“Mama Do’s” Yard
“Mama Do” is my friend’s mom, (it’s pronounced “doe”). Since we’ve all known each other for so long, she’s known simply as “Mama Do”. She came over to the United States with her family in 1975 from a small town in South Vietnam called Vinh Long, (off the Mekong River Delta). They were in a refugee camp that evacuated all the women and children to Thailand the day before the fall of Saigon and the invasion of the Vietcong.
Their family has such an amazing history. It’s similar to my family’s history, except that my grandparents came over from Hamburg, Germany post W.W. II on the S.S. United States, in 1953. Both of our families were sponsored to come into the U.S.
Mama Do’s yard showcases her gardening skills. Everything is thriving and gorgeous.
I was totally blown away by her longan tree… there was so much fruit! I love longans, but not everyone does. One of my friends said they leave a strange aftertaste that he cannot describe but does not like. I don’t notice an aftertaste. They remind me of lychees, except not as sweet.
Mama Do boils her young sweet potato leaves in water for about 5 minutes and eats them like spinach. Sometimes she steams them.
Mama Do is growing a larger variety of bitter melon than the wild one that pops up in Florida yards as an invasive weed. I have a wild one growing on my fence right now and the fruit is quite small. I need to get rid of this one because I don’t want this variety. I planted some Siamese bitter melon in a big pot with seeds I purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds .
Mama Do makes a soup with her bitter melon fruit. She cuts it in half and takes out the seeds. She stuffs it with ground pork, garlic, onion, salt & pepper, egg yolk and shrimp. She boils water with pork bone (and a little fish sauce) and cooks it for about an hour before she adds the stuffed bitter melons. She drops in the stuffed bitter melons and cooks them on low for about 2 hours.
Sweetsop (Annona squamosa) is my absolutely favorite fruit. I think I say that about a lot of fruits, but truly… sweetsop is numero uno. It goes by other common names such as custard apple, guanabanana and sugar apple. Jamaicans call it sweetsop, so that’s how I’ve always known it. We planted a small tree in our yard this past summer. We know it isn’t the slightest bit cold tolerant, so we’re planning to transplant it to a big pot and keep it warm during the winter. We’re going to string it with white Christmas lights for added warmth.
Mama Do is in zone 9b and is also growing avocado, mango, sapodilla, pummelo, bananas, papayas, jackfruit, coconuts and much more. Most of her trees are mature and plentiful, with blue-ribbon flavored fruit. She is such an inspiration to us… we just love her.
Come grow with us!