Charles H. Tankersley

The Sustainability Engineering Agriculture Research Diary is a running diary of agricultural studies to assist in the cleaning up of man made pollutions, providing an accessible source of nutritious food with possible medicinal benefits, water purification, sanitation and renewable energy through agriculture by the bio-digestion of human, animal and garden wastes.

The SEAR DIARY Starts with the first entry on February 28, 2013. But before I begin, may I highly recommend this little course prepared by Johns Hopkins: Food Production, Public Health, and the Environment. To promote the family farm, community gardening, home gardens, and mobile gardens, I add this link: The Foodtank. And finally, I suggest an addtional resource: INDUSAPTI is a joint project of Vigyan Ashram, INDUSA Endowment fund by Dr's.Kishan & Kiran Bhatia and Lend-a-hand-India. Dr. Kishan Bhatia and his wife Dr. Kiran Bhatia have graciously allow this "hands-on" academy to be extended to the youth of the world.



I have received the first seeds ordered which included Moringa (15 seeds), Pawpaw (10 seeds), and Kiwi (25 seeds). The Pawpaw is in its 100 day (three months) cold dormancy stage in my refrigerator and the Kiwi in their 30 day (One month) refrigeration. The Kiwi will be planted in their growing pots at the end of March and the Pawpaw at the end of May. The Moringa have been soaked for the overnight (9 hour) period and are now in the tree seedling growing pots. They take about 90 days and 80 degree temps in order to germinate and they are likely to produce an eight to ten inch tap rood prior to emerging above ground. The seedling pots are placed against a south facing brick wall in full sun in order to maintain warmth.  We shall see.

I negotiated with a supplier and will receive some large nursery containers, 21 in all. They are (sizes and dimensions are a close approximation);

  • eight 7 gallon 14” diameter by 12” tall
  • four 10 gallon 16” diameter by 15”tall
  • four 15 gallon 18” diameter by 16” tall
  • five 25 gallon 24” diameter by 18” tall
  • some smaller pots.
All are of good quality. My budget is limited to less than $200.00 and I succeeded in meeting my allowance. I also order some additional seeds, a few of which will enter into the SEAR study but others are for simply decorative to please my wife by beautifying our home. Another report will be issued after I have some results, likely in 3 to 6 months.



While I wait for nature to do its thing, let me discus the reason for wanting to grow the Moringa tree. It seems that the Moringa_oleifera It called the "tree of life" by many natives of Africa. Take a look at the Wikipedia, linked by the name. I am particularly interested in the water purification possibilities. Even after anaerobic digestion of household, animal, yard and garden waste in a digester, the effluent remains contaminated. One must dispose water by placing it in some sort of sewer system for transport to the sewer disposal plant for aerobic and anaerobic digestion and further treatment to make it safe to use even as irrigation water. Thus, if the Moringa seed powder can diminish pollution and bacterial counts." as suggested in the Wiki study, then the effluent water may become safe to use for irrigation of ones yard and garden. Note, too, that the "Moringa seed oil also has the potential for use as a bio-fuel.".

Aside from the food value of the Pawpaw tree fruit, the reasoning for growing the Pawpaw tree can be found in the section titled Biochemistry in the Wiki, Asimina_triloba. This shows that both the seeds and the bark can produce anti-cancer compounds and a nonpolluting organic pesticide.

I find no extra special uses for the Kiwi other than it is very nutritious and I needed some food producing vine like plant to grow along the front part of my newly built four foot high wood lattice fence.


All Items for this project are in hand or shipment. My seed source for this study is the Whatcam Seed Company.
The seeds ordered for this study are:

  1. Actinidia_chinensis, aka Kiwifruit, 25 seeds
  2. Asimina_triloba, aka Pawpaw, 10 seeds
  3. Camellia_sinensis, aka Tea, 10 seeds
  4. Etlingera_elatior, aka Red Torch Ginger, 15 seeds
  5. Moringa_oleifera, aka Drumstick Tree, 15 seeds
  6. Tamarillo, aka Tree Tomato, 12 seeds
The following seeds were included in this order but are not a part of this project not a part of this project: Note: These additional plants seem to have neither a nutritional nor medical value. The only values to this study would be for the energy produce from the bio-digestion of the garden trimmings. They are for ornamental purposes only.

