One of the less common vegetables we grow here at Tullamore Farm is Aibika. In New Guinea Aibika is one the major green vegetables and found everywhere. Aibika is an evergreen perennial shrub. Simply put, they are green most of the year and will live and produce for several years. The oldest plant we have thriving here is about 4 years old and still producing strongly.
We grow 2 of the approximately 70 varieties. One of the two varieties we grow here has very thin leaves and the other quite large leaves. The Botanic name is Abelmoschus Manihot, but we simply refer to them as Thin-leaf and Fat- leaf Aibika.
They grow to about 2 metres tall and about 1 to 1 and a half metres wide. They grow well in full sun or partial shade. They are not very happy about frost and if you do get heavy frost perhaps plant in a warm sheltered spot or under larger trees, providing protection.
We have one growing here in a large pot in a well shaded area. That could be a great option for those here locally who get bad frosts. We have several living within 10 metres of our cabin and just walk out and harvest the leaves as needed. We use the leaves in Juice and Vegetable drinks, Salads and in Stir-fries. The tuber –like roots and stems can also be used as a food source. We have the flowers in salads.
Once you have one established they are easy to propagate. Simply cut a thick piece about 15 to 20 cms long. Remove the bulk of the leaves, only leaving a couple of small or partial leaves. Plant into a pot or straight into the ground, where it is to stay permanently.
They are very high in protein (about 29%) and an assortment of Vitamins. Most find them an attractive shrub and when you add that all together they are a very handy plant to have located in your garden.