Coconuts and Cassava

Coconut and Cassava

Coconut and Cassava

Bananas and breadfruit…  I’ve been away.  The last couple of weeks I have been cruising around the South Pacific, with exotic destinations such as Noumea, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and starting and ending in Sydney, Australia.  It was such a whirl wind tour – nine wonderfully tropical locations in a 14 day cruise.  It was really lovely, and I was sharing the gardening love as I was blessed to be able to speak to audiences about the joys of gardening and why our fellow passengers should start a garden as soon as they got home.  I think I managed to convince some new gardeners, which is great news.

Bananas and breadfruit

Bananas and breadfruit

But at sea there is no gardening to be done – something to do with biosecurity.  All the plants on board the ship were plastic!  So every time we landed somewhere exciting my eyes immediately sort out anything green and growing, and in particular anything edible.   While tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and all the ‘ordinary’ summer salad ingredients were readily found on our plates, they weren’t anywhere to be seen in any of the island gardens I saw.

Me sharing the gardening love to anyone who would listen!

Me sharing the gardening love to anyone who would listen!

Most of the veggie gardens I saw were carved out of jungly wilderness and to the untrained eye or disinterested non gardener, they would be easily missed.  Sometimes things were grown in rows, but more often than not it was a higgledy piggledy chaotic style of plants growing in a patch that appeared to have luscious weeds encroaching upon them.  The plants themselves where quite unfamiliar to what would be found in the average kiwi garden.  Taro and cassava are a common favourite across the pacific and we got to try these ‘delights’ on several occasions, however they are somewhat of an acquired taste.

A tropical veggie patch

A tropical veggie patch

The bananas, papaya and pineapple were so fresh and so sweet and nothing like those that reach our temperate land.   The coconuts were pretty amazing too.  In the islands they are ‘the tree of life’ and provided almost all the essentials of life.  But for a tourist it is a quenching novelty drink – whacked open by a local with a machete and slurped up with a straw, and then the soft flesh scooped out and gobbled up.

Green coconut - a refreshing drink after a tropical swim

Green coconut – a refreshing drink after a tropical swim

I got so excited in the Isle of Pines when we stumbled upon a petrol station where we discovered we were heading off in completely the wrong direction.  While Hubby the Un-Gardener used is best school boy French to work out where we were and how to get back to where we should be, I wandered about looking at the products on offer at this humble remote store and found a rack of veggie seeds, and it was all the usual stuff – tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers – except in french under the label “Tropica”.  I felt a twinge of longing for my garden and wondered how it was faring without me.

Tomato and melon seeds in the French Pacific.

Tomato and melon seeds in the French Pacific.

On returning home, it appears to have not fared well.  Although winter officially starts tomorrow, it appears there was a pretty heavy frost a few days ago.  The kind of unseasonably early frost that makes news headlines.  Things in my garden have died. Some things should have long since been buried in the compost heap – like the zucchini.  However I was kinda hoping I could limp the peppers along for a bit longer and as frozen peppers go mushy, there was no saving the harvest that should have been waiting for me.   But this is the way of the seasons – and the immediately impending winter is an ideal time to have a clean up.

I think the zucchini are done for the season!

I think the zucchini are done for the season!

Come again soon – I’m back in business.

Sarah  the Gardener  : o )

23 Comments on “Coconuts and Cassava

    • Hi Lucinda. I think everyone should garden and am always telling people it is fun, easy and rewarding. It is even better when I actually get to do it a a formal situation. If I convince one person then I have done a good job! Although doing it on a cruise ship is a bit of a luxury!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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  1. I’ve never been on a cruise. . Interesting about the plastic plants. . Kinda funny! 😄 Great photos

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    • Hi There. The cruise is a lovely way to travel – you only have to unpack once and you don’t need to worry about food – well actually you do – as you always eat way too much great food! It is always interesting to see how other people live too – it was a great experience for the kids. Cheers Sarah : o )

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  2. Just a thought for next year: you can roast your peppers in the oven with olive oil, then freeze them in little ziploc bags with the air mainly pressed out, complete with the flavoured oil. Not quite as good as fresh, but pretty good all the same, and great for giving flavour to stews, salads, etc.

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    • Hi Kate. That sounds amazing! I’ll have to remember it for next time. Before we went away I was just lobbing them all in the freezer with little or no processing at all. The roasting idea was out of the question as we still had no oven, but now it is in and works great – but I lost all my fresh peppers to the early frost!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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    • Hi Elaine. The trip was awesome. An amazing experience. And it is nice to come home too, but now I have to tidy up and put right the neglect not only from the trip, but the crazy busy time leading up to the trip, and on rainy days I can catch up on all the great blogs I haven’t had time to read – like yours! I hope your garden is doing really well. Cheers Sarah : o )

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  3. I had a similar experience-went away for Thanksgiving and a frost got the pepper plants that I had been planning to overwinter. So sad. 😦 Hopefully you will hear from some of the new gardeners that you inspired.

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    • Hi Sarah. I was in two minds with what to do with some of my plants before I left. Half of me wanted to pop them in the greenhouse, but then they wouldn’t get watered and the other half of myself convinced me that they’d be alright, as last year the frosts didn’t come until well into winter. So I lost things that I am sad about. Next time I don’t know if I should listen to myself or not! Cheers Sarah : o )

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  4. What a great trip! Sounds wonderful to visit so many interesting places, always nice to come back and see how a garden has fared, I find that bit quite exciting too.

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    • Hi Julie. It was a load of fun and we saw and did for many exciting things but coming home is often the best part. There is nothing like your own bed, and being surrounded by your own stuff and being able to make something to eat from your own garden. Cheers Sarah : o )

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    • Hi Julie. The trip was amazing and it was lovely to miss the cold snap. But it is still good to be home. I have found with zucchini – if you are patient they put on a second wind and will keep going until the frost – which is normally a lot later!. So when you think they are pretty much all over – wait a bit to see if they will come back. I discovered this by accident – through neglect! Cheers Sarah : o )

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  5. Welcome home! Sorry to hear about the early frost in the garden. It sounds like an interesting trip. I love traveling and I’m also always happy to arrive home.

    You are looking lovely in your presentation picture. How fun to be singing the praises of gardening to passengers. Great, great fun.

    How much longer till your kitchen remodel is done?

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    • HI Alys. The frost was admittedly a lot earlier than I’d been expecting, but it has given me the drive and determination to clear out all traces of last summer.
      The reno is bigger than the kitchen – pretty much every room except bedrooms. It is taking a while, but we wont know ourselves when it is done.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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      • Oh I didn’t realize you were doing a full remodel. We did the same ten years ago. It was a slog to be sure, but we loved it so much better once everything was updated in our fifty year old home.

        Good luck managing through.

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  6. I LOVE taro and cassava 🙂 Delicious in desserts with black sesame and sticky rice and coconut cream. Most interesting post and sorry I have been away so long, I have been hiding under the bed. Love that you did a working holiday and LOVE coconuts, especially fresh ones 🙂 Looks like you had a ball and your zukes look like mine mid season when they all melted from the dreaded blossom end rot 😦

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    • Hi Fran. It would actually make more sense to sweeten up taro and cassava, because as a side dish they are a little bland and very starchy. Must look out for it if there is a next time.
      But for now I have to go about and clear out the soggy remains of the frost. It was much earlier than last year.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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