During the Permaculture convergence held in Canberra in April 2018 Morag spoke to David Holmgren about his new book Retrosurbia. To see this interview click here
Origin: hot, humid tropical Central America
Plant: Sept – Oct
Harvest: July – Aug.
It takes 4-7 months to maturity depending on day-length hours. At the time of maturity, the vines will flower and produce many inedible pods (the flowers are also inedible)
– the mature seed contains the poison, rotenone, used as an insecticide. Jicama’s starchy underground tuber is highly digestible and can be eaten raw or cooked, as there are no toxins associated with the tuber. Jicama can be eaten raw – sliced into sticks and used as a crudité, dipped into raw chilli powder then dipped in lime juice. It can also be used grated in salads mixed with tropical fruits and a handful of coriander leaves. The tuber can also be lightly cooked after peeling, slicing and dicing – it tends to retain its crispness when cooked and is often used in stir fries as a substitute for water chestnut.
The dried vines are very strong and can be woven into fishing nets.
Origin: hot, humid tropical Pacific Islands
Plant: mid-Sept to mid-Oct
Harvest: When all foliage has died down. Dig gently around the yam taking care not to damage it (cuts will reduce storage life).
Yams can be stored for several months in a cool ventilated area. Depending on the variety, yams can be baked, eaten with dark green leafy vegetables, fish, meat, peanuts and milk, used in curries, fried in oil, used to make a purple cake as well as purple yam wine, made into a dough, flour and African fufu.
Origin: wet, cool highlands of the Incas
Plant: Sept – Oct
Harvest: July – August
Small yellow sunflower-like flowers will appear at maturity. Harvest tubers when all the tops have died down but leave in the ground until at least mid to late winter as the flavour really does improve. Remove tubers carefully as they are brittle. It is a substitute for apple and can be eaten raw. Even with prolonged cooking, yacon stays crisp and it can be used as a substitute for water chestnuts in Asian stir-fries. The main components are fructose and inulin, making it a suitable food for diabetics. It is a good livestock forage crop.
Winged Bean (aka four-angled bean)
Origin: hot, humid tropical Madagascar and Asia
Plant: Sept – Oct – into pots initially
Harvest: April – May. Young 4-angled pods with wavy margins can be picked for eating at any stage. Do not disturb the lilac flowers, as they fall off quite easily. Allow some of the first beans to mature on the vine for seed saving. Tubers contain 20% protein and taste like early season potatoes. Can be eaten raw or cooked. Young pods, flowers, leaves, vine tips and mature seed are all edible. To improve germination, sandpaper seeds or soak in hot water until swollen.