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Messages - spencerw

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its super easy to ferment and roast them. i usually use an old nut jar for my ferment. line the jar with banana leaves to gain a natural bacteria. then open pods and dump them into the jar. i find you need at least 2 pods for proper ferment. the more pods the easier the ferment. then use a spoon to lightly press the seeds down and cover with another banana leaf, then cover the top of the jar with cheese cloth or a coffee filter so air can flow in without bugs getting in. i usually stir the ferment daily or every other day. ferment 3-10 days, the color or the seeds darkens, then sun dry them for 3-4 days and roast at 275 for 2 hours. great with bananas or just a little energy boost snack. if you decided to break up the beans youll have 'nibs' and if you powder them you have cacao powder.
i was a little intimidated of the process the first time i did it, but ive done it many times now and its pretty fun and easy. and its always a good gift. and the way the tree produces the pods is so interesting. totally worth growing. i quite enjoy the fruit pulp as well, but if you eat it then your ferment wont come out properly. we usually eat a pod and plant them and ferment the rest from each harvest

i originally used this blog as my initial starting point. i know the blog writer and her friend who taught her to do the process. she had told me to use banana and no need for the yeast or vinegar for an updated recipe

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Help me plant out my orchard
« on: February 12, 2021, 01:05:02 PM »
marang. champadek. pedalai. jackfruit. durian. salak. chupachupa. jaboticaba. cacao. brazilian cherry. coconut. cupuassu. cutnut. kuini. kwai muk. langsat. lime. Mammea americana. peach palm. breadfruit. macnut.

whats your fruit fly situation? here they are terrible. so id be careful about who goes where and time-frames of fruiting. you dont want a continuous fruit fly cycle going from tree to tree all year. or just stick to thick skinned fruits

Thats a good list i will look into some of those and try taste them first.  Im not 100% sure but fruit fly is pretty bad here well at least it used to be, im pretty sure we have a fruit fly that is native to QLD that does a lot of damage.  I know for certain bannanas get stung 100% of the time unless covered properly so im not bothering with bannana.

yep taste test first before you dedicate space to them. some of the listed ones can be quite variable. so either select quality seeds from a very tasty fruit, not just a random fruit, or get a graft of a cultivar you like and have eaten.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Help me plant out my orchard
« on: February 11, 2021, 07:35:58 PM »
marang. champadek. pedalai. jackfruit. durian. salak. chupachupa. jaboticaba. cacao. brazilian cherry. coconut. cupuassu. cutnut. kuini. kwai muk. langsat. lime. Mammea americana. peach palm. breadfruit. macnut.

whats your fruit fly situation? here they are terrible. so id be careful about who goes where and time-frames of fruiting. you dont want a continuous fruit fly cycle going from tree to tree all year. or just stick to thick skinned fruits

theres lots of things to consider when moving somewhere new. i moved to hawaii about 6 years ago from california, here are some of my insights.

