Spring has me going this year. It feels like a good one. So I thought I would post a list of my top ten favorite things to grow in Florida and why.
Number 10. Cuban Oregano
Also called flat leaf thyme or broad leaf thyme, this is my go to spice. It is the easiest of all the herbs and I really believe it can’t die. I have thrown away a pot this used to grow in only to find it regrowing months later in the abandoned pot. Besides that it tastes great and goes with everything.
Number 9. Spineless Cactus
Easy peasy lemon squeasy. No maintenance greens, fruit, grain and oil all in one crop. (wine if you are ambitious) Plant in a dry spot and forget it. Harvest when you need it.
Number 8. Mullberry
Who doesn’t want bucket-fulls of berries? These trees ask nothing from you all year long and then suddenly in the spring they start producing branches full of huge dark berries. The blooming window is short, so pick every day while you can and you will have a freezer full of juicy berries for the rest of the year.
Number 7. Nasturtiums
My pretty little nasturtiums. I look forward to them every spring . They come in many colors and add brightness to the garden. They self sow, so you don’t need to remember to plant them more than once. They protect your squash plants from pests but they are also edible. The lily pad like leaves and multicolored flowers both taste peppery and are a great addition to any salad especially one with blue cheese and fruit. They also produce a little nodule that is sort of caper-y and can be pickled. Plus they are just adorable.
Number 6. Borage
Another edible flower. This one protects your tomatoes and peppers while looking gorgeous. Fuzzy fat leaves taste just like cucumber and can be tossed into salads while young. The flowers are the star though. Bright blue and edible. They can be added to chilled summer water with lemon or lime and add a touch of cucumber flavor. They can be tossed into salads or frozen into ice cubes. They can also be made into tea that has a calming but energizing property.
Number 5. Sweet Potato
Sweet potato is a wonderful thing. Plant a patch and you have food. The leaves are edible as a green and the tubers are a delicious and sustainable source of nutrients. White potato is a pain to grow in Florida. Plant a few in the fall and have them as a treat now and then, but for all your potato needs, sweet is the way to go.
Number 4. Luffa Sponge
Luffa is another thing I look forward to. I can’t wait to plant them. They are beautiful growing, cover everything, have tons of yellow flowers, attract pollinators, and give you natural sponges. I like to make my own bar and dish soap, so being able to make my own bath and kitchen sponges makes me feel all sorts of sustainable. Plus they compost when you are done.
Number 3. Okinawa Spinach
Okinawa spinach is the best. It is the delicious green that is there ten months out of the year. Dies in a freeze, but so easy to start again from clippings you can always have some if you keep it going. Tastes great, great for you. No really, way better than kale in the taste department.
Number 2. Pigeon Pea
Peas in a tree, how can that be? This fast growing plant is an ever ready source of protein. Low maintenance, beautiful to look at, it provides almost never ending food for both you and your chickens. Pick the peas green and toss them in with your boiling rice for a fast, no soak, vegetable protein, or dry them and store like pinto beans. Plant a few directly in the chicken coop and let the chickens eat the drops and fertilize your tree at the same time.
Number 1. North Georgia Candy Roaster
This beautiful vine doubles as both a summer and a winter squash. Pick it young as a summer squash, or leave it on the vine to harden. Grows easily even in the Florida heat. Is resistant to mold, mildew, and squash borers. Tastes great and looks amazing. I’ve had this variety climb a tree and hang fruits down from 10 feet in the air. Just a wonderful plant.
And there you have it, my top ten staple plants. Low maintenance food, all year long.