by Donna Torrey

It’s that time of year when we try to figure out what we can grow in our vegetable gardens, now that the summer and tropical weather have arrived. Last year I wrote about Moringa, a powerhouse tropical vegetable. This year, I want to introduce you to another fantastic plant— Chaya.

Chaya is an amazing and nutritious tropical vegetable, can be used in different ways, and should only be eaten cooked. It is tolerant of poor soil and low water. It prefers full sun to part shade and loves the hot humid summers. It is a bushy plant and should be kept at four to five feet through frequent trimming and eating. It is grown from cuttings which root easily.

Boil leaves until they are wilted down and use them like grape leaves to wrap, or chop and use in any recipe calling for spinach, collards or kale. Chaya has a nice chewy texture and mild flavor. It is great in stews, soups, spinach pie or sautéed. It can also be prepared in advance (blanched) and frozen in zip lock bags for future use.

Best of all, it packs a load of protein, Vitamin A and calcium, similar to Moringa. Between these two plants, you will never be without delicious and nutritious greens for yourself and your family.

Chaya and Moringa seeds, cuttings and plants can always be purchased at The Garden Gate, located at Sears, 2251 N. Federal Hwy., Pompano Citi Centre (corner of Copans Rd. and Federal Hwy.), 954-783-4283,