Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Moringa Harvest

Our Moringa trees have been growing like crazy and we've been harvesting the leaves for their nutritional values.  Every day we add dried moringa to our morning smoothies.  It's not what I would call delicious but more of an earthy taste that's good for you.  Moringa is one of those miracle plants that are very nutritious and widely used in other parts of the world.  I believe the entire plant is edible and very resistant to drought and insects.
Moringa being washed

Drying the Moringa leaves

From Wikipedia: It is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree, native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India, and widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas where its young seed pods and leaves are used as vegetables. It can also be used for water purification and hand washing, and is sometimes used in herbal medicine.

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 64 kcal (270 kJ)

8.28 g
Dietary fiber 2.0 g

1.40 g

9.40 g

Vitamin A equiv.
378 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.257 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.660 mg
Niacin (B3)
2.220 mg
0.125 mg
Vitamin B6
1.200 mg
Folate (B9)
40 μg
Vitamin C
51.7 mg

185 mg
4.00 mg
147 mg
0.36 mg
112 mg
337 mg
9 mg
0.6 mg

The leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant, being a significant source of B vitamins, vitamin C, provitamin A as beta-carotene, vitamin K, manganese, and protein, among other essential nutrients. When compared with common foods particularly high in certain nutrients per 100 g fresh weight, cooked moringa leaves are considerable sources of these same nutrients. Some of the calcium in moringa leaves is bound as crystals of calcium oxalate though at levels 1/25th to 1/45th of that found in spinach, which is a negligible amount.
The leaves are cooked and used like spinach and are commonly dried and crushed into a powder used in soups and sauces.



The immature seed pods, called "drumsticks", are commonly consumed in South Asia. They are prepared by parboiling, and cooked in a curry until soft. The seed pods/fruits, even when cooked by boiling, remain particularly high in vitamin C (which may be degraded variably by cooking) and are also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Florida Bee Farm ... AND Nursery

Last week a representative from The Florida Department of Agriculture inspected and certified the Florida Bee Farm which means we're officially a legal nursery that can grow plants and legally sell them.   

Not completely sure where this is going but the direction we're heading is interesting and might be fun.  My nephew is also interested in growing things ... especially peppers and he will be working with us too.  It's nice seeing young people passionate about gardening.  The new greenhouse setup seems to be working well which means we should have plenty of healthy seedlings growing into healthy plants soon.   At least that's the plan.

Last week I found an ad on Craigslist from a professional landscape company that was giving away a thousand plant pots of various sizes so I completely loaded the truck bed full of free pots.  It's amazing how many free resources are available.  Yesterday the Bee farm received about 4 yards of free mulch from the county which was loaded by them into my truck.  Unfortunately it wasn't very good quality mulch, especially not the type I would put around my plants.  However it did work well for using in the walkways around the planting areas.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Redoing our Florida Greenhouse

The last hastily constructed Florida Greenhouse that was built did a decent job starting seeds and protecting them during the heavy relentless rainy weather.  However it really wasn't very efficient and didn't get enough sun.  As I'm going to be planting many plants from seed in the future it was time to construct a better structure that will make planting from seed more efficient.
Testing the seedling sprinklers

After considering several designs, my son came out and came up with the best solution.  Working together, we got 90% of the structure up in a little more than an hour.  The final framing and building a plant bench I completed the next day.  Additionally I created an automated irrigation system to control the moisture the seedlings get on a daily basis.  Because it gets pretty warm in the sun and you don't want to skip a day of watering if you can't get to it for some reason.  Automatic watering is the key to successful gardening I'm convinced.  Last year I often spent several hours a day watering and even then it just wasn't consistent enough.  Consistency is important.  You go out of town and skip a few days your garden will look terrible if it doesn't rain.

Last month many seeds were planted and they are all doing very well.  We planted a raised bed cucumber, bean and pumpkin section that was started with seeds and it's being watered daily with an automated watering system.  So far so good.
Florida Greenhouse (Cukes, Pumpkins & Beans on the right)
Seedlings checking out their new temporary home

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pure bliss

The Bee Farm is like a full time job for me.  One that I get a great deal of satisfaction from.  The to do lists are never ending and a lot of triage goes into the mix to determine which tasks get priority.  And of course my attention deficit disorder (ADD) is always kicking in throughout the day to pick off other less important tasks.  Oh and this will be my official excuse why I haven't blogged much lately.  The ole too busy excuse.  Hopefully there will be more time in the future for blogging because it's enjoyable going back in time to see how things progressed.

So the other day when I went out in the late afternoon to get a few things done at the Bee Farm.  Then, I found a nice spot in the shade back by the butterfly and bee garden and just relaxed.  Taking in the butterflies and bees of all types enjoying the garden flowers.  Very relaxing, almost like meditation when your mind is calm and focused on the flowers, butterflies and bees.  And then the most delicious smell in the world started wafting my way.  The fragrance of wild honey / nectar from the hives.  It's my favorite fragrance of all and it's hard to describe.  It's heavenly.  With a slight breeze blowing every so often that wonderful fragrance would put a smile on my face.  So very grateful for all of it.  Living life in gratitude is one of the best ways to achieve happiness and internal peace.  It's so easy yet so many people struggle to find it.

Here are the views from where I took in the Bee Farm in this moment.

View in front of me
View to the left

View to my right

To top it all off, the morning was spent walking the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and swimming with my beautiful wife.  Talk about a perfect day.  Just one of many reasons I often refer to myself as the "lucky guy".

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Black Widow spiders and Honey Bees

Recently while browsing several beekeeper facebook groups I noticed several beekeepers mention finding Black Widow spiders hanging out by their hives.  In particular, underneath the hives.  This caught my attention at the time because several times in the last year I found Black Widows nesting underneath two of our hives.  One of them had a poor unfortunate honeybee wrapped up in it's web.

And then during the last inspection one was discovered above the inner hive cover under the top cover.  Safe in a screened in area protected from the bees but hidden in a sneaky place where it could possibly snare a curious bee that managed to sneak under the hive cover.  Needless to say this spider is no more and the hive is safe again.

But still it's a little disturbing. I don't like spiders to begin with and Black Widows are my least favorite.  Another good reason to wear heavy gloves while handling the hives.