I love the smell of Stinking Roger, but my neighbour says it’s a weed to get rid of. Please do tell me what use I can make of it.
March is generally when summer productivity slows and diversity decreases in my garden. But pawpaw have surged ahead, jute and all the basils are brilliant, and I’m picking the last plump figs. Rats beat me to my first two autumn pineapples…
Rather like my strawberries, I’m waiting for the nights to become a bit cooler before my next move. Probably next month I’ll be sowing quick growers, like Asian greens, to pick in late autumn. It’s far too warm, wet and humid to risk sowing early winter crops, like tomato, even though seedlings are on sale everywhere.
One regular question I get asked by subtropical gardeners is what to grow during summer. Summer is when I grow the smallest range of crops. It’s not because you have to regularly control grasshoppers and caterpillars, I just stick with ones that fare well if we get baked…or flooded.
Jute (aka Egyptian spinach, left) provides juicy leaves and tender shoot tips in summer. To germinate the seed of this tropical annual, sow in summer and keep the seed saturated. I kept my seed tray standing in water. Seed germinated in 28 days. Plants require constant moisture to thrive. In Bangladesh jute grows in swampy conditions, just like rice.
This January the weather had two weeks of both conditions. In the first fortnight everything got singed, and it reached an unusual 37C on 10.1.12. The following fortnight we received twice the 50 year average fall for January. The wettest day since I moved here in 2003 was on 24.1.12 when the garden received 157mm.
I think I have found an alternative to parsnip for the subtropics.
Yesterday I had fun cooking my first Hamburg parsley roots (Petroselenium crispum var. tuberosum). I haven’t grown this herb/ vegetable since I was fifteen and gardening in London. Hamburg parsley is a cool climate crop that, historically, was displaced in favour of the orange-coloured carrots being bred in Europe.
We currently have an abundance of crops in production today in our 400 square metre back garden. SE Queensland’s dams are just over 80% empty, but we’ve got sufficient recycled water to garden satisfactorily in winter. And using our own recycled water means that we can still use a hose.
The coffee has produced its first crop – and I’ve sown a batch. If you’re wondering how Blue pea, Clitorea ternatea found its way into the menu – we’ve had such a warm autumn this summer flower has kept on going. Clitorea’s blue flowers are used as a food dye. Kids love blue rice…I’m looking forward to surprising Jeff and Damo…