Our Trees Six Months After Hurricane Irma

It’s a little bit hard to believe that Hurricane Irma occurred six months ago. Many trees in southern Florida, including some in the ground at Richard Lyons’ Nursery, took a walloping thanks to a number of factors previously addressed in this space (see “Lessons Learned from Irma,” September 30, 2017). Now, half a year later, the bad news is that if you have not staked up a downed tree, it is too late. But there’s also good news: You still may be able to salvage the tree.

Provided that your toppled tree remains partially rooted, the first step in attempting to save it is to cover any exposed roots with soil. Then prune the tree back to a much shorter height. Even without a full root system, the tree may leaf out and, over time, develop new stems. Since sprouting may take until May or June to begin, do not be in a hurry to dig up a tree that appears dead.

While waiting for the tree to begin showing signs of recovery, make sure to provide regular watering. After some time has elapsed, you can select the most vigorous and upright of the stems to become the new trunk of the tree. However, you may still want to leave some of the formerly upright, but now supine, branches in place to contribute to the new, unusual – and perhaps even artistic – shape of the tree.

As we head into warmer weather, it would be helpful to fertilize your storm-damaged trees lightly to promote more vigorous growth. As is always true when applying fertilizer, water it in well. A palm special fertilizer is recommended, because the better formulations contain a number of elements in trace quantities that benefit trees and other plants growing in our nutrient-poor soils.

Tropical Fruit Recipe Suggestions – Sapodilla

This installment of tropical fruit recipes concentrates on sapodilla, which is not only a fine fruit, but the product of a beautiful ornamental tree, Manilkara zapota. Richard Lyons’ Nursery sells the fresh fruit of sapodilla for several months starting roughly at the beginning of March. It’s not hard to see from the recipes below that sapodilla is a terrific dessert fruit.

Sapodilla Shake #1
1 ripe sapodilla fruit (cut in half and de-seeded)
1 cup ice cubes
1 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk
6 whole strawberries (frozen)
¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Source: http://fitlife.tv/7-stupendous-reasons-to-eat-more-sapodillas_original/

Sapodilla Shake #2
2 cups milk (chilled)
4 chikoo (sapodilla)
1 tablespoon sugar (or as required)

Source: http://www.omblabla.com/recipe/chikoo-sapodilla-shake-recipe/

Sapodilla Spirulina Chia Pudding
1 tablespoon Chia Seeds
¾ cup Water
¾ cup Chopped Sapodilla
½ teaspoon Spirulina Powder
2 teaspoons Liquid Sweetener of Choice
1 teaspoon Coconut Oil
½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 pinches Salt

Source: https://rawfoodbali.com/sapodilla-spirulina-chia-pudding/

Chikoo(Sapodilla) Ice cream
1 cup whipping heavy cream
4 big Ripe Chikoo
2 tablespoons more condensed milk (or)
2 tablespoons dry roasted almonds (sliced)

Source: https://cookpad.com/us/recipes/2514337-chikoosapodilla-icecream

Sapodilla Crumble

2 ½ cups seeded sapodilla (peeled and)
¾ cup flour
½ cup oats
½ cup raw cashew pieces (lightly toasted)
? cup melted butter
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Source: https://www.suwanneerose.com/2014/08/sapodilla-crumble/

Sapodilla Collada

2 ripe sapodilla (skin and seeds removed)
½ banana
¼ cup orange juice (fresh squeezed)
¼ teaspoon orange zest
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup almond milk
3 ounces coconut rum (2 jiggers)
½ cup ice
add coconut flakes (for garnish)

Source: http://theurbanfarmerflorida.com/sapodilla-collada/

Tropical Fruit Recipe Suggestions

For the past two weeks, Richard Lyons’ Nursery has been describing several of the most interesting tropical fruits being grown around southern Florida. Now it’s time to take a look at tasty recipes – gleaned from the Internet – using some of those fruits. You can find out the details of preparation by clicking on the link for each recipe’s source.

