Post-frost therapy

There was a frost here Wednesday morning (as we’re sure we saw a white veil over the local cars on the way to work) and hopefully that’ll be it now, even though it’s still a bit parkie outside today.We’re not taking any chances here for a few days at least, the tomato plants that were outside in the upside down terrarium are now in the back room (that might have to be hardened off a little before they go out) and there’s still fleece over the Easter Sunday sown spuds. And then there’s the brassicas, runner beans and peppers that want to go out, finger’s crossed it won’t be too long now…And if you have lost a plant or two in the recent frosts here’s a tune for you…

It’s a corker from the great Mongo’s Hi-Fi (which we’ve featured a few times here at Weeds) with Johnny “Move Out Of Babylon” Clarke called “Rain keeps falling” which comes back with a lovely dub as well. The 7″ single is a special record store day release and you can get it here and if you fancy the download go here. Tune!

Springtime in TW9

Flame vine_2Today we visited Kew Gardens for the first time in years and here’s some pics of the great stuff on offer. We loved seeing “in the flesh” the extraordinary Jade Vine (a member of the humble pea and bean family) that was featured in the post about the Prince Valley Guest House in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica last year here and here (pic below: the vine in situ in JA.)jamaican jadeGod knows what this wicker basket/hand-grenade flower below is but it certainly is special. You know we here at weeds love an out of the ordinary plant.Pon the mike

oh lillyblue bells at kewThere were some great water lilies, bluebells and spring flowers galore but as for the freshly watered vegetable beds below they’re well up our street.

I believe a sprit level, a length of string, a protractor, mucho patience and measuring tape have been involved to get these so neat. I wish ours at Weeds HQ were as bang on!ocd veg beds

Ideal Guest House (Part 2)

Flame vine

A big shout to our good friend Phil Harmony from Dubnight Radio Show, Berlin for alerting us to this great flower pic taken at the Prince Valley Guest House in the beautiful surroundings of the Blue Mountains, Jamaica.

A big thanks to the owners Jackie and Robert for getting in touch with the name of the plant which is the flame vine (Pyrostegia Venusta). Just how brilliant are those flowers? If you want to know more about this rampant climber have a look here. It says in some parts of the world it grows as a weed! Beats ground elder anyday!

jamaican jade

Last year we featured the Prince Valley Guest House and the great plants that are on-site. There’s some out of the ordinary stuff growing including (above) the Jade Vine (a member of the pea and bean family, can you believe?) The posts are here and here.

So if you’re travelling to the “the land of wood and water” (as Rodigan says,) spend a couple of nights at the guesthouse (with an adjoining coffee farm) as it looks a great place! More on the guest house here. Thanks to Phil, Jackie and Robert again! We love that tropical flower madness here!

I’ll have Wales, please Bob

A big shout to Mike P, one of the owners of the great Ffynnonofi Farm near Fishguard, Pembrokeshire where we stayed last month. Mike’s a massive reggae fan and he’s very kindly sent us an ace photo of his.bob marleys cottageIt’s a picture from the late 1980’s of Bob Marley‘s secret hideaway in Littlebay, Jamaica. Bob wrote a good few songs there and the house even had a lovely garden created by the great man himself so Mike tells us.

Considering that the house is nearly no more (no) thanks to time and those Hurricanes, Gilbert and Ivan, this is a great piece of history documented. Thanks Mike!

Back to Wales, one of the caretakers of Ffynnonofi Farm is only the son of the author of the fantastic book we reviewed over a couple of years ago here called “The new complete book of self-sufficiency” by John Seymour. I got the book for the bargain price of a  pound in a used book sale at Holborn Library and one well worth getting.

It sure is a small world!


Lone Ranger – Tribute To Bob Marley


Derrick Harriot – Solomon

Ideal guest house

Big shout to Phil Harmony for linking us up with Jackie and Robert who’ve been running a guest house for the last six years in the fantastic surroundings of The Blue Mountains of St Andrew, Jamaica which is an hours drive from Kingston.

