It’s getting bananas over here!

About a year ago during our seemingly weekly trip to Home Depot we bought a banana tree. We are on a quest for a lush, tropical, overgrown backyard on a budget and we love the large, flowing leaves on the banana trees. I can’t remember what we paid but I think it was about $30 or less for a tiny banana tree.  We planted it last August in the corner with a bird of paradise and a sea grape plant, all very common in Florida.

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The banana is in the middle. Please disregard the dirty fence.

Every week a new leaf would shoot out of the middle, it was pretty exciting watching it grow. And then maybe about a week or two ago Brian thought he noticed a “bud” coming from the top. Every day, sometimes twice a day, we’re outside looking at it, for about 3 minutes before we melt in the sweltering heat of the Florida sun.

The type of banana tree it is is still up for debate at our house. Brian swears it’s the Goldfinger, he picked it because of James Bond but I don’t remember that conversation happening. Either way, we’re about to have a TON of bananas.

So. Many. Bananas. We’re so excited we bought another one. That’s Foster checking it out.

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There’s also little banana trees growing around the base. Apparently a tree only produces once then the little ones grow and they produce, and so on and so on. We can transplant those as well. I might start a banana stand, I heard there’s money there.

If you have any banana recipes you love, please send them my way. If it is a Goldfinger, it can hold/produce 100 pounds of bananas! I don’t think we’ll have that many but there’s probably close to 100 baby bananas on there now and there’s still some red petals ready to open. I see smoothies, banana bread and banana muffins in my future, as long as they don’t die like my avocado. 😦

 

Quite the Pickle…

In the past week I harvested five 6-7 inch cucumbers. Beauties if I do say so myself, but too much for the two of us to eat before they go bad.

 

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What does one do with all these cucumbers? We make pickles! I have never pickled anything before but have always wanted to try, and I have these adorable 8 oz. canning jars so I set out to do a refrigerator pickle. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s a pickle you put right in the fridge, it’s not pantry safe since it’s not officially “canned” and according to this recipe they should last about 3 months.

After a few google searches, I decided on a Food Network recipe, which you can find here.  Though I added my own spin.

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Since my jars are small I went for little round pickles and I broke out my beloved mandoline with the crinkle cut blade. I also added 3 small slices of jalapeno from my garden to the bottom of each jar with the cloves of garlic and fresh cracked black pepper since I didn’t have whole peppercorns. I skipped the dill. And a teaspoon of salt to the vinegar brine. That one teaspoon wasn’t much for the large amount of brine I made but my husband swears they were sweet. Next batch I’ll have to leave it out and see.

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All jarred up and ready to go. Pour the brine over the top and let them cool, then refrigerate. They tasted like pickles in about 4 hours and by the next day you could definitely feel a small amount of heat from the jalapenos. I would say they were definitely a success. I shared with family and friends (who shared with random people at the steakhouse bar!), and everyone seemed to enjoy them. Next up will be a hot pepper relish as soon as my hot cherry peppers ripen!

 

The cucumber that took over the world (or at least my garden)

When we started looking for our first home 5 years ago, I desperately wanted a yard. A fenced in yard so I could have a dog and a garden. Turns out the dog was easier to maintain then the garden. That first spring Brian dug out a corner of the yard and built me a garden, complete with a rabbit/dog proof fence. And since then that garden has probably held more weeds than viable vegetables. It’s hot in Florida, things die and then I lose interest. It’s sad. But every spring I try again. Two years ago I bought $40 worth of seeds online to have “fancy” tomatoes and “carnival” peppers. They never even made it out of the house. Last year I didn’t even try. This year however, this year would be different.

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image Meet the Garden. March 2014.

Lowes had a sale in March on veggies so one wild Saturday night after a 4:00 showing of the Veronica Mars Movie, we headed over to stock up. And so we have red, green and orange bell peppers, icebox watermelon, two types of beefsteak tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, and the cucumber that took over the world. It’s still pretty early to claim success. I haven’t actually been able to eat anything yet BUT I must say, I have some pretty happy veggies on my hand, and I will credit it to my $20 mister landscaper kit and timer that waters everything twice a day while I watch from my bedroom window.

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April 2014, the killer cucumber.

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April 2014

Cucumber, still going, all the way up the back fence.

Cucumber, still going, all the way up the back fence.

It’s my own little science project in the backyard. It’s amazing how fast every grows and changes literally every day. I can look at it before I leave for work and 8 hours later it is completely different. I check it daily to try and keep up with the weeds, but also to make sure the cucumber isn’t choking any of it’s neighbors. It’s tried. At this rate I will have years worth of pickles in my fridge, which I’m looking forward to trying, along with some hot sauces and relishes.

In addition to the raised bed, I have a patio full of herbs and citrus trees, cherry tomatoes, jalapenos, and hot cherry peppers. There’s a lot going on! Be prepared for more posts as things live, die and hopefully give me endless amounts of produce so I don’t have to by $2 tomatoes at the store. 🙂