Common names: Sweet Leaf, Tropical asparagus, Chang Kok, Star gooseberry, Katuk
Origin: Tropical and Sub-Tropical Asia
Plant: Sweet leaf will grow in most soils, including heavy clay. It tolerates high rainfall as well as dry conditions, will grow in full sun or handle shade.
Harvest: All year (growth does slow in winter)
Propagation: By seeds, suckers or cuttings
Plants available in our nursery
Common names: Malabar Chestnut, Guiana, Guiana Chestnut, Guyana Chestnut, Provision tree, Saba Nut, Money Tree
Origin: Native of area between southern Mexico to Guyana and northern Brazil
Plant: Requires a frost-free location with some protection from hot, drying winds. Enjoys full-partial sun. Soils need only to be well-drained and trees enjoy consistent and regular watering during dry months.
Harvest: Feb, March, April
Propagation: By seed or cutting
A lovely evergreen tree with greenish bark that generally grows to 2-5 m with a spread of 1.5-2.5 m. Takes 4-5 years before able to harvest nuts.
Flowers are white and curl back from the base to reveal a spectacular cluster of 1-2cm cream-white stamens.
Fruit are ovoid, woody green pod which can reach 2-5cm in length and resemble a kapok or silk floss seed pod. The tightly packed nuts inside enlarge until the pod bursts and fall to the ground. These can be eaten raw or roasted. The raw nuts taste like peanuts and will keep for months in a cool, dry place. Roast nuts with oil and garlic or grind into flour for baking.
Plants available in our nursery
(photos courtesy of Flora and Fauna of tropical Asia & Lush Plants)
Rosella (Roselle, Florida Cranberry, Red Sorrel, Indian Sorrel, Mesta
Origin: Hawaii and West Indies
Plant: September – December
Harvest: February – April
A hardy, annual bush originating from Hawaii and the West Indies grows to 1-2m high. Allow 1 m spacing between plants grown in full to partial sun with well-drained soil.
Each bush can produce 1-2 kg of fruit or more, depending on soil fertility, climate conditions, day and night temperatures and how the bush is cared for. Picking off the plump, red calyces as soon as they mature, encourages regular flowering and more fruit set.
Source of Vitamins A, B, C and minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, cobalt, manganese, zinc, silicon, phosphorus and very rich in selenium and chromium.
To prepare rosellas, the red calyces need to be pulled off the seed capsule by hand. You can freeze the calyces until you have enough to make jam.
Tropical vegetables and fruit trees are traditionally grown in a polyculture (NOT monoculture) in a food garden system among support plants. This provides a ‘micro-climate’ providing shade, helping to save moisture in the soil and establishing an ideal atmosphere for plant growth.
Support species create a source of nutrient-rich living mulch, assisting to retain moisture by reducing evaporation, prevent weed growth or erosion, as well as providing habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators. As the support species grow they can be chopped (coppiced) and used as mulch around your food producing plants assisting to buffer the soil from extremes of heat or rainfall.
Planting support species is done from Spring and they can be planted throughout the Summer and into Autumn. Mulch is very important in our sub-tropical environment and growing your own “living mulch” means avoiding expensive inputs like hay (which requires fossil fuels) to do this job.
Support species are often legumes and this means they convert Nitrogen from the air into the soil, especially when they are coppiced pre-flowering. The cuttings are then used around your vegetables to provide an additional nutrient source and increase the amount of humus in your soil.
Support Species available from YCG:
Come into our nursery and buy your support species today