They run the Prince Valley Guesthouse which is at an altitude of 4,000 feet (look at the view below!) alongside running a Blue Mountain coffee farm which is about twenty years old. The coffee bushes are under the canopy of Banana, Mango and many other fruit bearing trees. Running a guest house must be hard enough in itself let alone growing Coffee as well, Jackie and Robert we salute you!

Guest house viewHere’s what Jackie and Robert sent to us about how their Coffee is produced over a typical year:

In January the small limbs are trimmed away on each coffee bush and fertiliser (20-20-20 All Purpose) is applied and every other year manure is also added. Insecticide is also applied in the early spring right after the coffee bush flowers. (Later on in the season they are also fertilised with a powder/granular at the roots.)

Coffee_Flower

In March and April the white coffee blossoms start to appear which eventually produce the coffee berries. As the berry ripens it turns from green to a deep cherry red which are often called coffee cherries. The cherries are then ready to be picked around the middle of August.

Coffee_Bush

The picking occurs twice a month and it takes about 6 pickers to do the job. Each tree produces one to two pounds of green coffee, which is what the coffee cherries are referred to before they are roasted, and after they are processed and dried. This is the form coffee is in when it is purchased by a roasting company.

The cherries are picked and put in boxes. Each box holds about 60 pounds of coffee cherries which will be processed into about 12 pounds of green coffee. Those 12 pounds of green coffee, once roasted, will yield about 9.6 lbs of coffee. The bi-monthly yield starts out slowly and at its peak is about 20 to 30 boxes per picking. This continues from August thru November. Our coffee cherries travel to Mavis Bank Coffee Factory where they are purchased and processed. The Jamaican coffee industry employs around 120,000 people making it a significant contributor to the country’s economy.

Good stuff! I personally don’t drink much coffee anymore as it sends me a bit hyper but I do like those naff gaelic coffees you used to get in those quality restaurants like Harvesters in the 70’s.

coffee borer beetle

I also asked, what sort of pests they get in the land of wood and water, and it’s the same sort of stuff we get in the UK but they also get something called the Borer Beetle which is the main pest of the coffee plant. They sometimes hang a coffee borer catcher on the bush filled with a mix of water, soap, strawberry syrup & alcohol. That’s a mad combination!

But look at the flowers of the Blue Mountains, absolutely brilliant, I want some! Thanks for letting us use the pictures, please send us more, they’re great! Thanks again Jackie and Robert!

Red Ginger
Red Ginger_1
The Leaf of life
Leaf of life
Torch ginger 
Torch ginger (Etlingera elatior)

Typically tropical

A big shout to Phil Harmony for putting us in touch with Jackie and Robert from the Prince Valley Guesthouse (and the adjoining coffee farm there too) in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica and thanks to them for getting back to us.Night blooming CEREUS ready to openWe’ll be featuring a piece on the guest house in the very near future and tonight looking at the pictures we have of it, this plant has really knocked us out. The two pictures taken by them show a plant called a Night Blooming Cereus, and what a plant! The flower only blooms at night, very fragrant and is only a very short lived affair. More on the guest house and their coffee farm very soon!Night blooming CEREUS. Very fragrant and blooms only at night.

Much strangeness in the garden

A big thanks to the good Doctor Strangedub for putting us in touch with another dub gardener Phil Harmony who presents the excellent Dubnight Radio Show from Berlin (listen to the latest episode of the show here.) Phil grows a wide selection of stuff on his balcony including tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, strawberries and the hot as hot, ghost chilli (nagaia jolokia.) More to come about Phil’s balcony soon.

jamaican jadePhil also mentioned to me about the Prince Valley Guest House in the Blue Mountains in Jamaica who grow their own coffee, and last night looking on their Facebook page was this picture of probably the maddest plant I’ve ever seen. It’s the Jade Vine, a member of the pea and bean family so it’s related to the humble kidney bean down the allotment, how good is that, and the bats love them too. Ah, I’ve just read it’s not frost tolerant, so it’ll won’t be much good in my back garden then! From one great Jade to another…

Black Jade – Drum Fashion – Jade (off the excellent “Contempo” LP)