Multicultural vegetable garden: Africa

Credit: Isabelle Paquin
Gombo ou okra
  • Gombo ou okra
  • Calabashes
  • Dried calabashes
  • Okra, bitter gourd and scarlet eggplant ‘Turkish Orange’
  • Habanero hot peppers ‘Chocolate Brown’ and ‘Miniature White’
  • Calabash
  • Scarlet eggplant ‘Du Burkina Faso’
Multicultural vegetable garden: Africa

Beginning in the 19th century, Montréal experienced great waves of immigration. All those people coming from elsewhere brought their culture with them, providing our city with a culinary heritage and with flavors for all of us to enjoy.

The Food Garden at the Jardin botanique de Montréal is offering a world gastronomic tour by exploring eight thematic vegetable gardens (Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Greece, India, Italy, Latin America and the Maghreb). The goal is to acquaint people with what it’s possible to grow in Montréal despite the harsh climate and the short summer season, immigrants in particular.

I invite you to a continent poles apart from ours – here’s a brief overview of the African vegetable garden!


The peanut, Arachis hypogaea, whose flower once it’s pollinated is buried in the soil to produce its pod, is harvested in September-October, once the leaves have dried. In the same family, the black-eyed pea, Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata, is an erect plant forming an elongated pod, the dried seeds of which are eaten.

Fruit vegetables

Hot peppers, such as the Capsicum chinense ‘Bhut Jolokia’, and other species, are easy to grow, provided they’re started indoors with plenty of light and warmth. The same goes for the scarlet eggplant and the gboma eggplant, also in the Solanaceae family (in Latin, sol=sun), which are close relatives of the eggplant. The fruit of the scarlet eggplant, Solanum aethiopicum (Gilo gr.), is eaten green or orange at full maturity. At that point it’s more bitter and has no seeds. As for the gboma eggplant, Solanum macrocarpon, the young leaves and fruit are used to cook with.

Another plant, the okra, Abelmoschus esculentus, has a subtle flavor similar to the eggplant’s. Its gelatinous texture thickens sauces and soups. The fruit has to be picked when still small, unlike the magnificent calabash (gourd), Lagenaria siceraria, from which, once dried, containers and musical instruments are created. Late September, when they reach full maturity, is the time to harvest them.

Leafy vegetables

Tossa jute (jute mallow, krinkrin, bush okra), Corchorus olitorius, is known above all for its textile properties. Sauces are also made with the leaves. Green amaranth (callaloo), Amaranthus viridis, very rich in vitamins and minerals, accompanies a number of traditional dishes. Finally, roselle, Hibiscus sabdariffa, is used in cooking for its leaves but especially its flowers, from which a refreshing red drink is made.

Root vegetables

You’re of course familiar with the tubers of the sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas. An interesting fact: the leaves of the plant are also eaten in salads and as spinach.


Other things that can be grown are sorghum, Sorghum bicolor; African millet, Eleusine coracana; pearl millet, Cenchrus americanus; and teff grass, Eragrostis tef.

Of course, these seedlings have to be planted indoors to give them a head start and enable at least some of the plants to reach harvest maturity before autumn.

This overview demonstrates that an impressive food diversity is within our reach. Feel free to get off the beaten path by adding a touch of the exotic to your vegetable garden!

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African vegetable garden

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3 Comment(s)
Jonathan's picture

Yeah, its great to read about Multicultural kitchen garden even it makes me excited to go for Africa and experience something new in my travel life.

ronaldo2903's picture

As we delve into the rich diversity of multicultural gardening and explore the vibrant flavors of African gardens, it is important to appreciate the diverse ways in which crops connect with nature. While the focus here is on creating a garden that reflects Africa's cultural heritage, it is also interesting to look at the continent's diverse landscapes, which include vast savannas and dense forests that are home to rich wildlife. In this context, the topic of hunting in Africa naturally arises, since it has been an integral part of traditional cultures for centuries. However, it is extremely important to approach hunting with respect for both the environment and local traditions. Responsible hunting practices can contribute to efforts to conserve and maintain the delicate balance of ecosystems, ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy the natural wealth Africa has to offer.

denniSTR's picture

Reading this fascinating article about hunting in Africa reminds me of the unique experiences and challenges that come with hunting in such a diverse and breathtaking landscape. The rich biodiversity and cultural significance of hunting in Africa make it a dream destination for many outdoor enthusiasts. Information from article on hunting in South Africa adds another layer of depth to this discussion. Understanding the importance of using advanced technology, such as night vision, improves not only the safety and efficiency of your hunt, but also your overall experience. Incorporating night vision technology into African

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