Hello, again! I gave myself a month off of weekly blogging. I read my last post to remind myself where I had left off. So, updates: 1) Our cacao seeds seem to have stagnated and we’re tossing them and will try again. Hubby thinks it was too much rain; I think it didn’t have regular enough water. (We could both be right). 2) All our kabocha seedlings planted outside the pig-protected courtyard are alive, some with powdery mildew (to be expected). We seem to be in a phase where pigs are going to and fro on a nightly basis, but their destruction isn’t as obvious. We did lose a longan seedling, but we don’t love longan anyway. Hint: longan is similar to the alligator strawberry.
Otherwise, same old rainy season story: weeds, weeds, weeds. We received 13.6 and 11.8 inches of rain in April and May, respectively. The stumped coffee trees recently had verticals selected. In other words, they no longer exhibit puffy lollipop green growth, but have been thinned to 3-5 verticals. Unfortunately, in the photo below from today (2nd of 3 photos), the weeds haven’t yet been managed (tomorrow, I’ve been told), so it is difficult to make out the more svelte greenery shape. That’s almost six weeks since last ground cover maintenance; things got delayed for various reasons. One learns to not get too worked up about many things involving time here on the Big Island. At a mom&pop store I’ve experienced a customer who had moved here from O’ahu who got all worked up about the inefficiency in the way the owner dealt with customers. He started making polite suggestions, which I agreed with, but I’ve learned to take a lot more in stride.
This month’s excitement, though, is lychee! I just learned today that lychee are called alligator strawberries in the South. Aunty says her lychee trees produced mature fruit two months earlier than previous years. Last year we had a dismal crop, and it was ready early July. This year we have plenty, and there’s even plenty that we can reach. AND we finally bought a telescopic pruner with the cut-and-hold feature. We used to have one that we used for many years, but we left it out in the coffee land one time and it got lost. I don’t think it will miraculously reappear like Hubby’s reading glasses did one year after apparently getting buried. We always looked at stores for a replacement extension pruner (critically, with the cut-and-hold feature), but no place ever had them. We recently got it at our local shop, Farm & Garden, and they said that every time they get them, they fly out of the shop.
Now I don’t have to run around and catch the falling fruit cut from our other inferior extension pruner. The new pruner can hold the cut branch and the fruit gets gently lowered. No fruit falling from high above and splitting and splatting.
Our first harvest was motivated by our friend who wanted to bring frozen lychee home to California. Yes, you’re allowed to, as long as the fruit is frozen solid when it goes through the agricultural check at the airport. The fruit defrosts nicely, too. I might slightly prefer almost-completely thawed fruit to fresh fruit. It’s like a frozen treat. It’s similar to how thawing frozen grapes sometimes satisfy better than fresh grapes.
Post-picking tasks are to trim the stem as close to the fruit as possible, or stems might puncture other fruit when they’re altogether. Sort any fruit with cracked skin into a separate box. We soak the fruit in a bucket with a little bit of dish detergent, rinse them, drain them in our largest colander, then lay them out in shallow boxes to dry. The cracked fruit get immediately peeled, de-seeded and eaten or frozen. The rest are good to eat, share with others, or freeze.
And you can’t really judge our fruit from its external appearance. With our tree, some of the fruit have large seeds and some have small. So a small fruit might actually have more flesh to eat than a big one. Hubby and I have different philosophies on freezing lychee. I like to freeze the whole fruit with the peel. He likes to peel and remove the seeds. My way takes up a lot more room in the freezer, but it’s easy to take out just a few to thaw. Hubby’s way is more space efficient, but you have to defrost the entire package, and then you just have days to eat a lot of defrosted lychee, which don’t have a nice shape. His way is a good way to deal with a lot of fruit whose skin crack during the harvest. We shouldn’t have that problem as much with our cut-and-hold pruner.
Photos below are from our friends, except the ones showing seeds:
I’ll close with a link for six summer coffee cocktails since summer solstice is this week. Note to those who recently deposited an empty bottle of Aperol in our recycling bin, there’s an Aperol coffee cocktail recipe. To me, the recipe and the photo of the cocktail don’t seem that appealing (other than the recipe being simple), but report back if you make it. If any of you have a good lychee cocktail recipe, please share. Happy summer!