A note from Nicosia

A very big shout to our dub-wise gardening friend Haji Mike in Cyprus for this piece which we received the other day after enquiring about what gives gardening-wise over there at the moment, interesting stuff.shekkerika

Winter in Cyprus is usually known for citrus fruits, oranges, lemons, grapefruit (a little later). tangerines, pomelo and many more.

Googling the term ‘Shekkerika’ the other day I was stunned to find just four fairly irrelevant search results. Shekkerika (plural) of Shekkeriko is a very small orange that fits in your hand with a powerfully sweet aromatic taste that is unique to Cyprus. We have one in our garden that thanks to my long time friend Aydin and her pruning skills, has developed from a scrawny little thing to a medium sized tree baring lots of fruit.

My philosophy on this, one shekkeriko a day keeps the doctor away, but two or three will significantly increase your sugar levels! Its truly a lovely fruit just bursting with flavour. mespilaMέσπιλα – Mespila does not as far as I know have a translation into English from Greek. Its an aromatic fruit, cooling and juicy which ripens in spring. It may be puzzling why I am talking about it on New Years Day 2017. Mespila have a really unusual flower which you can only see if you get really close up. They flower in clusters and the wasps and bees are busily doing the cross pollination thing today, no rest for the hard working meek. The fruit is also easy to grow from seed. Usually its hard to reach the higher fruits when they ripen, so after the birds have had their feast, seeds drop to the ground, and grow nearby.

The tree is really well suited to the Mediterranean climate, long hot summers and rain in winter (if we are lucky). You could always spot a Cypriot house in the UK with a Mespilo tree in the front garden, although I must confess, I can never remember eating the fruit fresh from the streets of London where I grew up. More power to the workers…big up the bees and wasps…

haji-mike-bandcamp

Thanks to Mike for the piece. He’s got some new music out soon (with Kingdom Signal out of Corsica), available here on the Haji Mike/Kingdom Signal bandcamp (more info here too!) Have a listen as it’s good stuff, we’re loving “Dubbing the Martians” at the moment.

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Citrus in Cyprus

A big thanks to Haji Mike from the island of Cyprus for his spring garden update.

Tangerine Haji mike

“The smell of citrus fruits in the garden this time of the year is heavenly and intoxicating. Just sitting in the garden day or night and taking in those aromas is like paradise.

We have three in all, tangerine (above), lemon and orange. They are young trees so for the first few years not much fruit has grown. Things look different this year though.
Lemon Haji mike

The lemon above is one that blooms 3 times in a season.

Orange Haji Mike

And the orange above is known as Shekeriko, a tree common mainly in Cyprus. It yields small oranges packed with the living perfumed flavour. Be warned eat two or more and the acid gets to you…

Deep breaths mean time and meditations…. Haji Mike”

Thanks to Mike for the piece and pics and for choosing this apt tune from Maxi Priest.

Cyprus calling, Cyprus calling…

A big cheers to Haji Mike out of the lovely island of Cyprus for getting in touch and for sending us a pic of his Lemon Verbena bush. He writes “It’s in a shady place so the sun doesn’t get to it much in the summer and in the winter it gets some protection from the cold winds off the mountains” but looking at it now it’s looking great! Mike also mentioned a lot of people locally call it Mexican Oregano. Has anyone heard it called that before?

Anyway it’s a great smelling shrub and makes a refreshing tea, what more do you want out of a plant, get yourself a pot of it! Thanks again for the tip Mike.

Haji Mike's Lemon verbena

Reggae and the cactus

Cactus_3There are many things in life that are eternal…love, family, kids…good friends…songs you write and Jah music. Reggae has and will always be. It has an eternal flame. It is not a fantasy, passing fad or illusion to paraphrase a line from a big tune from MC Charlie Chaplin. Reggae is with you for the long haul because it is a music that can reset the mindset, a sound that can turn your world perspective upside down and bring an inner peace. I feel this happens because Reggae is the heart beat. Its a life line…There are however some other things in my life that are older than my love for Reggae. I have been sharing this life with a cactus from about the age of 8. It has travelled with me through different stages, places and countries.

During childhood, my neighbour in Walthamstow, dear Mr. Golding, introduced me to this cactus with Australian roots. I am not sure how it ended up in East London but the cutting he gave me thrived well in a pot filled with half soil and half sand.  As a student, cactus came with me to Essex University, where my studies in Sociology and Government were also enhanced by a fledgling education in Reggae music selection. Tunes this cactus heard. Wheel and come again selector!

Cactus_2After Essex I moved back to London flat sharing with mates, Alister and Skev in Hackney.  A nice bright spot in the kitchen by the window was it’s home for another 8 years.  I then moved from place to place, East London to Haringey Green Lanes and the prickly friend came with me every time. Ironic during all these decades, its stunted growth, always being in pots, enduring those heavy winters, the cactus never bloomed.

1992-3 was a good time for me musically. I’d set up my own label, Kebab Kulture Music and several 12″ singles of mine became hits in Cyprus. During that time I came and went to the island of Aphrodite 12 times until I finally decided to repatriate, return to the land of my birth and yes you guessed it, the cactus came with me, as a small-ish cutting in my shoulder bag.

The Mediterranean climate is conducive to cactii. We have our own prickly pear, ‘baboutsosiko’ variety, which has an unusual if not acquired taste as a fruit. These grow throughout the island like weeds. When we bought our first house in 1998 I decided it was time for cactus to be planted in the garden, in the earth, to live and be free.  This was also the first time the plant managed those characteristic orange flowers. What a sight!

Cactus_1

Cactus however took over like the Triffids on heat. Within three years half the garden was green and very prickly. What a ting! I had to cut it though, as everything else was suffocating – being taken over.

Something like 27 bin bags were filled with cuttings and disposed of. It felt sad in a way so I kept a large cutting in a big pot. Every year it still blooms and is  so beautiful…I asked one of my kids recently, what came first Reggae or the Cactus. And of course they replied Reggae…and I answered amusingly….Cactus…Well, for me at least….

A big thanks to Haji Mike from the beautiful island of Cyprus for this piece and a shout to Dr Strangedub for starting off this dub gardeners around the world series! Remember you don’t have to like dub to send us your pics. Gardeners around the world with all musical tastes are welcomed!

Dub gardeners around the world unite (pt 2)

A big shout to our good mate across the pond, Dr Strangedub for linking us up with Med Dred from the wonderful island of Cyprus. As well as releasing some top tunes (check out “empty words” and it’s dub, “dub-o-phonic words” for pablo inspired vibes. All available for free on the  EP on the dubophonic net label) Med Dred grows some top veg as well!

cherry tomsThanks for the pics which show some Cherry Tomato’s and great Bell Peppers which are now steaming ahead as the summer heat in Cyprus is now dying down and some well healthy Rosemary, Mint and Thyme in the herb stakes.

it's a pepper

Rosemary

mint

Thymeit's hot!Med Dred also let’s us know of some top tips of his. One which I’m well fascinated about is that he has to spray a mixture of water and baking powder (which you can see traces of above) on his plants once a week to stop the mad looking Phylliidae leaf insects aka “walking leaves” from playing havoc which we don’t get in the UK thank the lord! And we complain about our slugs and snails!

LeafInsectEvery day he also takes off white flies by hand off his Tomato plants and puts used teabags into the garden regularly which helps the soil and the plants to grow (we love used teabags here too which we bung in the wormery or compost heap depending what mood we’re in!)  Ta for the pics and tips, love it! Big up the Med Dred!

Do send us your garden pics, dubstep, funk, metal  or soul gardener, we don’t care! Send your pics with some text to onedeckpete@gmail.com