Dragon Fruit & Coffee

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What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday we had a few people come over to visit and  pick some fruit in the farm.  While there were certainly dragonfruit available for them to pick, it did NOT look like this yesterday.  We’re in the process of picking and will be selling to one of the CSA’s we work with in Hilo.

The dragon fruit on the lower limbs gets eaten by the chickens.  As you can see from the picture, some of them are just the right height for them.  Needless to say they love it too.

We also picked some coffee today.  Not a lot, but more than last week.  It never fails in the beginning of the season, I’m super into the picking process.  It’s exciting, I know that we’ll have a lot of our own coffee, and it’s a walking or rather “picking” meditation in a way.  I really get into it.  Sadly, I now this feeling will change.  Picking coffee for a half hour is different than picking coffee all morning.  My husband and I will pick about a 5 gallon bucket each time we pick during season.  Today we picked about a quarter bucket together.  We also roasted 4 pounds of coffee in our new roaster today.  The beans aren’t from our farm, it’s what we’ve been using to help season the roaster.  I LOVE the machine.  I know it’s just a roaster, but this is going to serve us quite well.

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The finished product.  It’s been a busy weekend on the farm.

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Chickens

We recently bought four new chickens.  They’re not quite full grown, but should be laying in the near future.  Two of the chickens are Polish.  I’ve never heard of Polish chickens before and even though they apparently aren’t the best layers I insisted on getting them because 1) I’m part Polish!! and 2) they’re a little different looking than the normal chicken.  They have have what looks like hair on top their heads.  IMG_1023.JPG

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Above are pictures of the all the chickens we got.  The all black one is Polish, and the black and red one at the top is a Polish one as well.  We’re keeping them separated from the rest of the flock for a few weeks so they can get a little bigger and get used to the place.

We’ve got a lot of fruit ripening right now – dragon fruit, pineapples, mangoes, starfruit (we’re loaded!), bananas, berries, and lemons.  We’ll be selling some of the dragon fruit and starfruit shortly.  I’m going to try making limoncello again with our lemons.  We have the perfect lemons for this, Meyer lemons, but last time I made it, I think there was too much pith in the rind still and it just did’t taste that good.  So this time I’ll take it slower, and see how it comes out.  I’ll keep you posted as to my efforts on that one. IMG_1017.JPG

Fruit salad from the farm.

Moringa

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We have a number of Moringa trees on our property.  These trees grow very easily here.  They’re native to South Asia, and are a draught resistant plant.   You can eat everything on the moringa tree.  The leaves which are small and round are highly nutritious.  Eaten raw they have a peppery taste to them.  I like to put them in soup.  It’s a little tedious picking all the leaves off, and because they’re small you need a lot of them.  The leaves have the following nutrient value:

  • 9 times the protein of yogurt
  • 10 times the vitamin A of carrots
  • 15 times the potassium of bananas
  • 17 times the calcium of milk
  • 12 times the vitamin C of oranges
  • 25 times the iron of spinach

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The plant also has bean pods.  You can eat them when they’re smaller, just like a green beans, or if you wait until their slightly larger, you can eat only the inside of the bean as the outer shell becomes too fibrous.  It’s still really good this way, and in fact, I actually prefer them.

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skinny beans in the bucket, larger ones on the table

You can eat the Moringa flowers as well.  They can be eaten raw or  lightly cooked, but you can’t cook them too much as they lose their nutrient value.  Eat too many, and you might have to make several trips to the bathroom.  They too are quite nutritious.  They have a lot of calcium and potassium, and are known to reduce inflammation in the body.  The flowers can be made into a tea as well.  They’re also not supposed to be eaten if you’re pregnant, however they are good for nursing moms.  Always good to check these things out if you’re pregnant or nursing.

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And finally the bark, yes the bark can be used as well!  There are quite a number of medicinal uses for this as well.  There’s a process to make it into a paste.  I haven’t done that yet, and probably won’t until I do further research.  I have, however, eaten all the other things off the tree.  They’re also a really pretty tree, especially when it’s flowering.

Other happenings around the garden …

We picked the first red coffee beans, they’re in my in laws yard, but we’ll be getting ours very shortly as well.  So it’s officially staring our processing season.

And most exciting … I wrote a little about our dragon fruit, but the really exciting part is we have bees!!! Lots of bees.  I’m not sure if they’re coming from a neighbor who keeps bees or they’re wild, but they’re pollinating the flowers and doing a bang up job if I may so say myself!!

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all kinds of bees too.  I love having them around!