youll need to understand the history in PR.
-what kinds of large scale agriculture happened there? here we have pineapples, sugarcane, and cattle. each for 150 years in different locations. you can imagine the amounts of chemicals poured into the ground and they used to use weed mats in the pineapple fields. so every site that contained pineapples has layers of plastic ingrained into the soil.
-we used to have closed canopy forests that covered the entirety of all of the islands. large scale ag burned the forests and released the cattle. this changed the ecosystem. places that used to have a forest no longer rain in certain localities. do yourself a favor and find the consistent rainfall and live there. life without rain is very difficult.
-our island ecosystem is very isolated naturally. we have no checks and balances for pests. once something comes in, theres no way it will ever balance back out. an easy example is rats. nothing eats them here so their populations just expand exponentially forever, killing our endemic birds. same with snails, slugs, pigs, deer, beetles, ants, mosquitoes and invasive plants to name a few more. are you willing to deal with this reality?
-what kinds of cultures are there? is a mixed or strictly a puerto rican culture? cultures tend to eat certain foods. its hard to get someone to eat different foods from another culture. you need to stick to these crops if you realistically want to farm for profit. sure you may be able to get a culture to like durian, or you could have the culture hate you and your stinky durian trees. so tread lightly on experimental crops in your region. grow whatever youd like for yourself, but dont plant acres and expect the locals to eat from your trees until its tested.
-small places have tight communities. lay low and be friendly to everyone. people talk. if you do good, people will buy from you, if youre a dick youll be outed by the community.
-culturally how to people feel about foreigners? here people dont like them due to our complicated history. be kind and polite, people will usually look past your differences if you give back to the community. being a farmer is an easy way to have a good relationship with a community. even start out by giving your neighbors some of your overabundance for free, this is also a good way to test new crops by giving out free samples and get the feedback from the people. they will talk and youll prob be accepted and maybe even liked!
-whats the agriculture ties to the US? will you be able to export anything? can you bring anything in? were pretty much stuck here in hawaii becasue of Californias agricultural restrictions. everything we export to the US stops in CA first. they reject everything from us because they do not want our pests. we cannot import a lot of things, myrtaceae species got banned last year here. we can only bring seeds for plants.
-can you grow bananas or are there pests and diseases? here we have banana bunchy top virus. detrimental to the species and its everywhere. most people cannot grow bananas because of the proximity to an infected bunch (spread by aphids). a terrible dilemma.

-what is the value for hired labor? is there a minimum wage? i have 12 acres and simply cannot afford to hire any help because of expense, nor pay myself.
-what is the market access? how long will you have to travel to sell your produce? do you even have a place at the market or are all the vendors occupying most easy niches? here people buy greens. but the market is full of vendors selling greens. so even if i took the time to develop a crop of greens why would any customers buy from me if they can get from their regular vendor.
-do people even care about buying fresh local food? or are they more concerned about just feeding people. here we have two different kinds of people. the 'i buy from the grocery store' and the 'i buy from the farmers'. this is usually directly tied to income and access. poorer communities are less likely to be able to tap into the expensive produce that would be local.
-are there any cooperative organizations to help with processing or access to market. we have a small sweet potato farmer co-op here where the farmers share technology (tractors) and have a labor pool they tap into when they need to harvest their crops. there are talks for a cacao co-op here. you grow the pods and bring them into the co-op for processing, they buy your pods and take on the rest of the process. we have a breadfruit co-op that you can drop off produce and they will buy all you supply. as they process and turn it into dried/dehydrated/milled products that have shelf life and then they market and sell. they even have a relationship with a lot of the local schools and are getting breadfruit in the kids lunch meals. awesome. without co-ops farming on your own can be very hard.
-living in an agricultural region has its positives and negatives. most people will be on the same page, soils will be workable and crops will already be tested in the area, but the pests will already be around and soils will be extremely degraded.

lastly dont grow an orchard. grow a forest! check out syntropic agroforestry.

a little food for thought. best of luck!

Tropical Vegetables and Other Edibles / Re: Tropical Spinach ID??
« on: February 11, 2021, 02:25:59 PM »
Thanks for your help. Itís abelmoschus manihot. See website for reference. The leaves are delicious.

hey thats my website! yes the plant is abelmoschus manihot. i believe i have about 6 varieties of edible hibiscus currently

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Chop and Drop suggestions
« on: March 24, 2020, 03:41:22 PM »
youre absolutely right. and i do have my moringas and comfreys (dont grow so well without chicken poop because of the infertility at this point) but i gotta work with what grows here. tree farming is all about maintenance and good design :). i do not allow the guinea to be in my tree cropping rows and just in my mow rows. would i rather be mowing weekly around each individual tree like most people here do? having a lawn with my 'orchard' of trees at some sort of strange distance from another. then bring in inputs to mulch and fert my trees? nope im trying to grow biomass to feed the soil everywhere to grow a forest. i can mow my entire 3.5 acre plots in 5 hours. doing that once a month isnt such a big deal. especially if i space it out. raking and mulching takes a little longer. thats why im trying to grow my biomass in place so i dont have to haul my mulch.

