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How To Prevent Malnutrition, Diabetes, Obesity, and Heart Disease In The Tropics

Oct 20, 2010

Eat Your Greens, Belize!

This is a salad from a garden I started from scratch last September. And by ”scratch, ” I mean ”jungle.” I started making compost, and by Decem- ber I was eating salads and pesto. I got a late start this year due to travel, so most of these plants were started June 13. This photo was taken August 12. Magic? No; compost!
So we got yer Bok Choi, Katsuma, Red Garnett Ama- ranth (Calaloo), Red Valentine Lettuce, Georgia Southern Collard Greens, Golden Giant Amaranth, Mesculun Let- tuce Mix, Early Wonder Beet, French Breakfast Radish, Thai Basil, Genovese Basil, Mexican Marigolds, Red Vel- vet Okra Flower, and Red Velvet Okra leaves. Good, and good for you!
These are all open-pollinated heirloom varieties. This means you can save the seeds and the same plant will grow from them. This will not happen with hybrids/GMO’s.
Growing conditions in the tropics are harsh. The rain will expose roots. The wind will blow plants over. The heat means some plants won't grow properly. The insect life is unimaginable, and fungi, bacteria, and viruses all thrive in these condition. But with perseverance, compost, and by creating micro-climates, you can grow almost anything that grows in more temperate climates. I said ALMOST.....


Brother Joseph, what a lovely salad you have there, and yes really in the tropics you have to think a little outside the box. I find that here (in tropical northeast Australia) I add the compost fairly regularly, before most people in temperate climates would. The decomposition is so fast here, especially in the wet season, that you need to keep amending the soil. I find little bits more often is what is working for me. can you tell us more about how you do your compost? I make mine in a bin and keep adding to the top, but stir it up once or twice a week. I find I only stir up the top half or two thirds and then can remove the bottom third about every 6 weeks or so.
Hi, sorry for the delay, but I have been traveling and not connected to the internet most of the time. Thanx for your comment. I am making compost with whatever materials are at hand. Grass clippings, and kitchen waste are the primary ingredients. Chicken manure seems to be the magic ingredient. I turn it a couple of times per week, and keep it as dry as possible. I think you should add compost and mulch on a continuous basis. I have yet to see signs of over-ferilization in the tropics; usually the reverse is true. Most plants, no matter how healthy, show some signs of nutritional deficiencies by contracting viral and fungal diseases. The goal is to build a "steady-state" system so that eventually earthworms do all the real work. My work here in the Tropics is experimental. I am from California where we grow over 200 crops. Here in Belize, there is essentially no domestic food production. Te citizens live on the culls from the export market. Also, there is nothing like commercial refrigeration in this country. So the only way to get fresh produce is to Grow Yer Own!
Can we get a recipe for the flower you eat?
This salad contains Red Velvet Okra flowers and young leaves, along with Mexican Marigold petals. You can buy edible flowers at the farmers markets in San Francisco and elsewhere in California. Nasturtiums, pansies, violets, geraniums, and roses are all high in Vitamins, and tasty too! Squash blossoms can also be eaten raw, but are typically dipped in batter and deep-fried.
I have a list of edible flower. But never heard of eating Okra flowers or young leaves, only the green pods. I know in some countries the bean & pea leaves are eaten like spinach.
It turns out most parts of most food plants are edible and nutritious. The SF Bay Area has a large Asian population, and you can often find whole pea vines and sweet potato leaves at the farmers markets. There are a couple of Asian greens or cabbages that are sold when they just start to flower, and the whole plant is used. I think I read about okra flowers/leaves on Wikipedia.
I harvest that flowers in my commercial refrigeration systems office for more then 2 years.

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