Is Oxalic Acid Good for You?

South_FL_Food_Forest_Starfruit1

I was doing a little research on oxalic acid in foods and came across the following:

 

1. It has been assumed that black tea due to its high oxalate content increases kidney stone formation but recent research has shown it to have a preventive effect.

2Victoria Boutenko of the Raw Food Family sites research on how high oxalic acid foods actually reduce the formation of kidney stones.  The true cause of kidney stones is actually animal protein.

3.  Oxalic acid linked to the cure or prevention of cancer:

  • When cancer is diagnosed there is always a low level of oxalic acid in the blood. It is important to have the enough of it n our blood because this eliminates all abnormal cells without harmful side effects
  • Every alternative cancer cure that is successful is filled with foods, herbs, grasses, and teas that are full of high amounts of oxalic acid.
  • American Cancer Society conducted tests over 50 years ago using oxalic acid in the treatment of cancer and the results in papers and evidence were positive.
  • “When oxalic acid is in our blood; in foods & beverages we eat and drink, and testimonials confirm oxalic acid kills cancer cells, virus, bacteria, and decalcifies the material in plaque in arteries; and is in the blood of all warm blooded mammals”. From booklet “Questions and Answers About E- M- F, Electric and Magnetic Fields Associated with the Use of Electric Power
  • Radiation will decompose oxalic acid in the blood.  This usually weakens the immune system so the body is unable to fight off viral or bacterial disease.  Is this why many cancer patients die from cancer related to viral pneumonia.”

 

I have read the warnings about oxalic acid and kidney stones, yet at the same time we’re supposed to eat lots of fresh greens and fruits, right? How can starfruit be bad for you?

I find this “oxalic acid is good for you” (OAIGFY) view quite interesting.

The Galvanized Compost Digester

Galvanized-tub-compost-bin

The kids found a big galvanized tub of some sort:

Galvanized-tub-compost-bin-empty

 

It was probably the casing for something, but I have no idea what.

That doesn’t matter, though, as whatever its original purpose was, it has now been repurposed as a compost bin.

Galvanized-tub-compost-bin

You can see the video here:

As I remark in the video, my Dad built a compost bin in his back yard that continually digests all the kitchen scraps from the house without being turned. Nature does it for you. This bin is a great size for making lots of compost.

I have lots and lots of leaves available thanks to the cocoa orchard.

Cocoa-leaves

 

Local farmers often rake up all the leaves beneath their cocoa trees and burn them. I was told this makes it easier to find all the cocoa pods when they harvest, but I find that management method to be a terrible waste.

Trees are designed to cycle nutrients. Old leaves drop, are digested by soil organisms, then the trees reabsorb the nutrients. Since I have started managing the cocoa here, I have let nature take its course in rotting the leaves – except for the occasional tarp-load of leaves I “borrow” for composting.

The soil beneath the cocoa is no longer cracked clay. Instead, it’s darkening and softening as it’s filled with humus and crisscrossed with fungal hyphae.

Cocoa leaf management aside, I am excited about this new no-turn compost bin. We’ll just keep chucking in lots of good stuff and in a year or so I’ll dump it out and start sifting.

Jackfruit Seeds as a Cocoa Alternative

JackfruitDissection4fin

Could jackfruit seeds stand in for cocoa?

On a recent video, Craig comments:

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 12.50.28 PM

I have some jackfruit ripening on the tree right now.

As the linked article relates:

“Chocolate lovers could soon have a harder time satisfying their sweet tooth. Worldwide demand for this mouth-watering treat is outstripping the production of cocoa beans, its primary ingredient. But in a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists report that compounds found in jackfruit seeds produce many of the same aromas as processed cocoa beans and are a potentially cheap, abundant substitute for use in chocolate manufacturing.”

Now that is strange. I never would have thought.

Of course, it is said that people use roasted velvet bean seeds as a substitute for coffee; however, BASICALLY EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD is claimed to be a substitute for coffee.

Which is ridiculous, as nothing is a substitute for coffee.

Nothing.

I may have to process some jackfruit seeds as I would cocoa beans and see what they taste like, though. For science.

