Monday, June 20, 2016

Baba and Grandpa's Visit

We just enjoyed a nice, albeit too short visit with my parents. They arrived Thursday afternoon and left very early this morning. Despite the brevity it was great seeing them.  Unfortunately for them Florida's temperatures and humidity soared making it a rough stay for outdoor activities, but that's the risk with Summer visits here.  Have to get them back during our cooler seasons!!!

In March my mother's brother Bill bought a house just around the corner from us and became a neighbor.  We were thrilled when he and his dog Tarzan moved in.  With my parents planning a car trip and bringing my niece Clara with them, they opted to stay with Bill in his new home. So we all got to enjoy their company and his hospitality during their stay.

Uncle Bill and Tarzan on the day they got the keys to their new home

With the heat we made a trip to New Smyrna Beach to enjoy some time outside with the cooler ocean breeze making it more bearable.  We spent time under the cabana by the beach walk and watched as Kevin helped Hannah fly her kite, and Uncle Bill helped Lauren search for seashells.

Hannah was able to get some decent air time with her kite and catching the ocean breezes

Uncle Bill and Lauren searching for seashells

A piece of sea grass blew into my view just as I took the picture of Uncle Bill with the girls

We enjoyed lunch at the Barracuda Restaurant before heading home.

Had an enjoyable meal here

Looking from the restaurant past the parking lot towards the beach.  On the left is the covered area I could sit with my parents and watch the kids with Kevin and Uncle Bill

The kids enjoyed his pool while we lounged on the patio.

Then all too quickly it was off to our last night out together for a meal and to celebrate Father's Day.

Kevin, mom, dad and Uncle Bill

My niece Clara, Cameron, Kevin, mom and dad - all waiting for our meals 

Hannah and Lauren
Time to say good bye - Hannah rushes in for first hugs

Hannah and Lauren with Baba and Grandpa

All the kids

And finally me with mom and dad

So long for now mom and dad, looking forward to your next visit.  We love you.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Banana Circles A Year Later

Our first bunch of bananas after about two months of growth since flowering

Last year at this time we planted our first two banana circles, and then began to create raised beds throughout our side yard to get our food forest truly started.  We began the first one just behind the old orange and apple trees that were here when we moved in.

This was the space behind the apple (on left) and orange last year at the end of May.

Here it is last year right after planting the first circle. You can see their size next to Kevin as he waters.

This is the same circle today with the tallest banana ( the one with the fruit growing on it) now at about 9 feet tall
Since bananas are such heavy feeders and need a lot of water we put compost piles in the center and built up the dirt in a circle around those to plant in and mulched heavily.  That way when we water or it rains it catches and holds the moisture needed.  Since bananas will fruit once in their lifetime, it's important to cut down the spent plant and let the energy go into the suckers it has produced limiting their number to the two healthiest for continued production.  With the circle you can continue to keep the plants in their space for constant new growth and fruit.

Here are the girls last year adding mulch to the second of the banana circles

Second banana circle June 2016

We also grow pineapples, sweet potatoes, bromeliads, squash, pigeon peas, lemon grass and a few flowers for color in these spaces.

A butternut squash, an Asian Lilly and sweet potatoes at the base of these bananas

The yard today from the opposite side near my newest bed just planted with giant blue corn and jungle peanuts seen here in the center foreground.

Since our first circles were put in we've added groupings with 2 pears, 2 new apples  in addition to the older established one, 3 peaches, 1 plum, 1 custard apple, 2 dwarf lemons, 1 dwarf mandarin orange, 3 pomegranates, 2 Brazilian cherries, 4 Avocados all started in from our compost piles, Mexican sunflower, Buddha belly bamboo, 4 olives, 2 jack-fruit trees, 3 fig trees, 2 nectarines, a loquat and a mamey sapote. Within the groups are more pineapples, elephant ears, flowers, sugar cane and cranberry hibiscus. This property already had 2 established orange trees and a struggling grapefruit. I'm always looking for and adding to the plants or flowers in my current beds and am planning to build on to this total by adding new beds.

Since completing the Chicken Hoop Coop I've added a new bed recently with giant blue corn and jungle peanuts.  This will be the first year growing these so I'm interested to see how they'll do.

The side garden last year already had two established papaya trees and the asparagus had been started in one bed.  The rest of the plantings were seasonal.  This year I still have these with the asparagus giving us our first small harvest.  We have loads of onions ready to pick, the Seminole pumpkin that was a volunteer from a smaller plant last year has been producing like mad and I've cut it's growth back several times to try  and keep it somewhat contained.  I have artichoke plants that have been added as perennials to another bed and we have several peanut, tomatillos, lemon balm and cilantro that all came back up as volunteers from last year.  I've added to these giant sword beans, Chinese purple hot peppers, dill and will be adding more kale and okra to these beds.

The girls in last years garden at the beginning of June 2015
This years garden with the Seminole pumpkin taking over this bed.  By this time next month the giant sword beans will cover the tall trellis

I've already harvest two pumpkins and have 3 more almost ready with loads more growing!

A couple of the pineapples I have this year - there are 10 in all.  These two are in the garden bed right next to the house.

We've also been creating more planting areas throughout the yard and shade house that I will cover in another post.  I am determined to reach a point where when I need fruit or vegetables, I can simply go to the yard or my veggie bin and have what I need.  With the tremendous amount of growth we've seen in this first year with these beds I feel good about the future return on our efforts.

These were my banana circles and planting beds last June

Here they are today

Our food forest June 2016
This is the yard last year with the view from the side of the orange and apple trees. - 2015

Here is the yard today from the same spot. (2016)

Another view with the hoop coop in the background

Can't wait to see how these will look by this time next year and how much more produce we will have enjoyed by then!!

Happy Gardening **