What We’re Growing
PREPARED BY: ROHAN MAYNARD – HYDROPONICS MANAGER
The common fig tree (Ficus carica) is the most popular species of fig for home gardeners because its flowers do not require pollination to yield figs. Many varieties of the common fig tree exist, including hardy cultivars that can be grown outdoors in slightly cooler climates. Figs are a delicious treat that thrive in warm climates but can also be grown in more temperate regions with a bit of extra care. Figs can be eaten fresh from the tree, preserved, or used in cooking. Note that figs do not continue ripening after they are picked, so be sure to harvest at the right time.
Rounded, shiny green leaves are set off by red-tipped new growth. The plant produces small white flowers, followed by fruit that’s often made into jelly…or as an attraction in a wildlife garden. The plum is pink and ripens to purple with a fairly bland flavor, and the almond-flavored seeds can be roasted and eaten or crushed for use in cooking.
Avocados have been called the perfect food by some, and this title doesn’t come simply from its role as the primary ingredient in guacamole. No, the fruit is actually called this because of its range of health benefits—credited with everything from helping brain function, to encouraging weight loss, and preventing heart disease.
Sapodilla is an evergreen tree thought to be native to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Today, it’s widely cultivated in many other areas. The fruit has brown, rough skin, is typically 2–3.5 inches (5–9 cm) in diameter. The flesh is yellow to light brown in color and can have a soft to slightly gritty texture, depending on the variety. When ripe, sapodillas have a sweet taste, thanks to their high sugar content. They’re commonly eaten raw but are also incorporated into drinks and baked
Passion Fruit, is a vine species of passion flower native to southern Brazil through Paraguay. It is cultivated commercially in tropical and subtropical areas for its sweet, seedy fruit. The fruit is a pepo, a type of berry, round to oval, either yellow or dark purple at maturity, with a soft to firm, juicy interior filled with numerous seeds. The fruit is both eaten and juiced, the juice often added to other fruit juices to enhance aroma.
Breadfruit tree of the mulberry family (Moraceae) and its large fruits that are a staple food of the South Pacific and other tropical areas. Breadfruit contains considerable amounts of starch and is seldom eaten raw. It may be roasted, baked, boiled, fried, or dried and ground into flour.
Soursop is a fruit that’s popular for its delicious flavor and impressive health benefits. This prickly green fruit has a creamy texture. Soursop is typically eaten raw by cutting the fruit in half and scooping out the flesh. Fruits range in size and can be quite large, so it may be best to divide it into a few portions. It’s also very nutrient-dense and provides a good amount of fiber and vitamin C for very few calories.
Pomegranate, (Punica granatum), bush or small tree of the family Lythraceae and its fruit. The juicy arils of the fruit are eaten. The plant, which may attain 5 or 7 metres (16 or 23 feet) in height, has elliptic to lance-shaped, bright-green leaves about 7.5 cm (3 inches) long. The fruit is the size of a large orange, obscurely six-sided, with a smooth leathery skin that ranges from brownish yellow to red; within, it is divided into several chambers containing many thin transparent arils of reddish, juicy pulp, each surrounding an angular elongated seed.
Guava tree is a small tropical tree that grows 5-6 meters high on average. The guava fruit grows on a small tree with a wide, short canopy and a sturdy single to multi-stemmed trunk. The guava tree is an interesting plant with mottled greenish bark and long 3- to 7-inch serrated leaves. Guava trees produce white, 1-inch flowers that yield to small round, oval or pear shaped fruits.
Star fruit — or carambola — is a sweet and sour fruit that has the shape of a five-point star. The skin is edible, and the flesh has a mild, sour flavor that makes it popular in a number of dishes. The star fruit is yellow or green in color. It comes in two main types: a smaller, sour variety and a larger, sweeter one.
Bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the world. They’re a healthy, delicious snack and easy to use in baking and cooking. Although you may only see a few types at your local store, over 1,000 kinds of bananas (Musa) exist around the globe. These include both sweet and savory varieties, many of which come in unique colors, flavors, and shapes. This popular yellow fruit is a good source of potassium and magnesium, which your body uses for nerve and muscle function, as well as to maintain fluid and pH balance. Their starches turn into sugar as they ripen. If you eat your bananas before they’re fully ripe, you’ll get the benefits of different types of healthy starch.
The lychee (Litchi chinensis) — also known as litchi or lichee — is a small tropical fruit from the soapberry family. Lychees are grown in subtropical regions throughout the world. Known for their sweet and flowery flavor, they’re typically eaten fresh and sometimes used in ice creams or processed into juice, wine, sherbet, and jelly. They’re a good source of several vitamins, minerals, and healthy antioxidants. Lychees have an inedible, pink-red, leathery skin, which is removed before consumption. The flesh is white and surrounds a dark seed in the center.
