In Production Today – February 2012

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 (Egyptian spinach) Corchorus olitorius

Jute (Egyptian spinach) Corchorus olitorius

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.

So while the pests and I have plenty to eat, my brown-green garden does look a bit shabby.

Crops available in quantity are marked with an asterisk *

Edible roots
Arrowroot, Canna edulis
* Cocoyam, Xanthosoma saggitifolia
Ginger, Zingiber officinale
Galangal, Alpinia galanga
Turmeric, Curcuma domestica
Hamburg parsley, Petroselenium crispum var. tuberosum
Golden sweetpotato, Ipomoea batatas ‘Marguerite’

Edible shoots
Choko shoot tips, Sechium edule
Luffa shoot tips, Luffa cylindrica
Warrigal greens, aka N. Zealand spinach, Tetragonia tetragonioides

Edible shoots and leaves
Jute, aka Egyptian spinach, Corchorus olitorius
Celery stem taro, aka Tahitian spinach, Alocasia esculenta
Chinese celery, aka smallage, Apium graveolens
Welsh onion, aka spring onion, scallion, Allium fistulosum
Purslane, Portulaca oleracea
Scurvy weed, Commelina cyanea

Edible seeds
Sorghum, Sorghum bicolor ‘Milo’

Edible leaves
Arrowroot, Canna edulis
Huauzontle, Chenopodium berlandieri
Green amaranth, Amaranthus viridis
Love-lies-bleeding, Amaranthus caudatus
Chinese spinach, Amaranthus cruentus ‘Red Calaloo’
Chinese spinach, Amaranthus tricolor
Chinese spinach, Amaranthus tricolor ‘Flying Colours’
Chinese spinach, Amaranthus ‘Mekong Red’
Parsley, Petroselenium crispum ‘Triple Curled’
Hamburg parsley, Petroselenium crispum var. tuberosum
Native lemongrass, Cymbopogon ambiguus
Native mint, Mentha satureioides
Golden sweetpotato, Ipomoea batatas ‘Marguerite’
Curry leaf, Murraya koenigii
* False cardamom, Alpinia nutans
Moroccan mint, Mentha spicata ‘Nana’
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum
Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum
Society garlic, Tulbaghia violacea ‘Variegata’
Kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix
Radicchio, Cichorium intybus
Sweet basil, Ocimum basilicum
Dwarf Greek basil, Ocimum minimum
Sacred basil, Ocimum tenuiflorum
Perilla frutescens ‘Purpurea’
Cassava, Manihot esculentum
Variegated cassava, Manihot esculentum ‘Variegatum’
Vietnamese mint, Persicaria odorata
Variegated four seasons herb, Plectranthus amboinicus ‘Variegatus’
Lemongrass, Cymbopogon flexuosus
Lovage, Levisticum officinale
Phillip Island hibiscus, Hibiscus insularis
* Aloe vera
Aptenia cordifolia
Chaplu, Piper sarmentosum
Dwarf rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Benenden Blue’
Fastigiate rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Miss Jessopp’
Milk thistle, Sonchus oleraceus
Cobblers’ pegs, Bidens pilosa
Scurvy weed, Commelina cyanea
Ceylon spinach, Basella alba
Mixed loose-leaf lettuce, Lactuca sativa
Golden oregano, Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’

Edible flowers
Luffa, Luffa cylindrica
Society garlic, Tulbaghia violacea ‘Variegata’
Pumpkin, Cucurbita moschata ‘Jap’
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum
Aptenia cordifolia
Daylily, Hemerocallis sp.
Marigold, Tagetes patula
Scurvy weed, Commelina cyanea
Turmeric, Curcuma longa
Dahlia, Dahlia x hybrida

Fruit
Ficus carica ‘Preston Prolific’ (the first crop since I transplanted it in 2010)
Kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix
Lime, Citrus latifolia
Luffa, Luffa cylindrica
Garden strawberry, Fragaria x ananassa ‘Red Gauntlet’
Naranjilla, Solanum quitoense
Chilli, Capsicum annuum ‘Cayenne’
Chilli, Capsicum annuum ‘Siam Gold’
Mouse melon, Melothria scabra
Eggplant, Solanum melongena ‘Early Purple’

Spice
Cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum

Medicinal
Greater celandine, Chelidonium majus
Bulbine frutescens
* Aloe vera

Jerry Coleby-Williams
4th February 2012