  1. 25 gal. one Moringa; 15 seeds supplied, minus 1 leaves 14.
  2. 25 gal. one Pawpaw; 10 seeds supplied minus 1 leaves 9.
  3. 25 gal. one Tea; 10 seeds supplied minus 1 leaves 9.
  4. 25 gal. one Tree Tomato; 12 seeds supplied minus 1 leaves 11.
  5. 25 gal. unassigned
  6. 15 gal. unassigned
  7. 15 gal. unassigned
  8. 15 gal. unassigned
  9. 15 gal. Unassigned
  10. 10 gal. three Red Torch ginger; 15 seeds supplied minus 3 leaves 12.
  11. 10 gal. three Parrot's Beak Heliconia; 8 seeds supplied minus 3 leaves 5
  12. 10 gal. four Orange Bird of Paradise; 12 seeds supplied minus 4 leaves 8
  13. 10 gal. three Yellow Bird of Paradise; 8 seeds supplied minus 3 leaves 5
  14. 7 gal. unassigned
  15. 7 gal. unassigned
  16. 7 gal. unassigned
  17. 7 gal. unassigned
  18. 7 gal. unassigned
  19. 7 gal. unassigned
  20. 7 gal. unassigned
  21. 7 gal. unassigned
Notes: The trees in the 25 gal. pots will be treated as large Bonsai. Note that at least the Mouing Tree has a long tap root which would likely be impaired by the 18” deep pot and may or may not stunt the growth or even prevent the tree from reaching maturity. Pots number 11, 12 & 13 are not a part of the study and are for ornamental purposes only

Although the remaining seed not used in the pots will be started or germinated, the seedlings will either be planted in selected places about my back yard or will be given away to neighbors and/or family. The Kiwifruit will be started, too (25 seeds) with 3 being planted on a double trellis centered near the back fence, 1 planted on a trellis centered in the back yard near the back of the house, and 4 planted along the four foot high lattice fence along the property line south of the house which is about a 32 foot span. Again, the remaining seedlings will be given away. The remaining seed that are not a part of this study , i.e., the Bird of Paradise and the Heliconia, will be used in selected sites about the yard and gardens and in miscellaneous small pots We have laying about the storage area.


The nursery containers, aka pots, arrived two days ago, March 5, 2013. The seeds arrives a few minutes ago at 2 pm in the afternoon. I have opened all packages, storage the pots for future use and read the seed starting instructions which come withe the seed order. I must recommend both the pot suppliers,, a nursery wholesale place and the seed suppliers,, another wholesale place. After reading the instructions, it becomes very clear that most require warmer temperatures than we have now. For germination, the temperatures should be around 60 to 80 degrees F. Also, In most cases, the germination can take from one month to one year. Looks like I must have Patience.

I do have 40 tree starting/seedling pots for those items with deep tap roots. Some seeds requiring such will be placed in these pots but the leftovers will be sowed directly in the ground in those places I have preselected. Other leftovers will be sowed directly into the pots in which they should spend their entire lives. Of course, their lives should be well beyond mine. Now, my next chore it to run over to Lowe's and buy some more Potting soil the cheap, full of sand kind. Miracle Grow is the most over priced and worthless potting soil I have ever tried to use. I use, also, the Lowe's cheap humus and other such stuff for exactly the same reason, I need and want the sand contained in this cheap stuff. The sand support the drainage and the "mulch" supports the water retention. Good old locally prepared Texas" prepared planting medium for me.


Yesterday, 03/07/2013, I sowed the Tea (Camellia sinerisis) seeds, in eight 4" and three 5" plastic pots. I used a 50% mixture of sandy humus and native garden soil. The soil should be kept damp and with an ideal germination temperature of 55F and night and 68F day. There should be little difficulty in maintaining these approximate temperatures outdoors this time of the year in Houston, Texas. The pots are stationed in holders on a worktable under a lattice cover and right next to the yard water faucet. The book says that the seeds germinate from one month to 12 months, thus I will need to be patient. Hopefully, at least one germinates in one month and each in turn each month after that. The primary plant is to plant one Tea Tree in a 25 gallon pot, one in 10 gallon pot, one in a 14" bonsai top, and one in the ground, site to be determined.

Today, 03/08/3013, I sowed the Tree Tomatoes in twelve 2" square peat planter pot which were, in turn placed in 3" plastic pots 3/4 filled with potting soil such that the peat pots stood about 1/2" above the lip of the plastic pots. The idea for this arrangement is to facilitate transplanting after the seed germinate in 21 to 30 days and have grown to a handling size. One will be planted in a 25 gallon pot, one to replace a Bradford Pear which has died, and one to be planted in plot along the south fence between the East and West fence gates.

The next item to tackle is the Red Torch Ginger, Etlingera elatior. A search using Google Provides a wealth of hits but none that are very useful. Some say the plant cannot be grown in pots and some say yes they can. They all point out that the Ginger is very tall and that care should be taken to give the plant plenty of headroom. After studying all the advice, I have devised my own plan. There is two places where I plan to sow the seeds directly in the ground. Since I have fifteen seeds, I shall use two, four inches apart, in each of the direct sows. Next I will use two of the 10" "bulb pots and sow two seeds four inches apart in each. next, I will use one 10 gallon pot for two more seeds. The remaining five seeds will be placed in 6" pots I have laying about. These can be transplanted later, after they germinate. Also, they can be reserves for the larger pots should seed fail to germinate, however, the instructions that came with the seeds warn that they may be very slow to germinate.


Today, I ran over to Lowe's and Purchased two 50 lbs bags of general purpose sand, one bag of general purpose gravel, Four bags of very sandy potting soil, one bag of cow manure, and two bags of humus compost. The total bill cam to $27.06. I have a number of bags off good Texas earth which I placed in my old empty plastic bags of the gardening soils which I purchased years ago. Now, I have the materials to start preparing for my seeds to germinate.

