I did it – I ate them!

Ackee

I ate ackee… and lived!

Here’s my video on cleaning ackee, plus a look at the beautiful ackee tree in our yard:

AmeriJam Acres writes in the comments:

Rebel Gardens web graphics-03

“one thing you failed to mention. It must open on its own. eating it before it opens is the dangerous thing. The toxin it neutralized naturally when properly ripened. The way you know it’s ripe is it opens on its own.”

Yes, that’s big. I also say in the video – DON’T EAT THEM BECAUSE SOME GUY ON YOUTUBE (that’s me) SAYS YOU CAN!

Ackee is a dangerous fruit but it’s really delicious. I had ackee and saltfish with scrambled eggs for breakfast today. Really good.

Grafting with Household Supplies

grafitng-with-household-supplies

Steven demonstrates how easy grafting can be:

Seriously… you can graft with a pocketknife and electrical tape. Nature is amazing and resilient.

In my grafting demonstration (which you can get for a donation of any amount) I encourage people to lose their fear.

Rebel Gardens web graphics-03

Steven helped me get started with apple grafting and even shared some scion wood:

Quit worrying and get grafting. It’s easy.

The Chop & Drop Idea is Truly Revolutionary

chop-and-drop

I really just can’t get over how great chop and drop is – and I’ve been doing it for years.

In my latest video you can see me use the method to feed and mulch a lovely breadnut a friend gave me when we first moved here.

I got the idea from Geoff Lawton originally and love how easy it is.

Got an invasive tree? Chop and drop it.

Plant fast-growing and nitrogen fixing species, then chop and drop them as mulch around your fruit trees.

There’s a section in my Compost Everything movie where I demonstrate this around a pear tree.

chop-and-drop_2

Rebel Gardens web graphics-03

Though I often deliberately plant species to feed my trees, I also use the naturally occurring weeds and grass to build the soil, like this guy:

Weeds are soil bandaids, remember?

We are too quick to knock them down, rake them up and throw them away.

Use them to build soil instead.

One you start thinking about the many trees and weeds you can chop and drop to feed the plants you want to feed, you’ll see all of nature differently.

Chop and drop and build soil in fast forward.

Rachel Makes a Papaya Pie

papaya-pie

When you accidentally open a papaya a little early… what do you do?

Rachel had a plan:

The recipe is… complicated… but the pie turned out wonderfully.

Rebel Gardens web graphics-03

We now know underripe papaya pieces will work in an apple pie recipe.

That was the experiment’s purpose – to see if the substitution was possible – and it was a success.

Ackee is coming in – I’m going to eat it! Pray I don’t die!

Ackee

There are a LOT of ackee fruit on the tree out front.

Ackee

I hate to let it go to waste, but at the same time I’m rather afraid to eat it.

Especially after my loofah experience last week.

Rebel Gardens web graphics-03

Ackee is deadly poisonous when prepared wrong. Though I know from my reading how to prepare it, I still haven’t bitten the bullet aril and done it.

Maybe this afternoon. I sent the above photo and wrote of my fears to my newsletter readers this last week and Virginia from Jamaica (I love you, Jamaica!) wrote:

“Those ackees are ripe and perfectly safe to eat, even raw. Once the red pods open, as shown in your photo, remove the yellow segments. Those are the edible parts. Discard the red pods, the black seeds and any pinkish fibers in the segments. You can prepare ackees in many ways, just look up some Jamaican recipes. You are so lucky to have them fresh. We in N Florida have to make do with the canned ones.

NEVER, NEVER force closed ackee pods open. That is where the poisoning part comes in. You can easily research the details. Salt fish and ackee with fried dumplings, boiled green bananas, breadfruit and avocado is Jamaican heaven.”
Well, I have salt fish. And I have ackee.
I just need to do it. Maybe I’ll film eating some and post it to YouTube. If I don’t live, be sure to buy lots of copies of my books so my hear widowed Rachel can pay for my burial expenses.

First Genetically Engineered Apples to Hit Store Shelves

artic-apples

Via Capital Press:

 

“SUMMERLAND, B.C. — The first genetically modified apples to be sold in the U.S. will debut in select Midwestern stores next month.

