Watermelon takeover

Guava jelly anyone? About 10 years ago the neighbors planted a couple of guava trees and now we’re living in a virtual orchard. The fruit get’s eaten by birds and animals and the seeds excreted randomly throughout the jungle. They are really fast growing and turn into substantial trees in just a few years. If they didn’t have these really hard, tiny seeds I’d be putting them in the ninja blender but……. Barbara made guava jelly a few years but has given up on it – too much work she says. I would guess the hard part is straining out the seeds.

We’ve really turned the corner on the house project with the near completion of the exterior work. When we started the house was a fully functioning, if not shabby, house – it looked like a house that needed some work and functioned like a house. It needed total internal remodeling but nothing unmanageable. As the internal walls started coming down it became obvious that the total structure was rotted and we marveled that it could still be standing at all. The main support timbers, 8” x 8” pilings, all 18 of them, were so rotted you could push a screw driver or dull knife right through them and most of the 2” x 4” and 2” x 6” internal studs on the ground floor were so badly eaten by termites that you could literally crush them with your bare hands. It all had to replaced. So the more you worked, the larger the job became and the more it went from being a real house to a wobbly skeleton. For a couple of months, no matter how hard you worked, the visual was still an open skeleton, not a house. It was really hard work pouring concrete and reinstalling the main support timbers – months of work – but when that was done, it was still a skeleton and only someone who had seen it before would see forward progress. Last weekend we finished the exterior work on one side with siding and it once again looked like a house – a brand new house. Everyone’s spirits were lifted – smiley faces and congratulations all around. This week the doors will be installed, completing the visual and the work will move inside. It needs complete wiring and plumbing before the interior walls are raised so visual progress will be slow for the next month or so. Not sure what the exact schedule is but if it were mine, the AC would be the highest priority so we could do the inside work in comfort. That may not be technically possible but……….. The other really good thing to having the exterior finished is that we’re just starting the serious hurricane season and I have no doubts at all that the place is structurally sound and can ride out anything – well maybe not a tree falling on it – but anything but that.

In the battle of the vines, the watermelon is clearly winning over the sweet potatoes. Between the two, they now cover roughly 50% of the total garden area – maybe 600SF. The vines are so thick that it’s hard to get an accurate melon count but I can actually see three, pretty good size ones not too far from where the original plant started. My understanding is that the melons are ready when the attaching stem turns brown. Interestingly, all six of the ones I see are within a few feet of each other rather than spread around as you’d expect. We’re planning a lake event for Labor Day and perhaps we’ll have fresh picked watermelon to complement the barbecue. Another thing of note is that the grasshoppers really go after the sweet potato leaves but leave the watermelon unscathed. I dug around a little with my bare hands under the easiest to get at potato plant and felt a couple of smallish tubers so there is underground action.

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