My technique is to cover the one inch/two cm holes, seven of them with used coffee filters with the coffee in them, used tea filters with the tea in them, old, used all cotton underwear, or Paper towels folded into quarters. behind them, I will place a handful or two of gravel as needed followed by a handful of sand. Then, with a mixture of potting soil, saved garden soil, some humus compost, and some cow manure I will begin filling the pots as needed as seeds begin to come to life.

I have placed on my fence rail five small pots with seedling of, two pots of Pecan trees seedlings and one lonely special rain lily, spices unknown. I have offed these to my next door neighbor, south, with the guarantee of their money back if they fail to grow. They are FREE to anyone who comes by to collect them. But you better hurry, Ann and Paul are very likely to take them before you get to them. I think they like my guarantee, LOL, mainly since they have no trees what-so-ever in their back yard.


Late last summer, I purchased some Avocados saved seven of the pits. At first I put six in clear plastic water bottles with the led end cut off and supported with toothpicks. This is the recommended technique described by all the "How to grow" literature. I did plant the seventh pit into a pot directly However, as the fall was extra warm and only one of the pits had sprouted, I transferred the one sprout and two others into potting soil filled pots. Low and behold, the tree pits are growing quite well in their respective pots except the seventh which looks like it might sprout. The tree pits still in the water bottles show no sings of developing as yet, but I have not given up. The one pit that is doing the best is now planted in the one "unassigned" 25 gallon container where I intend as its final growing space. I understand from the literature that the avocado tree can be pruned to limit its height and to encourage it to be more shrub-like and bushy. The tree is also suggested as a houseplant and/or bonsai like. But as a house plant, it does require a sunny window. Also, I have no idea what I will do with more than two Avocado trees. If one expects any fruiting, it does require cross pollination. One thing I might do with the extras that sprout is to put them each in a small pot and set on the top rail of my four foot fence where anyone who wants one can take it.


Low and behold, two of the 15 Moringa seeds have sprouted. I fully expect more in the next few days. I have one 25 gallon pot prepared. The remainder have to go in the ground or in the give-a-way pots on the fence. Some are promised next door and some are promised to Gary, who lives across the street. Any more takers? Look it up on Google, type simply "Moringa" and look for the Wiki.

The paragraph above was written in the AM, since then another Moringa has sprung froth. I will have to wait for the plants to grow to about six inches tall before planting one in the prepared 25 gallon container. I plan to put another one in the spot designated along the south fence and still another in the flower bed just north of the south drive and along the west property line. Any additional trees will have to be given away.


As of this morning, seven of the fifteen Moringa seeds have sprouted, although one of the sprouts seems a bit ill. Actually, I need only one for this study. I have added two more trees to the study, an Avocado and a Papaya, a cousin of the PawPaw.

The Avocado is added because last fall,I saved the pits of the Avocados I used to make me some of my favorite salad, Guacamole. Note, too, that the Fruit does have medical value, too, especial for ones Cholesterol level. But a word of warning, the Avocado is toxic to most animals and should never be fed to your pets. Also, other than the fruit itself, the remainder of the tree is toxic to humans. I followed directions with some of the pits and supported them in a cup of water with toothpick. Others I simply placed in a pot of potting soil. The pits in the cup of water did, in due time, sprout. However, the pits in the potting soil sprouted, too, and seemed much stronger and healthier. I have the best one planted in one of the 25 gallon containers and it is growing will.

I have before, some 30 or so years ago, grown Papaya from seed in pots. The pots then were small and our winters were much colder. IT is clear from the Wiki linked to Papaya that the Papaya tree is nearly as valuable as a nutritional food source and the Moringa Tree and, also, have a medical value as well. As an interesting side note: When one of my co-works from the Caribbean told me that the Papaya tree has male contraceptive properties and is always destroyed near the home of newly weds, Another unmarried co-worker begged a plant from me. His mother told me that he kept the plant near his bathtub and each time he showered to go on a fate, he would rub the leaves over his body. One day, he came to work upset because his mother had knocked the plant over when cleaning and that the plant died. By that time, I had none more to give him and told him to grow his own, LOL.

Now that we are into our last cold spell and the Kiwi seeds have reached the end of their cold time, this week will be Kiwi starting time. This week, too, will mark the Orange and Yellow Bird of Paradise, the Helieonia, and the 'Peter Pan' Lily of the Nile planting time. I will follow the directions up to the actual planting. I fully intend to plant the seeds for these plants directly into the pots in which I which them to be born, to live and to die. After all, they are not a part of this study - other than the Kiwi but which will get special attention.

I don't believe I have clearly stated the parameters of this study. Many people world wide live in Urban areas whech or filled with concrete or other fertile earth restricted areas. My target is to provide an economical means for these people, the vast majority of us, the means and methods of providing for their own nourishment.