Mango is a tropical tree cultivated in many regions of India, and now its farming has been extended wide across the world on many continents. “The king of the fruits,” mango fruit is one of the most popular, nutritionally rich fruits with unique flavor, fragrance, taste, and heath promoting qualities, making it numero-uno among new functional foods, often labeled as “super fruits.” Mango comes in different shapes and sizes depending upon cultivar types. Internally, its flesh (mesocarp) is juicy, orange-yellow in color with numerous soft fibrils radiating from its centrally placed flat, oval-shaped stone (enveloping a single large kidney-shaped seed).
Papayas grow in tropical climates and are also known as papaws or pawpaws. Their sweet taste, vibrant color, and the wide variety of health benefits they provide make them a popular fruit. The papaya, a previously exotic and rare fruit, is now available at most times of the year. The possible health benefits of consuming papaya include a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, aiding in digestion, improving blood glucose control in people with diabetes, lowering blood pressure, and improving wound healing.Papayas are a soft, fleshy fruit that can be used in a wide variety of culinary ways. Here we will explore more on the health benefits, uses, how to incorporate more of them into your diet, and what nutritional value papayas have.
Dragon fruit grows on the Hylocereus cactus, also known as the Honolulu queen, whose flowers only open at night. The plant is native to southern Mexico and Central America. Today, it is grown all over the world. It goes by many names, including pitaya, pitahaya, and strawberry pear. The two most common types have bright red skin with green scales that resemble a dragon — hence the name. The most widely available variety has white pulp with black seeds, though a less common type with red pulp and black seeds exists as well. Dragon fruit may look exotic, but its flavors are similar to other fruits. Its taste has been described as a slightly sweet cross between a kiwi and a pear.
Tangerines are a type of mandarin, the second-largest cultivated citrus fruit after oranges. Like oranges, tangerines are orange in color — although some varieties may have shades of green or red. However, they’re a bit smaller and less round and are easier to peel by hand. They also have a sweeter taste. Both the flesh and peel are highly nutritious. You can enjoy tangerines as a snack on the go, blend them into a refreshing juice or smoothie, or use them to make a sweet jam or salad dressing. Despite their small size compared with other citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, tangerines are nutrient- and water-rich — in fact, they’re about 85% water.
The tamarind tree produces brown, pod-like fruits that contain a sweet, tangy pulp, which is used in cuisines around the world. The fruit is an indehiscent legume, sometimes called a pod, 12 to 15 cm (4 + 1/2 to 6 in) in length, with a hard, brown shell. The fruit has a fleshy, juicy, acidic pulp. It is mature when the flesh is coloured brown or reddish brown. The tamarinds of Asia have longer pods (containing six to 12 seeds).
Tangelos are a citrus fruit that are a hybrid of tangerines and the grapefruit-like pomelo. They have bright, reddish-orange skin and tart, tangy, juicy fruit. They can be used in salads, desserts, and sauces, and for juicing, as well as for snacking on raw. Tangelos are round to slightly bell-shaped, three to four inches in diameter, or about the size of a baseball, with a characteristic “nipple” at the end where it attaches to the stem. They’re easy to peel, with medium skin that is reddish orange in color with a slightly rough, pebbly texture. The fruit is often seedless but can contain as many as 20 cream-colored seeds, depending on the variety.
Pomelo is a large Asian citrus fruit that’s closely related to grapefruit. It’s shaped like a teardrop and has green or yellow flesh and a thick, pale rind. It can grow to the size of a cantaloupe or larger. Pomelo tastes similar to grapefruit, but it’s sweeter. It contains several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that make it a healthy addition to your diet.
Sugar apples (Annona squamosa) are the fruit of one of the most commonly grown Annona trees. Depending upon where you find them, they go by a plethora of names, amongst them include sweetsop, custard apple, and the apropos scaly custard apple. The fruit of the sugar apple tree is eaten out of hand, separating the fleshy segments from the outer peel and spitting the seeds out. In some countries, the pulp is pressed to eliminate the seeds and then added to ice cream or combined with milk for a refreshing beverage.
This small tree loads its dense branches with bright orange, delicate, tart tasting oval fruit, fall through midwinter. The rind is sweet and therefore the fruit is usually eaten whole. Very ornamental in containers or indoors in bright light.
Centennial Variegated Kumquat Citrus Tree is a very unique variety discovered as a spontaneous variegated genetic mutation from an unknown breeding project. It is thought to be a cross between a Nagami Kumquat and a Mandarin given how incredibly sweet it is. Centennial Variegated Kumquat rivals Meiwa in the sweetness of its fruit. This upright growing citrus tree is very dense, shrubby and incredibly ornamental with its gorgeous variegated foliage and striped immature fruits.
Meiwa kumquat is characterized by its near perfect oval shape and sweet, less acidic flavor than its cousin, Nagami. The flesh is light orange and contains only a few seeds. This is also a cold hardy citrus that can withstand frost. This variety is available in semi-dwarf and standard sizes.
