I had a great chance to visit a Thai garden this week.
“I don’t have much right now,” she told me as we stepped out back. “The lizard got a lot of my plants.”
South Florida suffers from an invasion of vegetarian iguanas, yet what they left behind was still impressive. Katuk… moringa… pineapples… papaya… kang kong… kaffir lime… three different basil varieties and a whole mess of Asian herbs and vegetables foreign to me were spread out in containers.
|Kang Kong: one of the most productive leaf vegetables you can grow.|
Kiddie pools housed some of the bounty, and everything from coolers to pots were stuffed to overflowing.
We stood in the rain as it was getting dark. Our hostess was my wife Rachel’s aunt. We were there for dinner (which, incidentally, was an amazing spread of Thai food… I’ve rarely eaten so well in my entire life) and had to take the garden tour.
|Amazingly aromatic Thai basil.|
She told me that she grew some plants as food coloring for various confections. A pea vine provided blue… another plant gave up a golden dye and so on. “I don’t buy any food coloring. All natural,” she said, waving a hand at her garden.
Beyond the pots and containers, she had a stand of pineapples, plus mangoes, jackfruit, sugar apple, bananas and other great perennials.
|Pineapples packed tightly into the back corner of the yard.|
If you live in a tropical place like South Florida, what are you doing with your life? You could be eating fresh all year.
This Thai garden isn’t fancy – and it’s definitely been chewed up by a now-mysteriously-missing iguana – but it keeps the house supplied with plenty of fresh greens, spices and fruit.
Gardening doesn’t have to be a big affair with cedar beds and perfect spacing. Get out back and get planting. If you need help, make friends with someone from Southeast Asia.
Unlike Americans, they know what to do with a back yard.
Is there a reason for all the containers?
Really lousy sand, mostly. The kiddie pools also contained some water-loving veggies.
Yeah … There is a guy nearby who bought a fish farm in bankruptcy, filled the ponds with good soil and is growing veggies there now. Apparently, it works very good.
Great idea – I'd love to see that.
Would love to know more about her leafy greens. I am forever short of them. I grow a lot of stuff in pots and old buckets. Good control of water and sun for different seasons. Can you find out some names of green?
For your region, I recommend Talinum fruticosum (Surinam purslane), Cranberry hibiscus and Jamaican sorrel, Longevity spinach (Gynura procumbens), Okinawa spinach, Abelmoschus manihot, katuk, sea purslane and canna blooms. All very good, though some are hard to find.
Thanks for the plant list. I recently ordered katuk seed. I will look into the others. I need lots of perrienial leafy greens that can be eaten raw. Water spinach sounds like a winner too. We feed 4 sheep, turkeys, and chickens on our 1 1\4 acre. Our goal is to supply all of us with food. I know this is optimistic, but we are getting closer every year. God willing, we will be able to cut out GMO corn this year by replacing it with sorghum and Amaranth, plus various tree seed pods.
You can do it – that’s plenty of space.
In the tropics you really don’t even need any grains. Switch to yams, plantains, sweet potatoes, malanga, etc for carbohydrates. If you do still want corn, though, you could try Hickory King, a nice old Southern variety that handles humidity and heat.
I have sweet potatoes and plantains. What is malanga? Maybe I know it by a Spanish name.
Being in our seventies, we are looking for the easiest way to feed without buying corn. The only corn I am growing is an heirloom sweet corn for us. Harvesting trees and plants is easier than digging sweet potatoes to feed everybody daily. If I can grow enough perennial greens and seeds, I should be able to feed everybody. Corn is used to train everyone to go where we want them. I need another enticement food that is easy to grow preferably perennial. Any suggestions appreciated.