Jabuticaba & the rainy season

Rainy season has started.  It usually doesn’t rain all day, but when it rains, it rains hard and the grass turns green overnight.  I planted some corn a while back and had to water it every day.  Now nature will take care of it. I hope to get some corn this time.  Last year I had corn, tomatoes and beans and then they were set upon by ants.  I never saw anything like it. They just killed everything.  This year I am vigilant. I don’t know how well it will work, but I got some grill starter.  It is sort of like napalm, i.e. a sticky jell that burns.  If I see lots of those ant armies again, I plan to nape them. Don’t you love the smell of napalm in the morning? So far no large numbers of ants have shown up.  Perhaps they fear my deterrent.

The bigger plants have ears, but I am not sure they will be good. I didn’t get enough corn sprouts from the first batch and had to plant again. They have to pollinate from each other.  Each of those little hairs is a flower leading to a grain of corn. If they don’t get pollinated, they don’t turn into corn.The picture below is from two weeks ago when we still were in the dry season. The round topped tree is the jabuticaba.  You can see that I don’t water the lawn during the dry season. I raked off the dead grass. The grass looks dead in that picture, but it is already growing back.  It comes right back, it seems within hours of the first rains.

I got a fair number of tomatoes a few months ago by planting smaller tomatoes that matured faster than the bugs could find them.  If I has to rely on my farming skills, I would soon starve to death. For all my watermelon growing last year, I got only one eatable melon. It was actually pretty good, although small. But it is kind of fun to try to grow things, since I know I don’t depend on them.

I have not been cutting the grass since I got rid of the sheep.  I tend some parts of the yard, for example, I trim the hedges, but mostly it is “natural.” I have been bringing seeds back from the various plantations around Brasilia.  Some grow. I bought some seeds and a couple bags of dirt, including some terra preta – a kind of black charcoal looking dirt – at local garden store, Leroy Merlin and made some little garden patches that you can kind of see in the picture. Little plants are coming up now.  I think I will make the front into a more tended garden for the neighbors.  The back, where only I go, can stay more natural with my flowers mixed with the grass.  I like that much better.  It is fun to see what comes up.

One of the interesting things in the yard is the jabuticaba tree.  The fruit grows right on the tree trunk. You can see a picture at this link.  Go to the bottom of the page.  It flowered after the recent rain, as you can see in my pictures. The fruit is supposed to have all kinds of special health benefits. I don’t know about that. They are kind of like grapes and taste okay.  You cannot get them outside Brazil or even very far away from where they grow, since they begin to ferment in only a few days so you cannot keep them long.  I am surprised that they don’t have a greater following among health nuts.  They have a funny name and are exotic. Maybe they will be discovered like açaí  That stuff tastes like dirt and the only way you can make it reasonably palatable is to dump in loads of sugar, but the alternative food & medicine folks love it.  They say it is the health secret of native Amazonian health.  I have seen native Amazonians. I am not sure theirs is a lifestyle we would want to emulate.