When you live the tropics, you can grow some pretty cool stuff in the backyard. I have all the usual; herbs, chilies and such, but I also have some cool stuff that, coming from the US, is much different than anything I had there.
When I bought the place, it was a mess, but it had a fairly large coconut tree and it has always produced lots of coconuts. We use the water inside as a hair conditioner as much as something to drink. To me coconut water is bland and no big deal. Locals drink it as a morning water, believing it helps with digestion. But the water has some oil in it and why it makes a good rinse for your dry hair.
With the meat inside the coconuts we make our own coconut oil. We use this more for consumption than anything, frying fish dishes or as a salad oil. It takes a lot of coconuts and time to make small amounts of oil, so the many uses for coconut oil out there we just do not have enough to use it for. It taste too good to use as a skin lotion or massage oil. Not even our massage team on the beach can get our oil from us. Our process uses heat to extract the oil and we end up cooking the oil just enough to bring out a sweet coconut flavor not usually found in commercial brands. Wonderful!
We also have noni trees. Noni is a strange fruit that has a long, but unscientifically tested history of curing everything from cancer and diabetes, to in grown toenails. The science that is there says it has very high levels of many vitamins, nutrients and most especially antioxidants, where levels are off the charts. Since the list of possible side effects are soooooo much smaller than those on the pharmaceutical ads, as well as the fact there are many more old noni drinkers than there are old doctors, I began drinking the juice on and off myself.
So what did I find? First, it tastes like crap. Almost undrinkable. You must put the fruit into a sealed glass container for 8 weeks and allow the juice to slowly secrete and age. Once aged, the juice is far from tasty, but it least you can drink the 3/4 of an ounce, a daily dose, in a fast shot. When I drink the juice, I do notice I sleep better, my cognitive ability seems a bit sharper and I have perhaps a bit more energy during the day too. All are noticeable too.
One of my new age, herbal gurus, Patty, you know who you are, told me that drinking the juice regular was not good for many. Depletes calcium levels and there is some suspect of liver concerns. She said, and my internet research confirmed, that using the leaves for tea is a better, and tasty way to get a more moderate dose of Noni’s benefits. The tea, made from the dried leaves, tastes like most green teas, and I also grow lemon grass, which when mixed, makes one of the best teas I have ever enjoyed.
Lemon Grass Citronella
And speaking of that lemongrass, I mix it with and citronella, which I also grow, and make a tea that I spray directly on me as an insect repellent. When it comes to insect repellents, I don’t like to take chances with natural stuff because most work marginally, if at all. They don’t call the Western Caribbean the Mosquito Coast because we have lots of Saint Bernards either. We have mosquitoes, lots, and they love my lower legs for some reason. At dusk here, I’m like Purina Mosquito Chow. But when I spray this stuff on my legs, I can see them hover around legs but they will not land on me. Not only does it work, it might work better than anything I have tried! No oil and it smells like lemon. I guess lemon grass and citronella, which look nothing alike, are genetic cousins and that link is what mosquito’s do not like.
I’m also lucky enough to be able to grow bananas. If you have never eaten a vine ripened banana, and most have not, it is like eating candy! Bananas are usually picked long before they are ripe to allow for shipping. Most have tasted the difference between the vine ripened produce from the farmers market and that found in the super stores where we shop. A vine ripened banana easily has the most noticeable difference of any I have tasted.
If you live with iguanas, and we do, forget stuff like tomato’s or almost anything that grows low to the ground. I guess that don’t like spicy, because they leave the peppers alone. But what they can’t reach, we can usually enjoy and backyard gardening here is a whole new kind of fun. Maybe next time you visit, if the mosquito’s are biting you, drop in and we’ll spray you down. You never know I might even have a ripe banana as well. Saludos!