Hey, Dani, look!
Tuesday November 06th 2018, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,Mango tree,Politics

Glued to the election returns, glad there will be some checking and balancing–always a good thing.

Meantime, the heat is working in the mango tree’s enclosure but, um, not so much in ours. Brrr. Hoping I can reach our HVAC guy in the morning.

So I thought I’d chill out by posting a bunch of tropical-tree pictures so Dani could see how what he instigated into being four years ago is doing. (Don’t worry about that dusting of cinnamon, that’s just anti-ant.)

I need to ask: are you supposed to let them ripen on the tree? (Why the traditional store-it-in-camel-dung method? All my camel comes in yarn form only.) I know pears have to be picked unripe or they’ll go mushy first, and every reference to Alphonso mangoes I’ve found (that would probably be two) said to let them ripen in warm temps, picked. How do you know it’s time to?

I love that I finally get to need to ask.



At Alison’s Restaurant
Thursday November 01st 2018, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Mango tree

After the baking binge.

They came, they saw, and to my surprise they lifted before I even finished writing an Alice’s Restaurant-style note on the door for any stragglers.

Walk right in, come around to the back, just a half a mile from the railroad track…

It was getting dark but they did it.

And then I sent Peter, James, Krys+Sterling, Eric, and Nathaniel off with a chocolate torte each plus one for Bo who really meant to come but was still busy helping a very elderly and quite handicapped woman move out of her home to go to an assisted living facility near her son down south.

Bo had definitely earned his torte.



Birdie trampoline
Saturday October 27th 2018, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Mango tree

After connecting up the wrong rods while it was in a heap on the ground and having to undo and needing Richard to get the side supports but he had to duck way down to get in and only he could reach to screw that top support in… We did it!

Well. I’d measured three times before ordering. We did want the mango to have room to grow. It’s, um, big. It’s 53 pounds, ergo it has not been hoisted over the tree–yet.

I sent up a bat signal.

And said to Richard, Can you see that thing with the Cooper’s hawk’s talons?

Wouldn’t survive it, he thought.

Or the Great Blue heron landing top and center?



I had no idea when I planted it what it would ever look like later
Tuesday October 23rd 2018, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

Another mango tree picture, for the sake of the wonderful folks at the county extension service and the UC Master Gardeners who helped me with my question re the Sunbubble and the type of heater.

You can see one of the smaller mangoes at the middle, front and bottom.

It’s just beginning to set more fruit in those clusters at upper left.



Searsiously
Saturday October 20th 2018, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Life,Mango tree

How hard is it to find a thing that works.

Plenty, turns out.

I spent several hours today researching and looking and trying to find a good heater for a small greenhouse. All I could find was cheap Chinese knock-offs that looked like the old tried and true but had dismal, awful reviews. Whatever happened to the ones built to last? To even work?

It finally hit me: Sears used to make good tools for the working man. You didn’t want to freeze in that garage with the door open to the world while you worked on that car.

And so I tried them, knowing full well their vulture capitalist CEO is trying to kill the company as fast as he can for what he can skim off the top and he’s certainly not putting any money into improving product lines.

Lo and behold. One color left: bright red. I can handle that. Stellar reviews. Hey. Happy reviews. One said, I tried all those others but this one actually works and actually keeps working.

So it will be my wistful wave good-bye to what once was, both Sears and decent appliance manufacturing standards, and it is on its way. Wish me luck.

All by way of saying, I’m going to have to let Eli gently down and tell him that (hopefully) I’m not going to be needing him to cover and uncover the mango tree when I’m out of town anymore: my husband told me he thought I should order that Sunbubble greenhouse and a good heater and not to have to worry about being here at the right time every single morning and night, flu or not.

Get the big one, he said. You know it’ll grow into it.

I finally let myself feel just how freeing that will be. The tree can just…quietly, on its own…do its own thing.

Christmas is coming early.

My husband’s the best.



Don’t read this at bedtime
Friday October 19th 2018, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

The little sugar ants love the sweet-selling mango blossoms. Individually, they’re kind of their size. It’s a toss-up whether trying to pick them off damages more of the fragile things than they do–but sprinkle some cinnamon on them and they fall right out of the tree.

