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As our knowledge of the harmful effects of agricultural chemicals grows, more and more farmers and consumers are rediscovering their organic history, returning to the methods of old, such as plucking insect pests and weeds by hand and hoe, and amending soil with natural fertilizers—compost. The joy in growing your own food is the joy in savoring its delicious flavor and in providing good food for others to enjoy. Discover how to rebuild your garden with an organic foundation and produce the vegetables, fruits and herbs that will nourish your family and the families of those who purchase your produce.
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How to grow vanilla plants?

Vanilla plants are climbing plants that prefer high humidity and bright, indirect sunlight. They also require ample water and extremely warm temperatures. If you can provide the right growing conditions, you can grow your own vanilla at home. Vanilla is an edible pod from orchids of the Vanilla genus. It is commonly cultivated in Mexico, Madagascar, Reunion and several other tropical locations, where it vines up trees. Growing vanilla at home can be a difficult and long process. Three major species of vanilla currently are grown globally, all of which derive from a species originally found in Mesoamerica, including parts of modern-day Mexico.

 Vanilla plant

The various subspecies are Vanilla planifolia, grown on Madagascar, RĂ©union, and other tropical areas along the Indian Ocean; V. tahitensis, grown in the South Pacific; and V. pompona, found in the West Indies, and Central and South America. The majority of the world's vanilla is the V. planifolia species, more commonly known as Bourbon vanilla, Madagascar vanilla, which is produced in Madagascar and neighboring islands in the southwestern Indian Ocean, and in Indonesia. Vanilla beans are the fruits of a few very particular kinds of orchids, and they require special growing conditions and careful handling to thrive.

Once harvested, the pods also have to be dried, cured, and then aged — all before becoming the baking ingredient we know and love. This means that real, whole vanilla beans are one of the most expensive spices in our cupboards. But vanilla beans return the favor by providing us with such rich, intense aromas and flavors in our baked goods. They're a special ingredient, but worth it. The cultivation of vanilla is extremely labor-intensive. The plants themselves don't even start producing vanilla beans until after three years. Thus, you'll need to purchase a vanilla bean plant from a reputable grower.

 Vanilla plant

As a vanilla plant takes 3-5 years to bloom, it doesn't make sense to try to start a plant from seed. You can do an online search for “vanilla bean plants” or “vanilla orchids.” Or visit a local orchid grower, if there is one in your area. Vanilla orchids are evergreen plants with 6 " inch, yellow-green, fleshy foliage. Vanilla likes a neutral soil pH (6.6 - 7.5). Although you may not see a bloom on a cutting for a couple of years their blossoms show up in mid-spring to late summer -- and only for one day. The tubular flowers are white, yellow or green and about 5" inches across.

If the flowers are successfully pollinated, 6"-10" long seed pods will follow about nine months later. Keep the soil evenly moist at all times taking care not to over-water at the same time. This orchid may not like its feet to dry out between waterings, but it doesn't want rotten roots either. During the spring and summer, lightly fertilize your vanilla bean plant every two weeks with an orchid fertilizer. Offer the vines some type of support for climbing and clinging such as a wooden trellis. Vanilla bean plants aren't especially hard to grow but if your outdoor climate isn't ideal they're well-suited to the greenhouse, as well as indoors among other houseplants.

 Vanilla plant

Go to this site to learn how to grow your own vanilla plant.
http://www.wikihow.com/Grow-Vanilla

Most vanilla is grown in the third world. Vanilla farmers sell raw vanilla beans to central curing houses. Curing houses process the raw pods into the fermented, fragrant vanilla beans that we know. These professionals process tons of vanilla from all over a region. When you buy vanilla processed by a curing house, there is little chance to get beans from the same farm. At plantations in the first world, and select plantation elsewhere, vanilla is cured ‘on the farm’ and marketed as a high quality niche product. This vanilla will always be more expensive because labor, land, and other expenses are higher in the first world.

Throughout human history, if you wanted to make a dish taste like vanilla, you had no choice but to add a vanilla. But in the 19th century, scientists began to understand how to synthesize flavor chemicals, whether from plants or from byproducts of coal processing, to evoke familiar flavors. While the technology to evaluate the flavor molecules of a particular food have become increasingly sophisticated in the past century, the basic concept of synthetic flavor has remained unchanged. Yet despite the wide-ranging efforts, the future of the spice remains uncertain.

 Vanilla pods

Synthetic vanilla is now used in a majority of vanilla products and is significantly cheaper to produce than natural vanilla, though it lacks the same quality of flavor. The rising popularity of the synthetic product has been a major contributor to falling prices in the natural market. However, recent years have given rise to consumer concern over the chemicals used in synthetic vanilla and a desire for organic or pure products. Imitation vanilla may also be called “vanilla flavor”, and is often combined with sugar, corn syrup, or a similar low-quality sweetener to make the product taste better. It’s chemically produced to mimic the taste of vanilla but is not however, true vanilla.

 Vanilla Orchids

Pacu Jaya

Pacu Jaya

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