Eating From Your Backyard

Maybe I’m too concerned with the Zombie apocalypse…(maybe I watch too much TV)…but I am obsessed with being able to forage for food in an emergency.  It will be my contribution should I ever end up living on a commune here in Florida.  I’m certainly not an engineer or a builder, so I better be able to offer something to the community!

The great thing about the Tampa Bay area is that there are tons of edible fruits just hanging around!  You see them all over—used in landscapes and medians—and the fruit just wastes away.

Allow me to share what I have learned: 

Queen PalmSAM_6843

As the holidays near, we will all be reminded of “dates.”  While I usually only eat them in fruitcake, there is a kind of date you will see around town.  It is not the same kind of date, and not as easily edible, but will do in a pinch!

Queen palm trees look a lot like the coconut palm. It is a very popular tree around here because it is easy to maintain.   They can grow to be 50 feet tall and have smooth circles around the trunk.  The palms grow up as opposed to out—which I think makes it look like it’s wearing a crown.  In the summer, thick, white blossoms appear on the palm. Right around now, the palm also bare fruits called dates, which turn from green to orange when ripe.

Dates

Queen palms grow in shallow soil, can tolerate salty air, and can grow in moderate to full sun.  They are also pretty drought tolerant.

I love the site Eat The Weeds, and they offer some suggestions on eating the dates.

“The sticky, sweet pulp can be eaten off the seed, or made into wine or jelly. The seed oil is used for cooking. The palm’s inner pith dried might be a flour substitute.”

I tried them while at the playground.  You cannot eat the pulp really—it is so stringy–but you can chew it.  It is sweet.

The Sea Grape

The Sea Grape is another plant you see all around town, especially if you live by the water.  I bought one for my yard, hoping for grapes, but alas—it has been years and no fruit.

seagrape05

I did not do my due diligence and research before I bought the plant.  You must have a male and female plant.  The females bear fruit and must have a male nearby for pollination.  I have no idea if mine is male or a lonely female…

Mine is still a bush, but they can grow to be huge—almost trees.  They are great because they grow in all kinds of conditions here in FL, come back after a frost, and need almost no attention at all!  Plus, they make food.  If you look, you will see a bunch of grapes getting ready to ripen right about now.

I’ve never been lucky enough to catch a plant with ripe grapes on it, but here’s a video:

Note:  Do not touch Sea Grapes that are on the beach.  They are a part of the beach ecosystem.

Stay tuned for more articles on your edible backyard as more of our landscape ripens!

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