A small amount of Arctic brand sliced and packaged Golden Delicious, produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits of Summerland, B.C., will be in 10 stores this February and March, said Neal Carter, the company’s founder and president. He would not identify the retailers, saying that’s up to them.

“We’re very optimistic with respect to this product because people love it at trade shows,” Carter said. “It’s a great product and the eating quality is excellent.”

Carter reduced the enzyme polyphenol oxidase to prevent browning when apples are sliced, bitten or bruised. The apples match the industry norm of not browning for three weeks after slicing but without using flavor-altering, chemical additives that the rest of the fresh-sliced apple industry uses.

Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Fuji varieties have been approved by the USDA and Canada. An Arctic Gala could be approved in 2018. Only Goldens and Granny Smiths have been planted long enough to produce fruit in commercial quantities by next fall.

Midwestern retailers were chosen for the first sales this winter because they seemed like a good fit demographically and in presence and size, Carter said.

Asked if Midwest consumers may be more accepting of genetically modified apples than those on the East or West coasts, Carter said consumer research didn’t indicate that and that it wasn’t a consideration.

Rebel Gardens web graphics-03

“We don’t want to skew our test marketing results by choosing stores that may be more friendly to genetic engineering,” he said.

About 500, 40-pound boxes of sliced apples will be sold in grab-and-go pouch bags, he said. The company expects to offer 6,000 boxes of apple slices from the 2017 fall crop.

A QR computer scan code on the packaging enables consumers to get information, including that the apple slices are genetically modified, but nothing directly on the packing identifies it. Okanagan Specialty Fruits will adhere to the new genetically engineered foods labeling act but it’s not clear what that requires, Carter said.

“We are selling it under the Arctic brand and we’ve had a lot of press and attention, so I assume most people will know what it is,” he said.”

 

Wonder how long it will be until GMO oranges arrive?

I know scientists are making the attempt as a way to head off citrus greening.

Planting Garden Beds and Potting Up Avocados

planting-garden-beds

Over the last week Rachel and I loosened the little garden beds with my broadfork, then dug in some good compost and biochar.

Then it was time to plant. Since I post funny videos on my YouTube channel now and again, and there are always a few people that totally don’t get my sense of humor, I decided to play a bit of a prank on everyone and embody the typical, clueless, Windows Movie Maker-using YouTube gardening host.

I named this version of me… Dave2000.

I had fun and the comments section was hilarious. My favorite comment by far was from Perma Pen:

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 9.08.50 AM

(Thankee, luv – stop on by me allotment anytime, wut wut!)

One of my friends on Gab (that’s the new Twitter killer – it’s an awesome free speech platform) also made a graphic for me after seeing the video.

5PxFuk

Rebel Gardens web graphics-03

Anyhow, in the video, ridiculous as it is, you can see what I planted in the beds: amaranth, sunflowers, black amber cane sorghum and some Seminole pumpkins. I also snuck a perennial cucumber into one corner.

I love those.

Yesterday afternoon, after much outcry, I retired Dave2000 in a rather funny video that contains not just one, but TWO rap segments.

The avocado puts I planted a few months back germinated and grew quicker than I expected. Now I have 17 of them all potted (er, bagged) up and ready to plant whenever I get some land.

Hopefully I won’t have to pot them up again before we get a place but you never know. Live moves slower near the equator… except for the growth rate of trees.

Have a great Friday night and a wonderful weekend. I’ll be back again tomorrow.

Germinating Peach Pits is Easy: Check Out These Pics

sprouting-peach-pits-2

My video on germinating peach pits has garnered almost 30,000 views since I posted it back in July:

Since posting that instructional video, I have received multiple comments and emails from people thanking me for showing them how to grow their own peaches from seeds.

My friend Amanda, who is NOT obsessed with me at all, sent me these two pictures recently of her peach sprouting success:

sprouting-peach-pits-1 sprouting-peach-pits-2

Some years ago I discovered in some dusty corner of the internet that peach pits require cold stratification to germinate.

