Houston Sustainable Food Gardeners

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 Great Food Plants for the Summer Garden

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dragonfly
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PostSubject: Great Food Plants for the Summer Garden   Sat Jun 05, 2010 4:09 pm

Thought I'd share info on these very productive plants that love the Houston summer heat!

Click here for recipes!

Lambs Quarters, Chenopodium album. Sun or some shade. Annual, will non-aggressively reseed. Pinch growing tips and saute. Pinching will make plant bush and produce more. 3'-5' tall depending on variety.
Source: a common weed or Seeds of Change: ‘Magenta Spreen’, C. gigantium and ‘Huazontle’, C. berlandieri

Jerusalem Artichoke / Sunchoke, Helianthus tuberosus. Mostly sun.
Plant tubers in spring. After the plant flowers and dies in the fall, tubers can be harvested from the ground all winter and spring and slow roasted till soft. Will regrow from unharvested tubers. 5'-6' tall.
Source: Grocery store tubers

Egyptian Spinach, Molokhia, Corchorus olitorius. Sun. Pinch growing tips and saute or use in soups. Annual. Save seeds. 6' tall, can be trimmed shorter. Pinching will make plant bush and produce more. Really loves the heat, only need one plant.
Source : Kitazawa Seed Co.

Cholesterol Spinach, Gynura nepalensis . Dappled shade to sun. Perennial. Will stop growing or die back in the winter. Pinch 2-6 inches of growing stems and leaves, will make plant bush and grow more food. Makes a low mounding plant. Tender stems and leaves can be sautéed or eaten raw. Delicious mild flavor.
Source : Cuttings.

Sweet potato Vine, Impomoea batatas. Dappled shade to sun. Tender perennial. This is a variety of sweet potato grown for its tender greens. Pinch 2-3 inches of the tender growing ends and sauté stems and leaves. Also cut longer vines and use the leaves. Pinching will encourage the plant to bush and create more food. The growing tips of regular sweet potato vines are also edible. Both are very nutritious and delicious!
Source : Cuttings (for the tender variety).


Lau, Bottle Gourd. Sun , Afternoon shade ok. Annual. Grown for its edible young gourds, eaten as a vegetable, and for its tender green leaves and stems that can be sautéed. Harvest ~2-3 feet of the growing vine ends. Use ~the first 4-6 inches of stem, leaves and tendrils and the remaining leaves to sauté/stir fry. For some of the older, larger leaves you may want to turn the leaf over and pull off any tough vein fibers. Starting where the stem meets the leaf, pinch the outer surface of the stem between your thumb nail and a finger nail and pull outward toward the tip of the leaf. This is one of the most delicious summer greens! I you let one of the gourds ripen and dry completely you will have seed for next year!
Source : Kitazawa Seed Co. ‘Early green-skined’, ‘Long opo’

Bitter Melon / Bitter Gourd, Momordica charantia . Sun. Annual. A very beautiful vine! The young gourds are harvested and cooked as a vegetable. They are bitter, but so are coffee and tea. Interesting health and possible medicinal properties. Google : bitter melon health
Source : Kitazawa Seed Co.


Papaya, Carica papaya. Sun. Tender perennial. Trees will survive through mild winters. I lost all mine this past winter, but they had survived the previous three. Losing a papaya tree is not a big deal since a tree started from a seed in Feb. of one year can be producing lots of fruit by June of the following year! They grow fast and tall, up to 15 feet. They can be cut shorter after the first year to encourage multiple trunks closer to the ground. This is one of the most productive and delicious fruit plants for Houston. Squirrels and birds are not a problem. The fruits are picked just as they start to turn yellow and ripened inside for a week or so, until they are very soft and fragrant. They are sweet and delicious, nothing like the ones from the grocery store, even if you used a seed from a grocery store papaya to start your plant! Eat fresh plain or with: plain yogurt or lime and mint! Can be peeled an frozen for future use in smoothies.
Source : Grocery store (seeds from smaller dark red/orange fleshed varieties) or Echo Seeds (‘solo’ varieties).

Hyacinth Bean Vine / Lablab, Dolichos lablab . Sun. Mostly perennial or readily reseeds non-aggressively. Not the purple podded decorative variety. Can cook the tender young pods like green beans or shell the fresh seeds and cook. This plant contains some cyanogenic glucosides and needs to be cooked before eating to inactivate these compounds. This is not a dangerous plant to eat. These compounds are also in the seeds of : apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, and quinces, and in almonds, sorghum, lima beans, cassava, corn, yams, chick-peas, cashews, kirsch, and flax seeds.
Source : Kitazawa Seed Co. ‘Shirohana Fujimame’


Chaya, Cnidoscolus aconitifolius . Sun, some shade. Perennial. This plant contains some cyanogenic glucosides and needs to be cooked before eating to inactivate these compounds. This is not a dangerous plant to eat. These compounds are also in the seeds of : apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, and quinces, and in almonds, sorghum, lima beans, cassava, corn, yams, chick-peas, cashews, kirsch, and flax seeds. Leaves are boiled for 10 min to soften and then used in soups or sautéed. Exceptionally high in protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin A. Nutrients are 2- to 3-fold greater than in any other leafy green.
No pests.
Source: Cuttings.


Last edited by cmpov on Sun Jun 06, 2010 1:17 pm; edited 6 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Great Food Plants for the Summer Garden   Sat Jun 05, 2010 6:39 pm

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