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Home & Garden
home : features : home & garden
August 21, 2019

7/31/2019 2:08:00 PM
Home & Garden
Sweet potato vines in the foreground with cassava trees in the background.

Sweet potato vines in the foreground with cassava trees in the background.

In many small towns across this country, community gardens are springing up as are farmers markets. Check out www.localharvest.org for some great inspiration for this. Almost every major town has a market, and our country is becoming more green with organic farms. People are branching out with new talents, and are beginning new careers selling their own farm goods and products. The movement towards sustainability is happening fast and people are the ones out there doing the groundwork in their community. 

Here in our little village of Englewood we are lucky to have one of the best farmers market in all of Florida from October – May with many other local markets year round. We have two community gardens, garden clubs, and a recently developed edible garden tour of private homes, which are doing permaculture/edible landscapes. 

This resurgence in gardening is attracting people to a movement towards examining our backyard woodlands, preserves and parks, and bringing awareness to useful edible and medicinal plants. In turn, they are eliminating plants that are merely ornamental and may take much more time and maintenance, including grass.

 Native Americans believe that there is a plant cure for every disease within a 50-mile radius of every human on the planet. And now we are identifying many of these here in our own backyards. So before you kill it, identify it, it may be there to help heal you. For example, Spanish needles is a pretty white pedaled flower with a yellow center that helps to lower blood pressure. Many people are seeking alternatives to help heal health issues that perplex many mainstream doctors. 

 Food is being reexamined as agriculture has dramatically changed over the past 40 years. With big Ag’s desire to grow the perfect wheat berry, perfect soybean and corn, we have actually adulterated it with genetic engineering, rendering damage to our land, water and ourselves. Autoimmune issues are some of the fastest growing health issues, and are forcing many people to purge their diets of gluten, sugar, and processed food which all cause inflammation. Other food source irritants are white potato, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. These nightshades family foods may cause psoriasis and arthritis flare up. Gluten free eaters may not realize, that in their search for bread and pasta like substitutes, there is a lot of corn and white potato in those alternatives. These alternatives can cause a spike blood sugar and are the root causes of inflammation. 

 Luckily, right here in your southwest Florida landscape there are some fantastic plants that anyone can grow. These plants can benefit your health. First are sweet potato & yams. These are high in beta carotene, vitamin C, magnesium, and are anti inflammatory, great for your gut and won’t spike your glycemic level. Yams also help with muscle cramps, rheumatoid arthritis and menopause. Second, cassava is a wonderful huge root that grows like a weed. It needs a bit more boiling than white potato, but is highly nutritious, much more than the old spud. It is high in protein, calcium, more potassium, and magnesium. Our third wonderful edible super food is longevity spinach. Not only does it make a beautiful ground cover, but it lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, regulates blood sugar and is anti-inflammatory, to name a few. The number four amazing landscape plant is chaya, which takes some extra boiling and a water change but is worth the effort. Chaya has more protein than most greens, is good for blood circulation, strengthens veins, reduces cholesterol, nourishes the brain providing rich iron, reduces inflammation, and is a great pollinator plant. For our fifth fancy food, is katuk a magical green that is so nutty and tasty that if you closed your mouth while eating it you would think it was a nut. It has 8% protein, vitamin K, vitamin B, calcium and helps treat influenza. 

Many wonderful things to grow in our great southwest Florida climate. Bananas grow easily with a little extra mulching, papaya fruits in nine months, black pepper vines grow near the house, succulent Cuban oregano, and medicinal plants too. Chaste tree is a good tonic for women, Jamaican roselle helps regulate your body to the summer heat, and passion flower can calm the mind. These are a mere few for us to learn about. 

For the beginner gardener it is best to explore some of the plants specified above. Start small so you don’t get discouraged. Stick these cuttings right in our native soil and mulch them heavily. Its fun to see what they like best and watch how fast they grow. Keep a watchful eye in our community for more roots projects as they emerge. People here are making a big changes. 

For more information about plant cuttings or cooking classes email: jocelynhoch@yahoo.com or like Ebb & Flow Farm on facebook.

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