 

Dragon Fruit

It’s dragon fruit season or as I like to refer to them as – “fruit of the dragon”.  A little homage to Game of Thrones I guess, plus it just sounds so much more exotic.  Last season, we didn’t get a very large harvest which I believe has a lot to do with our lack of bees.  This year, however, looks a little better, and we’re seeing bees on the flowers which is great.

Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, comes in different colors and varieties.  We have two varieties, one that is white inside and one that is deep purple.  For those who haven’t had, the closest comparison in taste and consistency would be something like a kiwi.  They’re especially good cold, and in this hot dry summer they will be a welcome treat.

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In the basket above, most of them are white inside.  The fruit that is in the middle with longer green “leaves/petals” and that is slightly darker looking is dark purple inside.  The purple ones also tend to be slightly small in size.

The other thing that is ripening now are our mangoes.  Mangoes may just be my favorite fruit of all time, and I like a lot of fruit.  We cover our mangoes with a small netted bag to keep fruit flies from enjoying them before we get a chance ourselves.  We have a number of different varieties.

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The above bowl has three different varieties – manzanilla (dark red on the right originated from Mexico), R2E2 (top light colored, Australian variety), and rapoza (left hand side, it’s a local cross mango).  The R2E2 although cultivated in Australia, has its origins from the Kent mango grown in Florida.  The Manzanillo mango is thought to have originated from a Haden mango seedling, although, they look quite different from the Haden.  They were introduced into Hawaii around 1978.  Rapoza’s were cultivated from an Irwin avocado in the mid 70’s at the University of Hawaii.  I have to say they’re all good.  I definitely can tell a bad mango when I taste one, but when it comes to good mangoes, all of the above are great, and I can’t tell the difference in taste between any of the above.  My husband probably could, however.

I see a lot of tangerines and oranges on the tree, although I’d say they’re probably a few months away from harvesting.  It is a hot dry dry summer.  Our lawn is getting brown and crunchy which is something we haven’t seen for many years.  We’re on catchment, which means our water source is from rain.  Our tank is a little below half, so we’re more conscious of our water usage – shorter showers, no washing cars, etc.  Hurricane Fernanda is now a tropical storm and I’m hoping we feel some rain from the remnants of it this weekend, but it looks like it may miss us completely.

Summer is almost here

It feels like it’s already here as it’s been quite hot lately.  Our lignum vitae tree, also called the Tree of Life, is covered in periwinkle flowers and bees.  It’s been awhile since we’ve seen this many bees.  I’m hoping they’ll migrate over to the lilikoi flowers.

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We’ve seen a few different types of bees on the flowers.  I was able to get some nice shots of two different kinds.  The second one is really small compared to the regular honeybee.

It’s nice to see all the bees, the tree is earning its name, the tree of life.

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In other farm happenings, our last set of duck eggs hatched.  Our white call duck was sitting on two eggs.  Every day we’d check to see if they had progressed, and during our last check found one ducking that had hatched and one egg in the water.  The mama was uninterested in her baby.  At this age and size, if the mama doesn’t take care and keep her baby warm and cared for it won’t make it.  The egg in the water wasn’t viable unfortunately.  We took the other baby duck who was now a loner, and put it in our incubator and kept it in the house.  It started to imprint on my husband and just quacked non stop until he would come by.  We ended up putting a small stuffed animal in the incubator with it to keep it company.  We checked the local farm store to see if they had any baby chicks with the intention of getting one to keep it company, but they had none.  We then called our neighbor, and she had a recent hatch of baby chicks, and she graciously gave us two.  At first we weren’t sure if they would like each other, but it didn’t take too long until we could see they would okay together.

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The chicks are just the perfect size, and as you can see they’re buddies.

Our dragon fruits are starting to flower.  We have two different varieties, one that’s white inside and one that’s dark purple/pink inside.  They taste pretty much the same, although I find the white a little sweeter, and my husband finds the purple one a little sweeter.  Right now the purple ones are starting to flower, although we see a few white flowers coming up too.  The flowers are pretty spectacular.

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You can tell the purple dragon fruit because the leaves surrounding the flower have a purple tinge on the ends like most of the buds above.  The flowers at the top have no purple on the edge so the insides will be white and the one in the middle has some purple.  Last season we didn’t have too many fruit although we did have a lot of flowers.  Hopefully most of the flowers will pollinate and we’ll get a nice batch of dragon fruit this time around.  Dragon fruit is one the fruits we sell.

Today we had a chance to get out on the boat for a bit.  The water was so calm it was like a lake.  We didn’t catch anything trolling, but my husband jumped in and speared some kole we’ll fry up for dinner.  We ended the day with a jump in the pool when we got home.  It was a pretty good weekend.