Updates on Grape Pruning, Coconut Seedlings, Jackfruit and Pigeon Peas

grape-pruned

I have had multiple requests for updates on my grape pruning and on my seedling tree plantings. This morning I posted a video sharing how things are going.

The pigeon peas and corn have come up, though the corn germination is patchy. One of the coconut trees gave up the ghost, so I planted a new tree to replace it.

In a few minutes I’m going down the hill to pick some more pigeon peas and I’ll take the camera with me. It’s rained a lot the last few days and I’m sure there’s plenty down there I need to harvest.

Pigeon peas really are remarkable. I’ve seen them thriving in rough ground scattered with chunks of concrete, along roadsides, in patches of weeds and in areas with little water. Add to that the plant’s ability to fix nitrogen, fuel rocket stoves and put protein on the table and you have a great crop.

If you missed it, check out my recent survival plant profile on pigeon peas here.

The jackfruit seedling is looking good:

jackfruit-seedling

That is the remaining tree after I thinned the seedlings out. You can see me plant this jackfruit in this video:

That makes this seedling about 8 months old. We need to get it growing faster.

…and there’s another video I could film!

I’ll get right on it.

Tropical Gardening in Vero Beach

vero_beach

Don wonders about tropical gardening in Vero Beach:

“Hi David,

I recently moved to Vero Beach, and was delighted to find that we are in a 10a climate zone. I heard that Vero is in a microclimate area. You;d you consider this to be a tropical zone? or one that may be open to setting up a system where we may be able to push toward a 10b or even an 11a depending on how we set up our garden?

I am currently on 5 acres, and I am mulching over about 2 1/2 acres of it. I plan on planting fruit trees in just about 3 weeks.”

You are in a great place, Don. Gardening in Vero Beach is life on the easy setting.

Vero’s climate is close enough to the tropics that you’ll be able to plant an abundance of species that people an hour inland from you would struggle to grow.

2.5 acres is a ton of space, too. With Vero Beach’s mild, year-round growing season you’ll be raking in produce if you plan well. Even if you don’t, it will be hard to fail.

Though zone 10a suffers through occasional freezes, the close proximity of the ocean keeps them rare and brief.

The Power of the Ocean

As I write in Push the Zone: The Good Guide to Growing Tropical Plants Beyond the Tropics:

“If you live near the coast, consider yourself blessed. The climate of Jacksonville (Northeastern Florida) is comparable to that of Groveland, despite the former being located farther north. This is why there are coconut palms growing inside Tampa bay but not in Orlando.

Like the barrels of water in my greenhouse, the ocean functions as a huge repository of warmth on chilly nights. The farther you get away from the ocean, the worse the overnight lows become—and the hotter the summer highs. The center of the state of Florida is a ridge with rolling hills and little to moderate the heat of summer or the cold of winter. In my previous location south of Gainesville, I could drive an hour east or an hour west and see a lot more tropical foliage growing than would survive on my homestead.

More than one person in the Ocala area told me “I could never live in South Florida—it would be way too hot.” I’d just laugh. I grew up in Ft. Lauderdale and I can tell you from experience: it never, ever gets as hot there as it does during the middle of a Central Florida summer. The ocean keeps it both cooler and warmer. Where I currently live in the tropics is even milder. Temperatures normally range between 74 and 87 degrees, even though you’d think its equatorial location would lead to sweltering misery.

tropical gardening in vero beach

If you’re not tied to a particular location, you have a few options in finding a place where you can grow warmer climate plants outside with little or no protection. You can move southwards towards the equator… you can move into a warm, urban area… or you can move towards the coast. Heck, you could combine all three and move to Miami; however, the crime rate down there takes some of the fun out of gardening. There’s nothing that dampens horticultural enthusiasm like having some hoodlums steal all your mangoes or break into your tool shed three times in one week. No fun.

Getting close to the ocean or into the city is more expensive than living in the country, unfortunately, which is part of why we moved into the middle of my home state. Land is abundant and the soil can be pretty decent by Florida standards, depending on where you settle.

If you already live in the city, I recommend trying some trees and plants from farther south. Patios and pool areas are excellent for planting small fruit trees. If you’re in an apartment, try growing some tropical plants in large pots on your deck or garden area.

