What seed would you take to an uninhabited tropical island?
Dr. Frank Martin is the author of several books and articles on tropical subsistence farming and a frequent consultant to ECHO. We received from him the following interesting note:
"If I were to go to an uninhabited island in the hot, humid tropics, taking with me the seeds with which I think I could best provide myself food, I think I would take the following.
Roots and Tubers: (1) sweet potatoes-the variety 'Gem' (orange-fleshed) and some white-fleshed types, (2) yams-Dioscorea alata and D. esculenta, selected varieties, (3) cassava-some true seed to start my own, (4) Queensland arrowroot (Canna edulis), very easy to grow and productive.
Grains: (1) corn, (2) okra, for edible seed and well as green fruit, (3) wax gourd (Benincasa hispida) for edible seed as well as squash-like fruit.
Legumes: (1) Catjang cowpeas (climbing, disease resistant forms), (2) winged bean, (3) Dolichos lablab beans, (4) asparagus beans.
Leafy Vegetables: (1) chaya, (2) sunset hibiscus, (3) Tahitian taro (Xanthosoma brasiliensis), (4) Tropical or Indian lettuce (Lactuca indica).
Fruit Vegetables :(1) tropical pumpkin, (2) okra, (3) small-fruited, indeterminate tomatoes, (4) hot pepper, (5) ensalada pepper, selected for its edible leaves.
Trees :(1) bananas, (2) breadfruit, (3) limes (West Indian, from seed), (4) tamarind, (5) papaya, (6) mangoes (from seed, turpentine type but selected)."
Several of Dr. Martin's publications (co-authored by Ruth Ruberté) are available from ECHO. We are reprinting their book Edible Leaves of the Tropics (see chapter on Tropical Vegetables). Techniques and Plants for the Tropical Subsistence Farm (see below) is an excellent introduction to a wide variety of food plants adapted to hot, humid regions.
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