Category: Around the Property

New beginnings!

The Strawberry and Mulberry trees are producing a lot of fruit.

Several passion fruits are almost ready,

the avocados are starting,

and the papayas.

We’ve picked buckets of gandules. Some we eat, some we sell and the rest get tossed around the yard.

Here’s our harvest this week! The sweet and gold potatoes are from here. The rest was grown by TT at her place.

As goes our Easter tradition, we bought 12 more chicks. They should be laying eggs in a couple months. 

This makes 25 chickens. There has been something trying to get in our coop at night and our next door neighbor caught these pics on their game cam, so far, so good. Nothing since the fox attack last summer.

And finally, the 50+ gallon fish and turtle tank is up and running. A new aquaponics setup is in the planning stages…and Brad’s in on it, so it’s going to be amazing.

 

Thanks for reading and for all your support.

Chicken Little Cocoa

 

 

 

Life (and death) on the Patio

I was really bummed to see this…

While I was wondering what we did wrong, Colt noticed he was still in the tank.  He just molted and was bigger and bluer than before!

During a bug hunt, we found a bunch of passion vine caterpillars


and ladybug larvae.

Before we could get them back to the bug aquarium, the ladybug larvae was eating one of the baby caterpillars. Oops. 

The bigger caterpillars have started turning into chrysalis. Once they become butterflies we will let them go. This way, we still have butterflies but the plants don’t get eaten.

As if we don’t have enough bugs, we bought some praying mantis eggs. They caught us off guard and hatched the next day. Some are in the bug aquarium, some on the aquaponics plants and the rest are in the yard. This picture is only half of them…

Colt saw a wall covered in land snails, ladybug larvae and ladybugs. We couldn’t resist, and took a few home to the bug aquarium. Ladybugs don’t do well in captivity, so we release them too.

We finally learned the name of this fish by posting a video of him on a fish site. A darter fish. It darts around rather than swims and is super aggressive towards the other fish. He is one of my favorites and we have about 5 of them. Click here to see what else we have in our aquaponics tank.

Our new business cards arrived just in time for the plant sale! Thanks to Vanessa at VGSDesigns.com for knocking them out so quickly and doing an awesome job!

The plant sale was a success!! Colt rocked it again. It makes me so proud to watch him in action. Thanks for the support and stay tuned for the next one! We have so many cool things in the works.

Denise and Colt

Pre Spring Planning

We’ve been prepping for spring.

The beds are mulched with leaves and wood chips.

We like weeds around here. They are great greens for the chickens.

Seeds and cuttings are spread around the yard.

The chickens free range around the pond and have eaten anything green. We sowed several types of seeds there and now havesprouts everywhere. Tomatoes, black eyed peas, mung beans, green beans, cucumbers, squash, peppers, gandules, false roselle, goji berries, pumpkins, lettuce, kale, herbs, sunflowers…to name a few.

The chickens are confined to their pen so everything can grow. Then we will let them back out occasionally to eat and fertilize.

I lay bags of topsoil in a low lying spot by the shop and they become full of earthworms. Easiest way to raise earthworms.

Our aquaponics setup is still in action. To the right is a seed starting area where we just started 3 different varieties of tomatoes.

We have fun harvesting seeds. It’s a cool way to multiply our supply of plants, and we sell the excess seeds.

I have started working on the PLANTS page to provide info about our plants.

Here are Okinawa Spinach seedlings we started from seed’s we harvested.

We are excited about Uncle Bill the Crayfish.

We had our first plant sale last week! I am proud of Colt. This was a great kick start for Chicken Little Cocoa!

We have already started working hard to get ready for our next one! April 8th! In the meantime, if you come across any pots you do not need, we will take them!!

Stay tuned.

Gandules

AKA Pigeon Pea Beans, Cajanus Indicus, Congo Pea, Toor Dal, Caja Pea, Goongoo pea, Gungo peas, Jamaican Gungo, Puerto Rican Bean

To Start From Seed: Gandules are so easy to grow that it is best to start seeds in the ground. They also grow a very long taproot that will quickly become root bound in a pot.

Gandules are drought tolerant, so pick a fairly dry spot and poke a 1″ deep hole with a pencil and drop in your seed. I like to plant 3 seeds in a triangle shape, about 2″ apart. The multiple trees make a fuller looking tree.

Water every few days. They will sprout within a week.

Year one: Your tree will slowly grow to be about 1-2 feet tall.  You may get some flowers and pods.

Year two: Your tree will grow very quickly to 3-5 feet tall, have a woody trunk and produce a mass amount of flowers and pods.

Year three and on: Your tree will be over 6 feet tall.


Gandules


These beneficial trees have earned the number one spot on our Top Ten Permaculture Plants list for being such an easy to grow tree with an abundance of nutrient dense beans, soil building biomass and nitrogen fixing abilities.

Gandules trees are a short lived perennial and become less productive as they age, so be sure to let some seeds dry on the tree and replant them. We plant seeds every season and now have over 50 gandules trees on the property.

The beans can be a variety of colors including white, beige, light or dark brown, speckled and black.

We let our seeds dry on the tree, then harvest them to cook or replant. You can also eat the green, either raw or cooked.

Cool Fact: Gandules are an important, high protein food crop in poor and malnourished parts of the world.

Gandules Pods

Gandules are drought tolerant and thrive in poor soil due to their long, fast growing taproot, which reaches deep down in the soil in search of nutrients and water. This taproot breaks up the soil and brings deep nutrients up to the surface.

Gandules FlowerHere in zone 9b, they bloom between January and May with bright yellow and orange flowers. The self-pollinating flowers develop a long pod containing 1 to 7 seeds.

Once the pods are harvested, I cut the trees back.

Here is a video of our one year old gandules tree in full bloom in February.  We have harvested over 200 pods from this tree and it is still blooming in April.

Strawberry Tree

AKA Jamaican Cherry, Muntingia calabura, Panama Berry, Singapore Cherry, Aratiles, Bajelly tree,  Mansanitas, Cotton Candy Fruit

*Not to be confused with the unrelated Arbutus Unedo which is also referred to as a Strawberry Tree.


Plant Details


The Strawberry Tree is a productive, fast growing tree that bears a lot of edible berry shaped fruits at many times throughout the year.

Strawberry Tree


Care


In the right climate, the Strawberry Tree can get very large. This tree thrives in poor soil and is drought tolerant. It may die in a frost.


Blooms


It’s nicknamed the Strawberry Tree because the white blooms resemble the flowers from a strawberry plant.