Botanical Name: Sauropus androgynous
Some other names: Katuk, Star gooseberry, Tropical asparagus
How to grow it:
Sweet Leaf is a hardy perennial shrub that has a wide tolerance for growing conditions.
It will do best in moist well drained soils, but I’ve found it will grow well in poor soils too. Seems to grow equally well in sun or shade.
In warmer areas it will slow down leaf production when the weather cools off and in cooler areas it will die back only to reshoot in spring.
Regular watering is preferred to keep it growing, but it will also handle periods of drought – it’ll just stop growing. Regular fertilising will make a big difference to leaf production.
I grow lots of it as it’s an attractive plant and would be right at home amongst other ornamental plants.
Propogation is by seed (if you can get them) but easier by tip cuttings. In rainy season you can just take tip cuttings and put them in the ground or in pots. Make sure they are well watered for a week or two.
Sweet Leaf will also grow quite happily in pots – keep them near the kitchen, well watered & fed for a regular supply of tips & leaf.
A really good source of protein, calcium, potassium & phosphorous plus vitamins A, B, & C.
Using it in the kitchen:
Leaves have a taste similar to peas and are a favorite for anyone who visits my garden. Great fresh in salads and sandwiches on their own or in combination with other greens.
Leaves can also be added to stir fries, soups, curries & casseroles for their nutrition moreso than their taste which is somewhat lost through cooking. Adding at the last minute to stirfries & omelettes will preserve their flavour.
Tip cuttings can be steamed or stir fried on their own as a vegetable & are sometimes known as tropical asparagus. They are much better this way in the growing season – a bit tough when the weather cools down.
A great survival plant for it’s long season of highly nutritious leaves.