I’ve seen queen palms growing in North Florida between an apartment wall and a pool. If those palms were planted out in the open, they would be toasted by frost. By the building, in that urban heat sink along with the additional thermal mass of a big swimming pool they looked as happy as if they were in Tahiti.

The way to find out what works is to plant a lot of things and see how they do in your area. I’ll bet there are places in your yard right now that are warmer because of their location.

I once visited a friend about seventy miles east of my old house in Marion County. He lives in Ormond Beach, right near the ocean, which was actually a little north of me. In his neighborhood people were growing royal poinciana trees and sea grapes—both decidedly tropical species. The ocean made all the difference.”

Mangoes: The Tropical Canary

One of the species I look for to determine if an area is tropical enough to grow plenty of tropical fruit is the mango.

So – can mangoes grow in Vero Beach?

Yep!

Though the frosts will remove fruit from mango trees in some years, you will have great success in other years.

If the property you are developing has established trees – no matter what the species – they will help moderate the climate. If it is a wide open space, I recommend planting fast-growing species as quickly as possible to help moderate the climate and protect your tropical trees from the cold.

One of my favorites is the guanacaste tree, AKA enterolobium.

You don’t have to let them get huge, you just want to get some canopy edges that will help hold in warmth on a frosty night. Slowing the movement of cold air helps as well, so hedges, fences, buildings – think about where they are or where they could be. South-facing walls will create fully tropical microclimates along their sides.

But… as mangoes already grow in Vero Beach, your work is much easier than mine was in North/Central Florida.

Tropical Fruit for Vero Beach

Here are some species I would definitely hunt down and plant:

Chocolate Pudding Fruit / Black Sapote

Starfruit

Lychee

Papaya (easy to grow from seed)

Mulberry

Loquat

Cashew

Cattley Guava

Tropical Guava

Cherry of the Rio Grande

Jaboticaba

Canistel

Bananas (many types!)

Barbados Cherry

Pineapples

Tamarind

Fig

Olive (Arbequina)

 

There are many more options as well. More “tender” trees could be planted after these somewhat frost-tolerant trees get established. The collective canopies will create a warmer microclimate in your yard over time.

Covering the Area

One mistake I made at the beginning of my food forest process was not planting enough nitrogen fixers and plants to keep the ground covered.

Most of Florida wants to be forest. If you put down that mulch – plant more species in it that will keep life in the soil and provide you with new mulch material. If you have pain-in-the-neck invasive species, like Brazilian pepper, I would chop and drop it, but not kill it right away. If you keep it cut it won’t seed and you can use the limbs and leaves as mulch around other trees.

For quick ground-covering species I like cassava, Tithonia diversifolia, pigeon peas, black-eyed peas and big crazy seed mixes.

Coverseedmix3

The more life you get going on the sand, the better.

Perennial peanut is also a very nice ground cover for orchards and food forests.

Frost Protection

Little trees are very susceptible to overnight lows. Go to the local thrift store and buy cheap blankets and sheets and be prepared to cover those trees for at least the first few winters. If you keep them fed and watered well during their first few years, they’ll soon get big enough to live through a cold night, usually with minor damage. I have a lot more ideas in Push the Zone, but the bare bones of it is: baby young tropicals and they’ll take care of themselves in adulthood.

Vegetable Gardening in Vero Beach

My recommendations for top crops as shared in Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening hold firm for Vero Beach. Start with tough stuff that handles the humidity and the sand and move out from there.

African Yams

Sweet Potatoes

Cassava

Pigeon Peas

Yard-long Beans

Black-eye Peas

Seminole Pumpkin

Mexican Tree Spinach

Longevity Spinach

Malanga

Those will get you started and will do great – and there are many more options as well. Beefsteak tomatoes are tough, but Everglades tomatoes are easy. Get the forgiving plants growing first and making you food, then branch out.

I also encourage you to hunt down tropical fruit growers and enthusiasts in your area. Visit the local agricultural extension. Drive around town and any time you spot a tropical fruit tree, see if you can meet the owner and talk to him about how it has done over the years.

Good luck, Don, and if you have any more questions – shoot them my way and I’ll help as best as I can.

 

*Map image via Google Maps

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:

“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.

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

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.

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.

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.
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