Friday, April 30, 2010
Fig Shoots for Supper
Having access to water for gardening is really a luxury. During the dry season, many communities in our region barely have enough water for basic household consumption. So vegetable gardening often takes a pause until the rains return in May.
Fortunately, various trees and shrubs, both indigenous and naturalized, offer seasonal or year round access to edible leaves. For instance, moringa trees produce considerable amounts of nutritious shoots during the rainy season.
By the middle of the dry season, the semi-deciduous red shoot fig (Ficus virens) may drop a lot of its mature leaves. But around February, the trees produce a flush of tender, edible leaf shoots. At a time when there are few fresh, homegrown vegetables to enjoy, this indigenous strangler fig offers an abundance of greens (which are actually red). Many people in tropical and sub-tropical Asia stir fry the leaves or add them to curries. The leaves are also blanched and eaten along with chili pepper sauce.
By the way, ECHO promotes the cultivation and use of many types of perennial vegetables around the world. Obviously, certain perennial vegetables can fill a niche for home gardeners with limited access to water.