This online guide has been created for you to successfully grow a variety of plants that thrive in the tropics, using native seeds and plants to get growing with wise advice from fellow backyard gardeners and farmers. You are welcome to add your wisdom and share growing and harvest tips and recipes. Send to

Welcome to Pro-Organic Belize

Tropical Garden Grow Guide

Where you are the student and the teacher.


Botanic name
Basella Alba
Plant type
Sun exposure
Likes full sun
soil type
moist and fertile
Soil pH
Seed depth
1/4 to 1/2 inch
2-3 weeks
70-85 days
1 foot apart



Featured plant of the month of July 2022

Malabar Spinach
by Karin Westdyk

Though Malabar spinach is not a true spinach, it is used in much the same way as regular spinach.
Native to India and Indonesia, it was named after a coastal region in southern India called Malabar.

Malabar spinach can be grown from both seed or stem cuttings. They should be planted about a foot apart as they will climb and spread so planting by a trellis or fence is a good idea. They prefer full sun but a bit of shade is OK. However, the leaves will grow larger if they are shaded. They prefer moist, rich, composted soil that is well drained. In the tropics Malabar spinach is a perennial plant and keeps on giving its lush beautiful heart shaped leaves throughout the year, During dry spells it needs regular watering and during the rainy season it can tolerate much water as long as the soil is well-drained. Regular harvesting of the leaves encourages more plant growth.

Seeds can be gleaned and appear in dry conditions or when there is less than 12 hours of daylight, Collect the dried seeds and store in a dry place until planting. Seeds can be viable for up to 4 years.

Malabar spinach is resistant to pests and disease, though in extreme wet weather it can be attacked by a fungus that will show up as small circular or oval grayish spots with a dark ring. Best to simply remove and destroy these leaves by burning or putting in trash.

There are two types of Malabar. Our focus is on the green stemmed type as the red stemmed Malabar is used more as an ornamental plant rather than a vegetable plant, though it is also quite tasty and edible.

Malabar spinach is delicious cooked or raw. Cooked, it is a tad bit slimy -- similar to okra, but tastes like regular spinach. Raw, it has a crispy flavor resembling citrus and peppers and is used in salad dishes.

Malabar spinach leaves are rich in Vitamins A, B and C, as well as folate, iron, manganese and calcium. They are low in calories, high in antioxidants, and a rich source of fiber.

Though leaves can be harvested anytime, they are best tasting before flowering. They can be preserved by dehydrating and then made into a powder to add to recipes, or by boiling for 1-2 minutes, drying them off and then freezing for later use in cooking soups, stews or casseroles.


Malabar Spinach Stir Fry

  • about 6 oz of malibar spinach
  • an inch of ginger root sliced
  • 1 TBSP cooking oil
  • Salt


Cut larger leaves into smaller pieces removing hard stems.

Heat a wok or fry pan and add oil on medium heat.

When oil is hot, add ginger and stir fry for about half a minute.

Add spinach and stir fry for 5-7 minutes, adding salt to taste.

Send us your favorite Malabar Spinach recipe and we will post it here for all to enjoy.