Murcott trees are moderately vigorous and have a distinctive upright, willow-like growth habit. Since the fruit is produced on terminal end in clusters, the weight of the fruit will cause the branches to bend and lodge and sometimes break in years of heavy crops. The Murcott fruit is medium in size, averaging from 2½ – 3 inches in diameter and has a shape that is typical of a true tangerine. The peel color is reddish orange and may be yellow orange in warmer winters, smooth, and while it can be peeled by hand it is somewhat more difficult to peel than a tangerine. The flesh is a rich orange color. Seed number will vary from 12 to 24 seeds per fruit and are white in color when cut.
Key lime trees may or may not have thorns, depending on the branch. The same tree will have no thorns on part of it and 1/2-inch thorns on other branches. The trees are taller than the Mexican lime, reaching up to 20 feet. The fruits are smaller, about half the size of Mexican lime, and sweeter. Key Limes are smaller than your usual limes and have more seeds in them. They also are more aromatic and contain more acidity. As they ripen, they turn yellow instead of dark green like Persian limes and their juice turns sweeter as it loses its acidity.
The Kaffir Lime Tree has a distinctive double-lobed, glossy, deep green leaf that looks like two leaves joined together and with one growing at the tip of the other. The fruit of the citrus tree is dark green in colour and unlike any other fruit with a bumpy rind. The rind and zest can be used for mouth-watering dishes.
Persian limes are also known as Tahiti limes. This variety has unknown origins but is suspected to be a hybrid of the Mexican lime and citron, a huge, yellow-green, lumpy lemon. The Persian lime tree has no thorns and produces thicker-skinned fruit larger than the Key lime which keeps longer. These good traits make it a preferable commercial crop. The fruit is oval-shaped, about the same size as a lemon, with a vivid green peel which turns yellow when ripe.
Tropical tree found in the tropics, the sea grape plant (Coccoloba uvifera) is often used in ocean-side landscaping. Growing sea grapes can be found in sandy soil right on the beach and it produces clusters of fruit that resemble grapes. The tree tends to branch off into multiple trunks, but can be trained (pruned) to form a single one and its size can be maintained to that of a shrub. It can grow up to 25-30 feet (7.5-9 m.) high when left unchecked. After about 10 years of training the tree, sea grape care is minimal and needs only to be watered and occasionally pruned to maintain the desired shape.
Rambutan is a medium-sized tropical tree in the family Sapindaceae. The name also refers to the edible fruit produced by this tree. The rambutan is native to Southeast Asia. It is closely related to several other edible tropical fruits including the lychee, longan, pulasan and guinep. Rambutans are also full of potassium, a mineral that helps your heart beat, kidneys function, and muscles contract. Rambutans are rich in vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant.
Money trees, aka pachira aquatica, are considered a symbol of luck and prosperity, but they haven’t been for all that long. Although the shell is very difficult to remove, chestnuts are edible. However, it is rare to eat them raw and can even be dangerous for certain people. Chestnuts are more traditionally eaten when roasted, especially around the holidays.
Herbs found around the Hydroponics Farm
Tall, fast-growing plants have distinctive violet stems, veining, and flower bracts with lavender blooms and 2″ long leaves. Beautiful in casual flower bouquets. Ht. 26–30″. Edible Flowers: Use the flowers in any recipe that calls for basil, or to garnish drinks, salads, soups, pasta, and desserts. Flavor is of intense basil with a note of mint, anise, and cinnamon. This plant has a sweet cinnamon aroma.
A delicious addition to soups, curries, teas, and any other dish calling for lemon grass. Essential oil distilled from this variety contains large amounts of citral and geraniol and can be used for flavorings, perfumes, and insect repellent. 6-12 stalks per plant, depending on growing climate.
A zesty, versatile herb. Use to flavor salad mix, main dishes, ice cream, and drinks. Variety not stated since mint does not grow true-to-type from seed. Edible Flowers: The flowers add a minty flavor to salads, soups, desserts, and drinks.
Pine-scented, savory, culinary favorite. Native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary has silvery needle-like foliage and delicate flowers. Popular for potted plant sales and with chefs. Germination is naturally low and variable. Edible Flowers: Although the flowers are small, they have a bold rosemary flavor. They should be used fresh as a garnish for savory dishes and salads, and pairs well with roasted vegetables, fruits, or whipped cream.
Sweet and tangy lemon basil. Very bright green, 2 1/2″ long leaves with white blooms make this basil both attractive and intensely flavorful. Ht. 20-24″. Edible Flowers: Use the flowers in any recipe that calls for basil, or to garnish drinks, salads, soups, pasta, and desserts. Flavor is of intense basil and citrus.
Large, heat-resistant bunching onions. Tall, straight, blue-green leaves. Very resistant to bulbing and leaf-curl in the heat of midsummer. Long, white shanks provide excellent yields. Not as winter-hardy as Evergreen Hardy White.