Before WW-II, we lived on the edge of small towns in Oklahoma, Bethany and Duncan, and in a poor side of Oklahoma City, across the street from my first school. In all this time - was cloned early in 1933 - my dad always had a garden and we always had yard chickens. My brother, sister and I never went hungry. I may not have been the most fattening food in the world but, believe me, we were well nourished and managed to grow well and without obesity. My Father continued to grow his own food, which included a few fruit trees, Apple, Peach, Plum, as well as his small vegetable garden, through WW-II and on until his death at age 85. In the later years, however, the city ordinances prohibited yard chickens. Thank God that the City of Houston, Texas is relaxing the rules against raising chickens and other low maintenance farm animals such as chickens, ducks, and rabbits. Now we will not have to depend on commercial farms and ranches to feed or families. This is especially beneficial to the poor and disenfranchised which some seem bent on bent on removing from our nation and the world.

The primary purpose of my "Agricultural Research Diary" is for my benefit. I want to know if I can follow my heritage and produce my own food in a small, highly concreted & enclosed area. If I can find success with this, then anyone, anywhere can use a parking lot or a rocky, dry location to grow food for him or her self and/or for their entire family. God, or if you prefer, Mother Nature, or simply life on earth, has provided us, each and every one, a means and method to provide. Yes, it does require some labor, but, it can be done. I have heard, time and time again, the analogy relating to the pros and cons of charity: "If you are a fisherman and you give a man a fish, he still starves the next day. But if you give a man a fishing pole and teach him to fish, then he is fed from that day forward". Well, my friends, first of all, this study being published becomes fishing pole. However, one must then find the containers, the seed, the tools and the piece of land on which to set his effort. It has been my experience that each man or woman who wishes to step up and become self sufficient is stemmed by the greedy one who try to force them to 'do things their way' and enter into the concentration camp of insurmountable dept and subjugation. To escape the entrapment, you will need an education, food and energy. HTTP:// offers but one of many fishing poles to you.

As of today, I have rearranged the planting assignments. I will not describe the planting in the earth,only those in pots. .

  1. 25 gal. One Moringa
  2. 25 gal. One PawPaw
  3. 25 gal. One Papaya
  4. 25 gal. One Tree Tomato
  5. 25 gal. One Avocado
  6. 15 gal. Four Red Torch Ginger
  7. 15 gal. One Tea
  8. 15 gal. unassigned
  9. 15 gal. Unassigned
  10. 10 gal. four Yellow Bird of Paradise
  11. 10 gal. four Lily of the Nile
  12. 10 gal. four Parrot's Beak Heliconia
  13. 10 gal. four Orange Bird of Paradise
  14. 09 gal. four Yellow Bird of Paradise
  15. 07 gal. four Orange Bird of Paradise
  16. 07 gal. four Orange Bird of Paradise
  17. 07 gal. four Orange Bird of Paradise
  18. 07 gal. four Yellow Bird of Paradise
  19. 07 gal. three Lily of the Nile
  20. 07 gal. unassigned
  21. 07 gal. unassigned
  22. 07 gal. unassigned
Notes: The trees in the 25 gallon and 15 gallon pots will be treated as large Bonsai. The 10 gallon, 9 gallon, and 7 gallon pots are not a part of the study and are for ornamental plants at this time. However, I may plant some of the Papaya in the seven gallon pots


With the exception of PawPaw, all the seeds are planted. Of the seeds planted, only the earliest planted seeds, the Moringa, have sprouted. Of these 15 seeds, seven germinated to date, however, one did die, so I have six. But, for this study, I need only one, but have use for three, one for the study, one for the front flower bed to the North of the West end of the South drive, and one for the middle of the back yard to replace the tree that died where I hang my bird feeder. Now, only 5time will tell. I will have to make sure that all the seed pots are kept watered on a daily basis> Each pot is assured of having adequate drainage but with enough water retaining ability to keep moist for the 24 hours between watering despite the moisture content of the air.

Tonight is the monthly meeting of the Spring Branch Democrats Club. It starts at 6:30 pm. I need to attend as this meeting is headed by guest speaker Peter Brown, a former candidate for Mayor. I think he might be considering running again since Mayor Parker's term limit is this session. Peter Brown has been a strong supporter of alternate energy, so, let's see if his enthusiasm continues.



Not much to report today. In the past 48 hours, ending yesterday, April 03, 2013, we had a good rain, totaling a little over 2.25 inches, 6 cm+/-. I did break one of the Moringa seedlings. It was leaning over a bit and I tried to straighten it. Big mistake, it snapped off right at the ground level. None of my other seeds have sprouted as of yet, I just have to be patient some can take up to a year to germinate but all can begin appear in as little as 30 days. It has been only two weeks since I completed the seed sowing.


Yesterday, I transplanted the largest of the Moringa seedlings to the 25 gallon container I had prepared two weeks age. As of today, the seedling is doing quite well as is the first Avocado seedling I planted earlier. The Avocado is already about six inches (15 cm) tall. It appears I may have several more Avocado pits to sprouting. If so, I will put one in an already prepared 15 gallon container. For the Avocado to produce, cross pollination is required. One more, if it sprouts, will be put into a decorative 12 inch clay pot to use as a house/bonsai/indoor/outdoor plant.