this was my original system. mowing the wainaku grass. ive now decided to plant guinea in the mow zone to create more biomass to feed my cropping row. coconuts and bananas with edible hibiscus, cassava, sugarcane, coleus, squash, blue basil, bush basil, Plectranthus barbatus and cosmos. the entire row besides the coconuts are used for mulch. add on the guinea in the mow row and i can add 2' of mulch per month to each coconut. now were talking. the border row is full of crotalaria, gliricidia, inga and a few trema. only the trema are large enough to harvest biomass. but the future looks strong for the trees. the cropping row was planted in november 

got the guinea in last week. update will be reported

these photos are younger zones but already planted the guinea in them. just came through last week and cut down all the sunn hemp, cosmos and some of the crotalaria. the trees have been in the system 2 months. replanted with mexican sunflower cassava and a few other vigorous cuttings. we shall watch the progress unfold

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Chop and Drop suggestions
« on: March 23, 2020, 03:52:56 PM »
One idea I tried is to just plant lemongrass in a ring around individual trees or as a border. This is an example of what I did as a border planting @ 1 foot spacing along raised tree beds. I put in rooted single stem divisions with a spoonful of fertilizer at the start of rainy season. From an established clump you can get 50-100 stems. They decline after a few seasons as the stems grow upwards and lose their connection to ground. Cut them off with a hand pruning saw.

i also use lemongrass, but i found it to not be as productive as some other grasses. i found citronella grass to be a bit more vigorous (grows to 7') but still a bit slow as i can only cut it 3-4 times a year. and have to cut them manually as they cannot be cut too low. been playing with vetiver, three kinds of lemongrass, citronella grass, sudan x sorghum hybrid, guinea, what i call 'blue guinea' and a few other unidentified clumping grasses.
my ideal grass: produces enough biomass to be cut to the ground (mowed) once a month and responds vigorously. need to be mowed as i do not have time or manual labor to cut to 6 inches high (via hand sickle) on the 7 acres i currently maintain.
so far only guinea, blue guinea, and one unidentified grass fit into that pattern. most of the other more 'cultivated' grasses cannot be cut to the ground or it will kill them. and none of the cultivated ones grow fast enough for monthly mulching.
play with the plants around you and find out what suits your needs.
in our area guinea grass is very hairy and itchy. but if you cut it before it becomes too large its not too irritant. also once its shredded by the mower it isnt too bad to deal with. although i do need to wear long sleeves and gloves when dealing with it. but for the amount of biomass it produces i cannot have an issue with the hairs. 'blue guinea' however it hairless. its just a little more rare so harder to find to dig up and propagate.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Chop and Drop suggestions
« on: March 20, 2020, 03:47:22 PM »
im in hawaii so a different climate, but you should plant grasses. the most productive plant on our property is guinea grass (Panicum maximum) followed by mexican sunflower, cosmos, cassava and crotalaria spp. (not sunn hemp- because it phases out too quickly). i can cut the guinea when it reaches 4' every month. no one produces that much biomass!! im waiting for my banana, pigeon pea, inga, trema, kukui, avocado and gliricidia to reach sizeable heights in order to start utilizing them for mulch too. but in the meantime grass is king. also adds a different composition to the soils that younger microbial life in the soils need in order to support more demanding species in the future. also the guinea will phase out as shade and more favorable soils come into the system.
a good rule of thumb when creating your own mulch is to plant 4-6x more support (mulch) species than your 'cropping plants'. yes you need to allocate that much space to growing mulch plants (mulch plants can also be food like cassava). in my system i need to add a 6-12'' layer of mulch per month in order to keep the soils completely covered. otherwise the system digests the mulch and im left with bare soil. i needed to find a solution to keep up on my mulching and it seems guinea at this point is the only species that allows me to do as i need. (in a timely manner too with my little flail mower) with some intelligent organization systems can be set up to fully feed themselves in place without bringing things in or moving things around too much.
of course all the other species listed by other forum members are useful as well, so remember to plant them all! the more biodiversity the more food youre able to feed to the soil in order for the soils to feed your plants.

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