I put this knowledge to the test with great success, starting about 50 peach pits I found beneath an abandoned and squirrel-ravaged Tropic Beauty peach growing a few miles from my old place in North Florida.

SproutingPeachPits

I did this despite the fact that there are hordes of small-minded gardeners in the world who take great pleasure in lecturing everyone about the utter worthlessness of starting fruit trees from seed.

These people are wrong. And boring. And stupid. And they smell.

Here’s a video I did showing some of my seed-grown peach trees in fruit:

And here are two pictures of some of the delicious fruit I got as a result of germinating peach pits in my very own refrigerator:

Rebel Gardens web graphics-03

lovelypeaches2 lovelypeaches3

In their SECOND year, my two seedling peach trees produced about five gallons of fruit. They continued to massively outproduce the grafted peach trees I planted before them, plus they grew with more vigor.

Growing fruit trees from seed isn’t a dumb thing to do. It’s a great thing to do. It’s a YUGE, high energy thing to do.

Sometimes the “experts” aren’t really experts. They’re just people who say things adamantly because they’ve heard other people say the same things.

Heck with that.

Better Gardening Through Experimentation isn’t just a film I made… it’s my modus operandi.

Thanks for the pictures, Amanda, and may your peaches grow and produce abundantly.

Finally, here’s how you germinate peach pits:

GrowAPeachPit-Update

Have fun!

How to Process Coffee at Home in 7 Steps

how-to-process-coffee-at-home-step-4-drying-coffee

For those of you who want to know how to process coffee at home, I put it into a quick video outlining the seven steps it takes to get from the tree to your mug of choice:

Transcript:

My friend Steven did a “2 Minute Technique” video recently, which was great. However, this video clocks in at 2.5 minutes, meaning I have 25% MORE CONTENT for the same low price.

Okay – after doing some really long coffee processing videos, let’s break it down into seven steps without the extra jokes, raps, failures and witty dialog between a sexy couple.

Step 1: pick some ripe coffee cherries!

how to process coffee at home picking coffee

Our trees need pruning for easier harvest but we still managed to pick close to a gallon of cherries in about 20 minutes.

Step 2: Once you’ve picked your coffee cherries, remove the beans from the fruit.

how to process coffee at home removing fruit from cofee beans

We did this the hard way – me with my teeth and Rachel with a steak knife, but there are much easier ways, such as crushing and grinding the fruit with a thick board on concrete or by soaking overnight to loosen the fruit from the bean.

Step 3: take your beans and throw them into some water for a day or two.

how to process coffee at home fermenting coffee beans

This will ferment away the slimy layer on the beans. When they feel rough between your fingers instead of slick, you’ve got it. Rinse them off and then proceed to step four.

Step 4: Dry the beans.

how to process coffee at home drying coffee beans

If you want to store the green beans for any period of time, it’s important to dry them quite well so they don’t mold. This can take days in the sun. We didn’t bother as we were heading right to roasting. Instead, we dried the beans for a few hours, then went to step 5.

Step 5: remove the parchment layer.

how to process coffee at home removing parchment layer

The parchment layer is a rough, tan layer that surrounds the beans. Peel it off!

Step 6: Roast the beans.

how to process coffee at home roasting coffee beans

We roasted the beans in a stainless steel pot over medium heat, stirring constantly, but there are many other ways to do this. You can bake the beans in the oven or use a popcorn popper. We don’t have a popcorn popper and we wanted to closely monitor the progress so we simply toasted ours in a pot over the burner.

Step 7: Grind the coffee

how to process coffee at home gringing coffee

There are hand-cranked machines but we used a little electric espresso grinder instead which works like a charm.

Now you can brew your coffee however you like and enjoy some homegrown goodness, from tree to cup.

how to process coffee at home delicious homegrown coffee

Thanks for watching – catch me on the web at TheSurvivalGardener.com and be sure to check out my $2 booklet The Survival Gardener’s Guide to Growing Your Own Caffeine. Until next time, may your thumbs always be green.

How to Process Coffee at Home: The Long Version

Before I edited and released “How to Process Coffee at Home” the short version, I captured a lot more of the process in a series of three videos. If you enjoy rapping, random jokes, long processing scenes and random cuts, well, you’ll enjoy these much more than the short video.