Yesterday was also my wife's birthday and two youngest of five daughters took her to dinner and then to a clothing store to buy the right size cloths for her present. Today, her second oldest and her grandson took both of us to dinner to celebrate her birthday. Hugh, the grandson, is the only one I feel is computer savvy enough take over my machine should anything would happen to me. I did not give him the passwords, but told him how to reinstall the operating system without destroying the files. Hugh is also savvy of and supportive of the SEAR DIARY study. At age 80 now and if I live to the age of both my parents, I have five years to go. Thus, I named Hugh as the heir of my computer.

While I wait for the birth of my other sear study plants, I am busy doing my other gardening. I have pruned the roses, and refilled, re-potted, trimmed, and otherwise cultivated and planted the flowerbeds with domestic and wild flowers. I have mowed the lawn and done those other chores it takes to keep a home in repair and livable. The chores will continue for the remainder of this year and on into the future. Oh, and one more point is for most of the plantings is to be in pots that they might be moved around for aesthetics and to protect the tropical plants from frost should the winter weather reports call for freezing. The largest container I can handle using my two wheeled dolly is 25 gallons although with great difficulty. Thus the sear study plants are in the 15 gallon and 25 gallon containers.



It has been 39 days since my last diary entry. The delay is a part of the waiting game, waiting for seeds to sprout. Let's see, The second of the Moringa tree seedlings has been planted in the ground about midway along the south side of the house between the south drive and the fence. Both trees are doing well but seem to be rooting more than growing upward. The Avocado is about twice as tall as it was when I reported it 40 days ago and a second is put into a 15 gallon container next to the first. Two more Avocados have been put in five gallon pots for use as decorating plants rather then a part of the study. Note that it takes two trees to germinate each other to produce Avocado fruits.

Last week I planted the 10 PawPaw seeds, one in the 25 gallon container and the remaining nine are planted in the tall tree starter containers I bought just for that purpose. It generally takes about three or four weeks for the seeds to germinate, however, we have had an unusually cool spring which might delay germination somewhat. As for the Kiwi, Tea, Red Torch Ginger, Tomato Tree and Papaya are concerned,it seems one Tea and one Papaya and perhaps one Tomato Tree have sprouted. Only time will tell as some of these plants can take up to a year to germinate.

In order to keep my mind off the waiting game, I searched through the catalogs for some plants to put into hanging baskets and low and behold, I found little known as a food plants to added to the study. I have ordered five 50 seed packs of the 70 species of Amaranth and one 15 seed pack of Butterfly Pea. I noted that the Amaranth, all 70 species, are very nutritious, which was a major surprise to me. The Butterfly Pea's flower is edible and may have tome medicinal value as a memory enhancer. I hope it does as both my wife and I need so help in this area. Also, these plants are classed as annuals, are listed as very fast to germinate and easy to grow. The Amaranth seeds, leaves, and roots are all edible and hte leaves are considerably more nutritious that is spinach and/or lettuce in a salad. We shall see. Oh, and in the research, I have found that the Scarlet Sage , a native Texas weed that I have volunteering in my gardens in an over abundance might make an excellent tea, but I would be very careful of this.


06/01/2013 (with edits and updates through 06/02/2013 - 9:05 AM)

It has been 15 days since my last report. I order the Amaranthus (aka Amaranth), five spices, and the Criteria Ternatea (aka Butterfly Pea). These items were shipped on 05/17/2013 and I am expecting them at any time and have pots prepared. While waiting, I have done an extensive bit of computer research (Google) on both groups and found that of the Amaranth, I can confirm the edibility of only three of the spices, the others being questionable. This phylum, in seems, falls into the "pig weed" category, some of which can be toxic in high nitrogen fertilizer areas during a drought. Some varieties are also consider "noxious" and resistant to herbicides (The following 9 species of Amaranthus are considered invasive and noxious weeds in the U.S and Canada: A. albus, A. blitoides, A. hybridus, A. palmeri, A. powellii, A. retroflexus, A. spinosus, A. tuberculatus, and A. viridis). I suggest anyone wishing to grow these normally very, very nutritious and highly decorative herbs be very selective as to the variety ordered.

Now, on the the Butterfly Pea. It seems this plant, aside from being highly decorative, falls into the same category as does the Moringa Tree . Although the nutrition does that count, it is medicinal values that count more heavily supplements/Clitoria+Ternatea/. I am very anxious to receive my seeds and get started with this vine. I have several hanging baskets prepared and waiting. I understand that these seeds should be soaked over night, planted and wait for one to two weeds for germination. From that point on, per the literature, the benefits can be harvested in just six weeks. For some recipes, the site is most beneficial: http: //


After some delays, likely because the Post Office delivered my order for the Amaranthus and Criteria Ternatea (aka Butterfly Pea) to the wrong address and thus, delivery to me was at least two weeks beyound expectations most likely by a private individual. The vendor did send me a duplicate order, which I returned. As soon as my seeds arrived, I did sow a few the first day and some of the rest the next day. Already, as of last night all groups of the seeds have some sprouting has occured.


