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Growing Vegetables Organically in the Florida Keys
Successful Summer Greens
Chaya or tree spinach - a large, fast-growing leafy perennical shrub that is believed to have
originated in the Yucatan Peninsula. It has succulent stems which exude a milky sap when cut. It can grow to be 6
meters tall, but is usually pruned to about 2 m for easier leaf harvest. It is a popular leaf vegetable in Mexican
and Central American cuisines. similar to spinach. The leaves should be cooked before being eaten, as the raw leaves
contain toxic hydrocyanic acid. Up to 5 raw leaves can be eaten a day. To be safely eaten, the required cooking time
is 5-15 minutes. Chaya is quite nutritious; it does, indeed, provide more protein, calcium, iron, vitamin C, and
carotenes than spinach. Cooked leaves are chopped and used like spinach.
Moringa - India's ancient tradition of ayurveda says the leaves of the Moringa tree prevent 300 diseases.
Modern science confirms the basic idea. Scientific research has proven that these humble leaves are in fact a
powerhouse of nutritional value. Gram for gram, Moringa leaves contain: 7 times the vitamin C in oranges; 4
times the calcium in milk; 4 times the vitamin A in carrots; 2 times the protein in milk; 3 times the potassiumin
bananas. Edible raw or cooked. Nutritious addition to salads, soups and smoothies.
Purslane - Leaves are high in Omega-3 fatty acid, and the stems are high in vitamin C. Omega-3 fatty
acids are instrumental in regulating our metabolism. Purslane contains a very high concentration of alpha-linolenic
acid -- several times the concentration in spinach. Edible raw and cooked. Good in salads and smoothies.
Sweet Potato Leaves - A good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Niacin and Phosphorus, and a very
good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium
and Manganese. Edible raw, better cooked. The vines are rich and flavorful, although like most greens they may be
somewhat bitter. The leaves are prepared much like spinach or turnip greens. Boiling the sweet potato vine leaves
in a small amount of water removes any toughness or bitterness. Once the sweet potato greens are tender, chop the
leaves and use them in recipes or sauté them with butter and garlic, then splash the hot sweet potato greens with
soy sauce or vinegar and a dash of salt.
Collards - grow well in the heat if they were started in the winter and get enough water. a rich source
of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A. Collard greens are an excellent
way to add nutrition to your diet, as they contain protein and fiber. Edible raw and cooked.
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