Saturday, December 2, 2017

Purple Power

Purple Moloki Sweet Potato

Purple Power

My favorite color as a child was purple.  My favorite has since migrated to blue, but purple still holds interest when it comes to the uncommon food item... Or the common food item that is uncommonly purple.

After making some 'yam' crostinis for Thanksgiving, and thoroughly enjoying them, I thought perhaps growing some yams would be a good thing.  We set about researching yams, and after recalling an NPR newscast about purple gnocchi, refined the search to Purple Yams.  Because purple yams would be so much more interesting and colorful than the white or orange yams commonly seen in the stores.  (We will probably also grow the red ones).

What Is A Yam?

Dioscorea alata ube
As it turns out, the recipe on NPR was for purple sweet potatoes.  Well, if we want to make that recipe, we need that sweet potato.  So, we ordered the Purple Moloki Sweet Potato starters.  I like these better for making the crostinis as the purple sweet potato varieties are reported to be dryer (and probably more crisp) than the red, yellow or white sweet potatoes.

Now, back to the yam.  Yams are starchy root crops also, but more starchy and drier still than sweet potatoes. Instead of the smooth outer skin they have a bark-like exterior.  The purple variety we were after is called 'Discorea alata 'ube'.  This particular true yam is very popular for desert making in the Philippines. 

However, seeing the ube chip recipe makes me think these would be the best candidate for the yam crostini.  In either case, these will have to be included in recipes for next year because we have to plant them this year to get anything next year.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Mangosteen Madness

Purple Mangosteen With DIY Soda Garden Cloche

Mangosteen Madness

Mangosteens are the most challenging plant we are growing.  Specifically, the purple mangosteens.  It was time to change things up and try something different and in the process we learned a few things.

The purple mangosteens are the goldilocks of the garcinias for sure. Per our favorite Etsy seller, the mangosteens require a deep planter in order to allow the tap root freedom to go as deep into the soil as possible.  We had been looking for a proper, reasonably priced pot to do this and then settled on some really nice looking garbage bins that are 13" wide and 26" tall.

Revealing The Roots
Yellow Mangosteen

We checked the mangosteens, and amazingly the Yellow and Lemon mangosteen roots had reached the bottom of their 14" tree pots since the last time we re-potted them.  The yellow mangosteen has the most aggressively growing roots of all three types.  This is most likely why people have been trying to graft purple mangosteens onto yellow mangosteen root stock. If I ever get there, you know what I will be trying...

Lemon Mangosteen Roots
The lemon mangosteen also had significant root growth which spread across the top and reached to the distant bottom of the treepot and growing through the soil cloth put underneath to prevent soil loss.

These two are the troopers and are doing really well in a small protected area of the yard with limited filtered sun exposure, regular watering with a watering system and light fertilization.

And, here comes the wah-wah... The purple mangosteens.  I have had one purple mangosteen longer than the others and before I bought the lemon and yellow mangosteens.  The leaves are slow to grow, as are the roots.  The leaves seem to be getting dehydrated, but it could be over watering because there is no
Purple Mangosteen Roots
new leaf growth either. There is no angst like a slow growing new trial don't really know what I'm doing plant growing angst.  The good news?  White root tips. That is all the encouragement I need to keep going... and no rot smell... there is that also.

Thai Purple Mangosteen
A bigger moment of trepidation was due to the accidental breaking of a Thai Purple Mangosteen tap root. ARGH!  If that does not cause plant death, then I will consider myself very lucky.  It was my best growing one too.  :(

Because of the breakage, two were repotted together... just in case.  I still have two more.  Now that they have their tall pots, they also get their own DIY 1 liter bottle garden cloche.  With the upsizing it is really difficult to know where to put them for now so daily hand watering is on order until we get them situated.

Mangosteens In New 'Planters'