It is time for a preliminary study report.

  1. Moringa_oleifera, aka Drumstick Tree, 15 seeds:
    The Moringa Tree is at the very top of hte study list. Seven seeds germinated but only two survived. One seedling was planted approximately 12 feet from the center-south of the house between the fence and the driveway. The other is in the center of a 25 gallon container. Both are doing quite well.
  2. Asimina_triloba, aka Pawpaw, 10 seeds:
    After stratifying the seed for three months in the refrigerator I planted one in the center of a 25 gallon container and nine in 14" deep tree starter pots about one month ago. As of this date, none have sprouted. I am considering the sacrifice of one in the starter pot to see if it has a tap root. The literature says that often aa tap root of about 10" long can grow before the top growth emerges.
  3. Actinidia_chinensis, aka Kiwifruit, 25 seeds:
    To date, only one seed germinated and was placed in a 15 gallon container only to be chewed off at the soil line by a squirrel. I guess the varmints are hungry this year. They are also attacking Avocado pits that I have place in small pots for germination, Anyway, to date I have no Kiwi plants. I do note, however, that the Kiwi can take up to a year to germinate.
  4. Camellia_sinensis, aka Tea, 10 seeds:
    As far as I know, only one Tea has germinated and of this I am not sure. I placed the one possible Tea plant in the center of a 15 gallon container with teh starter pots surrounding it. Time will tell if the one is actually a Tea plant, however the Tea plant is at the top of the study list.
  5. Etlingera_elatior, aka Red Torch Ginger, 15 seeds:
    None of the Ginger seeds have sprouted. Again, this is not at the top of the study list but I am disappointed as I planned to use this Ginger for show in the front year. I do have other gingers growing both in the front and back yards.
  6. Tamarillo, aka Tree Tomato, 12 seeds:
    It appears that one of the seeds has sprouted and is planted in the center of a 15 gallon container with the remaining starter pots surrounding.

Four more plants have been added to this study and will be placed on the list with the next report. These plants are the Avocado, the Papaya, the Amaranth, and the Butterfly Pea


In a 25 gallon container, it seems the first planted Paw Paw seed has germinated. Not sure of yet, but time will tell. It also looks like several Papaya have germinated as well. If so, I will need to transplant some of them. The Amaranthus, all five varieties, have germinated sd well as five of the 15 butterfly pea. Of the seedlings of the Amaranthus, I have transplanted two of each variety into one five inch and one six inch pot for future transplanting into a more permanent spot; .likely in the garden where I would expect it to reseed itself.

My plans for the Butterfly Pea is to remove all but one from each of the two pots and three hanging baskets in which they are now planted and transplant in selected locations where they have some sort of trellis onto which to grow. From the more mature plants which are growning, I will wait until I can collect five blooms each day. these blooms will be made into a tea for both my wife and for me to drink for 30 days to see if this might improve our memory. If this does not work, then I will buy a pint of "ever clear" liquor and attempt to infuse the active ingredientin that way. Note, too, that the literature (see the wiki) indicates that the seeds are high in protein and that the leaves and stems are editable and used often as a high quality cattle feed. Of course, I will look into using tghe leaves and stems as human food, too. A Google search does result is recipes.

Now let me talk about Amaranth. One look through this Wiki easily puts this very easy to grow Amaranthus plants second only to the Moringa Tree as one of the most nutritious of all plants. It us clear that despite the Corporate farmers in North America considering the plnat is nothing more than a weed, the rest of the world sees it as a delicacy and as a dietary staple. Its leaves ans stems are far more nutritious than spinach and lettuce. It's seeds provide a protein that grains and other many legumes do not. In other words, this tender, short lived perennial not only makes a very attractive garden plant but, also, can provide a full range of nutrition and vitamins not found in grains and or the grocery stores. One must, however, use some caution; it seems that the weed variety called pig weed can, during drought periods in those over fertilized and over herbicide treated fields can become toxic. Because of this, I would, and will, stick to the four named varieties named in the first paragraph of the Wiki above.



I discovered in my previous entry to this diary that I inadvertently called Amaranthus as Hibiscus in the text while giving the Wiki link to Amaranthus. The typo has been corrected. This error inspired me to to look up the food and medical value of the Hibiscus and I found it to be of high value in both areas. Since I do grow Hibiscus in pots as a decorative plant, this news is good news to me. The entire goal of the study is to find those high value plants that can be grown in pots up to 25 gallons in volume, thus making them transportable and more easily kept watered with the very scare fresh water supply. This revelation about Hibiscus encouraged me to look at a couple more of my favorite vegetables, Okra and Asparagus.

