Food production is quickly changing since summer arrived two weeks early…
Seasons arrive suddenly in Brisbane.
Last week it was a typical Brisbane spring: everything was baked crisp, dried by heat and windy weather. The garden has had practically no useful rain since mid-July, making this spring extra special, the product of the longest dry spell since I moved to Brisbane in 2003.
Spring ended on 16th November. You know it’s summer in Brisbane because the humidity arrives one day, and stays. And the two days following that first day of summer delivered four destructive thunderstorms and 78mm of rain. The garden has now received more than its 96.5mm average rainfall (the 50 year average rainfall for Brisbane airport for November) making the soil soft enough to dig and begin sowing for summer.
Self-sown warrigal greens and green amaranthus are lush and in peak condition (perfect for making spinach curry with fetta cheese).
Sweetcorn, planted on 11th October, are now flowering, and self-sown mouse melon are 10cm high and looking for a wigwam for support.
The golden sweetpotato ‘Marguerite’ is still flowering and growing in the nature strip. It has had one emergency watering since July and, despite being exposed to heat, wind and trampling by vandals out in the street, has almost grown to fill the bare patches created by a series of near frosts in August.
The chervil is almost finished. They’re flowering along with the ‘Lunar White’ carrots.
The ‘White Vienna’ kohl rabi are perfect and the ‘Laciniato’ Tuscan kale are looking great.
Wild, or wall rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia) is also in bloom and tastes tangy.
On the 4th November, I picked 12kg of daikon ‘Long White’ from a single 2.5m long row (sown on 1.7.12), and warm conditions delivered a wonderful bunch of around 175 ‘Pisang Ceylan’ bananas.
A metre long single row of the stump rooted carrot ‘Paris Market’, (also sown on 1.7.12), yielded 950g of washed roots on 17.11.12. Apart from being quick and ideal for growing in boxes, this cultivar has proven to be one of the best for the subtropics. ‘Paris Market’ grows quickly through Brisbane’s brief winter and mature before the steamy summer conditions activate destructive root-rotting fungi that spell doom to this root crop (and also to silverbeet). Best of all, ‘Paris Market’ tastes nutty and sweet. The guinea pigs love their tops.
It was a rare experience to be able to garden during the 84% partial eclipse on 14th November: for half an hour things became blissfully cool as the sun lost its heat and blazing yellow colour. Everything became radiantly clear under a cool, white light. No sunglasses or hat were needed whilst watering the street trees. Australia’s next solar eclipse will be in 2015.
Last month there were 89 taxa (different types of plant) on the menu. Now it’s down to 83. While some are in very small quantities, things are quickly changing since summer conditions arrived – two weeks early.
Arrowroot, Canna edulis
Cocoyam, Xanthosoma saggitifolia
Daikon or Japanese radish, Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus ‘Long White’
Turnip, Brassica rapa subsp. rapa ‘Gold Ball’
Winged yam, Dioscorea alata
Chilean Wine palm, Jubaea chilensis
Coriander, Coriandrum sativum
Nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus ‘Jewel Mixed’
Pigeon pea, Cajanus cajan
Celery stem taro, aka Tahitian spinach, Alocasia esculenta
Chervil, Anthriscus cerefolius
Chinese celery, aka smallage, Apium graveolens
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum
Common chickweed, Stellaria media
Curry leaf, Murraya koenigii
Dill, Anethum graveolens
French Tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus
Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum
Goldenrod, Solidago sp.
Good King Henry, aka Lincolnshire spinach, Chenopodium bonus-henricus
Green amaranth, Amaranthus viridis
Golden sweetpotato, Ipomoea batatas ‘Marguerite’
Heart leaf ice-plant, Aptenia cordifolia
Huauzontle, Chenopodium berlandieri
Japanese parsley, Cryptotaenia japonica
Kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix
Kale, Tuscan, Brassica oleracea Acephala Group ‘Laciniato’
Kale, variegated, Brassica oleracea Acephala Group
Kohl rabi, Brassica acephala Gongyloides group ‘White Vienna’
Lebanese cress, Aethionema coridifolium
Lemongrass, Cymbopogon flexuosus
Lettuce, Lactuca sativa ‘Royal Oakleaf’
Lovage, Levisticum officinale
Love-lies-bleeding, Amaranthus caudatus
Moroccan mint, Mentha spicata ‘Nana’
Multiplier spring onion, multiplier scallion, Allium fistulosum
Multiplier leek, Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum
Nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus ‘Jewel Mixed’
Native mint, Mentha satureioides
Parsley, Petroselenium crispum ‘Triple Curled’
Parsley, flat-leaved, Petroselenium ‘Giant of Italy’
Phillip Island hibiscus, Hibiscus insularis
Purple fennel, Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’
Radicchio, Cichorium intybus ‘Red Verona’
Radicchio, Cichorium intybus ‘Palla Rossa’
Radicchio, Cichorium intybus
Sacred basil, Ocimum tenuiflorum
Silverbeet, Beta vulgaris Cicla Group ‘Rainbow Mixed’
Society garlic, Tulbaghia violacea ‘Variegata’
Society garlic, Tulbaghia violacea ‘Fairy Stars’
Stinking Roger, Tagetes minuta
Sweetpotato, Ipomoea batatas ‘Marguerite’
Variegated four seasons herb, Plectranthus amboinicus ‘Variegatus’
Vietnamese mint, Persicaria odorata
Welsh onion, aka spring onion, scallion, Allium fistulosum
White peppermint, Mentha x piperita ‘Officinalis’
Wall or wild rocket, Diplotaxis tenuifolia
Warrigal greens, Tetragonia tetragonioides
Goldenrod, Solidago sp.
Green banana, Musa x sapientum ‘Dwarf Ducasse’
Heartsease, Viola tricolor ‘Johnny Jump Up’
Chilli, Capsicum annuum ‘Siam Gold’
Chilli, Capsicum annuum ‘Red Cayenne’
Dessert banana, Musa x sapientum ‘Pisang Ceylan’
Mandarin, Citrus reticulata ‘Parramatta Sweets’
Naranjilla, Solanum quitoense
Pawpaw, Carica papaya
Plantain, Musa x sapientum ‘Bluggoe’
Pumpkin, Cucurbita moschata ‘Jap’
Tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum ‘Green Zebra’
Tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum ‘Sweet Bite’
Winter melon, Benincasa hispida
Medicinal / Spices
Aloe vera – leaf juice used to heal sunburn, scratches
Bulbine frutescens – leaf juice used to treat burns, rashes, as an infusion for sore throats
Cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum
False cardamom, Alpinia nutans
Galangal, Alpinia galangal – spice used like ginger with similar properties
Ginger, Zingiber official – spice that helps decongestion of catarrh, aids digestion, blood flow
Greater celandine, Chelidonium majus – stem juice kills warts on hands
Phillip Island hibiscus, Hibiscus insularis – used as a tea to soothe sore throats
Rosemary, dwarf, Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Benenden Blue’
Rosemary, fastigiate, Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Miss Jessopp’
Thyme, Thymus serpyllum – antibiotic, used as a gargle against sore throats
Turmeric, Curcuma long – spice with anti-cancer properties. Now sprouting vigorously following rain – the turmeric tea season has begun.
20th November 2012