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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Fruits of our Labor - 2012 (Harvests #8)


"There is nothing more exciting and happy moment than when you see your plants growing and bearing fruits after lots of hard work everyday in our country living." 


OKRA FIELD


OKRA PLANTS
This plant is rich in *dietary fibers, minerals, and vitamins like Vitamin A and flavonoid antioxidants such as beta-carotene, xanthin, and lutein which are essential for good vision, skin, and healthy mucous membranes and protection from lung and oral cavity cancers.  It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, but is rich in B-complex group of vitamins like niacin, Vitamin B-6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid.  It also has a good amount of Vitamin K which is good for blood clotting and strengthening of bones.  It is also rich in iron, calcium, manganese, folates, and magnesium. 



OKRAS HARVESTED
This plant is the one of the most excellent ones we have grown because of its longer time of  continuous flowering when other plants have stopped producing already. Okra is a tropical vegetable and I never thought it is also well known here because fried okras are being sold in the grocery store.   I  fry okra everyday because that’s what the Great Gardener likes to eat.  I like to cook them in a soup or with tamarind-soup base recipe or sauté them with other vegetables.  The Great Gardener is a good eater and one good thing about him is that he never complains whatever I cook and set on the table.  (Thank God for having food on the table whereas other people don’t have.) The only time I don’t fry okra is when I give a day’s harvest to our relatives.  That gives me a day off for the day and I’m grateful to them.  There are lots of okras to harvest everyday that my big basket gets full always every day.  If I don’t harvest for a day, they will become GIANTS as I fondly call them. Don’t let your okras become GIANTS. If the okra has reached its medium size and it’s not too firm or hard when you touch it, then they are ready for harvest. I missed harvesting some okras maybe because they were good in hiding from my eyesight (+.+).  Or maybe they are afraid of getting fried in a hot cooking oil? They grew so close together and tall as if I’m in a “jungle” every time I go around picking them.  I have to look up and down while I walk slowly around the field because I’m afraid that there might be a snake on the ground.    Up to this writing, they are still blooming, though not as many as they used to be. Thank you very much, Mrs. Okra. You are really, really, really doing an excellent job.  We will see you again next spring time.   To the GIANTS  thank you very much also for I will have more crafts to do and don’t worry no more frying.   (-.-)


SWEET POTATO FIELD


WHEN TO HARVEST THE SWEET POTATOES
Can you see the difference between the first picture and the second picture above?  You don’t know if the sweet potatoes are ready for harvest or not because they are grown under the ground.  Neither you even know if they are big or small nor where they are under the ground. Aside from counting the number of months since the sweet potatoes were planted, when the leaves turn into yellowish color and get withered, these give you a signal already that it’s time to harvest this nutritious vegetable.  


SWEET POTATO TUBERS
Look at those giant sweet potatoes! From its main root, comes the tubers as shown in this picture.  It’s better to harvest when the soil is dry and not moist so that it won’t be so sticky to the sweet potatoes.  Before, I used a small fork only to dig , but later on, I thought of using a shovel to make the digging easier.  I dig one main plant post at a time only because it’s hard to dig something that you can’t see at first and thinking how deep I should dig.  I have to be careful also in digging because I might damage the sweet potatoes where I really don’t know how far they extend most of their other roots.  As I dig, I found out that not all their roots turned into a big sweet potato.  I have to follow each root where they are leading to.  When I lay the shovel into the ground and step on it, I can feel that there is something blocking the way down, and I say, “Oops, sorry Mr. Sweet Potato.” (-.=)


SWEET POTATOES HARVESTED
I got lots of GIANTS again. The sweet potatoes need to be cured for a week to heal its bruises they got out of my digging.  "I’m really so sorry about that, Mr. Sweet Potato (-.=).  This is my first time to harvest you and I will try to do better next time".  The Great Gardener told me that he will buy a tool for digging so it will be easier and less damaging to the sweet potatoes.  After a week-curing period, I stored them in an open box in front of our porch only till I’m ready to cook them one day.  They have *antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients; an excellent source of Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene and a very good source of Vitamin C and manganese; and a good source also of copper, dietary fiber, niacin, Vitamin B5, and potassium.  I’m not a medical specialist or even a nutritionist , but has anybody asked why does a person pass gas after eating sweet potatoes? (-.-) Joke only, but this is a good question to ask, isn't it?





SWEET POTATO LEAVES
Not everybody knows that the leaves of the sweet potato plant are edible.  They can be eaten plainly and cooked by steaming or boiling them in a few minutes and add fish or soy sauce in it or add some fresh tomatoes.  You can also mix them in a tamarind- soup base recipe.  I concocted a recipe about the sweet potato leaves which was posted in my Mom’s Oven section (Posagoz Mixed Salad) before this harvest.  I mixed them with the members of cucurbitaceae family.  It is a delicious summer salad recipe that you can be delighted to eat, especially those vegetarians, or if you are on a healthy diet.  



BITTER MELON VINES


WHEN TO HARVEST BITTER MELONS
This plant is also a tropical vegetable and very popular in our country because people like to include it as part of weekly food recipe cook and set on the  table.  I never thought also that this plant can grow here just like the okra because both are tropical vegetables and part of Asian cuisine. It can grow  like crazy on the vine and this is the second year we planted this plant.  During the first year, we were able to have good harvest because the bitter melons I harvested were bigger than today.  We used the seeds we gathered from the first year’s overripe bitter melons to plant them again this season.  I didn’t have this blog yet and was not able to take a picture of the last year’s harvest.  When the bitter melons have big bumpy ridges and the color being light green, they are already showing its maturity for harvest. Don't harvest them when they turn yellow for they are already overripe.  (^.^)




BITTER MELONS HARVESTED
These bitter melons are not as good as our first-time harvests last year because the plants produced more and bigger bitter melons before. I gave a lot to my friends.  The bitter melons also belong to the Cucurbitaceae family.  It may not be a well-liked vegetable to eat by other people because of its bitter taste, but its health benefits are very amazing. They are an *excellent source of antioxidants nutrients,  Vitamins A, C, and folates.  They are also a good source of niacin (Vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (Vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (Vitamin B-6), and minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, manganese, and magnesium.  They also contain phytonutrients which are responsible for lowering blood sugar levels and helping in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.  The leaves can also be eaten jus like the leaves of the sweet potatoes.   I will post a delicious, nutritious recipe mixing all these vegetables (okra, sweet potato, buttercup winter squash, and bitter melon) in one cooking.


After posting this last produce, frost came last Sunday and all the plants in our garden were affected except the blackberry plants. We will have more fruit and vegetable plants to present next spring time. I hope you find some humor in our garden story and learn something beneficial to maintain your good health.  Good choice of good, nutritious foods is worth every penny you spend. It's time for happy cooking...  (-.-)



Please see Mom's Oven for recipes using these vegetables:
     Mixed Veggies with Coco Milk
     Bittermelon Pickles

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