“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. 

Mama Do's yard. It's small (2 lots), but it's bountiful!

Lime tree with coconuts used as mulch. Great idea!

Everybody helped to pick longans. There were thousands hanging from the tree!

Longans in a Southwest Florida yard.

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. 

Peeled longans... I love 'em. My friend said they look like eyeballs. Great for a Halloween party!

This is the perfect summer job for kids. She's watering the lemongrass.

Sweet potato vine... the variety is "boniato".

Mama Do boils her young sweet potato leaves in water for about 5 minutes and eats them like spinach.  Sometimes she steams them. 

Bitter melon vine with a flower that will soon turn into a fruit.

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.  

Edible ginger. She slices her ginger leaves really thin and adds them to potato soup with shrimp.

Mama Do's sweet sop fruit.

Peeling a sweetsop is super easy.

Peeled sweetsop with seeds

Mama Do picking her sweetsops to sell. She sells them for $3 a pound.

The fruit holder. That's a sweetsop on the left and a pummelo on the right.

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.  

... and so does her granddaughter!

Come grow with us!

5 Responses to ““Mama Do’s” Yard”

  1. I’m tickled to read about how much you like Mama Do’s yard. Growing up it seemed like an exotic jungle at times and only now that we’re older do I appreciate the work that she’s put into her fruit trees. She says the sugar apples were grown from seeds originating from Vietnam of course. These have a slightly different texture and are a little sweeter than the ones found in
    the Miami area. They’ve grown on me over the years but our 2 year old liked them right off the bat.

    Separately I also wanted to add that she believes the bitter melon to be good for diabetics. Clearly that hasn’t been vetted by the medical community but I thought it an interesting tidbit.

    Love the photos! Made me want to have some more Sweet sop!

    • I’ve heard some great things about the bitter melon in the media recently. Scientists are doing research on the bitter melon extract because there is a theory that it prevents breast cancer.
      I want to do a separate blog on Mama Do’s “Nuoc Man” sauce… it deserves some attention. Ever since you brought some over and gave me the recipe, I’ve not been without it. OMG… it’s so good, why don’t people everywhere know about this sauce?

  2. samantha Says:

    i want to pick some longan. does she sell her longans

  3. Hello, is this a public place where I can go to buy the fruits and veggies from her? If so, where is it located? Thank you!

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