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Monthly Archives: June 2015

A Grand Entrance

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Or should I refer to it as an exit? This week we’ve been having a thrilling experience, watching the hatching of the first of five Red Footed Tortoise eggs that I’d found and relocated back in February. These eggs were laid by our “herd” of four adult tortoises, kept as a preservation effort and to consume excess garden and kitchen waste. After nearly 5 months, I saw a tiny flake of shell coming loose from one of the eggs, so I relocated the egg once more to a safe indoor hatching box where we could monitor her (due to the high temperatures during most of the incubation period, I feel comfortable in guessing that any hatchlings will be female) progress and be sure that ants and predators could not harm her during the highly sensitive 3-day hatching period, and the subsequent few days during which she will continue to absorb the yolk sac through a large opening in her very soft lower shell. Hatching is a long and arduous process for these cumbersome creatures: the following photos were taken over a 3 day period.

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February 8th, 2015 – relocated nest.

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June 22nd, 2015 – first sign of hatching.

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First breakthrough, 2nd day of hatching. Edge of carapice (shell) is visible.

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Making a second hole.

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Connecting the holes. After this, things started moving a little faster.

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The outer shell starts to flake away, leaving the rubbery shell membrane mostly intact.

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By turning around and around, the hatchling gradually pushes away the shell and membrane.

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Pillowed by a large yolk sac distending from her abdomen, she remained in the halfshell for several hours before making a surreptitious exit. Survival instinct fully intact, she burrowed in a corner of the box under some leaves.

Several days later, she is still absorbing the last of her yolk sac, after which time she will be more active and can be measured, weighed, and moved into a “nursery”. Meanwhile, another one has started to hatch!11659387_1126065527408617_3033775025635296965_n11709511_1126065540741949_5417514020753579232_nIf you have any questions about red footed land tortoises, don’t hesitate to comment below.

Don’t forget that tomorrow is our Coffee Morning for the Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti! We’ll be serving delicious cinnamon buns straight out of the wood-fired oven along with coffee and juice from 10am til noon for a $10 donation, and we will have tables crafts, antiques, Queen Caribee preserves, and Nidulari products also available for sale. We’re located on Mahogany Road, just over a mile from F’sted and the West End beach – make a day of it with your family or friends!

Community Happenings

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It always takes me a little longer than anticipated to catch up after being off-island – what with the lack of sleep, plants that are begging for water, pruning, re-potting, or mulching, house to clean, eggs to use up…

A couple of weeks ago I asked people to submit photos of edible plants that they are growing for a community-based post. Sadly, I did not receive many photos, but perhaps you’re all too busy growing things to have time to photograph them. Below are the photos that I did receive (many thanks to those who participated), and now I will explain my motives. I’m hoping to, late this summer – in time for winter season planting – gather people on St Croix together for a seed/seedling/plant swap, of strictly edible or domestically useful (e.g. cotton, dyes, soapberry, etc) plants. I hope that this may be a way to broaden our planting horizons and discover new edibles that we are less familiar with, or that we hadn’t tried growing here before – without having to purchase lots of expensive seed from off island. My proposition is that each person would bring a handful of seeds, seedlings, and/or plants that they have spare, and could expect to leave the gathering with an equal number of different species. For example, I might have amaranth seeds, moringa and marigold seedlings, and some ground cherry plants, and I’d hope to trade out for some species that I’ve never tried before (or maybe I just forgot to start any of this year). Bio-diversification is a great tool that we can all use in our growing practices, helping to reduce pest damage, increase habitat for native fauna, aid in soil structure and water retention, and to diversify our diets. This seems like a good way to start, doesn’t it? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or would like to help make this gathering happen, please reach out to me by commenting at the bottom of this post or by emailing me through the “contact” page.

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Angelia, St Croix, says “Growing cotton for spinning and indigo for dye”. She’s also trying to grow Kiwi vines – time will tell whether they can bear in our warm climate.

Angelia Hanne, St Croix, Growing cotton for spinning and indigo for dye

Lea Ann Robson, Pineapples! For home use, for the challenge, for the beauty, because they are not resource hogs, & when they are a bumper crop, to share. In St George

Lea Ann, St Croix, says “Pineapples! For home use, for the challenge, for the beauty, because they are not resource hogs, & when they are a bumper crop, to share.”

