Friday, April 20, 2018

Native food crops of Africa

Whew, I have finally started putting up my shadecloth. I am using 8 ft posts which make the height so I can just walk under it but might be a bit low for anyone much taller.

The biggest cost will be all the shadecloth. I already have some so that is a start.

When everything is built I will mulch all the beds thickly with pea straw and all the walkways with wood chip.

This will be an ongoing project but it will be worth it to be more reliable in my production.

Native Food Crops of Africa

Before I start, if you have an interest in African food plants I suggest your download the three 'Lost Crops of Africa' ebooks. They are free. they are full of information and I have got a lot out of them.

Lost Crops of Africa, Volume I: Grains   
Lost Crops of Africa, Volume II: Vegetables
Lost Crops of Africa, Volume III: Fruits

Use the free PDF link on the right.

These are some of the African edible plants that I grow or have grown:

Snake bean (Vigna sesquipedalis, AKA V. unguiculata)

Snake beans are a type of cow pea that have been bred to be longer and tenderer. They are often associated with Asian cooking.

These are beans that love the heat and are entirely stringless. I much prefer growing them over 'normal' green beans. You can get climbing and bush varieties.

Okra is native to Western Africa and is a vegetable that few people in Australia have tried.
This is my first year growing it and I have to admit they are tastier than I expected, especially going by stories of their texture and flavour.

Next year I am going to try at least half a dozen varieties.


Sorghum is a much underused grain. It is bred mostly for stock green feed in Australia but the grain is very nutritious and should be used more for human food.

It looks like corn but is easier to grow and more tolerant of dry conditions and low fertility.

I grow three types: popping - the seeds can be popped a bit like popcorn, sugar - used to make a sugar syrup alternative to table sugar, and Broom - used for making brooms and brushes, and also for ornamental purposes.


Eggplant comes in such a range that it rivals is cousin tomatoes in variety.

They are a heat lover and will do well where tomatoes suffer.

Bamabara bean

I tried for a couple of years to grow this very nutritious underground bean but with no luck.

I can't even find a source for seed in this country any more.

There are other native African food plants that I don't have room to cover here like: yams, melons, rosella, amaranth and moringa. And there are some that I would love to try but they are either frost sensitive perennials, or you just can't get seeds here, things like yambean (Sphenostylis stenocarpa) and Enset.

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