By Amy Dodds,
When the rainy season arrived, it started with a sense of relief - dry season went on longer than expected and our trees and plants were scorching in the heat. For myself the cooler air was welcome comfort, and the rains a reminder of home and getting cozy. Mornings were beautiful with the sight of the sun rising through the dewy mist.
But very soon our zone one vegetable gardens with our recently planted greens began to suffer - the sheer force of the rains and the humidity brought fungal and mildew issues. Faced with the reality that our beans and delicate greens were going to die out, I thought about the potential of using cover crops, such as sweet potato, for the rest of the year. But this did not seem to fit in my idea of what permaculture asks us to do: observe and interact with the environment we are situated in and use that to our advantage. With this in mind, we at Rancho Mastatal have been planting crops that thrive both in the intense heat and thumping rain. Below are some of the most popular vegetables that we are growing in the Ranch that are suitable for the rainy season:
Cucumbers have been abundant in our garden this season with us pumping out quick pickles nearly every day. Not bad for a community feeding 30-40 people daily! Thankfully, cucumbers like warm, humid weather. We grew ours by seed on a trellis to allow for more air flow and for the fruit to stay above ground.
Described as among the most heat-tolerant vegetable species in the world. It is planted for its seed pods which can be cooked, pickled, eaten raw, or included in salads. It does become mucilaginous so do consider this if you're sensitive to the slime.
Kang Kong spinach:
This leaf green is native to southeast Asian and is delicious stir-fried with soy sauce and garlic. It is a semi aquatic plant, a creeper that grows in or near the water on moist soils, so it is ideal for our climate.
Both Green and Cranberry Hibiscus are delicious perennials that thrive in the warm and wet. They self seed easily during dry season so when the rains come you have a whole bunch of babies to keep your salad zesty and fresh. The leaves do contain oxalic acid so cannot be consumed in large, consistent quantities.
Also known as tree spinach this is an excellent perennial green native to Mexico. It's leaves are edible once cooked, like spinach. It's easy to propagate by cutting and loves the heavy rain.
Malabar spinach is another heat and moisture-loving spinach-like green. The succulent leaves can be eaten both raw and cooked. We have only a few plants so we are trying to improve the population. We use a trellis to support its tendency to vine.
Also known as Goa bean and princess beans, these are sweet protein packed vegetables that do well in heat and humidity. They can fix their own nitrogen when the bacterium Rhizobium is in the soil. They are best harvested young and tender, and great raw in a salad.
Other more delicate greens we are growing in our nursery as they don't require as much water, such as Arugula, mustard greens and Asian cabbages.
By having our covered nursery space we are able to grow things under cover that otherwise would not do so well outside, we are also experimenting with making some movable covered spaces for out outdoor garden beds….. we will update you with progress so make sure to Like and Follow us on Facebook & Instagram