Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What should i grow? #1 things you cant buy

When planning your Forest garden you will inevitably find there is more available to grow than you have land, labour or water  to fit and so choices and sacrifices have to be made

There are different priorities for every gardener but for the gourmet gardener or those with specific ethnic tastes the first answer may well be to grow what cant be bought.
Many species just aren't commercially available, perhaps because your tastes are quite unusual or sometimes for legal reasons things cannot be traded easily.

Here are a few examples to consider and some explanation of why they might be so hard or impossible to buy

Mulberry (Morus alba)

So prolific, so tasty, but so unsuited to commercial horticulture. Its a perfect plant for a childs garden, they strike easily from cuttings, grow fast, fruit very early, taste great. Silkworms can be raised on the leaves to teach them biology and textile history. The prunings make great biochar, the leaves make a tasty tea that lowers blood sugar. And if they stain, just rub an unripe fruit on the stain (hands or clothes) then rinse to wash away the pigment :) Ducks and chickens love them so great tree inside a chook run.


Like the mulberry this tasty fruit just isnt made to be machine handled. Its one of the first tree to fruit in spring and kids love them. They are evergreen and quite attractive trees. they can be bought grafted but seedlings grow good quality fruit and bear in 3 to 4 years from seed.

Panama cherry (muntingia calabura)

A tropical cherry, of sorts, not a real cherry but for a wild plant surprisingly tasty. It is a recolonizer of wastelands sprouting up in rubble and kickstarting a new forest. it gives welcome shade in hot tropical climates. Enjoy it till other trees outgrow it

Fresh figs

There is reason the greek and romans loved and cultivated these fruits so much, they are delicious! but try and buy a ripe fig. A sun ripened fig is sweet and syrupy and a mouthful morsel. they will also grow on the rockiest most horrible sites and once established are quite drought hardy.

Sun ripened tomato

hybrid or heirloom, i dont think it matters, as long as its vine ripened. try it and you will be converted as the full flavour of what a tomato can be explodes your senses.

Kweni, Wani,  Kemang

There are thousands of cultivars of the common mango (Mangifera indica), but did you know its just one of many species? the centre of Diversity for the genus Mangifera (69 species) is Indonesia and malaysia.
Kweni (Mangifera odorata) is similar to the common mango but more tart and also delicious. It fruits well in areas too wet for the common mango.
Wani is a balinese indigenous form of Mangifera caesia, the best forms are large and stringless and have a taste and texture like combined custard apple and mango, highly aromatic and very sweet.
Kemang is a javanese form of the Mangifera kemanga but more sour and esteemed for local dishes like Rujak.


Like the mulberry this unusual gem just wont make it to the shops except as a novelty. But it is sweet juicy and kids love it. It would make a good street tree.


Not a tropical plant, but i thought id put in some oddballs for our temperate readers. Akebia is a genus of vines from temperate north east asia. They are especially appreciated in Japan, and the japanese know their food better than almost anyone else. Several cultivars can be found on ebay from time to time under a search for "rare plants akebia"


This is another unusual tree, this time from West africa but supplanted to the carribean with the slave trade. Salt fish with ackee fruits is the national dish of Jamaica.
Here is the Recipe with a rather Tasty Jamaican!

Of course like so many of the best things the pleasure comes with some poison. Unripe ackee are poisonous as is the seed and can cause jamaican vomiting sickness. It is a dangerous and acute illness and for that reason i doubt any litigation savvy restaurant in Australia will ever serve this food. If you want it you will have to grow yourself.


Once you eat Garden eggs, you will know how good eggs can be. Fed on kitchen scraps, some grains, garden weeds and vegetable trimmings and allowed to forage for insect protein and tender grass shoots on your lawn you will taste the difference. even before you taste it you will feel it in the weight and thickness of the shells, and the firmness and deep colour of the yolks. vitamin enhanced, amino acid fortified, phytonutrient impregnated eggs. You just cant buy eggs this good. Especially since various egg boards banned the sale from unapproved suppliers.
Your rubbish bin wont smell cos all scraps will be recylced, your garden will be more pest free, chickens have great character to watch and interact with, your garden will increase dramatically in fertility and besides all that - home grown eggs just taste the best. 

Pit Pit

Pit Pit (Saccharum edule) is a sugar cane like grass but it does not produce a sweet stem, instead it produces a flower that is cooked in coconut milk by islanders much like Europeans cook cauliflower in a white sauce. It is highly sought after and often sold out at markets very early.

Khat & Kava

Khat (Catha edulis) and Kava (Piper methysticum) are two enjoyable and medicinal herbs that are well suited to forest garden cultivation. Khat is an East african shrub originating in the same region as Coffee and also has stimulating properties. Its is a mild stimulant with slightly inebriating qualities. It in on par with Tea and Coffee in its consciousness altering capacity, and its addictive potential. It soft leaves and twig are chewed in significant quantities and is only suitably active as a fresh herb. Its abuse potential among western palates would be extremely low due to the consumption method that leaves you looking more like a dairy cow chewing cud! But for those from the 'old country'  the best option is just to quietly grow your own
Kava comes from some areas of the Pacific and similarly its a culturally acquired taste, something akin to muddy water mixed with anaesthetic to the neophyte! but it is greatly enjoyed by those who seek it. Its visible effects are something like marijuana - it makes people relaxed, destressed, and inclined to sit around a lot talking. But unlike Marijuana or alcohol it is mainly the body that is relaxed and sedated, the mind remains clear and sharp, but destressed. Maybe your legs wont support you, but you can make decisions on it clearly and without angst. Kava is an elixir of peace and used to settle disputes in a civilized and enjoyable way.
Sadly if its not alcohol the Australian governmnet wont let you have any enjoyment, so its import is banned except as personal luggage and the limit is 2 Kg per adult. To buy it in Australia needs a doctors script and most doctors are unfamiliar with its safe and effective stress relieving capability. so.. grow your own     

Comfrey, Lungwort, Coltsfoot, Calamus

These Herbs are restricted for sale as herb in Australia. According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration they represent some kind of threat to societies welfare and have been banned for sale or inclusion in therapeutic goods.
I can't say the TGA and i see eye to eye on these matters. These are not plants with abuse potential but quite specific herbal remedies for specific ailments. Lungwort and coltsfoot i have used with great success for my own bronchial troubles. I have sped up wound healing using comfrey, as have many others. Calamus (Acorus calamus) is a powerful detoxifying herb and flavouring agent for herbal beers and liquers.
So rather than fight the powers, we can simply ignore them and grow our own medicines. This is only a small sample of the plants of great healing power that are now prohibited from sale and i expect the list will grow. So sourcing, growing and taking charge of your own health is a matter of some urgency.    

No comments:

Post a Comment