Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday blues

petrea volubilis next to the gazebo was ablaze with blooms last week

thunbergia erecta
after a heavy downpour

I came across this field of ruellias or mexican petunias,  when I was out searching for Monarch caterpillars.

Hello folks, I have been busy,  doing very little around the garden  because it has been too wet. I am not complaining, just a bit perturbed and  alarmed at  the rate the weeds and grass is growing. I did manage to cut some of the grass on Friday just before a heavy downpour.  I still have lots more to do hoping that there will be a dry day or two. Today, I had my garden helper open some dry coconuts (24 of them) for me. I am in the process of making some coconut oil.  I will keep you updated on the results. I had seen the instructions on the island farm blog, so I decided to give it a try. I have been meaning to try this for about 10 years or so. As they say, better late than never!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

dinner time

 For a quick dinner  tonight I made a pasta primavera with shrimp.  I used the following, please remember these are approximate quantities
2 cups of sliced broccoli 
2 cups of sliced carrots
3 cups  of cooked pasta (rotini or penne cooked al dente)
1 medium onion sliced and chopped
3-4 cloves of finely chopped  garlic
1 red sweet pepper sliced
3-4 stalks of chopped chives
4 sprigs of thyme
1/2 stalk of chopped celery
2 cups of peeled medium shrimps or substitute diced chicken
 1 can of cream of celery soup
1 soup can of water
pinch of salt and black pepper
3/4 cup of aged grated Parmesan cheese

Sprinkle shrimp with freshly ground black pepper and salt and let sit in the refrigerator in a covered container.  In a large open pan (I used a paella pan), over a medium high setting,  heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil, add onions, celery, garlic, chives and thyme. Stir fry until onions are cooked(translucent) then  add broccoli, carrots and sweet pepper.  Continue stir frying until veggies are partially cooked (about 8-10 minutes ).

 Remove shrimp from refrigerator  and add to the vegetables. Stir fry until shrimps turn pink, reduce heat, then add can of celery soup and a can of water using the soup can. 

Stir until vegetables and shrimp are coated then add cooked  pasta, toss pasta until fully coated, if mixture seems dry add more water, about 1/2 cup.  Finally sprinkle  3/4 cup of  aged grated Parmesan cheese  and mix thoroughly. Serve immediately !
Bon apetit!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Monarch SOS

Recently, I have noticed a decline of monarch butterflies in our garden. The milkweed plants grew and flowered, yet there was no activity on the plants. In prior years, there were always a flutter of monarchs (danaus plexipus) in our garden; then suddenly one day they were all gone! For two years, we waited, and waited, then today I spied a familiar face, gliding and floating lazily from flower to flower. Aha! They were back, at least one was. I screeched (bawled out) with excitement (more like a Chhaaaakk) and I quickly ran to the house to give Chuck the good news.

We later decided to go to a nearby field where we had previously seen many monarchs, to collect a few caterpillars to get the colony going. I was really disappointed with the scarcity of monarch larvae. The field had many of their larval food plants present, yet I spotted one lone monarch. What had happened? Could it be that the heavy and indiscriminate use of pesticides, had finally taken its toll on the population? Or, could it be due to some type of virus? Or had some predator developed an appetite for these bad tasting creatures? After carefully searching under the leaves of their larval host plant, (the giant milkweed) we found about six caterpillars varying in sizes, the largest measuring around 4cms.

We brought them home and they are now happily chomping away on the milkweeds in our garden.

The absence of these creatures is a strong indicator that all is not well in our environment. Without these delightful insects, our food supply will be affected as well as the survival of other important insects in the food chain. These insects are some of the pollinators necessary for food crop and fruit production. I feel a sense of urgency, that unless we do something immediately, we will be in very serious trouble. We have to act now to:

  • drastically reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides
  • preserve native species of plants that are used for nectar and larval food
  • to encourage and educate homeowners on how to start butterfly gardens
  • introduce butterfly gardens into schools where good habits for a healthy environment can be cultivated at an early age
I am presently in the process of planning butterfly gardening workshops here for children and adults.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kitchen finale

The pantry cupboard panels are made from galvanized steel panels I salvaged from a dumpster. I punched the pattern with a nail and hammer, then gave it an acid wash to strip the finish and sprayed it a copper like colour.

Okay folks, I have finally posted the kitchen photos. Some things have to be tweaked, some to be redone, like the tiles on the back splash. The tiler did such an awful job that I can't live with it. I know that he won't be getting any more work from me nor any recommendations. Apart from that, I am quite pleased with the overall look.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

the tea party

from left, Ann, Virginia and Dawn, some of my gardening buddies, taking time out to stroll the garden. These photos were taken by Juliette to whom I am very thankful.

my surprise guest was Nicole from a Caribbean Garden and her brother Rishi who were in town

The tea party was on Saturday. It was good to see old friends and meet new ones. Garden blogger Nicole from a Caribbean Garden, was in town on business and was able to be here. It was really nice to meet up with her again.
We also had in spirit, garden bloggers Andrea, Autumn Belle, Kanak, JC, Lotusleaf, Shailaja, Stephanie and Bangchik.

Special thanks
to Valerie (the fourth photo down searching her purse) who assisted me in the kitchen, slicing cake, frying the accras, (cod fish cakes) and flying fish fingers. Special thanks to my sister Sandra who helped preparing the fish and with the washing up. There was enough food to feed an army and everyone had some to take home. I am still enjoying the remaining iced tea this morning with the chicken salad on toast.

Friday, July 9, 2010

tropical fruity friday

delicious Erwin mango

Welcome to a tropical fruity Friday in Barbados. My mangoes are almost finished and my star fruit is coming in to season.

Tomorrow, I will be having some friends over to tea, to celebrate my birthday which happens to be today. If you recall, I had sent out invitations to many of you to attend this important event. Many of you have accepted, and I, will be placing your name cards with your blog addresses on my table. Many of my friends will get to meet you and I will have a surprise guest attending.

Tomorrow will also be the official opening of my new kitchen, so stay tuned.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Rambling update

queen of flowers, queen's crape myrtle or pride of India (lagerstromeia speciosa)

I have been watching this tree for several years, every year for flower buds.

Then suddenly one morning I spotted these buds. I was elated!

I have been reading about this tree on some of my gardening friends' blogs in India and Florida. I thought that might be the tree I bought many years ago (about 3 years). I waited impatiently every year to see buds. Hola! This year I am rewarded with some buds and blooms. Not many, just on what seems to be the older branches of the tree. The tree is still quite young and still has many years to grow into the magnificent specimen that it is meant to be . I have seen a few of these trees on the island, one is located in the car park of the Foundation school in Christ Church, and another from Caribbean Plants in Gibbes where this one was purchased.

My garden ramble, which was held over the weekend did not come off as I would have wanted it to. On Saturday, I was competing with the World cup and Wimbledon, and on Sunday it rained buckets. Some people came and bought some plants after the events . Next time, I will do a thorough check before confirming a date.
I however, cannot control the weather.