April 09, 2015

Growing greens in Beachmere: there are choices...

I wrote here before about the local bush tucker plant -- Warrigal Greens (aka 'New Zealand Spinach ) and shared a tasty recipe for using them -- Spanakorizo -- bush tucker style Greek spinach & rice using Warrigal Greens .

It grows well in Beachmere but this time of year is still recovering from the Summer heat.

Fortunately the sandiness underfoot is also supportive of many other greens. Many of the lettuce persuasion seem to do well here, as does kale.

I've been experimenting with other greens with some success. If you were after year round green stuff for the meal table -- either in salads, stir fries, mixes and the like  -- plants you could go out and pick as required, here are a few of my  favs:


  • Katuk (Sauropus androgynus): This is a small bushy plant/small tree that grows easily from cuttings.  Katuk is one of the most popular leaf vegetables in South Asia and Southeast Asia. The leaves are sweet (one of its other names is Sweet Leaf) and taste like a cross between asparagus and peas. Prefers shade but loses its leaves over the colder months.
  • Brazilian Spinach (Alternanthera sissoo): Also called Sissoo spinach is a ground cover with brightly colored green leaves that will stand in for anything to do with spinach or silver beet. Very productive and easy to grow, Brazilian Spinach comes as a bit of a surprise the way it takes off here.Some oxalic acid on board (like spinach) but the Brazilians use it raw in salads.
  • Egyptian Spinach/Molokheya -- Mulukhiyah, mloukhiya, molokhia, molohiya, mulukhiyya, malukhiyah, or moroheiya (Arabic: ملوخية‎) has a whole food genre dedicated to it from West Africa to Cypress. Who would have guessed? Usually  cooked in stews and soups. The taste and texture is like a green wafer on the tongue. The bush grows quickly with many leaves on offer.  
  • Sweet Potato leaves:  If you don't keep the water up to your sweet potatoes in Beachmere they won't grow much in the way of tubers. But the leaves make great fodder for stir fries. The young new leaves are very useful in the kitchen,  any web search will get you a DIY meal plan.
There are other 'greens' like Aibika [vauvau (Fiji), pele (Polynesia)]-- a member of the hibiscus family --  the leaves are a tad glutinous ( like Ceylon Spinach) but are of such a size that they suit wrappings like dolmades (like sushi, but folded) or the like. 

Moringa
If you are into something a tad more exotic and potentially larger-- Moringa is a tree that should grow well here (and better than it does at my place). You can eat a lot of Moringa's wares -- like the drumstick seed pods -- but the leaves are a standard green vegetable popular in many countries. The tree has  a large nutritional and medicinal reputation, but needs to be kept short so it can be easily harvested and to prevent it getting away from your control: it can grow up to 10 metres tall. 

That's a lot of green veg!

The trick is  grow a mix of different greens so that you have a choice 12 months of the year and everyone of these are hassle free....and unlike lettuces and such they don't run to seed -- leastways in a hurry -- or have a short harvest season. 

And they seem to do well here...

So when you are kale-ed out, there are options.

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