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The Majestic Mango

in Featured/Issue 33 by

Stately, massive mango trees are the glory of a tropical farm. No other fruit is anticipated with such eagerness; no other fruit tree is so abundant to the point of overwhelming when they bear well. The varieties are as different as apple varieties and each one may have its own loyal devotee. Grafted mango trees begin to bear from 2 to 3 years from planting and continue for many, many years. As I write, the view through one of the windows of our house is fully dominated by the foliage of a mango tree about 20 yards away; it may be 40 years old and is bearing again this year. It used to bear only a type of mango known…

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Beyond the Backyard Tomatillos…The Taste of Mexico

in Featured/Issue 34 by

Beyond the Backyard Tomatillos…The Taste of Mexico By Jenny Wildman   I was horrified when I first heard that some of my favorite vegetables, potatoes, aubergines (eggplant), tomatoes, and all peppers are part of the extensive nightshade family, Solanaceae, most of which can be toxic to humans. As children we were taught to avoid the pernicious deadly nightshade (Bella Donna) and thinking of anything as mildly related was somewhat unnerving. This is the plant dwale that contains poisonous alkaloids responsible for witches flying, murder and mayhem, delirium and death. Yet it was historically an important ingredient in medicine and still today is used in some pharmaceuticals.   One branch of the nightshade family is Physalis which translated means bladder, as…

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Ecological Farming

in Featured/Issue 34 by

Ecological Farming By Taylor Walker   There is a lot of talk these days regarding global climate change, soil loss, and desertification. We as farmers, gardeners, and stewards of the earth can play a major role in slowing and even reversing these catastrophic trends. Thankfully there are many solutions at hand if we use thoughtful techniques and look to the natural environment for ideas and answers.   In nature plants do not grow only in one plane but grow in all dimensions. Most natural terrestrial ecosystems consist of many different species of plants and plant types.  Groundcovers, vines, herbs, shrubs, understory trees, canopy trees, and emergent canopy trees are all present in a tropical forest. As anyone who has farmed…

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Importance of Biological Control and its Role in Managing Huanglongbing (HLB) in Belize

in Featured/Issue 32 by

Figure 1: Adult Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and nymphs (Warnert, 2013) [above] Contributors:  Ing. Helen Theresa Choco, Manuel Garcia, Veronica Manzanero-Majil             The presence of the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP), a tiny insect about 4 mm in size (figure 1) was first detected in Belize in 2005. Later, in 2009, the presence of Huanglongbing (HLB) (formerly citrus greening) was confirmed in Belize. ACP is the most efficient vector responsible for the spread of HLB in the Americas. Considering the potential gravity of HLB based on experiences from other countries, the Citrus Research and Education Institute (CREI), the research arm of the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) in collaboration with the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA), the…

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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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Belize Ag Youth Reporter Visits Miss Chrissie’s Whiz Bang Chicken Plucker

in Featured/Issue 32 by

This is not a fiction article, although from the title it might be about a farm beside “Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory”. Belize Ag Youth Reporter Nick Roberson*, is fascinated and curious about all aspects of chickens and other domesticated fowl – guineas, turkeys, ducks, geese, he loves them all. Nick is always ready to accompany Belize Ag writers out on any chicken story. So when Ms. Chrissie Tupper announced to a few friends that she acquired a brand new Whiz Bang Chicken Plucker, imported from the USA and ready for assembly at her farm behind the Tuppers’ restaurant, Cheers With a Tropical Twist, at Mile 31 on the George Price Highway, Belize Ag planned to check it out. March 23rd…

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Trapping the Mischievous Palm Weevil to Prevent Red Ring Disease in Your Coconut Grove

in Featured/Issue 31 by

In the last issue of the Belize Ag Report (issue # 29 pg 37) Forrest Tackitt wrote about Red Ring Disease in coconuts. The vector for this disease which affects coconut and African oil palms, with up to 80% mortality, is the palm weevil (Rynchophoruspalmarum). This large red snout beetle is native all the way from Mexico through South America and resides in some parts of the Caribbean as well. The nematode (Bursaphelenchus cocophilus) which is the direct cause of Red Ring Disease, is carried in the gut of this palm weevil. San Miguel learned a successful technique to trap this beetle vector from the staff of Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agricolas y Pecuarias (INIFAP) in Chetumal, Quintana…

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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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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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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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