Rosey the Riveter

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Neglected Plants


I've been off island for almost 2 months... and we're smack dab in the middle of rainy season.  I had no idea what would happen to my plants in my absence.  I knew the tomatoes had run their course before I left, but I didn't have time to pull them up.  I half expected to find a bunch of dead stems.

We got in late at night, so I was pretty thrilled when I woke up yesterday morning and saw that there was still life on the back deck!  The only plant that didn't make it, as far as I can tell, is the mulberry, which was on its way out when I left.

After I yanked the tomatoes and over-grown New Zealand Spinach, things started to look pretty decent.  See for yourself:

On the left is a Strawberry Guava plant and on the right is a Barbados Cherry (acerola).  At one point, the cherry was so over-taken with blackspot that I had to wash each individual leaf.  It bounced back nicely, and if you look close you might even see some of its pretty pink blossoms.  The Strawberry Guava usually takes 18 months to blossom, so I am hoping to see some anytime now.

The two bottom plants are figs, and the one on top is a Surinam Cherry.  I was happy to see that all 3 of my figs were still alive.  The Surinam is looking good, but they are slow to fruit.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will get some before we move in 2 years!

The plant on the left is actually a sweet potato!  The leaves are great to add to smoothies and it's a really easy plant to propagate.  They are slow to grow actual sweet potatoes, though, so I'm really only growing it for the leaves.  On the right is a Thai Basil that is doing splendidly.

The Sweet Basil reseeded itself everywhere!  I had some growing with each tomato plant, but they'd pretty much all bolted when I left.  I didn't expect to see any alive when I returned.  But, like I said, I had them in MANY pots!  I transplanted the babies into their own containers and will probably use them for hostess gifts and such.  The plant in the aqua container is a pineapple, which  I had bought right before I left island.  It's as easy as cutting the top off a pineapple and sticking it in/on soil.

This weird looking plant is what remains of a Malabar Spinach plant.  As you can see, the original lost all of its leaves and is nothing but berries (the black things) which I will harvest for the seed inside.  But look at all the baby Malabars that popped up!  Eventually, I will repot them and share with fellow gardeners.  I also plan to grow them in a more shaded area this time, as that will encourage leafing.

Out in the yard, I was very surprised by my monstrous lemon grass.  Going to have to harvest that and dry it for teas and soaps.

Another surprise was the mango plants that popped up.  I'd harvested a bunch of them and composted the peels and seeds before I left.  It's too bad they grow so big and take so long to fruit... I'm going to have to pull them up.

Having been through a full calendar year in Guam, I have definitely learned some good lessons about growing in the tropics.  I'll be doing a lot differently this time around!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Growing on Guam

It's been way too long since I've posted.  In fairness, I will say that it took me awhile to get into a gardening groove here.  Topsoil is almost non-existent, so any gardening that I do is limited to containers (there was once a 4x4 bed out in the yard, so I'm working on building that soil to make it fertile).  I brought lots of containers with me, but soil availability is sketchy.  Home Depot usually has it at a price I refuse to pay, so I have to wait until the NEX Homestore has it in stock.  Which they usually don't.  Once the stars aligned, however, I bought a ton of it, along with several bags of steer manure/compost, and I was able to get started.  It was probably January once I'd gotten everything together and started seeds... a little later than I'd like but next year I'll learn my lesson.  Gardening during the rainy season (June - Dec) is not easy, especially in pots, so I wanted to take advantage of as much of the less-rainy season as I could.  Turns out, it's actually pretty dry here and I have to water all the time (being so close to the equator, the sun is HOT).

I'm happy to say that the cherry tomatoes are doing well.  I have a couple of plants... one has small fruits perfect for my youngest to pop in her mouth.  I got it at Home Depot only because I think it was mismarked, and really cheap for its size!  The other cherry tomato I grew from seed that I'd saved from a plant that volunteered in my VA compost pile.  It was the only tomato that grew for me that summer, so I was determined to save the seeds.  I was happy to see they were still viable and have produced a great plant loaded with fruits and blossoms, so I can continue to save seeds for next season.

