Summers are hot here in South Florida and most farmers will tuck tail and not grow anything for the summer fearful of rains, heat, and bugs, but not me. I figure in tropical countries they do not stop eating when it gets hot, so I look to the tropics for ideas and alternatives on what to grow for food.
Human beings thrive best when we eat locally grown, indigenous foods. Here are five plants that I just started propagating for production that we need to learn to eat, not only because they are what grows when it gets hot, but because they are super healthy.
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Poisonous if eaten raw, but one of the most nutritious greens in the world. They have double the vitamins and minerals of spinach and collard greens. To nullify the toxic cyanide reaction the leaves have with our bodies, they must be boiled for 20 minutes. This small herbaceous tree has leaves reminiscent of papaya and body structure like a Plumeria (Frangipani). This plant is very easy to propagate; you just cut a piece off and stick it in the ground. Chaya will survive drought and tropical rains. The Mayan culture heavily survived on this plant.
This plant has a green leaf top and a purple underside and is heavily cultivated in China. Although the name implies, it is not related to spinach. The leaf of this small bush can be eaten raw or cooked and would make a fine ornamental hedge. It is easily propagated from cuttings and is pretty much pest free, at least I have not seen anything eat it except us. Very easy to grow, but does not like a freeze.
The tree is also called Miracle Tree, offering 90 different vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, making this one of the most nutritious greens (if not the most) in the world. Most parts of the plant are edible, leaves, seed pods, seed oil, and roots which flavor like horseradish. The leaves are the most nutritious part containing, 7x vitamin C of oranges, 4x vitamin A of carrots, 4x calcium of milk, 3x potassium of bananas, 2x protein of yogurt. This tree grows very well in our climate and propagates easily from seed or cuttings. The tree has delicate leaves with a sweet taste and shaped much like pea shoots.
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