Something Different for Your Vegetable Garden
When it comes to a steady food supply, you ideally want perennial plants that will nearly take care of themselves. Rhubarb is one we are generally familiar with but there are others lesser known to our dinner tables and gardens that, depending upon your location may work for you.
Let uis start with chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius (Miller) I. M. Johnston subsp. Aconitifolius) Chaya is a green that has been found to contain more nutrients in its leaves than spinach.
The plant is simple to grow; has some drought tolerance and can deal with heavy downpours.
You can propagate chaye by woody stem cuttings that are between 6 and 12 inches long; chaya is slow to produce seeds.
The leaves can be harvested frequently which makes it a great come and cut again plant; just be sure to remove no more than 50% of the leaves from the plant which will enable it to keep on providing you with food.
Chaya is a valuable source of calcium, iron and protein. Do not eat the raw leaves. Chaya must be cooked. The raw leaves are toxic as they contain a gluocidethat can release toxic cyanide.
Cooking inactivates the toxic components.
From Borneo we have katuk (Sauropus androgynus) which can be grown as an edible hedge. Katuk can be cooked or eaten raw and the raw leaves have a nutty flavour.
Katuk leaves are easily harvested simply by pulling them from the stem with your fingers. You can eat the tender tips, leaves, flowers, and small fruits.
Katuk enjoys a hot, humid climate and will grow in shade or full sun. A plus is that it likes acidic soils and will tolerate flooding.
Katuk needs to be regularly trimmed for optimal production of new shoots as it is a rapid grower but does not develop a sturdy stem and will tip over. So keep it pruned to between 3-6 feet (1-2 m) high.
. Katuk is easily propagated by moderately woody cuttings (20-30 cm long, with at least two nodes). They can be slow to establish. Be sure to plant the cuttings about 2-3 feet apart in full sun or partial shade
The Jerusalem artichoke also known as the sunchoke is native to the eastern United States from main west to North Dakota and south to northern Florida and Texas.
The tuber of the sunchoke can be used like potatoes and the choke is a prolific breeder so yield is not the problem controlling the plant’s spread is. It may be best to grow sunchokes in large containers in order to keep them from taking over your garden.
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