JACKFRUIT

Classic Barbecue Jackfruit Sandwiches
3 20-ounces cans jackfruit (in water)
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup onion (diced)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika and chili powder (each)
½ teaspoon cumin (black pepper, oregano, and thyme, each)
1 ½ cups low sodium vegetable broth
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 cup prepared barbecue sauce (divided, plus extra for serving)
8 whole wheat sandwich buns

Source: http://www.alisonsallspice.com/classic-barbecue-jackfruit-sandwiches/

Vegan Jackfruit Tacos
1 cup dairy-free pepperjack cheese (preferably daiya pepperjack shreds)
2 20-ounces cans green jackfruit (in brine)
1 onion (chopped)
½ cup lettuce
2 chipotle peppers (in adobo sauce)
2 tablespoons adobo sauce
10 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 ¼ cups water
to taste salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon oregano
8 soft corn tortillas
Source: https://www.thedailymeal.com/recipes/vegan-jackfruit-tacos-recipe

Jackfruit/kathal Biryani
2 cups basmati rice (biryani/soaked for 30 minutes)
1 tablespoon oil (cooking)
4 green cardamoms (elaichi)
2 black cardamoms (badi elaichi)
5 cloves (laung)
1 stick cinnamon (dalchini)
2 bay leaves (tej patta)
2 mace (javitri)
500 grams triangles (or jackfruit– peeled and cut into cubes)
2 cups yogurt
2 cups yogurt
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
1 tablespoon green chili paste
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon ghee
2 teaspoons biryani masala (garam masala)
1 ½ teaspoons cardamom powder (elaichi)
1 teaspoon black cumin seeds (shahi jeera)
2 cups crisp fried onions

Source: http://www.betterbutter.in/recipe/11339/jackfruit-kathal-biryani

Lemon Pepper Jackfruit
1 20-ounce can young green jackfruit (in brine or water)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
½ tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
¼ teaspoon basil
1 ¼ teaspoons Italian seasoning (or 1/4 tsp each: basil, marjoram, oregano,
rosemary, thyme)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup vegetable broth

Source: http://www.theweeklymealplan.com/lemon-pepper-jackfruit-recipe/

Jackfruit Muffins
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup jackfruit pulp
1 large egg
½ cup oil
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
¼ cup cocoa powder

Source: http://www.jinooskitchen.com/jackfruit-muffins/

STAR FRUIT

Star Fruit Cocktail
9 star fruit
125 milliliters vodka
2 tablespoons cointreau
2 limes (juiced)
750 milliliters sparkling wine (chilled)
add handful fresh mint leaves

Source: http://recipes-plus.co.uk/recipe/star-fruit-cocktail-24958

Star Fruit & Mango Smoothie
4 ounces vanilla yogurt (or plain, I prefer vanilla)
½ cup orange juice
2 star fruit
1 mangoes

Source: https://www.smoothieweb.com/star-fruit-mango-smoothie-recipe/#!/exjun_

Gingered Grouper with Star Fruit
2 ripe star fruit
½ cup mango (diced)
¼ cup green onion (sliced)
¼ cup red bell pepper (diced)
1 jalapeno pepper (seeded and diced)
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup pecans (finely chopped)
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
¼ teaspoon lemon pepper
¼ cup milk
4 (6 oz.) skinless grouper fillets

Source: http://www.grouprecipes.com/72570/gingered-grouper-with-star-fruit.html

Cheesecake Tart with Star Fruit
100 grams butter (cut into pieces)
200 grams flour
50 grams icing sugar
25 grams cocoa powder
4 medium eggs
400 grams full fat cream cheese
200 grams soured cream
1 tablespoon custard powder
100 grams caster sugar
2 star fruit (cut into slices and cored)
3 tablespoons apricot jam

Source: http://recipes-plus.co.uk/recipe/cheesecake-tart-star-fruit-10427

Star Fruit Chutney
2 cups star fruit (diced)
¼ cup sugar
½ cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon ginger (minced)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Source: https://www.justapinch.com/recipes/sauce-spread/sauce-spread-fruit-sauce/star-fruit-chutney.html

Star Fruit Upside-Down Cake
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus more for greasing the pan)
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
½ lemon (juice of)
4 small starfruit (cut into 1/4-inch-thick stars and seeds removed)
½ cup pecans
1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2/3 cup light brown sugar (packed)
2 large eggs
½ cup low-fat yogurt

Source: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/star-fruit-upside-down-cake-3363912#!

You may have noticed that several of the jackfruit recipes call for canned fruit. That’s where we in southern Florida have a decided advantage over the rest of the country. Since jackfruit is grown here, we can obtain fresh fruit locally to prepare these recipes and improve over what comes out of a can. In fact, Richard Lyons’ Nursery sells fresh jackfruit and star fruit seasonally. Right now green jackfruit is ready to be picked for use in preparing Vegan Jackfruit Tacos and Lemon Pepper Jackfruit. Ripe jackfruit may be available at the farm as early as May, and the season will continue into the September/October range.

Star fruit in our region can bloom any time of the year, but typically has two major flowering periods:  April-May and September-October.  Ripe fruit can be harvested from June through February, with dual peaks in August-September and December-February.

