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Posts Tagged ‘Abacos’

Posted by PicasaWhat grows well under those pesky Casuarinas or Australian Pines?  (Latin names: Casuarina equisetifolia and Casuarina glauca).

My neighbor plans to remove the Australian Pines in front of his house and asked how to prevent erosion. He wants to try the method that Martin suggested in his blog, of cutting them down slowly, allowing undergrowth to get started. And he wanted to know, what grows under Casuarinas? 

I got out my camera and decided to photograph some of the plants growing around the stump of a giant Casuarina in an area that we had  cleared of Australian Pines.
Stage One

Here is what our site looked like when we started.   One could see the ocean through the Australian Pine trees, but not very well.  Although there was other vegetation, it was well hidden and certainly not flourishing.

The first year, we started to remove the Australian Pines by removing many small, baby trees.  At first, we used a machete and just cut down the 7 to 10 footers.  Then I spent a number of days pulling out smaller ones by hand, roots and all.  Most of the ones that I pulled out were three feet high or shorter.   I counted that I removed over 700 small baby Casuarina plants, by hand  while using a pickaxe to pull the root out.  It was a tiring job, but the view of the beach and the ocean was beautiful making it a pleasant work site, especially in the cool of the early morning.

Stage Two, opening up to undergrowth

After doing all this we began to see other trees emerging around the remaining Casuarinas.  Then new groundcover started to show, but not very clearly.  We got a view of the ocean.  And the baby plants got some sunlight.  But we still had more work to do.

Stage Three, New Growth

The next year, we cut down a giant Casuarina that was out in front of our house.  Now the other plants really started flourishing.  We added some Coconut Palms.  In addition, the Seagrape (Coccoloba Uvifera), Coco Plum (Chrysobalanus Icaco) and the Bay Geranium (Ambrosia hispida), among others, emerged and started to grow everywhere, on their own.  I took a series of shots below showing all the plants that now grow naturally around the old Casuarina stump.   Here they are.

Thatch Palm
Bay Cedar  (Suriana maritima)
Palmetta Palms
Bay Geranium
Coco Plum
Sea Heather

It is so wonderful to have all this diversity of plant life. The birds and butterflies like it too. They flutter from plant to plant, eating seeds and lighting on them, probably enjoying the ocean view, as do we.

You can see that I have yet to learn the name of all the plants in my front yard. This is because I did not purchase them at any nursery.  They emerged naturally, once the invasive plant was fully removed. In other words, they did not arrive in containers with plastic labels showing their names. But my neighbors are teaching me the names of these native plants.   As I learn their names, I will add them to the photos.

We recently bought two additional plants that we will be putting into the ground around our house.   They are highly recommended and are great native replacements for the Australian Pine.  They are Lignum Vitae (Gualacum sanactum) and Red Cedar (Juniperus bermudiana). We just bought one of each from our local nursery called Wonderland Gardens in Marsh Harbour.  Here is what they looked like when we bought them.

Baby Lignum Vitae
Red Cedar

These two plants are natives that like the native soil, the sunlight and the ocean salt.  According to our book from the Friends of the Environment, Abaco, Bahamas called  ” A Guide to native and Invasive Plants in Abaco”, both the Lignum Vitae and the Red Cedar plant are protected trees of the Bahamas.  We will be planting them in the next few days.  For the longest time I could not find them in the local plant nurseries and was very pleased to find them available for sale this year.  

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Sunrise under an Australian Pine in the Abacos

One way to control the problem of the proliferating Australian Pine tree in the Bahamas is to eat the seeds!

But I cannot find a single recipe calling for Australian Pine seeds.

Australian Pines line the beach of Eight Mile Bay

Unfortunately, insects in the Bahamas don’t eat them either.  Thus the pines proliferate.

Australian Pines are free to reproduce in the Bahamas because there are no people or insects in our area that eat their seeds . Hundreds of thousands of these uneaten seeds are dropping to the ground and growing spontaneously, everywhere, uneaten by either humans or insects, or even fish.  Now that is a special kind of problem, a population problem.  If we could learn to control the population of Australian Pine, then perhaps we could live happily with them, mingling in their shade, burning their wood, and crafting them into tables and chairs, as needed.

A group of researchers, mostly entomologists, are hoping to find a good set of bugs that will eat Australian Pine seeds.

I am happy to report that Australians are involved in the research project.  In my opinion, it makes sense to have them collaborate with us on this problem since they are the culprits who, several hundred years ago, sent us these trees.  I figure they ought to know a lot about them or at least might have a few pine seed recipes that they could share.

But now we have another problem.  Australians don’t necessarily have the same issue with the trees that we do, because in Australia, there are a group of insects all eating Australian Pine seeds, thus controlling the size of the Australian Pine tree population. We, on the other hand, acquired the trees without the natural controls.  This helps explain why Australians like their pines and we don’t always share their viewpoint.

Which bugs eat Australian Pine seeds and how do we get them?

