Sunday, December 12, 2010

November 25, 2009 - Lychee Bounty

November 25th, 2009 – Pickling Peppers and Okra
The increasing heat still in the Spring time has turned most garden vegetable unable to thrive. Even the chayotte vine has got some kind of disease in which the fruit turns crocked. Summer squashes, after yielding some, look miserable on the plot, where some fruits hang on dried vines.
I have lost several sowings either directly on the soil or in trays. Strong winds, scortching sun, my forgetting to water, all contributes to an empty garden. Some winter vegetables are still there such as celery and leeks. The first one cannot really be eaten raw, as it has become hollow and dry. It never really developed to be a regular crunchy stalk with mild flavor. The leeks are doing better, surprisingly resisting the weather. I basically have abandoned the bell peppers, tomatoes, even New Zealand spinach that sprouted several weeks after sowing and that only now it seems to grow, almost to the point of being able to harvest.
Winter was very short. It seems like it jumped straight to summer, as I was not able to do any spring work, or anything that farmers would do up in the North Hemisphere. It is too hot with heavy rain. No seedlings can survive the attack of critters or fungi. Before a beautiful collard greens patch is now a creepy looking site, by catterpillars having eaten all up, in spite of my spraying with tabacco leaves extract.
I can’t complain though. I can still gather some edibles. Okra bushes grow lush fighting bravely aphids and mildew. Few more squash vines appear here and there. With generous amount of “biquinho” pepper (a beak shaped small pepper) that allowed me to play with pickling. With cayenne pepper, I have made hot pepper sauces with vinegar or cachaca. It is never too little a harvest that I cannot give away some.
But the nicest thing right now is lychee nuts. The tree, after suffering from drastic pruning and attack by termites, produced great fruits. They are somewhat rare in the market and therefore expensive. The short duration of the harvest make people go crazy over the fruit. A friend’s husband told me that he used to climb on the tree and eat as much as he could to stop only with a diarrea. Well, I am not very different. It’s impossible to eat just a few. The juicy flesh, light, scented like a flower is so inviting for more. The lychee tree is tall, but some branches are low, so my daughter can eat picking straight from it. Since the first ones started to ripen, we visit the orchard every afternoon. Today, I climbed on the tree with a pruning shear to collect enough to give away to people that make up the first on the list of “ must receive”.

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