El Jardín Latinoamericano de la Granja Urbana Berea
The Latin American Garden of the Berea Urban Farm
The Latin American Garden in 2020 included 16 vegetable and herb varieties commonly grown in Mexico and Central America. This trial helped us to evaluate potential additions to the BUF grow-list, and to develop a link to Berea’s Hispanic community. Because of the pandemic, we could not use the garden as an on-farm educational site as originally intended, but we hope these pictures and comments share some of what we learned. Contact Sustainable Berea for detailed planting and care instructions and seed sources for any of these crops.
A Mexican native culinary herb, 3’ to 5’ tall. Popular in Hispanic communities where it is used like cilantro. Also known as Porophyllum linaria, Pipiche, Pepicha, and Chepiche.
Comments: Grew well with no insect or disease problems. A good flavor (not at all like cilantro) enjoyed by many of our CSA subscribers. We will grow this again.
A vegetable green native to South America; in English-speaking countries, it is often referred to as purslane. Used extensively in Mexican dishes and is commonly found in markets.
Comments: We grew Goldberg Golden Purslane, an improved variety with larger leaves than the wild native. It grew strongly and re-seeded itself for a late summer flush of small plants. Given that you can pick wild purslane and the demand is low, we aren’t planning to grow this next year.
Also known as pápaloquelite, an aromatic Mexican native herb used in tacos, salsa, and sauces. Often used in place of cilantro.
Comments: Easy to grow with no pest problems. Large plants; a couple of plants will likely be sufficient.
Red and Green Malabar Spinach
A vigorous climbing vine that is trellised. Colombia, Belize. Used raw in salads, cooked in soups and stews or steamed like spinach.
Comments: Needs at least a 3-foot trellis. Red grows faster earlier, but green produces more later in the season. No pest problems.
Mexican Mint Marigold
Native to Mexico and Central America. Edible flowers. Leaves a substitute for tarragon.
Comments: Pretty flowers. No pest problems.
“Red Aztec Spinach” An herb native to Mexico and Central America. Similar to lambsquarters. The leaves, branches, flowers, and seeds of are all edible. The plant is used both as a herb and as a vegetable in Mexican cuisine.
Comments: Grows well. As seed heads develop, plants tend to fall over.
A cousa type squash grown as an alternative to Pipián, an immature cucurbit that is a popular in several parts of Central America and Southern Mexico, but for which seeds are not available.
Comments: Not as productive as many more common zucchini squashes. Hit hard by mildew and insects.
Craig’s Grande Jalapeno
Three- to four-inch long fruits weigh 3 ounces and have thick flesh. Used fresh or for stuffing, roasting, drying, pickling.
Comments: No pest problems, heavy yielding.
Black turtle bean
Grown throughout Latin America under different names.
Comments: Grow like any bush bean. Harvest after maturity as a dry bean.
Commonly grown in Mexico, used green after roasting and peeling, classic for chile rellenos, after drying can be ground into red chili powder.
Comments: We grew the variety ‘Baron’. It grew well, no pest issues, good yields.
Sweet potato is native to and was domesticated in Latin America.
Comments: We grew ‘Vardaman’, a bush-type sweet potato. Good yields and takes up less space than vining types.
Tomatillo – Rio Grande Verde, determinate
Main ingredient in salsa verde.
Comments: Side branches break off easily, so some support helpful. Plants get very large, so give adequate spacing. Good yields of large green tomatillos.
Tomatillo – Purple Coban
Popular in Guatemalan cuisine, from Coban, Guatemala.
Comments: Grows well and yields lots of tomatillos, but they are quite small. Processing for salsa verde is much easier and faster with a larger tomatillo like Rio Grande Verde.
A climbing bean grown in Guatemala. Should be trellised.
Comments: No flowers as of September 2.
Fava bean “Vroma”
Fava beans are common in Latin American cuisines and dishes such as Mexican fava bean soup.
Comments: Vroma is an improved variety with large pods and seeds. Unlike most beans, favas are planted in early spring (March 12 in this case). Fava beans were new to many of our CSA members and drew rave reviews.