Recommendations for a Favorite Pastime: Eating!, Part II

This week we continue with our look at some of the edible plant species available at Richard Lyons’ Nursery. Part II concentrates on shrub and tree species.

Jujube (Zizyphus jujuba): The Jujube tree is a fruit tree in the Rhamnaceae, or Buckthorn, Family, that grows very well in southern Florida. Its origin is southern Asia, and for 4,000 years it has been cultivated in China, where there are 400 known varieties. It can attain a height of 20 ft. and a width of 12 ft., and it features shiny green foliage. It bears small oval fruits from late November through January The fruit, eaten fresh while still smooth and green, has the consistency and taste of an apple. It later matures to a purplish-black coloration. It is at this stage that the fruits are dried and become chewy, with a date-like consistency, giving them the common name Red Dates. This species is extremely cold-tolerant, surviving temperatures downs to about 5° F.

In China, its products include jujube tea, as well as juice and a vinegar used to make pickles. A wine is also made from the fruit. Chinese medicine uses the fruit to kill internal parasites, promote liver function, and improve the pulmonary system. In Iranian cuisine, the dried fruits are eaten as a snack.

Jujubes were first introduced into the United States in the late 1800s, but quickly fell out of favor due to the fact that the variety introduced was best suited for drying and not eating fresh. It wasn’t until the 1990s that growers introduced a variety cultivated for eating fresh off the tree. Most recently, in 2007, two more varieties were introduced for fresh fruit. It is unclear which cultivars are being sold in the nursery trade today; however, it is known that the following named cultivars are the best for consuming fresh: ‘Sugar Cane’, ‘Li’, ‘Sherwood’, ‘Chico’, and ‘Honey Jar’ Of those, ‘Honey Jar’ is the smallest and juiciest. ‘Lang’ and ‘Shanxi Li’ are best for drying and eating like dates. One thing is clear, though: Each tiny fruit has 20 times more vitamin C than does citrus.

Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus): We’ve all heard about 1,600-lb. pumpkins and 270-lb. watermelons. Those are impressive weights, and fortunately the fruits had the ground to support them as they increased in size. But do you know the largest fruit that grows on a tree? It’s the jackfruit (or jakfruit), and not only is it big, but it’s also very tasty – and versatile. Let’s take a brief look at what makes this odd-looking food so popular around the tropics.

The jackfruit tree is native to India, but is now cultivated in other parts of the world. In its homeland, a mature specimen may reach 80 ft. in height, but in southern Florida, 40 ft. is more the norm, and, through selective pruning, a homeowner can maintain the tree at 10-12 ft. without seriously disturbing fruiting. This species’ large fruit is supported by the biological mechanism known as cauliflory, meaning that the fruit develops on the trunk and major branches, which are capable of bearing great weight. The fruits are known as syncarps; like pineapples, raspberries and mulberries, they consist of multiple individual flowers and their resulting fruitlets fused into a compound fruit.

In subtropical southern Florida, jackfruit has proven to be quite dependable, usually flowering on an annual basis, generally from May to October. The best way to tell if an individual fruit is ready to eat is to pick it up as soon as it drops from the tree. Of course, that practice has its risks if you happen to be standing in the wrong place when it falls. The second-best way to detect a ripe jackfruit is the sniff test to see if you can discern a sweet aroma featuring notes of bananas and pineapples. But it’s not just ripe jackfruits that attract fans; many Southeast Asian recipes use green fruit. As further testimony to the jackfruit’s versatility, it can be eaten fresh, cooked, frozen or dehydrated.

Star Fruit (Averrhoa carambola): Here is yet another plant whose longtime popularity around the tropics has obscured its original range, considered to be somewhere in Asia. Introduced into Florida more than a century ago, it is now grown commercially in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Lee counties. Mature trees in our region reach 22-33 ft. in height, and may be single- or multi-trunked. Carambola produces beautiful lavender to pink flowers, although they are small.

Not only is the waxy-skinned, fiberless fruit visually interesting – usually a five-pointed star in cross-section – but it’s also tasty. Although the earliest introductions were quite tart, hybridization has led to cultivars that possess a subacid to sweet flavor. Optimal flavor is achieved when the fruit is allowed to ripen on the tree. Mature Star Fruit is a pale yellow, sometimes with green highlights. The fruit is not only popular eaten out of hand, but is also used in cooking.  Star Fruit is nutritionally very desirable: It is low in sugar and sodium and high in Vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants.

Carambola performs best in full sun, but can also produce fruit when lightly shaded. For optimum performance, it should not be planted in windy locations. It is a water-loving species and can even stand occasional flooding, but should nevertheless be planted on a site that drains well. It prefers soils with neutral to acidic pH, but does well in the alkaline soils of southern Florida if grown under a conscientious nutrition program. Good palm special fertilizers are helpful in this regard, because their formulations will contain desirable micronutrients.