I dearly love Cajun and Creole food, especially Gumbo. And, to me, Gumbo is not gumbo unless it is thickened with Okra. But I am not limited to Okra in Gumbo, I enjoy stewed Okra as a favorite substitute for Oysters. In addition, when eating a good Texas Steak, I find fried Okra and Texas "Smashed" potatoes as a bit of the taste of Texas Heaven. One more thing in favor of Okra is that it is a member of the Mallow (Hibiscus) family and the entire plant is edible. The leaves are used in some parts of the world as salad greens. Although I am not including Okra or Hibiscus in my study, I am currently growing the two Hibiscus in 14" pots and will attempt to grow Okra in pots next year for my own benefit.

I do not know if Asparagus can be grown in Houston or not, but next season, I shall try. My Dad, living in Oklahoma City did grow the plant in his back yard, against the east side of the house so that the west sun would be blocked, His reason being that that sun plus the 100 to 110 F rays would be too much. This was done back in the early 50's while I was in the Army. However, when I came home after my hitch, age 22, I would wander out back and cut me a few tender shoots and eat tehm on the spot. I love Asparagus, raw or cooked. I will also eat raw peas and green beans, too. And there is noting finer than a red tomato picked right off the vine. THis also includes Oranges,which we do have, and apples and peaches, which we no longer have.

Let me now talk about the plants within the study. Combined with my lack of knowledge, the unusually Spring in Houston, the extreme drought conditions in Texas, and last week's 107 F (42 C) temperatures, many of my seedlings did not survive despite daily watering. I guess they still suffered from dehydration, disease, and damnation. But all is not lost, let me count the successes and the loses. Of the two on ten PawPaw that had germinated, none survived; of the 15 Kiwi, one germinated and a Squirrel or some other varmint cut it off at the base; of the Red Flame Ginger none have shown there face, of the Tree Tomato only one seems to have germinated but this is not confirmed; of the Moringa Tree, two are growing beautifully, one in the ground and one in a 25 gallon container. Finally, I think I might have one Tea growing, time will tell.


It has been two weeks since my last entries and it is time for me to recap and update events. Of the six shrubs and/or tree seeds I initially ordered:

  • Actinidia_chinensis, aka Kiwifruit, 25 seeds:
    The one Kiwi that sprouted was apparently cut off at the root, thus no Kiwi. However, Houston Gardens does offer container grown Kiwi plants at half off the original Price of $25.00. I would need two female plants and one male plant. I cannot afford to buy the m at this time.
  • Asimina_triloba, aka Pawpaw, 10 seeds:
    The PawPaw is second of the two primary or most important trees in this study. Three of the PawPaw did sprout but only the one seed placed in a 25 gallon container has survived. I suspect, since PawPaw is an "undergrowth" native American tree that the nine seeds planted in the small pots received too much sun. The one in the large container was shaded. If it continues to thrive and produces fruit, I will have plenty of seeds for additional planting. The only problem with this is my age and the short time I have left to do this study. Trees take several years to reach fruit bearing maturity.
  • Camellia_sinensis, aka Tea, 10 seeds:
    I am not certain about the Tea shrub, I may or may not have one growing.
  • Etlingera_elatior, aka Red Torch Ginger, 15 seeds:
    The Red Torch Ginger planting failed completely.
  • Moringa_oleifera, aka Drumstick Tree, 15 seeds:
    This tree is the number one or primary part of this study. Two trees have survived. The one that is planted in the ground is about 18 inches (20 cm) tall and growing like a weed. I suspect this tree will be near the top of the fence or around three feet (one meter) or more by the end of the growing season. The tree planted in the 25 gallon container is a little shorter but thriving well. However, it does seem that the foliage is a bit yellow. I believe I should apply a bit of high quality fertilizer to the soil in the container.
  • Tamarillo, aka Tree Tomato, 12 seeds:
    As with the tea, I am not certain of the Tree Tomato.


On July 14th I spoke of the two original primaries of this study. Now., let me speak of some additional plants I have added to this study, at least two are also primary. The two new primary are Clitoria ternatea or as know in Australia, the Butterfly Pea and Amaranthus. Both plants are listed for my climate as perennial bur whether annual or perennial, they reseed themselves each season. The other good thing, the reach maturity in one season, so, unlike the trees, I do not have to wait years in order to evaluate them as a viable food source and medicinal properties. I have sowed all of the seeds for these two and have 100(+) additional Clitoria seeds on order. I plan to plant this vine along the several fences and in at least one of several available posts.

One final plant to talk about is the Hibiscus we have already growing in pots. I was surprised to learn that the plant, at least the flowers and leaves, is editable. I was aware that the hibiscus was related to Okra. I have already tried chewing a few leaves and have found them to be tasty and flavored and textured close to that of Okra. I will, in due time attempt to cook some leaves in a soup to see if they can be used like Okra in a gumbo or stewed Okra.


A new discovery which surprises me. I just found out that a vine I have been cultivating for many years, Antigonon_leptopus aka Coral Vine, from seed to root, is 100% editable and has certain medicinal values. I have, in the past controlled this vine which used to cover a 24 foot by 18 foot triangular gazebo area. This vine is easy to control!! Regardless of the listing as a Noxious plant. What I learned, however, is that this vine can be used as a tool for the whole of humanity as a food and a medication source.


