Book Review: Growing Tasty Tropical Plants

I decided I needed a vanilla plant….never mind why… and did a little research on how hard it would be to take care of. I found a very discouraging website that told me vanilla orchids are vines that won’t bloom until they grow 20 feet tall, and that a person needs a large greenhouse to even think about having one.  I was sad. Cue the Charlie Brown music.

Then I went to the Denver Botanic gardens, and found hope. As we were getting ready to leave, at the greenhouse in the children’s section, I saw an employee wrapping a vine around  a structure that appeared to be made of chicken wire and sheet moss. I asked him what it was, and when he said, “Vanilla,” I did actually squee. I told my wonderful mother in law that this meant her son didn’t have to build me a two story greenhouse. (he could, and I wouldn’t mind…but he doesn’t have to).  Vanilla can grow wrapped around a trellis, with bright indirect light, and with the right conditions will bloom in a couple of years.

I discovered the book “Growing Tasty Edible Plants” at the library, and it covers vanilla, as well as citrus, which I have had for a few years, as well as coffee, pomegranate, tea, passion fruit, which I am always tempted by when I see the plants in catalogues, as well as stuff I’ve never heard of before. Peanut butter fruit, anyone?

The authors are Laurelynn Martin and Bryon Martin, and they are co-owners of Logee’s Tropical Plants. Logee’s has a tropical fruit catalogue and nursery, and they’ve apparently appeared on Martha Stewart. I wouldn’t know, I’m much too cool to watch Martha…  The book is informative- it is obvious that these people know their stuff about plants. The writing isn’t stellar, but it is obvious that these guys have lived with the plants they are writing about, they have grown them inside regular houses and greenhouses, and they have eaten the fruit. I get tired of researching plants and finding people who are writing articles about plants they haven’t grown.  The Martins seem to know what they are talking about. 

I went ahead and ordered a vanilla orchid from eBay, and I’ll use the info in this book to help me keep it alive. We should be able to make homemade ice cream in about 2015. You’re all invited.


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