With no frost (sub-tropical, even), and adequate rainfall here, things grow. And grow. And, well you get the point. If I can only harness that…
One of the best methods, once initiated, is to grow trees that produce in some way. In my yard, I currently have several edible options.
- A mango tree, very large, VERY prolific. I typically preserve (via dehydrating, canning and freezing) over 100 pounds every year. Most years I still have stored mangoes long after I’m getting fresh ones. For example, I have about 3 pounds of dried mango still left over (makes fro great mango salsa, see method below), and I’m currently getting green mangoes falling on the ground that are about the size of baseballs. In another month, I’ll be harvesting fruit, and back to preserving again.
- A sad lemon tree, that produces some of the ugliest lemons known to man. Makes decent lemonade though, so the girls put it to use every summer. (Be warned, while they use all of the proper ingredients and nothing more, they have not yet perfected their recipe, you can end up with lemony sugar water, or lemon-flavored battery acid.) I’ve dried a few, but we are more of a lime family, so this is sort of a waste until I can come up with a better use than causing stomach ulcers in randoms strangers sucked in by the nostalgia of cute girls selling “lemonade”.
- I planted a loquat (click for video) tree late last summer, after getting a taste of this delicious, fragile fruit. The fruit doesn’t store well, and is very prone to bruising, so it’s “use it or lose it” when fresh, but makes some marvelous jams, preserves, and chutneys, with a taste that I find is similar to sweetened rhubarb. I have grandiose plans for this tree….mostly resulting in preserved foods that are NOT Paleo-approved, sadly. Jars of loquat preserves should make some excellent barter items though! Loquat grappa interests me also…(watch the video link above)
Unfortunately, other than a podocarpus (it has edible arils, according to Green Deane), that is all I have currently growing that is edible. Just today, I planted 55 moringa seeds, something I’m very excited about. Deane will probably warn against anyone planting 55 trees, but with my track record, I’ll be lucky to get one to grow. And according to Deane, one is PLENTY!
Since I am unhappy with the scarcity of food producing tree in my yard, I”m working on replacing what I have with things that are more appealing (And appetizing) to me. Some of the trees I eventually would like to have include (but not limited to):
- Coconut palm, preferably a dwarf variety, makes it easier to harvest.
- Avocados! We eat them like candy! I read somewhere, and have lost the info, on a gardener that will set you up wit ha grafted tree that provides avocados for ten months of the year! I’ll take two, please!
- Apples. Yes,apples in Florida. There are several low-chill varieties that are well suited to my area. I know this because I read it on the internet. And I spoke with a guy at Weatherbee Nursery that tried to sell me one. And a house three doors down has two trees and I’ve seen the fruit.
- Bananas. OK, maybe they aren’t quite a tree, but they are close enough to make this list. They would (will?) make a good screen plant for my aquaponics system, if I ever get it started.
- Another mango tree. Yes, even with the amount I already produce, I’d love to try one of the coconut cream mangoes.
- Nagami kumquats. These tasty little vitamin C bombs are one of the plants I keep in mind as I’m driving around. I know of several yards with them, and have made friends a couple times, just to taste a few. If I grow my own, I can stop harassing strangers in order to eat the fruit that most of them ignore. That is a sad note, since these are VERY tasty. Just be sure you have the sweet ones,otherwise you’ll get a sampling of the battery acid I mentioned earlier with the girls’ lemonade.
- Carombola, or Starfruit, a very prolific tree that produces more fruit than mostneighborhoods can consume, let alone a single family. Not to worry, the excess can go to help cut my feed costs for the chickens and ducks. The fruit is very mild-flavored, almost watery, but if you dehydrate it, the flavor is intensified. The star-shaped cross section makes for a delightful salad addition.
As I stated earlier, I haven’t included all my wishes, mostly because my wish list changes as my tastes change. This has been a driving force for me for quite a while now. I actually put myself to sleep many nights trying to sort out where to plant each tree. Less of a passion, and more of an obsession, I’m trying to increase my permaculture here, so that I always have something to eat, just in case. Remember, you may not sell a stock or bond every day, or gold or silver, shoot a gun, or any of a thousand other past times we spend money on daily. We WILL eat every day, so why not invest in that, if only a little?
Go plant a tree. And make it an edible one!
As promised, my mango salsa recipe. Here it is, from memory, and all from long-term storage items. I want to be able to eat mango salsa while sipping some home made wine (while alcohol sales are suspended again) and sit in front of the box fan running off of my solar-charged 12v battery, all due to another hurricane (remember, not if, but when, at least where I live). Small creature comforts make bad times far more bearable. Planning now sure makes it easier then.
Mango salsa, Prepper style
1-2 cups of dehydrated mango chips, broken into small pieces
1/2 cup dehydrated sweet peppers, broken into small pieces
1/4 cup dehydrated onion chips
1/4 cup dehydrated jalapenos, diced, or broken into small pieces (use gloves, they WILL still burn you!)
1 tbs dehydrated garlic
1 10 oz can Rotel Cilantro and Lime diced tomatoes
salt, black pepper (or dried papaya seeds!), and lime juice powder to taste
Combine all ingredients, including the juice from the Rotel. Add pineapple, lime, or other fruit juice, if you have some, otherwise add an additional tablespoon of lime juice powder and enough water to barely cover everything. Let it sit (in the refrigerator if possible) for 2-4 hours minimum, though overnight is better. Enjoy with chips (not Paleo!) or over eggs or with guacamole.
Just writing this out makes me want some. Think I’ll make a batch and eat it with eggs this weekend.