The Edible Garden

When you think about it, having an edible garden at a tropical botanic garden like Fairchild makes perfect sense.Dr. David Fairchild searched the world primarily for useful plants, and it doesn’t get much more useful than food. The Edible Garden was created originally to offer an interpretation of our tropical fruit program and research both here and at The Fairchild Farm in Homestead.

Our goal has grown in The Edible Garden to demonstrate to the community the benefits and enjoyment of eating quality, organically grown food. In a relatively small area—about 500 square feet—we grow a large variety of fruits and vegetables suitable for our South Florida climate; we demonstrate sustainability with composting and vermiculture; and we maintain a working beehive. The extremes of being in a semi-tropical region require plants that can tolerate a mild, dry winter and a summer of intense heat, sun, and torrential rains on an almost-daily basis. The raised bed plantings allow for a greater control of soil pH; they retain moisture, and allow for easy reach of the plants. They are even oriented east to west to maximize sun exposure. The Edible Garden is a fantastic teaching tool for visitors and students alike who want to enjoy the health and horticultural benefits of growing a kitchen garden as well as the simple pleasure of picking and eating fruits and vegetables.

Surprising variety

Our Edible Garden curator rotates many of the plantings, especially those grown in the raised beds of untreated wood, to demonstrate the variety of what can be grown in a limited space. The year-round displays include. 

Abricot (Mammea Americana)

Antidesma (Antidesma bunius)

Avocado (Persea americana)

Canistel (Pouteria campechiana)

Cacao (Theobroma cacao)

Caimito (Chrysophyllum cainito)

Carambola (Averrhoa carambola)

Chocolate Persimon (Diospyros digyna

Coffee (Coffea Arabica)

Dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus ‘Vietnamese giant’)

Golden apple (Spondius cytherea)

Guava (Psidium guajava)

Grumixama (Eugenia brasiliensis)

Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus)

Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica)

Longan (Dimocarpus longan)

Luffa (Luffa cilyndrica)

Mango (Mangifera indica)

Mamey sapote (Pouteria sapota)

Papaya (Carica papaya)

Persimmon (Diospyros kaki)

Rose apple (Syzygium aqueum)

Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota)

Seminole Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata)

Spanish lime (Meliccocus bijugatus)

Tamarind (Tamarindus indica)

Vanilla Orchid (Vanilla planifolia)

Some of the raised beds and rotated plantings may include:

Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)
Beet greens (Beta vulgaris) Chocolate mint (Menta × piperita f. citrata 'Chocolate')
Arugula (Eruca sativa) Sweet mint (Menta sp.)
Suriname spinach (Talinum fruticosum) Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Okinawa spinach (Gynura bicolor)                           Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Red-stemmed Malabar spinach (Basella alba) Thai basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Sissoo spinach (Alternanthera sissoo) Cuban oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus)
Cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) Variegated Cuban oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus)
Katuk (Sauropus androgynous) Shiso (Perilla frutescens)
Moringa (Moringa oleifera) Lemongrass (Cymbopogon sp.)
Carrot (Daucus carota) Marjoram (Origanum majorana
Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)
Red lettuce ‘cherokee’ (Lactuca sativa ‘cherokee’) German thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa) Seminole pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata)
Eggplant (Solanum melongena)