Wait a minute, not so fast!  There is a bit of work to do before one takes a new bug into our environment.  For example, we have to make sure that something eats the bug and that it doesn’t become yet another invasive problem.  We also have to be sure that that bug over there in Australia is going to like the specific “Australian Pine” seed that we now have here in the Bahamas.

Until this is resolved, and we decide who or what is going to eat the seeds, I ask:
What can we do with Australian Pines? 
Stay tuned. 

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The Australian Pine

Recently, I asked  Martin,  an Australian friend of mine to write in his blog about how Australian Pines might be used here in the Bahamas.  The Australian Pines, or “Casuarinas”  have the reputation of being “invasive plants”, rather unmanageable and growing everywhere, with and without permission, thus being largely viewed in the Bahamas and in Florida as giant weeds.

He replied with some very thoughtful commentary.  Here is what he said:

Thank you, Martin, for your thoughtful remarks.

Let’s see if we can’t get some additional good ideas about how to manage and use these pines from both sides of the world.

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Less apocalyptic than the blank that I first put up.








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Many Ways to Use Those Coconuts!

Coconut palm in our backyard.

Every year we try to get better about using all the coconuts that fall in our yard in the Abacos.

Here is what we have tried to do with them thus far:

  • cooking projects
  • arts and crafts
  • drinks
  • garden composting
  • landscaping
  • more will follow, no doubt.
Whatever you do, DO NOT stand under these formidable plants and look up.  
Yikes!
The first problem I encountered, after conquering my fear of being hit by one, is this: 

PUZZLING OVER HOW TO OPEN UP A COCONUT

According to a youtube film I watched, this technique really works. First, take off the exterior layer
Use a knife or your teeth. This fellow can do it  with his teeth in 11 seconds!

Try This!!

That looked so easy!  Let me give it a try.
To be continued…….

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Paradise

Colors Galore
Space to Explore

We arrived on Saturday to be met by perfect weather, peace and quiet, and so much color that it was hard to know where to focus one’s eyes.

Coming from the black,browns and dull greys of winter in New York, then to the pastel colors of the Abacos is really staggering.

Even though there has been limited time to play on the beach, those few moments that we had are so memorable.  The water is crystal clear.  We saw dolphins, Bally hoo, baby baracudas and jacks.  Joe almost bumped into some angel fish with his head when he was snorkeling out front.  They were so close that he couldn’t see them.

Just beautiful.  I will always miss this place.

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The Coconut Palm has Value

  We picked up a coconut that fell from our tree out front of our home in the Abacos.  Matt and Joe busted it open using a variety of means that included using a hammer and a machete and incorporated a lot of cheering and encouragement from our two grandaughters who were watching.
Here is Lila showing how it looks inside.  
We grated up the coconut and it had nice flavor.  But we wondered, how healthy is it to use the oil and meat of the coconut? A family debate ensued over the value of a coconut.
The New York Times just put out an article on the value of coconut oil.  It seems as though the problems with the oil were mainly from the items added during manufacturing.  Just using plain old natural ingredients of coconuts isn’t so bad after all. 
I would recommend opening up a coconut with guests as a high form of entertainment as long as one stands way back when the men take over.

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Take a relaxing outdoor shower.

Swim in the local pool.

 Try out our new summer dresses “Made in the Bahamas” of Androsia cloth.

 Take a walk with Grandpa and Grandma.

Search for sea stars.

 Find a sea shell.

Follow a hermit crab on one of his walks.

C

 Compare sizes of footprints in the sand.

Take another swim in the local pool with water warmed by the sun.

 Draw a picture for Grandma and Grandpa to hang on the wall.

 Ride a bike.

Camp in the living room.

 Good lord, how many sisters do I have?

 Eat outdoors on the patio.

 Play with a ball.

 Look pretty in our new dresses.

 Read a book.

 Check out information on the computer.

 Run a race with Mom, go swimming with Dad.

 Just chill.

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Our grandchildren visited us in the Abacos.  They were kind enough to bring their parents with them.  Grandpa Joe offered them breakfast in bed.  As our eldest grandchild declared, “Mom and Dad have had breakfast in bed probably five times  This is my first breakfast in bed, ever”.

The baking  pans managed to keep the waffles, strawberries and syrup in place.  No spillage occurred.  They had a wonderful time, as did we.

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A Walk to Remember

Almost everyday I take this walk.  It is a guaranteed three miles worth of exercise.  It doesn’t need captions.  Just take a look.

The walk starts on the main road that leads to a cut off going to the beach.  From there, I walk past a small community area where our neighbors build their bonfires.  The log seats are still in place, waiting for them to come back for another fire, some hot dogs and marshmallows.
Then on I go past beautiful clear waters until I reach Old Kerr’s at the end of Eight Mile Bay.  At one point, I go past an old car that is almost completely “naturalized”.  Just had to take a photo of it.
It is one of the most beautiful walks in the world.

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