Fern Garden Club

-- Established 1950 --

FGC Events Calendar

Spring Luncheon

Plant Exchange and Installation of Officers

Thursday, June 4, 2015

11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

For our last meeting of the season the FGC has one last lunch together, usually at a cafe or restaurant. The club historian displays pictures taken during the year and members volunteer to serve in Officer and Chairperson positions for the following year. Members also bring a plant to exchange. The location of the luncheon will be discussed at meetings, so please speak up if you have some good suggestions.



Florida Friendly Landscaping


5/7/2015 11:15:14 AM  

Chaya vs. Spinach

According to the National Institute of Nutrition in Mexico City, ingesting chaya will:

  • Improve blood circulation,
  • help digestion,
  • improve vision,
  • disinflame veins and hemorrhoids,
  • help lower cholesterol,
  • help reduce weight,
  • prevent coughs,
  • augment calcium in the bones,
  • decongest and disinfect the lungs,
  • prevent anemia by replacing iron in the blood,
  • improve memory and brain function and
  • combat arthritis and diabetes.

A nutritional analysis (see chart) shows that chaya is richer in iron than spinach, and a powerful source of potassium and calcium.

It's also incredibly easy to grow and an attractive addition to the garden with its maple-like leaves and tidy growth pattern. It limits itself to about six feet in height. Plant a row close together and you'll soon have a hedge. The plants tend to be open toward the bottom, so you can create a border with low- and medium-growing herbs.

Despite the near-miraculous claims for it, I've run into very few Mexicans who are familiar with chaya, and have never seen it in the market. To grow your own, stake branches of about 40 centimeters in sandy soil with good drainage, and water regularly. It grows well in a median annual temperature of 25 C. or higher, and at altitudes of 0 to 1000 meters above sea level.

In some states it is called chaya col or chaya mansa. The botanical name is Cnidoscolus chayamansa.

Start harvesting as soon as you see a couple of new leaves sprouted. Cutting encourages new growth, and the branches are pretty in flower arrangements. There's so much of it around our place that we're rather profligate with it, and it always rewards us with rapid new growth. Except for an occasional raid by cutter ants, we've found it pest-free.

The leaves are pretty bland, so you can add them to soups, casseroles, spaghetti sauces, salsas and salads without affecting the taste. The tiny, tender ones can go in omelets or salads or be used as garnish. The larger ones are best chopped and cooked long and slow. I've tried cooking them quickly, like spinach, and have not been happy with the leathery results.

For a liter of tea, use 3-5 medium size leaves with whatever blend you favor. I like two bags of black tea with two bags of mint and the chaya leaves, "cooked" in a glass bottle in the sun for a couple of hours and then refrigerated. Soak the leaves in water with a disinfectant such as Microdyn, before using, as you do fruits and vegetables.

Warning: In cooking or serving, Do not use aluminum containers, as a toxic reaction can result, causing diarrhea.

Use pottery or glass.

Here's a nutritional comparison, supplied by the Mexican National Institute of Nutrition, and distributed by DIF.

Percentages are based on minimum daily requirements.

% Chaya Alfalafa Spinach
Protein 8.25 3.66 2.00
Crude fibre 1.94 3.12 2.07
Carbohydrates 7.23 4.84 0.19
Calcium 421.00 12.00 49.00

5/7/2015 10:48:10 AM  Julie Badias

Plant Propagation Tips

I always try to propagate some of the live branches of plants that I may be cutting back or trimming in the usual way with the rooting hormone. They may not all or always take, but it is worth a try as they would be composted or recycled anyway. The following is a list (no means complete) of some plants worth considering to propagate for the plant sale and own use. 

   By divisions:
     daylillies, begonias, amaryllis, unusual bromeliads, ixoras, some orchids, natal plum
   By stem cuttings:
     beauty berry, roses, pentas, firebush, firespike, solandra (chalice vine). allamanda, 
     following will need to be hardened off for 2-3 days before placing in soil in pots:
     geraniums, succulents, cactus, euphorbia, some orchids
   By seeds:
   herbs, tacoma stans "yellow bells", datura angel trumpet,
   By air layering: Azealeas, Camelias (after they are finished blooming)
1/14/2015 8:06:08 AM  Barbara Morgan

How does your Garden Grow.....Series on Fox 13 News

11/27/2014 12:45:00 PM  

Eagle Cam

Kay Netscher recommends checking out this website that broadcasts video of a bald eagle family nest.


10/3/2014 7:14:50 AM