Mr. Green Dean Presents
EXOTIC EDIBLE VEGETABLES FOR SOUTH FLORIDA
Beginning in October ’08, at the suggestion of a close friend, Tropical Treescapes (an exterior flowering tree & palm landscape nursery) began a small vegetable farm on a portion of the nursery formerly used for propagation, with raised tables, plastic hoop houses overhead, and computerized irrigation. Due to the downturn in the economy, landscaping revenue had been severely impacted, and diversification to establish an alternative revenue stream became essential. Growing vegetables became one of the alternatives, but due to the nature of the organic certification requirements, the nursery could not qualify for an organic certification. However, through careful research it was determined that by using organic growing methods, and organic-certified chemicals, we could produce a product that was healthy, locally grown, and could be labeled “ sustainable, naturally grown”, which is the next best thing to certification. Those are the techniques we use to produce our vegetables to ensure that they are of the highest quality, pesticide-free, locally grown, fresh, tasty, and good for you.
But what should we grow? After surveying the local small vegetable growers, it was determined that there was already a supply of the most common organically grown vegetables being grown and sold locally. In order to separate ourselves from other growers, we settled upon a philosophy of finding unique, unusual, colorful, and just plain strange vegetable crops that would appeal to “foodies” and chefs, even if they were not well received by the general public. They also had to be able to be grown under South Florida growing conditions, had to have a good shelf-life, and had to taste good. We embarked on a search for seeds that met those critera, and came up with a very interesting selection of varieties for our first winter crops. Purple carrots, black radishes, rainbow swiss chard, and Romanesco veronica (a cross between a broccoli and a cauliflower) to name a few. In total, we grew 11 interesting and unique selections that were successfully sold primarily at a Farmers Market in Coral Gables, Florida.
When we began growing vegetables we were told that our growing season would be from October through the end of April, but that it began to get too hot, humid, and buggy to grow much of anything past May. Again, after doing some research, we decided to buck to norm and try to grow select Caribbean vegetables, and a few selections that had proven to be heat tolerant in other hot locations. From three spinach substitutes from the Caribbean, three heat-tolerant lettuce varieties, four types of beans, several interesting and unique herbs, and a couple of hold-overs from our winter production that seem to be doing ok, we did produce small amounts of products throughout the summer. We now know enough that next summer we will be in full production.
Beginning in the Fall of 2010 we expanded our production to 38 different varieties, including some of our summer experiments that it appears will grow here year round, returning favorites from last year, a wider selection of herbs and spices, and a few new surprises.
So look over the list that follows and be assured that each variety on the list has been taste tested and will delight your palate. You will also learn upon reading the descriptions that accompany the pictures, that many of our selections offer remarkable medicinal properties for humans. While the claims of healing properties come mostly from folk medicine and traditional cultural teachings, many have been used successfully for hundreds of years before modern medicine decided that only expensive and profitable chemicals could cure us. It is said that nature has a cure for most things that ail us; we just have to look for them…
Be brave, and join the ranks of people who live to eat, instead of being someone who just eats to live. Experiment with these unique varieties that have been selected for taste and visual appeal, and experience a new appreciation for Nature’s bounty and creativity. Good Eating!!!
FOR MORE INFO, CALL ME (Mr Green Dean)