Clearly, I never completed the discussion of 07/19/2013. I did boil a mess of leaves, flowers and stems. I found the leaves and flowers quite palatable with a little salt and pepper. However, the stems, even the smallest, were woody, tough, and totally none editable, thus, not 100% but rather, more like 90% editable. My guess is that if the leaves, flowers and stems were dried together and chopped into small sections, then a tea could be made for use as a medication to perhaps reduce ones blood pressure. But, obviously, more research should be done before this is accepted as a medical tool.

May I now turn my attention to the Butterfly Pea, Clitoria ternatea. As a side note, please note the Latin name is for the appearance of the flower resembling a female body part. Otherwise, note that the Butterfly Pea is a Legume, thus, a highly nutritious protein source. This also means that the plant will add organic nitrogen to the soil and, as a result, should actually fertilize other plants. It has been, for years, a common practice of mine to "under plant" many of my shrubs and trees. I have noticed others sometimes do the same. I fully intend to under plant the Moringa Tree growing in the 25 gallon container with Clitoria, err, Butterfly Pea.

Of the 15 seeds of seeds of Clitoria I have planted, six are growing two each in three hanging baskets. Two of the baskets are ten inch diameter and four inches deep. Although the Clitoria si growing in these baskets, they are not doing as well as the two in a ten inch by six inch deep basket. I shall leave these plants as they are, but have ordered 100+ more seeds which I shall plant in the ground along the four foot tall fence I built last winter and to under plant the containerized Moringa tree. With so many seeds, I will place the surplus along other suitable fences. It is clear, too, that the Clitoria is self seeding and is a perennial, thus, if all goes well, in a year or so, I am sure to have more seeds than I can consume or otherwise use available to give away.




After nearly a month and a half, 43 days to be more exact, I, at last, have some significant things to report!

To begin with, of the two Moringa Trees which managed to survive birth the one I placed in the ground has in it's six month time reached a height of over three meters (10 feet) and is still growing rapidly. The Container grown Moringa has managed to about half that height but is doing well. I am very surprised with the growth of both trees as all other tree seedlings are less than 30 cm (12 inches), most far less. Of course, all of these plants and trees must pass through Houston's winter months. Some of the literature suggest that the Moringa can survive light frosts. WE shall see.

Finally, four of the the 10 Paw Paw tree seeds have sprouted. I have transplanted two of the seedlings into a 85 liter (22 gallon) container and a 95 liter (25 gallon) container. Although both are seedlings both seem to be doing well after a week in their new homes. One item of note, the tape root of both transplants were about 20-25 cm (8 -10 inches) long and I had to be careful to dig the hole for the transplant deep enough to accommodate the taproot.This is true for pecan tree seedlings, also. The Pecan is a native tree and since we have the tree, I am often pulling the pecan seedlings from my gardens as I would a weed. But I digress, the remainder of the Paw Paw seedlings will be planted in several locations about the back yard. Since I planted 10 Paw Paw seeds and since the tree usually produces a long taproot before the stem appears above ground, it is likely the USA native tree has yet to sprout more trees.

It is 9:00 am, I need to attend to some chores and return to continue this report.It took a long time to do my chores.

I guess, since this continuation is begun at 12 noon on 09/12/2013 and is likely to have to be finished at a later date as I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon. One thing I insist in doing is trying the fruits of my labors of this study on myself. My doctor has been on my case for a year now for not getting my Colon screening. Due to other factors I am have been unable to comply. However, one of the benefits mentioned in the literature for Moringa, Paw-Paw and Papaya is the certain chemicals they contain that have been listed in both traditional medicine and scientific investigations is effects on preventing ad treating both Prostrate and Colon Cancers. I shall report to the doctor today that I have already begun ingesting the leaves of the Moringa Tree. I am also eating the leaves of the Amaranth and the Butterfly Pea. I am serving as my own Test subject. If any of this plants kill me, I will be sure to report it to you.

Time to break for my Doctor's appointment; I shall return!

I have returned from Colon Cancer surgery. I have about 6" of my descending colon removed. After about five days recovery then released to go home with orders not to lift anything heaver than a glass of milk. Finally, the Doctors were pleased to tell me that the biopsy of the removed section of Colon showed no evidence of cancer and chemotherapy is not required. I privately attribute this to the Papaya leaves which I have been consuming for quite some time.


1 to 10/10/13
As of the first of this month, actually a little sooner, I have taken the time to transplant the Papaya seedlings from their 16cm (6") pots into the space on the south side of the south drive near the Southeast of the house. Let us see how well they do. Keep your fingers crossed that we do not have a hard freeze as I do not believe that this protected location could protect them. I am counting on some "global warming" that is foretold.

11 to 20/11/13

It seems the Papaya and the Moringa is doing quite well. The Papaya is alive and getting taller. The Moringa has reached to above the 1.3 Meter (four foot) fence.

20 to 30/10/13
All looks good, I am sorry I am restricted from doing more, however, I must recover from my non-cancer surgery.