Belize's most complete agricultural publication.

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Jenny Wildman

Jenny Wildman has 35 articles published.

Beyond The Backyard – Ghosts Of The Graveyard

in Featured/Issue 33 by

They stand erect and tall as guardian soldiers, swords at the ready, ever on duty in our cemeteries. The dagger like plants of Draceanaafromontana and then Yucca were planted at the headstone or in place of one at unmarked graves to ward off evil and keep restless spirits from wandering. They are profoundly significant as a symbol of eternity and mourning in the cultural beliefs of tropical Africa. The tradition continued throughout the Americas and the Caribbean settlements, the Yucca becoming our sentinel. The name Yucca applies to more than 50 species that have mostly adapted to all types of terrain and share characteristics of appearance and chemistry. They are evergreens, drought tolerant, spread rapidly, fire adaptive, prefer full sun…

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Blue Moon Over Big Falls

in Issue 33 by

Chocolate lovers congregated for the gala event of the 10th Annual Cacao Festival, now being called the Chocolate Festival, on May 20, not quite the full flower moon evening (full moon was actually Saturday) but close enough to add magic to the magnificent setting around the pool and lush tropical gardens at Big Falls Lodge, Toledo. This year the exhibitors offering samples of their products and very informative discussion regarding their procedures and mission were: Xoco, an event sponsor who focuses on supplying high end quality cacao beans to chocolatiers worldwide and now farming in Belize. Cotton Tree, who makes chocolate exclusively from beans from the Toledo District. Each batch of chocolate is created from the beans of a single…

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Sweet and Sour Dreams

in Featured/Issue 32 by

March 2015 ( not April Fools day) we are reading in the news that a thousand year old Anglo Saxon recipe found in the British Library that is actually ninety percent effective in the eradication of the superbug MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). Following the directions to the letter, scientists concocted a stew of onions, leaks, and garlic, stewed in vintage wine and cows’ bile in a brass vessel for nine days to an amazing success. It may appear to be improbable that, after all, this time we are finding simple ingredients have the power to cure devastating diseases, but perhaps we need to pay more attention. For centuries folk healers around the world have claimed that God created plants…

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Beyond The Backyard – A Leaf From My Recipe Book

in Featured/Issue 31 by

Eating from the wild can create an unexpected culinary masterpiece or become a recipe for disaster. It is important to have sufficient information. Knowing something to be edible is not enough to prevent you from harm. Knowledge of content and preparation is essential. My daughter-in-law decorated our dinner plates with the wonderful heart shaped leaves of the taro plant commonly called elephant ears placed under some delicious stewed chicken. Whilst scooping up the juices my son popped  the leaf in his mouth chewed it up and moments later was gasping for water and on the verge of a trip to the emergency room even though that would have meant  thirty miles of rough roads at night. These plants have saponins…

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Beyond The Backyard – Tropical Pioneers

in Featured/Issue 30 by

Two trees that could be confused at a distance and have a lot in common are the trumpet tree and the balsa tree. Both arrived in my garden uninvited but the more I study them my respect increases.They are both fast growing indigenous jungle plants that play a very important role in the eco system. Cecropia named after the mythical first king of Athens Cecrops may have about 25 species in Belize of the family Urticaceae. Perhaps the most common is Cecropia peltata called the umbrella tree, embauba, trumpet tree, guarmo, yarumo and kooche as it is everywhere you look. It has been a seriously studied jungle weed due to its interdependency with biting Azteca ants who colonize its hollow…

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Beyond The Backyard – Paternal Instinct

in Featured/Issue 29 by

This foot long pod can be seen as revered and depicted in the Pre Colombian ceramics of the early Incas and pods found in tombs. With over 300 species of Inga growing in the tropical Americas perhaps for the past two million years, many of which are recorded as growing in Belize, how do I know which pod I hold in my hand? I was introduced to this as the ice cream bean and told there were three types growing around Dangriga. Searching pictures I found Inga edulis, Inga punctata, Inga feuillei and Inga spectabilis all referred to as the ice cream bean. Other names are Shimbillo, Chochoki, Guamo, Joaquiniquil, Pacay and here at market and in Maya back yards…

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Beyond The Backyard – “Mother, May I?”

in Issue 29 by

In March 2015 alone more than 100,000 visitors flocked to Washington State USA to see the Cherry Blossoms. They fly from around the world and join the feeding frenzy sucking up the sight of these marvelous trees. They marry under the confetti of petals, dancing and reveling in delight, taking shots with their i phones and sharing their joy on Facebook. In Belize there is a blossom that momentarily takes my breath away, as I am stunned by its beauty, every bit as impressive as the cherry blossom but with much more versatility. It has a fairly humble position as it is used mainly as a living fence and nicknamed “quick stick”as it is really that easy to grow in…

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Beyond The Backyard – Fabulous Forest Food

in Featured/Issue 28 by

Twelve species of Chamaedora are reportedly found in the understory beneath the forest canopy of Belize. Three of these have value for cut leaves, the best known being Xate. As usual I search for plants that are edible and nutritious giving us interesting food alternatives. The Chamaedora tepejilote, date palm or Pacaya is an attractive ornamental palm but also produces a vegetable well known to many as chib. The tree thrives in shady locations and usually grows a single trunk reaching as high as twenty feet but there are also clumping varieties. The petiole has a prominent yellow stripe, the tree produces very showy decorative berries and the male and female flowers grow on separate trees. The stems can be…

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Kitchen Companions

in Issue 28 by

I used to think the Chaparro (Curatella americana) tree was a “garbage” tree until I discovered its many uses. Now I keep a jar of its pretty leaves in a vase on my kitchen window sill. It is called Chaparro as it has very rough leaves. It is nicknamed the sandpaper tree; its many uses include polishing metal and wood, arrow heads and the like. I use it to clean pots and pans. The young leaves are soft but grow more abrasive with age. The tree can be used to make charcoal and good for posts as termites do not attack it. Its tannin is used for curing hides. The seeds are edible and can be added as flavour to…

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Beyond the Backyard – Ginger Up Your Flower Beds

in Issue 27 by

The garden of my childhood hosted a multitude of colourful plants: roses, cornflowers, geraniums, gladiolus, sweet williams, lavendar, pansies, violets, phlox et al and my favourites were the sweet smelling ones that had nectar which could be sucked and petals that could be eaten. Today I choose to plant only edibles and steer clear of anything allergenic or potentially poisonous. I was therefore very pleased to find that most gingers fall into this realm. Turmeric, galangal, cardamom – all have beautiful flowers and foliage and have valued culinary uses. When I first encountered Zingibar Zerumbet I was awe-struck and simply had to have some. It was introduced to me as shampoo ginger. The act of squeezing the bulbous head and…

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