Five August Plantings for Your Garden, Food Forest or Containers
Many people know it is time to start their garden or food forest yet are overwhelmed. We understand, and this is why we make videos for you and continuously add more information about each plant. We want to empower you to grow your food! The best time was years ago; the next best time is now! So, let's start with easy. We are spotlighting five plants you can plant today that will give you food you can trust and feel great about in a short time. They will keep on giving you more year after year and include our cold- climate friends too, by planting in containers you can bring indoors. You can do this!
Long Leaf Edible Hibiscus (Abelmoschus manihot)
Kiko’s Crump, a perennial leaf hibiscus, is an excellent replacement for lettuce; often used for wraps or in a salad with a ton of nutrition, including protein! It is low maintenance and provides crops year-round. The plant is high in both Vitamin A & C. The leaf texture has viscous gelatinous consistency when cooked or eaten raw (good for our digestive system! The plant is also known as the sunset muskmallow, sunset hibiscus, or long-leaf hibiscus.
Moringa Tree, Moringa oliefera
The "Tree of Life", "Horseradish Tree", "Ben Oil Tree", or "Drumstick Tree"
No matter the nickname, Moringa is a superfood! It is a highly nutritious vegetable tree, whose leaves, flowers, seeds, pods & roots are all edible/medicinal. Protein, vitamins, and minerals are so abundant in this plant; it is one tree every home should have several planted. They are very fast growing at a rate of 9 feet per year & will become root-bound quickly. If you decide to keep them in a container at full size, we suggest you do so with a 15-gallon container. We also recommend pruning your Moringa tree to a harvest height of 8-12 ft. When you chop them back, they seem to "race" to put out more leaves. ALWAYS TRY TO HARVEST FROM THE TOP OF THE TREE, NEVER THE BOTTOM. For new growers, cuttings should always be done on a diagonal so that that water will slope off. Here in Florida, you may notice a yellowing of the leaves: this is due to the combination of water on the leaves & the extreme heat of the Florida sun. They will lose their leaves during freeze times but always seem to come back with warmer weather. Make sure to harvest all your leaves before the first freeze & dry them (out of the sunlight). You can take these dried leaves & grind them into powder form for storage through the winter. It is truly unique how jam-packed full of nutrients the Moringa leaves, pods, and flowers are. If every household had access to Moringa, then we could eliminate malnutrition.
Longevity Spinach, Gynura procumbens
This delicious green is a superfood too & we consider it one of our favorites for many reasons. It is a fast-growing, beautiful ground cover. Also regarded as medicinal in Tropical Asia for anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, ulcer-healing, blood sugar balancing, kidney & liver-protecting, and is rumored to be anti-cancer. It is a perennial in zones 9-11, where it is a prolific grower year-round. It is ideal for us, especially in the wintertime, when many of our other perennial greens have gone dormant. It grows as an annual or container plant in different hardiness zones, bringing it inside for protection during long winter frosts. With both culinary and medicinal uses, this is a favorite in our gardens and food forest! The taste is fresh, some saying like fresh green beans. It can be enjoyed right off the plat, in salads, or cooked alone or in your favorite dish.
Everglades Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)
We still have a lot of heat remaining this year, and so many are having problems growing delicious tomatoes. Here is your key to success. This hardy tomato also is easy to grow and has a fantastic flavor. It can grow in most soil types and can handle Florida's scorching summer/fall sun. The fruit produced is small but the taste is rich and sweet. If you leave some tomatoes on the vine remaining, they will reseed themselves year after year. This plant could even be used as a ground cover if left to grow large and bushy. The Everglades Tomato can live all year round for those who live in the south but will also grow inside in other areas. It grows so well you will think it is wild!
African Potato Mint (Plectranthus rotundifolius)
New to growing or desire a highly prolific and nutritious food source that produces with great success? This beautiful crawling food crop easily grows and has a very lush green appearance. You plant as a low-maintenance ground cover to keep weeds down, and you can enjoy its tubers: boiled, baked, or fried. It is Perennial for us in the south but can also be an annual in colder climates.
This plant is an underutilized delicacy offering aromatic, flavorful, and highly nutritious smaller-size tubers. The tubers, highly starchy rhizomes, and leaves provide food and are medicinal. You generally cook the tubers, but you can eat them raw, skin too. They contain a significant quantity of several minerals, such as calcium and iron, vitamins, including ascorbic acid (vitamin C), niacin (vitamin B3), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and thiamine (vitamin B1). Your body uses all three to turn food into energy. It also contains flavonoids, which help lower cholesterol, and enzyme inhibitors used as medicines in some cultures.