EDIBLE GROUNDCOVER - CAN EAT COOKED, OR THE CRUNCHY YOUNG SHOOTS CAN BE RAW IN SALADS - DECORATIVE LEAVES ARE PURPLE ON THEIR BOTTOMS AND GREEN ON TOP - VIGOROUS GROWTH SUN TO PART SHADE (<25%) - TOLERATES SOILS FROM ALKALINE TO ACID AND DRY SAND TO WET CLAY - GROWS BEST IN HOT WEATHER.
ACTUALLY AN OKRA - ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST NUTRITIOUS LEAFY PLANTS - HIGH IN PROTEIN - FAST GROWING - USE LEAVES OR BLOSSOM FOR A WRAP OR PUT A SINGLE LEAF ON A SANDWICH - COOK THE YOUNG PODS LIKE OKRA - SLIGHTLY MUCILAGINOUS, IT WORKS WELL WITH DRY FOODS.
EDIBLE LEAVES FLOWERS, SMALL FRUITS, CAN TASTE LIKE PEANUTS - SOURCE OF VITAMINS A AND C, CALCIUM, AND IRON - COOKED GREENS RETAIN FORM AND COLOR - GROWS WELL IN HOT, HUMID CONDITIONS, SHADE, AND TOLERATES FLOODING - CAN HARVEST FREQUENTLY FROM THE TOP DOWN.
A HYPER-PRODUCTIVE PLANT OF EDIBLE LEAVES, FLOWERS, NECTAR, SEEDPODS, SEEDS, OIL, AND YOUNG ROOTS - OUNCE FOR OUNCE MORE IRON THAN SPINACH, MORE PROTEIN THAN EGGS, MORE POTASSIUM THAN BANANAS, MORE CALCIUM THAN MILK, MORE VITAMIN A THAN CARROTS - A FEW CRUSHED SEEDS WILL CLEAN A LITER OF MUDDY WATER - A SMALL TREE KEPT AT SHRUB HEIGHT TO MAXIMIZE FOLIAGE - VERY TOLERANT OF DROUGHT - VULNERABLE TO A FREEZE, BUT IT WILL COME BACK FROM THE ROOT, AND NEW SEEDLINGS CAN REACH OVER 10 FT IN HEIGHT IN ONE SEASON.
EAT RAW IN SALADS, BOILED, OR STIR-FRIED LIKE SPINACH, OR AS A POT HERB IN SOUPS - A PLANT THAT CAN BE GROWN IN SUN OR PART SHADE, IN WINTER OR SUMMER - AMAZING SPRAYS OF SEED CAPSULES WHEN IT BOLTS YIELD ENOUGH TINY SEEDS TO PLANT A FARM - A HIGHLY NUTRITIOUS VEGETABLE RICHER IN PROTEIN THAN SPINACH, HIGH IN VITAMINS A AND C, AND A VERY GOOD SOURCE OF MINERALS. SEEDS CAN BE USED TO MAKE MUSTARD OR PRESSED INTO AN EDIBLE OIL.
USE LEAVES AND CHOPPED CALYX LOBES FROM BASE OF OLD FLOWERS IN SALADS OR COOK AS A VEGETABLE - LOBES CAN BE CANDIED OR USED TO MAKE TEAS, JUICES, SAUCES, SYRUPS, JELLIES, AND PIE FILLING TO IMPART A CRANBERRY-LIKE FLAVOR - SEEDS CAN ROASTED AS A COFFEE OR GROUND AND USED AS A MEAL - GOOD SOURCE OF CALCIUM, IRON, NIACIN, AND RIBOFLAVIN.
A GROUNDCOVER THAT CAN GROW TALL IF SUPPORTED - EAT YOUNG SHOOTS AND LEAVES WHIPPED INTO A SMOOTHIE, RAW LEAVES IN SALADS, OR BLANCHED LIKE SPINACH, STIR-FRIED WITH GARLIC, OR ADDED TO SOUPS - A LONG LIST OF ALLEGED MEDICINAL BENEFITS CAN BE FOUND ONLINE FROM TROPICAL REGIONS AROUND THE WORLD, MOST COMMONLY IT IS REPORTED AS LOWERING CHOLESTEROL, BLOOD PRESSURE, AND SUGAR LEVELS IN ADDITION TO A NUMBER OF TOPICAL TREATMENTS FOR PAINS OR SORES, AND EVEN AS AN INHIBITOR OF CANCER CELL GROWTH - PREFERS PARTIAL SHADE BUT IS ADAPTABLE TO FULL SUN IN MOIST SOILS.
