Monday, June 20, 2016

Our 21st Anniversary Fruitcation to Homestead

Once again, Craig and I celebrated our anniversary in Homestead. Our hotel points allowed us to stay in the area for free again. This year, we went down a little later because of the late ripening of Mangos in Florida. Our trip happened to fall on the same weekend as the fruit festival at Fruit and Spice Park. 



Of course, we arrived as soon as they opened and headed straight back to the rows of mango trees. Sadly, there were no ripe PPK mangos (our favorite). However, we were able to eat quite a few delicious, and some not as delicious, mangos. As always, we brought a sharp knife. Due to my mango sap allergy, Craig has to do all of the mango cutting.



After the mangos, we looked at the avocado trees, then headed over the some dropped coconuts. Again, the knife came in handy as we broke into the coconuts and drank fresh coconut water - very refreshing. 


As we walked along the path, we came across a Redland White Sapote. This was too perfumy tasting for Craig, but I loved it! Best white sapote I have ever eaten. I am going to be sure to treat the one I have growing in our yard a bit better. So good!


With our visit coinciding with the Redland Fruit Festival, we were able to see the beautiful display of mangos. 

I think we ended up eating lunch here every day after having breakfast in the park. We tried a few different items and all were delicious. The best part were the fresh mango smoothies - only ones to rival what I can make at home. 

We plan our anniversary trip in June, rather than May because of the overlap for lychees and mangos.  We purchased several pounds of lychees while in Homestead. 


It is always fun to look for invasive lizards while in the area - they are always too fast for us to catch though. 



The Baobob tress were all blooming - the flowers are amazing and almost look like a hummingbird feeder.






Cinnamon Apple! We found another area in the park where these are growing. 


Giant Syzygium fruit



While in Homestead, we paid another visit to Going Bananas. Don and Katie are always so welcoming and so much fun to talk with. 


They have the most beautifully pruned lychee trees!


Lots of Bananas to sample this time - below are Manini/A'ea'e



These Praying Hands Bananas are the best tasting bananas we have ever had - tasted like Banana custard with vanilla. 




While in the area, we also visited Fairchild Gardens. 



Chupa Chupa tree looking up from the ground. 


Happy 21st Anniversary to us! So thankful to be married to someone who shares many of my same interests. 










We both thought this was a rat :) Just part of a plant which fell on the bench.


Redhead Agamas are everywhere at Fairchild Gardens


Red Sealing Wax/Lipstick palm



Now this was a crazy palm - wish I could grow this - the fruits have a very strong aroma of Salt Water Taffy. 


More invasive lizards - this time an iguana. 


Shallow soil + heavy banana plants =


Our final day, we had planned to go to Fruit and Spice Park to take the tour. There was so much lightning and rain, that the park told us we might not want to enter. We promised to be careful and they allowed us to go in but no tours today. Since it was our breakfast time, we headed to the mango trees. Thankfully, the greenhouse was nearby so we could get out of the rain while cutting up mangos. 


It kept raining, but the lightning moved on, so we ventured out for more fruit eating throughout the park. 


We exited absolutely soaked. Everyone was so nice and the park manager told us there was no charge for our visit that day :)


Our last planned stop was at the Subtropical Research Station - GRIN. We had requested some banana plants and thankfully, they had them ready up from for us. No tour, due to the rain, but thankfully that we were able to pickup what we wanted. 






We headed back home with a van full of grafted fruit trees from a few nurseries we visited on the way, an orchid I purchased on the side of the road, some jackfruits, coconuts and other goodies. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ney Mannan Banana - unknown cultivar

These most recently ripened bananas were labeled as Ubok Iba at the US repositories. However, they are not horn plantains as described as being donated from Nigeria. TARS recently put this cultivar in the Ney Mannan subgroup along with Blue Java/Ice Cream bananas. Some differences I noticed between this fruit and the blue java fruit I have tasted is the initial texture of this fruit was much firmer and starchier than blue java upon first turning yellow. However, as each day passed, the fruit became more and more fluffy and lost the starchiness quickly.

The unripe fruit did have a bit of a blue/green/silver skin, but not nearly the vibrant blue that blue java has.


Thankfully, genetic testing is being done at the Tropical Agriculture Research Station in Puerto Rico to help sort out the mislabeled cultivars.

Regardless of the true name of this cultivar, it is a very good banana. One of the downsides is the plant seems to be very susceptible to fungus.

Pros: heavy nectar producer - great for bees and adding to tea, days 3-5 of being yellow, the fruit has a wonderful, rich banana flavor. Good out of hand, dried, cooked

Cons: susceptible to fungus, difficult to peel the more ripe it becomes


Ney Mannan Banana
Click on photo to see all pictures of this banana in album


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

FHIA-03 Bananas - Sweetheart

I have often said that Sweetheart is one of my favorite bananas to grow here in Sarasota, FL. While it isn't the best tasting of all bananas - it is dependable, wind tolerant, versatile, and not susceptible to fungus. 

Sweetheart was developed by the Fundación Hondureña de Investigación Agrícola in Honduras as a possible replacement for Cavendish - the banana most commonly found in supermarkets. The flavor is quite similar to cavendish, however, it has a slightly more complex, apple flavor and the center texture is a bit creamier.

We planted a tissue cultured FHIA-03 in May of 2014. Since that time, we have had two very large racemes (bunches) of bananas with the original plant producing 5 pups during that 18 month period. 


The plants are strong and provide reliable bunches of good fruit. I do recommend only cutting off hands as they ripen, because once cut from the plant, the entire bunch will ripen within days. However, when left attached to the plant, you can spread the harvest over about 2 weeks.

Sweetheart is great cooked, used in baking, dried, or eaten out of hand when yellow. It should be eaten before then skin gets black splotches as the texture suffers when over ripe. 


Click on photo to scroll through pictures. 

FHIA-03

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