Hibiscus Sabdariffa

Remember my Roselle drink? Well we dried some of the pods for use later and also tried planting some of the seeds - with great success. Now I have half a dozen Hibiscus Sabdariffa plants that are yielding enough fruit to make the occasional jug of that delicious tropical cranberry like juice.

The plants are tall now about six feet and continue to send out buds which begs the question, for how much longer? It's a different world here without a cold season and quite frankly gets me a little confused. Will plants like this roselle and fruiting vegetables like beans and eggplants just keep producing ad infinitum?

Well I got the answer about the Roselle last week when I visited an organic farm about a half hour outside the city. It's a no. The plants will slow down and eventually need to be recropped. I did learn however how the farm maximimizes the yield from these plants and that is to prune them at around two feet tall. This triggers the plant to send out four or five branches. So at the farm, each plant was the same height but with five stems and five times the yield.

The plants are relatively trouble free, good looking with their pink hibiscus like blossoms and dark burgundy stems and fruit pods, pretty enough to be in a flower border. Right now the sweet potato vine nestles at its feet but, next go around I might try something taller. A little research shows that the leaves are also edible but I've yet to try this out. What I have tried is finely slicing the pods to add to a salad and that works well as a tangy accent.

To my great surprise, I discovered that the farm I visited, sells its produce at the night market that I regularly go to, in fact, serendipitously, the seeds planted came from fruit purchased from them.

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