Many people in the islands begin with cultivating herbs that they mostly cook with, to season and add flavor to their pots when growing their own food. And with the Coronavirus pandemic, natives views of gardening has changed. Knowing the benefits of the foods you grow is important, therefore I want to share with readers the health value of some local herb and plants.
Growing herbs in your garden?
The type of soil you have to work with is important when you are gardening. The unique characteristics of soil in the Turks and Caicos Islands comprise of limestone and a breakdown of plant matter. This affects how and what types of plants grow well.
How & When
The type of herbs that basically grow year round are mostly medicinal and the good news is, the common herbs that grown here in the Turks & Caicos Islands are homeopathic. Bear in mind that herbs can grow year round but sometimes in a shaded area and at times without shade. Now, the best time to grow herbs, is from October to April. Reason being, these are the cooler months, and the best months to grow herbs without shade. The other months from May to September herbs need to be in a shaded area to grow well.
Points to remember: Some herbs can be grown directly in the ground, and some in containers.
Herbs that can grow directly in the ground:
Dill Seed, Rosemary, varieties of Parsley
A variety of Thyme, A variety of Mint and Basil
Tips for taking care of your garden, watering, weeding and harvesting:
Watering: Every other day depending on how dry it is
Weeding: If you use mulch in your garden you would not have to weed at all
As you see grass growing around your garden you can pull the weeds up (I know that for some people weeding is therapeutic), so weed as often as you like.
Note: If you let your garden overgrow with grass, the grass can choke the herbs.
Harvesting: Each plant has different characteristics and appearance when harvesting is eminent. And after a while it basically becomes natural for you to know when harvesting is near:
- The leaves are broader
- Plants are taller
- And most of the plants give out a fragrance
Here are some common medicinal purposes that we use herbs for in the Turks & Caicos Islands:
High blood pressure , diabetes, pressure in the eye and swollen limbs.
My garden does not thrive, no matter what I plant in my yard. I want to start growing my own vegetables and herbs. What could be the problem?
There could be a few reasons. Here are some: basically the garden doesn’t thrive because of the lack of nutrients in the soil and sometimes a lack of moisture or poor drainage.
When you can correct the above mentioned, things will be different.
Tip: You can water soluble fertilizer or granulin fertilizer to add nutrients to the soil so the plants can thrive. Remember, the different types of fertilizers are food for the soil.
In the Turks and Caicos Islands people often talk about the Moringa tree. Most of us boil it to drink and everybody has their uses for drinking it. Can you give me the health benefits of drinking Moringa?
- Eye glaucoma/ the blood pressure in the eye
- High blood pressure/(high pretention)
- Used for poor blood circulation
- It’s an overall cure for aliments
- It has a lot of protein and calcium. It has more calcium than a bottle of milk.
What other bush can I drink besides Moringa that is grown here in the Turks & Caicos?
Some are: Cerasee, Five Finger, Fever Grass, Name Tree
Did you know that:
During the era of the 50’s and 60’s North & Middle Caicos were the breadbasket islands of Turks Island. Growing staple products like corn , cassava ,okra, beans, pigeon peas and sweet potatoes.
Locals would use the slash and burn technique to preparetheir fields for planting. Farming was not only important but a means of survival, in the lives of people living on North and Middle Caicos.
*As seen in GEEMS magazine. Mr. Missick is a contributor to the DIY Home Gardening page.
by Courtney Missick