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Mandy (lives on St Croix, runs Good Samaritan Of Haiti Foundation), says “In the corner of the school lot in Haiti, a sugar apple tree overtaken by a type of climbing pumpkin – nothing goes to waste! On the ground, sweet potato, manioc and the odd corn plant, where last year it was the kitchen trash and builders’ waste (not compost, nasty piles of plastic for burning)!”

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Cynthia, Cruzan Gardens, St Croix – two varieties of mango.

If you’d still like to submit a photo, please do and I’ll add it into this post!

Meanwhile, Nidulari is again baking for and co-hosting a Coffee Morning with giant cinnamon rolls to benefit Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti, inc, to be held on Sunday, June 28th 10am-noon. Tickets are $10, and we are located 1.3 miles from F’sted on Mahogany Road. Please turn out for this fun event and bring your family or friends. Additional baked goods will be available for purchase, along with Nidulari preserves, Queen Caribee preserves, soaps, and more, Haitian crafts, and a booth of antique china, dolls, and other collectibles starting at only $10. Facebook event Here, or GSH’s facebook page Here to find out what they’re all about.

For this Wednesday’s baking, we will once again have a special of a braided sweet bread loaf for $10 to go with your standard white, mixed grain, and caraway rye loaves. Remember to order ahead if you’d like to pick up your order at Cruzan Gardens rather than coming out to the Nidulari farmstand.

Hope to see you all on Wednesday or Sunday, cheers!

Community Gardening

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DSC_8319I’d like to make this post about you, my readers, my community. I write a lot about what I’m growing, what I’m planting, preparing beds for, harvesting, eating, and preserving. Perhaps I’ve inspired a few of you to grow something yourself, perhaps many of you were doing so long before I was even born. Do you have a pot of kale on your front porch? Or maybe you have acres under full cultivation? Or a fruit tree you planted, and have watched grow over many years?

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Pretty and edible: variegated Spanish Thyme.

Our planet is in a fix, we can mostly agree on that. And humans…well…we’ve been a big problem, and we’re just getting bigger! The more people, the more climate change, the more chemicals in our foods and our water sources…the more likely we are to hit massive food shortages and/or death by cancer or other chemical-related illness. So what’s the best way to reduce your impact? We’ve all been bombarded with the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra, and that certainly is a good start. I, however, strongly believe that one of the best ways in which we can help our planet, our communities, and ourselves is to grow things. To grow as much as we can, for ourselves, for wildlife, for the land, for the air, and for the water. To become less reliant on the huge mono-crop farming corporations who try to sell us chemical-filled “perfect” looking “food” with no flavour, no texture, and no gain to the world. My own goal in growing things is as much biodiversity as possible, hence a permaculture approach: a win for myself, the pollinators, and yes, grudgingly, the birds, mongoose, etc as well. Additionally, I strive to do this without removing anything from the soil, but rather adding to it, helping it along on it’s natural cycles to create ever deeper, better soil – without the addition of chemicals or manufactured ingredients.

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Tomatillo flowers.

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Sweet peppers.

Now I get it, many of you don’t have time to plant and maintain a huge garden, or you don’t have space – but if you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and start somewhere. A little pot of kale, arugula, or radishes. Some pretty and edible marigolds. A few pepper bushes, or a basket of herbs. Trust me, you’ll soon wonder how you ever lived without that fresh touch in your meals.

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Peanuts: an easy ground-cover crop.

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Papaya seedlings.

So this is what I’m asking: will you please, over the course of this week, each submit one or more image to Nidulari of an edible plant that you’re growing, with a brief description of what it is, where you are, and why you are growing it. Images can be submitted by email to (merryn.macdonald@gmail.com), or to our Nidulari Facebook page. Next week, the images will be compiled into a community-based blog post, to highlight all the people who are making an effort, be it large or small, to reduce their footprint on our planet by taking control of their own food supplies, and to open a conversation on how to get more people involved in growing things. Thank you in advance for your participation, and for sharing this post with all your friends!

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Passionfruit vine.

While I’m at it – don’t forget that here at Nidulari we’re happy to take on any compostables that you don’t have space to deal with, including kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, manure, garden waste, sawdust, shredded paper, and cardboard. If you do have space available, check out our last post on composting with chickens! If you work at or own a restaurant that would like to participate in composting, shoot me an email and we’ll work out a schedule.

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Buckwheat and corn.

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Sorrel seedling.

Have a great week, and don’t forget that we’ll be closed next week as I’ll be off-island!