Large tomatoes don't tend to grow well here (it's too hot/wet), but I did plant some Juliet seeds that have done really well.  I know I won't get enough of them for saucing, but I do hope to make some salsa.  Notice the spider.  They are everywhere here!

One of my surprises has been the Alma Paprika that I planted... I've had the seeds for awhile, as I tried to grow them in VA but didn't have any luck.  The compact plants are loaded with blossoms, so I am excited to harvest them and make my own paprika (and, of course, save some fresh seeds!).

I acquired several fig trees and one of them is growing like gangbusters.  Just the other day I looked out and realized that it was growing baby figs.  This makes my very happy!  I am keeping my fingers crossed that nothing happens and I can harvest them!

My friend Joan in VA had given me a "Korean Mint" plant, and before we sold the house I made sure to collect seeds.  Also called "Korean Hyssop", it's a lot like Anise Hyssop but taller.  So far, it is doing well, and I love to rub the leaves for their black licorice smell.

After several attempts, it looks like I've finally gotten the hang of Malabar Spinach.  When it gets a little bigger, I'll start harvesting the leaves for our smoothies.

Also for smoothies is Dwarf Moringa.  This is a tropical plant I learned about on island and it's loaded with protein and vitamins.  I have several growing and am interested to see how large they will get in pots.  Even though they are dwarves, they would still grow to 30' if I put them in the ground!

This Jurassic-looking plant is a "Naranjilla".  When I ordered the seeds from Baker's Creek, I didn't know that they had such monstrous THORNS!  Supposedly, they will produce small fruits that look like oranges and I will make some jelly with them.

This 'little' guy was waiting out there for me this afternoon and I was stumped!

The ONLY way for him to get up on the deck was to climb all of these stairs!  How did he do it?

I am trying not to get too excited, but in the next couple of weeks it looks like there could be bees on the homestead.  You all know how happy that would make me, so keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Fonte Dam

 This morning we embarked on the first of many Boonie Stomps here on Guam.  We chose to start with the short hike to Fonte Dam, because it's really near our house and it was rated as a pretty easy hike.  We had a great view of the water tumbling over the dam because we're in the middle of raining season.  However, that also meant that there was a lot of slippery mud.  I was grateful Stephen remembered the hiking stick, which I quickly claimed as my own.

The dam was made in 1910, a project of the Navy under the Taft Administration to provide the capital city with water.

 "Look, Mom!  The toads are hugging!"
We decided to kill two birds with one stone and continue hiking on to the Libugon Radio Station that was destroyed by the Japanese in the early 1940s.  It was a hard trail to follow, but we finally found the ruins.
 Pretty sure when Dad made that walking stick he never envisioned it being used on Guam!
By the end of the hike, the girls were DONE!  Click on this picture and get a good laugh at Jojo's face!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Medicinal Herb Farm

I promised a post about the Medicinal Herb Farm, and here it is.  You just have to click on over to Mother Earth News to read it!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Walk Around the Homefront AUG 2015

We've been on Guam for about 3 weeks, and in that time we've explored the island, been to the beach, taken delivery of our household goods, toured a local Medicinal Plant Farm (more on that in another post), and lost my beloved Aunt Audrey.  I knew the best thing for my hurting heart would be to play in the dirt, so Sunday afternoon I repotted all of the plants I'd accumulated in that short time. 

This morning, I realized it had been awhile since I'd taken a walk around the homefront, so today I took my camera with me so I could show you what we've got so far.  It was Aunt Audrey who took me on my first 'walk around the homefront', on her property back home in MA.  She would point out wildflowers ("Look at the Indian Paintbrushes!  Time to go back to school!" she'd say) and we'd check out the fruit trees and admire Uncle Leroy's garden and pick ripe blueberries.  It's no wonder, then, that I would take comfort from a walk around our new property to check things out.

