become habitable throughout the year. To the remarkable drainage afforded by its roots is also ascribed the gradual disappearance of mosquitoes in the neighbourhood of plantations of this tree, as at Lake Fezara in Algeria.
In Sicily, also, it is being extensively planted to combat malaria, on account of its property of absorbing large quantities of water from the soil. Recent investigations have shown that Sicilian Eucalyptus oil obtained from leaves during the flowering period can compete favourably with the Australian oil in regard to its industrial and therapeutic applications. Oil has also been distilled in Spain from the leaves of E globulus, grown there.
In India, considerable plantations of E globulus were made in 1863 in the Nilgiris at Ootacamund, but though a certain amount of oil is distilled there locally, under simple conditions, little attempt has hitherto been made to develop the industry on a commercial scale, Australia remaining the source of supply.
A great increase in Euealyptus cultivation has recently taken place in Brazil as a result of a decree published in 1919 awarding premiums and free grants of land to planters of Eucalyptus and other trees of recognized value for essence cultivation.