Sunday, November 24, 2013

Harvest Time!

As we near the end of November, the days are getting warmer again and the rain, while more intense, is coming less frequently. Apparently rainy season will end early December and we will move into a period of intense heat again.

This rainy season has made the land lush and green. The field next to us has grass so tall that the goats can get lost within it and the ducks and geese only walk along the paths they have trodden hundreds of times before for fear of getting lost on their way home and missing their evening meal.

All this rain has also brought the latest crop of tree fruits into season. I have been watching the trees with great interest as they start to produce fruit. I may be able to tell an apple tree from a pear tree from a cherry tree at home but here the tropical fruits are a mystery to me. But now I know that we have at least one mango tree, a sweet banana tree, two papaya trees, a very prolific jackfruit tree, and several types of avocado trees. We have reached harvest time for avocado, jackfruit and banana. Mango is not far behind.

To harvest avocado, you either have to climb the tree or use a long stick with nails bent into hooks to pull them off the tree. When you find an avocado that looks ready (don't ask me what that looks like, I have no idea), you hook the nail over the stem and pull. The fruit then falls to the ground and you collect it up. Don't try to catch the falling fruit... chances are you will get knocked out by it because avocado are very hard when they are still on the trees.

We harvested two avocado this week and are waiting for them to finish ripening. One can be eaten today. The other still has a day or two. The kitchen staff is coming and picking all our avocado so we need to go and get a couple whenever they forget the stick in our yard or else we'll never get to eat any!

Our banana tree had a lovely large bunch of green finger bananas and I thought they were going to stay on the tree until they were ripe. Now that I think about it, there are never yellow bananas on the trees. I think the birds would eat them all if they were left. I'm sure the plaintain eaters closely monitor the progress of the bananas and as soon as they even begin to ripen, they are on the bunches and devouring the fruit.

Yesterday, Ediga harvested the bananas. He shimmied up the tree with a machete and cut the whole bunch down. He then cut off two large bunches for us. I asked him if I should leave them in the sun to ripen but he said that no, I could just take them inside. We've hung them on the bars of the windows in the kitchen and they are already turning yellow. Apollo, with whom we shared a bunch, said that they would be ready to eat on Monday. One bunch certainly will be.

I'm looking forward to the mango being ready but I may steal a couple while they are still green to make Thai green mango salad. We've shared one jackfruit but this tree must have 20 fruits that are all the size of my torso. Unfortunately it is not the type of fruit that you can eat in large quantities.

Even our little garden is producing a crop. The beans that the year 3s planted are starting to produce and I have one ginger plant from a root I planted what seems like months ago. I bought a bag of onion sets when we were in the "downtown" part of downtown on Wednesday and Corey and I planted those today. The sets are everywhere to buy so it is obviously the right time. As we were trying to get ourselves out of the downtown core, I walked past a woman who had set herself up between two parked semi-trailors and was selling these bags for 1,000 shillings (about 40cents.) There must have been at least 50 onions to plant.

Although the dog did attempt to eat a few of the onions (but spat them out in my lap each time before proceeding to eat my hair - an immediate shower was required after planting these onions,) if they all produce, we'll have a great crop. I just have to make sure the kitchen staff doesn't get to them first!

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