And, if that isn’t enough for you, I also did a 2.5 minute rap version:

Rebel Gardens web graphics-03

Lyrics:

Step one is fun – it’s my favorite, so savor it

Picking cherries from the trees if you please

And dropping them in a sack to bring back to the plantation

In our tropical nation, and it’s a true revelation

How much work needs to be done

Till that percolator runs, son

Step two – time to peel the fruit off the seeds

And this takes a ton of time – it’s a crime

To do it like we did – I won’t kid

Cracking cherries with your teeth? Call the coffee police

Put a board on the concrete and mash ‘em flat

and save time with that

Step three, the fruit is sticky and slick

So soak for a day or two and that does the trick

The power of fermentation from slimy to rough

It ain’t tough just let em sit, then wash a bit and your golden with dreams unfolden

Step 4, it’s time for more, get those beans in the sun to dry

Gotta cap that parchment layer and here’s why

cause it keeps the beans inside a shell

Split it off and you’ll do well

Which is step five where you peel all the seeds because you needs to unleash the inner bean so green with a fine jade sheen I’m lovin it, uncoverin it, now we’re almost done – light the fire and we’ll get to the fun

Step five, now we strive, to toast these beans until we get a fine roast, at most, we want to cook them through and get the room a bit smokey, no jokey, I don’t want ‘em black or green but right in the middle cause the taste is keen

Step six, grind ‘em up, we got a little grinder and my wife is finer than a beauty queen, drinking bowls of coffee till she’s floating on a cloud of caffeine, but first, gotta get to step seven java heaven

Seven, brew the roast. We use a French press that’s the best for flavor, and now we savor, the rich homegrown and we’ve shown you all the steps of coffee, from tree to cup and what’s up with the long process to caffeinated bottoms up. That’s a wrap – or a rap as I tap out the beats as we pick and process the beans that give rise to the inspiration and innovation of a hip-hop conversation about the seven steps to getting some delicious Joe… fo show.

And finally…

Yesterday I managed to get some of the garden beds cleaned up, as promised, and will hopefully finish that soon and get planting again. And I have cocoa to harvest, too. That will be fun.

Have a great Thursday, everyone.

Processing Coffee at Home

Processing-coffee-cherries-1

Processing coffee at home

Processing Coffee at Home

Now we didn’t process our coffee the easy way. I deliberately didn’t look up all the labor-saving ways to process coffee, much to Rachel’s chagrin.

Instead, I decided to do it all be hand. As I posted last week, it started with harvesting the coffee cherries from the  tree we discovered in the cocoa orchard:

After that, there are four distinct phases to processing coffee.

 

  1. Removing the coffee beans from the fruit
  2. Fermenting/cleaning the coffee beans
  3. Drying the coffee beans
  4. Removing the “parchment” layer from the dry beans
  5. Roasting and grinding the beans

 

I’m working on a two-part video right now covering the whole process, which I then hope to edit down into a quick instructional video so you don’t have to listen to all of Rachel’s and my jokes and see all our mistakes.

Part one is already posted and covers removing the coffee beans from the fruit and starting the fermentation process:

Rebel Gardens web graphics-03

Because we did it all by hand it was a rather time-consuming process. Using your teeth is not necessarily recommended but works much better than any implement I’ve found, unless you do it the easy way and smash with a big board, like this:

Next time.

I will add more to this post as I finish the process, eventually creating a definitive “processing coffee at home” article. I’ve already dried the beans in the video and removed the parchment layer, meaning that it’s time to roast! And today is the day. We’ll finally see how these beans taste and if Liberian coffee holds up to closer scrutiny. It’s hard to find any info on the flavor of Liberian coffee beans, so this experiment is a worthy one. I’ll share exactly how it tastes and have a couple of people give their input.

If you can’t wait to see more on growing coffee, there is more good info here. Plus, a few years ago I did a post sharing the entire process as a Hawaiian couple does it.

And don’t forget, if you’re interested in growing your own caffeine, my little booklet has the answers, even if you live up north.

1 2 3 20