AN ORIGINAL HEIRLOOM GROWN BY SEMINOLE TRIBES - A VIGOROUS HEAT, PEST, AND DISEASE RESISTENT VINE - IT LIKES TO GROW OUT OF THE BED AND ACROSS SANDY SOIL OR UP A TRELLIS OR A BOOTED PALM TREE - YIELDS MODESTLY SIZED PUMPKINS TASTING LIKE ACORN SQUASH BUT SWEETER - CAN BE EATEN GREEN LIKE A SQUASH OR RIPENED TO MAXIMUM SWEETNESS.
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Here are images and links to information and recipes for all 25 edibles now in the gardens:
FRAME : 4ft x 12ft frame of 2x12 Pressure treated Pine set 1-2" in the ground so nutrients won't leak out the sides
FILL : Each 4x12 frame with 4x4 corner braces needs from 42 to 44 cu. ft. of soil enhanced with 2 lbs. of chicken manure.
• we cover the bottom with shade cloth or a thick layer of newsprint
• do not use glossy newspaper inserts as their inks are toxic
• we fill the bottom of the frame with 22 cu. ft. of top soil
• then we sprinkle 2 lbs. of pasteurized chicken manure over the bed
• on top we put 22 cu. ft. of special organic potting soil mix
• finally we dig in 1/2 to 1 lb. of worms ordered online
• after all seedlings mature you can mulch with oak leaves
• mulch is seldom needed though as the vegetables will cover the bed
• once a year we top off the bed with more potting soil mix as needed
• fertilizer has not been needed
• maintenance is minimal, primarily to replace seasonal vegetables
IRRIGATION: A Y splitter is attached to the nearest hose bib. The garden hose is attached to one branch of the Y and a battery operated irrigation controller is connected to the other one. From the controller, a 3/4 in. poly tubing line goes to the bed. 60 ft. of 1/4 in. vinyl tubing with emitters embedded every 6 in. is installed on top of the bed winding in equally spaced rows around the surface held in place with steel staples tie downs. A goof plug seals the end and a barbed connector at the head of the line is inserted into the 3/4in poly tube that comes from the controller on the hose bib.
The advantage of this cobbled together system is its independence of any landscape irrigation system the is likely to run only a few days each week or less. Irrigation of a vegetable bed through the low volume emitter tubes requires much longer an more frequent running times as well as the ability to vary the frequency and runtimes seasonally as new plants are added. If the irrigation is connected to an existing system, it should have its own independent valve and zone on the controller.
• SOILS AND AMENITIES:
The most important component of a raised bed garden is the soil that fills it.
In the beginning we composed our own fill in the style of the Permaculture's sheetmulch that layers all the essential ingredients of a perfect growing medium. However, the logistics and labor cost of assembling multiple beds in various locations around the community all at once when 8 or 9 beds were ordered proved to be overwhelming.
So we sought out a local source of a bona fide organic growing medium and found Dr. Ali Tahiri (aka Dr. Dirt) of in Sarasota who enabled us to replace the entire contents of our beds with his products that are available in 1 cu. ft. bags that facilitate our installations.
The doctor's prescription was for 22 cu.ft. of his topsoil on the bottom, 2 lbs of pasteurized chicken manure spread over the middle, and 22 cu.ft. of his "beyond organic" potting soil on top.
The results have so far been outstanding. Installation is much easier and the germination success of seeds sown in the potting soil mix is visibly greater.
So now, with two years experience and the kinks worked out, we are able to efficiently assemble an extraordinarily productive bed fully planted that is well worth the investment.
• A BED OF YOUR OWN:
If you would like us to build an Edibles Garden for you or want advice how to build your own, contact me:
Michael Miller or [email protected]
• ECHO'S HEAT TOLERANT VEGETABLES :
Ninety minutes down I-75 at Exit 143 (Bayshore Rd) in North Ft.Myers, there is a most fascinating place, the farm and retail nursery of ECHO, the Educational Concern for Hunger Organization. They grow a sizable variety of edibles that thrive in hot climates and send the seed to other organizations working in underdeveloped countries around the world, spreading sustainability to those who most need it.
Coincidentally, these plants are also an answer to the prayers of every Florida gardener who has long ago given up on growing vegetables here in the summer. And, as you can tell by the descriptions above, getting to know them is an exciting experience and addition to your life.
• ABOUT ECHO :
• Visit ECHO'S website at for complete information.
• Visit their Global Farm and take the wonderful 2 hour tour.
• Go early and buy before the tour ... the plants go fast after it.
• will help you select.