In the built-in planter out back, we have this beautiful ornamental red ginger.  I was hoping it would be edible, but no such luck.

Out front, we also have this Bird of Paradise which is beautiful.  But again, I wish it was more than just ornamental.

Cathy, my friend and neighbor from Virginia, gave me this flag and as soon as I unpacked it, I had to go put it up.
 There are several coconut trees lining the "Alley" we live on.  Stephen has gotten good at cracking into them and toasting the meat to have with his morning oatmeal.  Yum!

This is a Strawberry Mango tree that I bought from Ralph, a retired military dude who sells his extras once a month at the flea market up on the Air Force Base.  Hopefully, it will start to fruit sooner rather than later, but it's still little.

I spotted this poor basil plant at the BX at the Air Force Base, so I had to bring it home.  I need to prune it so it bushes more.

We also have some papaya trees.  We aren't sure if they are ours or if they belong to our neighbors, but they don't seem to want them, so we are not above foraging!

Just a few days ago, I was looking out our bedroom window and noticed that there was something hanging off of this shrub.  Further examination revealed Guavas, and lots of them!

This is a Surinam Cherry that I also bought from Ralph.  We think it should start to bloom in about six months. 

And this one is called "Orange Berry" because... you guessed it... it produced orange berries.   It also came from Ralph.

These two plants came from Amot TaoTao Farm, which is a local medicinal herb grower.  On the left is Sambong (Blumea balsamifera) which will eventually grow into a larger shrub.  On the right is Miracle Plant (Bryophyllum pinnatum) which is VERY easy to propagate (just stick a leaf on the soil and it'll sprout a new plant!).

This Barbados Cherry was the first plant I bought, at the Navy Exchange Home Center.  In just 3 short weeks, it has blossomed and is now growing fruit!

This beauty right here is a Vietnam Gardenia which Abby brought home from the same place.  It's supposed to blossom year round, so we'll see.  It, too, has a blossom coming.

This pathetic little specimen is Lemon Grass, but for $2, I couldn't resist bringing it home.  It makes a great iced tea!

 Max loves this look-out point.  The big window in the kitchen is great for plants and starting seeds.  There's some cilantro, a vinca, and a pineapple top which I am attempting to re-grow.


This was my surprise of the day... bananas!  Again, not sure if this tree is ours or the neighbors, but I'm certainly going to keep my eye on them!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

First Market in Guam

It has rained every day since we arrived on the island.  Not constantly, but it's been cloudy every day which has been a nice break from the sun.  Thankfully, the weather held and we were able to enjoy the night market in Mangilao.

I was all about getting my hands on local produce.  The husband and kids were all about eating meat on a stick.  In the end, we all were happy.

The first new-to-us fruit we tried was Santol.  It's the yellow ones on the left in the photo above.  It has a mild citrus-y taste (almost like a grapefruit?).  Apparently, you can make santol marmalade but I only bought a few so we'll be eating them raw.

We didn't buy any juice, but I had to take this picture because I was proud of myself for knowing what the purple Ube is.  (It's a purple yam/sweet potato very popular in the Philippines.  I know this thanks to my VA neighbor, Cathy, who once made us Ube ice cream!)  We also passed on the fish balls.

There were several vendors selling grilled chicken on a stick, and we tried one from everybody.  The unanimous winner was Dada's BBQ.  Yum-o.

For dessert, Joanna decided she wanted Tapioca pudding.  This was not at all like the chilled, thick goodness we know and love.  It was warm and soupy, and absolutely out of this world.  Even Abby ate it, and she doesn't like tapioca!

"Farm to Table Guam" was there with some beautiful produce, and I got to introduce myself to Rita, their PR person.  Hoping to get some canning/dehydrating classes on the island!

Not a bad haul for my first market.  Clockwise from top left: some little bananas, long string beans, santol, guava, star fruit, avocados, dragon fruit, and soursop.  I feel a tropical fruit salad coming on!