Star Apple (Chrysophyllum cainito): Inroduced to Florida around 1887, this beautiful tree, native to the West Indies and Greater Antilles, produces smooth-skinned fruits 2-3 in. in diameter that have achieved popularity as far away as Southeast Asia and throughout tropical lands in between. The sweet fruit is usually eaten fresh and is favored as a chilled dessert.

Fruit ripeness is indicated by a bit of softening and the dulling of skin color. Mature fruit must be cut from the tree; it does not drop on its own. The rind and skin of Star Apple fruit are not edible due to their latex content. When cutting the fruit open, care should be taken to keep the latex from dripping onto the flesh.

Where Cainito is native, it can become quite tall, but in southern Florida it is most often seen maturing to 25-35 ft. It features a broad, dense crown. Even if it were not a fruit tree, it would be a very desirable ornamental plant because of its foliage. Leaves are dark, glossy green on the upper surface and fuzzy golden-brown on the lower surface.

Star Apple thrives when grown in full sun. The planting site should have excellent drainage, but the tree is not otherwise particular about soil type.

Sugar Apple (Annona squamosa): This species is the most widely cultivated of the Annonaceae, due mostly to its ease of growth in coastal lowland climates. The plant is short, falling into the category of shrub or small tree, and it is well-branched, with light brown bark. Its origin is Tropical America, but it has long been distributed throughout the Old World and New World tropics.

The fruit of A. squamosa is quite distinctive. Generally oblong and measuring 2½-4 in. in length, its rind is composed of thick, knobby segments. None of the other 2,200 or so Annona species features such a fruit. As it ripens, the segments tend to separate. The pale-colored flesh of Sugar Apple fruit is creamy, fragrant, and sweet, and it contains significant levels of vitamin C.

A. squamosa adapts well to rocky soils, but prefers sandy loams. It holds up well to heat and possesses a degree of drought tolerance, but for best production it should receive supplemental watering during the growing season. Plant in a sunny location on a site with no drainage problems.

Custard Apple (Annona reticulata): This is another species thought to have originated in Tropical America, though long-since distributed throughout the tropics. It has an upright form with spreading crown and matures in the range of 25-33 ft. However, it is amenable to pruning to develop a preferred height and form. Fruit shape is quite variable, as is size – from just under 3 in. to about 5 in.

Custard Apple fruit has some variability, but the cultivar grown by Richard Lyons’ Nursery is sweet-tasting.

A. reticulata is not as drought-resistant as A. squamosa. However, it is somewhat more cold-tolerant, capable of surviving temperatures in the upper 20s and perhaps a couple of degrees lower as it matures. For best production, this species should be planted in full sun and well-drained soil. It appreciates ample watering, but does not react well to inundation.

Recommendations for a Favorite Pastime: Eating!

We at Richard Lyons’ Nursery are very observant folks, and we’ve noticed over time that people seem to love to eat. But folks don’t always choose wisely, in spite of all the salubrious foods available. Accordingly, we’d like to make some recommendations of wholesome and tasty vegetables and fruits available from our farm. Hint: There are enough of them to warrant a second installment next week. This week we report on plants specifically selected for their ability to withstand the long, hot, rainy summers of southern Florida.

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum): Also known as Kow-choi or Chinese Chives, this onion relative is a very desirable plant for the summer garden. It excels as a flavoring agent for those who like a mild version of garlic; its delicate taste can be detected in many Asian dishes. Both leaves and flowers can be used as seasoning. But Garlic Chives also make a nice ornamental contribution to the herb garden, whether in small groups or as a ground cover. The 2″ x 2″ plants look like neither garlic nor onions, but instead feature flat, broad leaves. At flowering time, fragrant white blooms appear on stalks projecting above the leaves.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare): Oregano, an herbaceous perennial native to warmer regions from Europe to Asia, is a member of the mint family and is closely related to sweet marjorum. It can reach over 32″ high, but usually stays under 20″ and spreads by rhizomes. The dark green, oval leaves of Oregano are aromatic and tasty. They can be cooked fresh or dried for longer-term use. The plant produces white to pink to purple edible flowers on upright stalks, but the leaves taste best when harvested just before bloom time. The multiple cultivars of Oregano possess distinct tastes.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum): Parsley, a biennial aromatic plant native to both the African and European sides of the Mediterranean, has many culinary roles: herb, spice, vegetable. It is also a  host plant for the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. It generally grows in clumps about a foot tall by a foot or more wide. Parsley’s bright green triangular leaves are finely divided into flat or curly leaflets which are harvestable even in climates where wintertime nights hit the low-20s. One of the three varieties of parsley produces edible roots. It is also popular as an ornamental plant in gardens, where it can be incorporated in window boxes or used in the ground as an edging material.

