21 December, 2022


They may be subtle, but Belize has definite seasons.  I can track them by the way the shadows fall on west veranda.  This afternoon of the winter solstice is shady and very pleasant.  By the end of March, the afternoon shadows will shift south, bathing (baking?) the west veranda in direct sun.  The screening that we put up to add some shade is working out very very well for the little plant nursery.  

Seedlings and kitchen herbs.

Arugula, 20 feet from the kitchen sink.  It prefers the shadier side of its little bed.

Malabar spinach seedling (back row) and Cuban thyme.
I'm very thrilled with the provision tree seedlings.  I started them from seeds I collected a tree about a quarter mile up the beach from us.  The pods are giant fuzzy brown rugby ball sized things which crack open to reveal 50 or so large seeds.
Section of a provision tree seed pod with seeds.  The seeds are golf ball sized.
I plunked each of the 8 seeds I collected into its own small pot, just nestled into the soil on 16 July.  I watered and waited.  And watered and waited.  And watered and waited.  Finally, 2 October saw the first little sprout emerge ...
The first seed sprouted!
In the end all but one sprouted, but in the meantime I planted one that washed up on the beach and it sprouted, so I wound up with 8 little trees.
Ready to plant outside. on 20 December.
I planted 4 of them out on the grounds.  They are supposed to be able to tolerate wet, brakish soil, so I was able to put a couple of them in spots that get wet when Black Creek floods during the rainy season.
Thrive, my brave little tree!

I put this one in the middle of iguana town, with prime nest sites about 12 feet to the east and west.
Provision trees have the most gorgeous flowers.  The buds look like a yellow banana and they peel open to reveal a mimosa-like spray of bright pinky red anthers.  I know I have photos of them, but I can't find them right now.  In the meantime here is a link to one that was photographed in Belize.  I can hardly wait until these trees bloom.

I also set out the Malabar spinach and the purple passion fruit that I had been nurturing in the shade nursery.
Malabar spinach is a vine and a prolific grower.  A couple of years we were able to share huge bagsfull of spinach with families in the village.  I hope we will be doing that again soon.

The purple passion fruit seedling was given to me by a friend who knows how much I adore passion fruit juice.  The trellis is half of a double security door that we no longer used.  We have a sort of pergola thing happening above this bed that passion fruit vine will spread out over.
Dennis has also been busy with various seedlings.  He started kuri squash and got them set out in a raised bed a couple of weeks ago. They seem happy.
Kuri squash, getting ready to escape the raised bed and take over the world.
A few years ago, we set out some jacks of red bananas.  They are finally coming into their own and it looks like we will have plenty to share in a few weeks.  These are not the tiny red bananas exported to supermarkets in the US.  I don't think these are suitable for shipping.  They are quite large and chunky.  I look forward to trying them.  They have the most gorgeous flowers.
The red banana plants and the bananas themselves are very robust.

Amazing flowers.

Various wild creatures also enjoy the west veranda.  
Clove stood stock still, staring at the young basilisk lizard for about 5 minutes.  She really wanted to get at it and shake it to death.  Her prey instinct is very strong.
I don't know if it is the same individual, but I have seen praying mantises on the veranda a number of times and just a couple of days found one right next to an egg case.

I love their eyes.

Same one as above, but arms up and ready to fight now.

Could be the same one - who knows? This photo was taken 10 weeks after the 2 above.

Egg case.  I will keep watch to see if I can catch them hatching.  I don't know what the incubation period is, so I will have to be vigilant.  Lucky for me, the egg case is right next to the clothes line and I can see it from the bedroom window.
So, we have been busy and now I must post this right now and take the dogs for their last walk of the day before it starts to get dark on this winter solstice!  Enjoy this longest night.

10 December, 2022

Bright Star on a Cloudy Day

Still here, still busy.  Always time to wade through still shallow water.