September 30, 2008

Volunteering - September 26

malay appleAn archway of Malay apple.

Last Friday I spent a lot of time pruning like last week -- once again, the noni -- as well as touching up some new growth on the carambola. I also trimmed the lovely archway by the gazebo, which consists of Malay apple.

New pineapple plants, ready for planting.

Afterwards, I cleared up the pineapple patch behind the gazebo. Jon-Mario said we'd be planting new, healthier pineapples soon.

man workingWe finally found a solvent for tape, but still needed a lot of elbow grease!

Another thing we worked on was cleaning the plastic sheets that cover the informative posters in front of the pavilion. The ends had been glued with tape so we tried to figure out what we could use to dissolve it. This was time consuming and Jon-Mario said he would be continuing with the other three posters the following week.

jackfruitA truly tropical feast: coconut, dwarf bananas and jackfruit (Artocarpus heteropyllus).

After our work, Jon-Mario treated a new volunteer and I to some jackfruit from a tree in the garden. If you recall, I posted a photo of the tree back in August, when it was bearing six huge fruits.

It was my first time trying jackfruit and it was really delicious! The fruit is a bulb that lies tucked inside some fibrous strands so it needs to be pulled out. The edible part is soft and not at all fibrous. There's supposed to be a sticky latex around the fruit, but I didn't feel it. The taste is something like mango, but more subtle, with hints of passion fruit and pineapple. (Some people think it tastes like Juicyfruit gum.)

jackfruitDelectable jackfruit ready to eat. The seed is on the inside.

I really enjoyed it and would eat it more often, but it's rare to find it commercially available in South Florida and even when it's sold it runs about $2.50 - $3 a pound, according to Jon-Mario.

The jackfruit tree in the garden is not a really big tree, in spite of the size of the fruit -- though I'm sure the tree is trimmed. If I had a yard, I'd definitely plant jackfruit tree.
This most unusual of fruit is a member of the mulberry family, although its outward appearance would not suggest the relationship. The fruit can weigh upwards of 30 or 40 pounds, with an unusual, spiky green skin. Inside there are a hundred or more large, starchy seeds surrounded by a sweet and aromatic flesh, all attached to a central core.
To learn more about jackfruit, visit Fairchild virtual herbarium.

September 23, 2008


Guava is currently bearing fruit in the garden. The paper bags protect the fruit.

Volunteering - September 15

noni Noni fruit with flower in the background.

Last week was pretty low-key. I finished the project I started September 5th, which was pruning and winding the carambola trees into an espalier. It doesn't seem like a difficult task (it's not) but it does take quite a bit of time. It's amazing how quickly these fruit trees produce new growth!

I also pruned the tops of the noni trees, which are beginning to produce fruit. Jon-Mario told me that the fruit, when it reaches the ripening stage, has a very unpleasant smell.

September 14, 2008

Flickr Meetup at Fairchild

On September 7th, I met with a group of wonderfully talented photographer friends from Flickr. We spent about three hours in the garden clicking away. We were Miami Fever, Fraggle Red, Lenny Furman, Rober2010, Liz Alonso and of course, yours truly.

Here is a slideshow of photos from the day. Don't forget, there are still two more free Sundays in September to enjoy Fairchild.

September 9, 2008


Langsat Fruiting, originally uploaded by vicequeenmaria.

The langsat tree (Lansium domesticum) inside the Whitman pavilion is currently bearing fruit. When I first started volunteering back in June, this is what it looked like:

langsat flower

Volunteering - September 5

star fruit carambola vineTraining star fruit (carambola) trees to grow sideways on three levels. You can see the difference between the trained vine on the left and the thick growth on the right.

This week, I started with the usual housekeeping -- picking up leaves and sweeping the path inside the pavilion. But later, I had an interesting task, which was to "train" some starfruit trees to grow sideways, as in a vine. Jon-Mario had cut back the trees just before the Mango Festival in July, but much of it had grown back quite thickly.

Apparenly, there's something about training the branches and twigs and supporting the old growth that helps the starfruit flower and fruit. The task doesn't seem like much, but it's meticulous and took most of my volunteering session that day.

jackfruit and avocadoThis was actually a smallish jackfruit (left).

Jon-Mario had brought a jackfruit for me to try, but it seems like it had been picked too early and had not ripened properly. I didn't want to sample it because I had never tried jackfruit and since Jon-Mario told me it wasn't at its best flavor, I opted to wait until a good one comes along. The inside of the fruit is impressive looking. Its scent was very sweet and reminded me of a cross between pineapple and passion fruit. The avocado, however, I did take home! It became part of a salad with grape tomatoes, chopped onion and cilantro, olive oil, lime and sea salt.

September 3, 2008

Bromeliad Bloom

Bromeliad Bloom, originally uploaded by vicequeenmaria.

Volunteering - August 28 potential for abundance: I found this mangosteen seedling while transplanting some other larger plants.

This week we basically finished up what we started the week prior. Gonzalo and I transferred many smaller plants to larger pots, including miracle fruit, durian, jack fruit and mamey. I love working with fruit because it makes me think of the potential for abundance in every seed. It really is an incredible thing -- even though it's something we often take for granted. Rows of small mamey trees. Jon-Mario's task later that day was to fertilize all the plants we had repotted. up the drippers on some miracle fruit.