Rue (Ruta graveolens): Like most people, you probably find yourself in need of a witch-repellent from time to time. Meet Ruta graveolens. From the Middle Ages on, this native of southern Europe was valued as an essential tool in the struggle against witches, so it was integrated into many spells — perhaps even by the Wizard of Id. In more recent times, Rue has been used both to flavor foods and to add fragrance to cosmetics and soaps, and it also has many medicinal applications. Ironically, its bluish leaves, while still on the shrub, emit an unpleasant odor, so it’s best to locate this hardy plant at some distance from your house. Rue also happens to be in the Rutaceae Family, or as most would know it, the Citrus Family.  As you may know, all Citrus Family members are host to the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, and Rue is no exception despite its pungent aroma.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Here’s one of many herbs belonging to the mint family. Rosemary is a woody perennial plant that matures to about 6″ high and 4-5″ wide. It is at home in poor, dry soils. Native to Mediterranean lands, it produces strongly fragrant, needle-like leaves and semi-tubular flowers that vary from white to pink to purple to blue. Its astringent leaves are particularly popular when cooked with fatty foods, but are also often used to dress roasts. Rosemary is also said to enhance memory, a quality which may help you remember that you can prune it following flowering to encourage denser growth.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): A representative of the mint family, Thyme is a bushy, woody evergreen shrub native to southern Europe. It grows 6-12″ high and about 16″ wide and features highly-aromatic, small, gray-green leaves. Its semi-tubular flowers are pink to pale purple. Thyme favors full-sun exposures and easily tolerates dry, rocky, shallow soils. The leaves are most aromatic just before bloom time, and can be used fresh or dried to complement the flavor of meat and fish dishes, sauces, soups and stews. Thyme also has many cultivars created for its use as an ornamental plant in the garden or in pots indoors.

Tarragon (Artemisis dracunculus var. sativa): The aromatic leaves of this subspecies of Artemisia are cultivated for use as a culinary herb. The plant comes in many forms, each imparting a specific flavor. It is native from the Caspian Sea area to central and eastern Europe, including Siberia! Tarragon matures up to 5″ high, but usually shorter, and spreads by rhizomes. Flowers are yellow-green, but the plant does not always produce blooms. Its lanceolate, i.e., narrow and pointed, glossy leaves are used fresh or dried to flavor vegetables, meats, fish, sauces and eggs. Tarragon prefers well-drained soils. Most of the Tarragon sold in South Florida is Tagetes lucida or Mexican Tarragon.

Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus): Though commonly known as West Indian Lemon Grass, this popular herb is native to maritime Southeast Asia. It grows in dense clumps capable of reaching 6′ high and about 4′ wide. Its blue-green strappy leaves, which droop gracefully at the tips, emit a citrusy aroma when crushed. The leaves are also used widely — either fresh or dried and powdered — to flavor curries, teas and soups, as well as meat and seafood dishes. Lemon Grass oil contains a number of useful compounds, including the mosquito repellent, citronella. Plant this year-round herb in bright light in moist soil.

Butterfly Pea (Clitoria ternatea): This native Asian vine isn’t just a food source, but also an ornamental plant, featuring deep blue flowers with yellow markings. The peas are edible while in an early stage of development, when still tender. The elliptical flowers – just under 2 in. long – are used to make a caffeine-free tea and are also a source of food coloring. Although this sun-loving plant is reasonably drought-tolerant, it performs best when placed in a well-drained site and watered regularly. An additional benefit of Butterfly Pea is that it is a nitrogen-fixing plant.

Cuban Oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus): We end Part I with an herb that’s become so popular, for so many centuries, that it has multiple – and even conflicting – names. For instance, in India it’s known as Indian borage. In Cuba it’s called French thyme. In parts of the U.S., it’s known as Spanish thyme. Well, the species is not thyme, and it’s not from India, Cuba, or France! P. amboinicus is most likely native to eastern and southern Africa. What is certain is that it is an oregano-like member of the Lamiaceae (or mint) family. It produces a fleshy stem and fleshy, fuzzy oval leaves about 2½ in. long. It matures to just over 3 ft. tall. In addition to its use as a spice, Cuban Oregano is reputed to have medicinal properties capable of remediating respiratory, arthritic, and digestive problems. Chewing a leaf of this plant is said to ease the burning sensation of highly-spiced foods.