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Saving Heritage Seeds in Belize – David Johansen’s Seed Garden and Vault

in Featured/Issue 31 by

Since age twelve David Johansen has had an avid interest in seeds and farming; he has lived and farmed in Colorado, Utah, Missouri, and California. Having traveled widely in Belize and Central America to procure hardy, tolerant seeds adapted to the challenging growing conditions in Belize, David developed his 35 acre farm and seed bank over the past eight years in the Spanish Lookout area with great success. He has many crops growing abundantly to full maturity in order for him to harvest seeds to sell locally and fulfill orders for Belizean grown seeds from US seed companies. In order to preserve the seeds in cool temperature, low humidity conditions, David designed and constructed a climate-controlled underground depository cement vault…

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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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Oregano!

in Featured/Issue 29 by

Pungent, balsamic, spicy, zesty, slightly bitter, aromatic, tasty and healing describes oregano, an ancient herb with many culinary and healing properties. Oregano, origanum vulgare, is a well-known common species of Origanum, a genus of the mint family. Grown as a hardy small shrub and considered to be a perennial herb, oregano grows to be anywhere from about two to over six feet tall. One bush goes a long way and will stay productive for at least three years or longer, then will reseed itself. Two varieties of oregano are grown and used in Belize. One is the familiar small medium grayish to green leaved kind, described above, which many associate with pizza and spaghetti sauce. The other variety, grown widely…

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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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Hugelkultur

in Featured/Issue 29 by

Hugelkultur, pronounced hoo-gul-culture, is an ancient way of gardening or farming. Practiced for hundreds of years in Germany and Eastern Europe, hugelkultur is now receiving widespread attention and interest by farmers worldwide. The word hugelkultur is a German word meaning raised mounds or hill culture and is constructed on top of decaying wood debris and other compostable material. These growing mounds hold moisture, build fertility for the plants, maximize growing space, and provide nutritious soil for growing fruits, vegetables and herbs. They are particularly useful in places where water is scarce, allowing farmers and gardeners in the tropics to continue to grow during the dry season. Instead of burning wood debris, pile it up for hugelkultur mounds; they can be…

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Growing Jackfruit in Belize

in Featured/Issue 29 by

Considering that the giant ripe fruits of the jackfruit tree range in size from 10 pounds to more than 70 pounds, this is one of the largest tree fruits on the planet. A large family or a small village may feast on a fruit of this enormous size! Jackfruit trees are reasonably well adapted to Belize growing conditions. They thrive in Belize’s rainy wet season, but they are stressed and may defoliate in the dry season months. Over the years, we have introduced many seedling varieties of jackfruit, scientific name Artocarpus heterophyllus,family Moraceae, to our farm on Spanish Creek in the Belize District. This tree is closely related to the tropical breadfruit, Artocarpus altilis. Jackfruit is native to India and…

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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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CASSAVA – The Old Becomes New Again

in Featured/Issue 28 by

When CARICOM member states met in September 2014 to discuss regional agricultural policy and strategy, they assessed the region’s food imports and made recommendations for production and trade opportunities in foods. They recognized that the Caribbean is heavily dependent on imported foods. With a population of 16M people in the 15 CARICOM countries, the annual food import bill is in excess of US$4 Billion. This figure has doubled in the last 10 years. Further, they recognized that often these imported (and often processed) foods also contribute to the increasing incidence of diet related diseases. Thus the CARICOM delegates have been seeking alternative commodities which can reduce the import bill and increase consumption of healthier alternatives. Cassava and sweet potato were…

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Soil Analysis A Necessity for Good Crops

in Featured/Issue 28 by

If it were possible to accomplish improvements in just one step considering all aspects of soil fertility and fertilization, where would be the place to begin? Many answers will likely come to mind depending on the past experience of each person. But all types of growers from farmers to gardeners should consider that without a proper foundation on which to build an excellent soil fertility program, it will not be possible to achieve the full range of benefits that could otherwise be available. Working with farmers and growers on fertility needs for all kinds of crops in all states of the US and many other countries, learning or obtaining the experience, knowledge and understanding concerning how excellent soil fertility works…

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