Thursday, January 28, 2010

February 6, 2009 - Time and Timing

Feb. 6, 2009
Perception of time is also different in the country. At the same time that I think things go slower than in big cities, it goes faster.
Just a few weeks ago (I arrived here on December 22nd), I drank green coconut water, gathered wild cucumbers, picked green onions, ate carambola, and some pitanga. Then, we got abiu, durian, taro roots, squash, young squash shoots. Now, we have lemons, jabuticaba, acerola, oranges are starting to get ripe, at the same time the there is no more coconuts, cucumbers; carambola and green onions are ending. Mandioc roots got taken twice, but there are lots of bushes to dig before they become unedible. Yesterday, my father brought home young bamboo shoot. He boiled it to take the bitter taste out and stewed with kombu and shiitake mushrooms. The squash vine was full of shoots and blossoms, but it got cut down. I didn’t get to try stuffed blossoms with cheese, dipped in batter and deep fried. I saw green papaya that I could make into a compote. I have green bananas hanging to ripen.
I also slowed down on cow’s milk products such as yogurt and sweet paste making; cheese buying; juice making. I got goat’s milk, tried a sip, and made into yogurt. I will see if I get used to the smell of it. I made kumquat compote. Ate jabuticaba climbing on the tree, as the fruits that were at reachable distance got eaten by cows.
Feb. 9, 2009
Just now, I noticed the first camelia flower wide open and one chayotte almost ready to be picked. Thyme bushes that were transplanted to a sunny and poor soil are greener while the other ones shriveled and died. The only nasturtium seed that sprouted were dying from being suffocated by a crowling vine. There is almost no more healthy acerola, as they got punctured by some kind of critter. The lush green onion patch is now covered with dry leaves. My father said that it is past harvest time. I didn’t know onions had their primes. My carrots sprouted thin and weak. It may be excess of rain.The radish suffered an attack from slugs that eats from the roots as if it was a pizza delivery at their door. I saw the moment it opened its big mouth to pull the stem, and I pulled the radish on the opposite side. I won. But the radish is dead. The arugula also got eaten. It has big enough leaves for a garnish but not for a bowl full of salad. It looks dark green, which means, spicy! The cilantro is the one who is pleasing me the most. I was hopeless when it sprouted and grew in spite of the rain. Purple basil and sweet basil are growing timidly in the pot, but I have high hopes for them. I may make several bushes from it. A cactus looking herb called carqueja I bought from the farmer’s market are growing well. I get to a conclusion that I must sow in boxes or buy plants so the chances of survival are bigger besides that the hard work is avoided. Or I may used wooden walls to stop water from washing my good soil and seeds.
March 12, 2009
Reading my early journals, I feel embarrassed that I have not continue to work on my vegetable garden. It is now covered with very tall weeds, killing was left that could be saved, such as arugula, cilantro, beans. Instead, nature decided to plant something else. Right beside my thriving sweet basil (possibly the only successful one), two unknown vines. I was told it is watermelon and cucumber. Funny, I didn’t sow any over there. Watermelon is also taking my flower garden. With two promissing round fruits, and other several to come, it is crawling over the empty spaces. It may soon suffocate other flowers we planted. Soy are also growing pretty with first flowers. Soon we are going to have edamame - green pods. Of the sunflowers I sowed, only a few came about. I read today that they are used to attract garden insects to protect other crops. I dreamed with fields yellow with giant flowers...
From the time that I got the first bananas, it is possible that many other bunches have been lost. The next one look full but still skinny. I need to keep watching or the time will come and I am not there. I think I lost all the durian.
I am glad I enjoyed pitangas. They are now covered with bugs that suck out the juice leaving a shriveled skin behind. The pomegranate needs care. It carries dozens of fruits, but they may not be good to eat. Lemon is in its prime. The whole tree offers juicy, mild lemons I make lemonade and lemon curd. I need to plan on using more of the citrus as the season will leave soon.
The only thing that seemed not to ripen was the hot peppers I found exuberantly covering (and killing) a coffee bush. They are small, beanlike shape and even smaller, are sold in the markets as a seasoning. I had come back several times to check on the ripening, when finally I invited my neighbor dona Rosa (who came here to make mandioc starch) to gather the peppers. We took armfull of thin branches back home. I am still working on picking them. I should probably marinade them in vinegar. Brazilians usually preserve with vinegar or oil.

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