Which has cut down on their numbers, but still, just about every day right now I’m out there taking care of a few more. Get the scouts to keep the hordes from ascending.

There were floral clusters in nine places now, the biggest at the top where there’s the most sun, smaller and newer ones below. I checked those out to be sure.

And had an impulse, as I walked back in the door, to check my hair to make sure I hadn’t picked one of those up while looking through the branches. Yeah, no, I’ve checked before and there never is–quit being bug-phobic.

A few minutes later Richard had no idea what I was shrieking about but he did what I said and instantly went running and came back with a fistful of eye drops. I couldn’t see. There was this left arm over my face and I wasn’t about to move it.

Just one? Take the lid off for me? I was desperate.

Then, You want another?

Please yes.

It had fallen out of my hair onto my eyelashes and tumbled straight into… I’d suddenly had an ant walking across my eyeball. When I instantly closed my eye it was literally six feet, under.

(This got me to go look it up: ants have not just stickiness but claws at the end of each of their legs. Oh joy.)

I promise you next time I will check my hair. Promise.



Alphonso mango at almost four
Saturday October 13th 2018, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

I apparently broke off the head of one of these via the frost covers going on and off, but I think we’ll do okay. This is the farthest along of the inflorescence, with most of the tiny flowers open.

Not yet over here. Nor below.

There seem to be more buds sprouting out in new places each day that we go over 80F. (Today was not one, but tomorrow will be.)

I’m trying to think up a better way to protect the tree from the cold without having to keep its light cut off until the day warms up enough. Obviously, though, it’s survived just fine on my system. With the tenderness of wintertime fruiting, keeping that constant warmth is the biggest thing. The six–edit, seven mangoes tucked under those leaves (found another one) like these warm days.

The tree is clearly, in our climate, not going to be one that produces everything at once and then makes you wait a year for more–it’s more like every branch takes its turn setting up shop. Which is actually pretty perfect if you ask me.

Anyway. It just makes me happy, so I thought I’d show a few more pictures.



Fall beekeeper
Thursday October 04th 2018, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

When the politics of the immediate moment get to be a bit much

here, in an improbable place, a tree of the tropics celebrates the warmth that comes its way despite the season.

(Closeup of middle left. Mango fruits behind netting.)



While trees grow quietly
Friday September 21st 2018, 10:48 pm
Filed under: History,Mango tree,Politics

Thank you for the notes and comments. To my great relief, today was, cold? What cold?

New mango leaves and inflorescence–today they have stalks. This is new.

Meantime, I’ve been riveted by updates on Christine Blasey Ford’s case.

There is no statute of limitations for felony sexual assault in Maryland. Montgomery County’s chief of police just tweeted that all he needs is for her to file a criminal complaint and he’s prepared to investigate.

That would mean that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge could be put under oath by the county, at a time when the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are doing everything they can to stave that off and rush a vote before any truth squeezes out.

Go MoCo! (I grew up in that county.)



All in its day’s work
Tuesday September 18th 2018, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

Well that was fast: the edges of new flower buds popped out from among the tiny baby leaves today.

Note that one of the sources of warmth was directly below.



Spring all over again
Monday September 17th 2018, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Mango tree

If I think about the dozen cowls and three afghans in my mental queue it can be a bit overwhelming. Better to take it one project at a time.

So having a finished one helps a lot.

Photo’d,then rinsed, now blocking.

It was 44F this morning, which is why the mango tree has been back to being lit up and covered over at night of late. Right now it’s 49 vs. 68 under there.

Its response to the artificially warmer nights is that those fruits are growing fast enough to see the difference in a day or two–and some branches started doing a new growth flush today. Which means we could end up with holiday-season blossoms to feed the bees and start up the next batch.

 



Already the biggest yet
Wednesday September 12th 2018, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

Hanging down now from the weight of the fruit: this is good.

The forecast said 53F for last night, reality was 49F at 7:30 this morning; there was a black ring now around the stem of a mango at the top of the tree, a sign of cold damage; I expect we’ll lose that one.

So tonight the tree got the first frost covers of the season to go with the warming lights.



Stalk it to me stalk it to me stalk it to me stalk it to me
Monday September 10th 2018, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Mango tree

There was no prior notice. I was not yet fit for company at that hour but at least I was dressed for the unexpected door knock. Richard was just getting up.

The guy showed me his badge, which matched his clothes: he worked for the city. (I was thinking, oh, I guess it is after eight now.) Could he…gesturing to the back yard and saying a whole bunch of stuff that, whatever it was, I just had no idea. He’d caught me with my hair still wet. When your electronics run nearly nine grand and you don’t want to short them out, that detail matters.

I can’t hear you yet. I’ll get my ears and be right back. (So much for worrying about that.)

A minute later as I came back to the door, there was no sign of the guy. I looked around the side yard, I looked down the street. What had all that been about?

Just then he came around from way around the other side where he’d been assessing the camphor tree that I’d almost paid Chris’s crew to trim back last week, but hadn’t because it wasn’t over the house and we were already at a grand on what had to be done.

It is a perching tree only for the birds; no nest could be hidden in those leaves.

The city wanted to trim it–it was growing into the power lines.

(And afternoon-shading my mango, sweet cherry, and two of my peach trees this year as it’s gotten bigger.)

Coooool. That sure worked out!

The guy was a little surprised at how complete the change was in my being able to follow him. He pointed to his ear and said he wears hearing aids, too, but even looking, I didn’t see them. Some of the ones for people with less loss are really small.

Good for him. More people should.

Several hours later, after getting done with the tree across the street, he and his crew walked past the door and disappeared again around the back. Well hello.

They would be back either Tuesday or Wednesday for it.

I went outside to water my trees this evening when the sun was low enough–and saw those acanthus stalks. The ones around the camphor had been stomped down to the ground, and rightly so. Nobody should have to work through those. As flowers, they feed the hummingbirds and bees, but as dried-up husks they are, as I’ve mentioned occasionally, vicious porcupines that I use to keep critters out of my fruit. My fruit’s pretty much done, though, the figs under netting excepted. I’d been putting off dealing with them because it doesn’t matter how careful you are, you’re going to get splinters hand and foot. And there are a lot of them.

I skipped watering the trees that were around where those guys would be working–you don’t want them slipping in mud and landing on any fallen stalk parts I might have missed under the leaves. Those still upright were four to seven feet high and quite obvious. Thankfully the bottoms of the stalks tend to be smooth for just enough space to leave you a part you can grab.

There were well over a hundred of them, easily.

How the prickers got in past my shoes to stab me in so many places I don’t know, I thought I was being careful.

I looked at my big yard-waste bin stuffed as high as it would go. There were two piles more to either end of the yard for what didn’t fit in yet, but they would be well out of the mens’ way. The bin gets emptied Wednesday and then those others can go in.

I get to handle them twice. Oh goody.

But there is a huge amount of satisfaction in knowing that those workers are going to show up expecting to deal with the worst and they’ll find that someone thought of them and how it would be to take one wrong step and get stabbed through their clothes top to bottom and took care of the problem so that they could have a better day.

They’re certainly going to be improving mine. More sun for my evergreen mango this winter. A better chance for the fruit to actually ripen.

Bring on the chainsaws.



Excuse me, is there an ant in my hair?
Thursday July 12th 2018, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

The mango tree is taking another try at production, July being warmer and more inviting than November was. The first spray of blooms is fading out and eight tiny green fruits have taken hold there, while new clusters are popping open behind.

One problem was ants chomping on the flowers, with the cinnamon being less of a deterrent than it seemed to have been in the past. And I don’t want to chase away bees. So I tried something else: I cut a strip of paper, put it around the tree, and twisted some packaging tape over it twice around so that the insects’ feet would get stuck in the tape.

Only they don’t: I watched them while watering the other trees, and they turned around from it before they even got up to it. I’m good with that.

(Next time, though, tie my hair back first before inspecting those blossoms and picking them out of there. Just sayin’.)



Happy Fourth of July!
Wednesday July 04th 2018, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Mango tree

Another Piuma peach cashmere cowl, and I just cast on yet another. Except what I really want to knit right now, for no particularly good reason in the heat of the summer, is a thick warm hat. Maybe for variety’s sake? We’ll see.

The mango tree is loving the warmth, meantime (and me the air conditioning.) There are five smaller sprays of buds coming along quietly further back that will soon be as big as this one.