In Production Today – February 2013

Subtropical summer border: Madagascan beans (left) Chinese spinach 'Flying Colours', various basil, wild rocket
Subtropical summer border: Madagascan beans (left) Chinese spinach ‘Flying Colours’, various basil, wild rocket

Productivity is gradually recovering after ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald.

Oswald may have been an ‘ex’ cyclone, but it pummelled the east coast of Australia (between 25th – 28th January).

Bayside Brisbane, where I live, experienced some heavy rain with Oswald, but it was the gusting winds that caused most damage between 27th – 28th January. More damage occurred on the morning of 28th than at any other time because the topsoil had become soaked and provided little anchorage for roots. Trees, and the bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii) opposite the house, slumped in the wind.

Two weeks later, salt spray damage to trees, especially Forest Red gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) and jacaranda, became evident. Damage extended 2km inland, alarming gardeners.

Storm surges saturated properties along the Moreton Bay foreshore. Affected trees and soil will gradually recover, but the salt spray damage to foliage looks like heat damage from a cool bushfire.

Oswald took my young fig tree, Ficus carica ‘Preston’s Prolific’, a heritage cultivar from Melbourne. Also went two fruiting stems of banana, luckily the ‘Java Blue’ bananas are mature enough to eat green. The ‘First Fleet’ coffee tree has lost 80% of its cherries, the golden oregano (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’) and purple fennel have rotted (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’).

After the storm damage had been tidied up, the sun, wind and heat returned, drying out the topsoil so daily watering became essential once again.

The garden looks quite lush and the menu has increased to 92 taxa, but as I write, an East Coast Low weather system now threatens further destructive winds…

Edible roots
Arrowroot, Canna edulis
Cocoyam, Xanthosoma saggitifolia
Carrot, Daucus carota ‘Paris Market’
Turnip, Brassica rapa subsp. rapa ‘Gold Ball’

Edible leaves
Basil, lemon, Ocimum x citriodora
Basil, lime, Ocimum americanum ‘Lime’
Basil, sacred, Ocimum tenuiflorum
Basil, sweet Genovese, Ocimum basilicum
Basil, Thai, Ocimum americanum
Cassava, Manihot esculenta
Cassava, Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’
Celery stem taro, aka Tahitian spinach, Alocasia esculenta
Chaplu, Piper methysticum
Chinese celery, aka smallage, Apium graveolens
Chinese spinach, Amaranthus tricolor
Chinese spinach, Amaranthus tricolor ‘Flying Colours’
Chinese spinach, Amaranthus tricolor ‘Mekong Red’
Chinese spinach, Amaranthus tricolor ‘Red Callaloo’
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum
Curry leaf, Murraya koenigii
Curry leaf bush, Helichrysum italicum
French Tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus
Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum
Goldenrod, Solidago sp.
Good King Henry, aka Lincolnshire spinach, Chenopodium bonus-henricus
Green amaranth, Amaranthus viridis
Gourd, Lagenaria siceraria
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
Lovage, Levisticum officinale
Love-lies-bleeding, Amaranthus caudatus
Moroccan mint, Mentha spicata ‘Nana’
Multiplier spring onion (aka multiplier scallion) Allium fistulosum
Multiplier leek, Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum
Mustard, Red, Brassica juncea
Native mint, Mentha satureioides
Parsley, Petroselenium crispum ‘Italian flat-leaved’
Parsley, Petroselenium crispum ‘Triple Curled’
Phillip Island hibiscus, Hibiscus insularis
Pumpkin, Cucurbita maxima ‘Tonda Padana’
Purslane, Portulaca oleracea
Radicchio, Cichorium intybus ‘Palla Rossa’
Radicchio, Cichorium intybus ‘Red Verona’
Radicchio, Cichorium intybus
Rosella, Hibiscus sabdariffa
Society garlic, Tulbaghia violacea ‘Variegata’
Society garlic, Tulbaghia violacea ‘Fairy Stars’
Stinking Roger, Tagetes minuta
Sweetpotato, Ipomoea batatas ‘Ace of Spades’
Sweetpotato, Ipomoea batatas ‘Marguerite’
Thai coriander, Eryngium foetidum
Turmeric, Curcuma longa
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

Edible petals
Banana, Musa x sapientum ‘Lady Finger’
Begonia x semperflorens
French Marigold, Tagetes patula ‘Himalayan’
Goldenrod, Solidago sp.
Gourd, aka New Guinea bean, Lagenaria siceraria
Pumpkin, Cucurbita maxima ‘Tonda Padana’
Turmeric, Curcuma longa

Edible seed
Madagascan bean, Phaseolus lunatus

Banana, Musa x sapientum ‘Dwarf Ducasse’
Banana, Musa x sapientum ‘Java Blue’
Chilli, Capsicum annuum ‘Siam Gold’
Chilli, Capsicum annuum ‘Red Cayenne’
Eggplant, Solanum melongena ‘Caspar’
Finger lime, Citrus australasica
Kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix
Lime, Citrus x latifolia
Mouse melon, Melothria scabra
Naranjilla, Solanum quitoense
Pepino, Solanum muricatum
Pineapple, Ananas comosus ‘Queensland Rough’
Tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum ‘Sweet Bite’
West Indian Gherkin, Cucumis anguria
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
Cardamom, False, Alpinia nutans
Cardamon, True, Eletteria cardamomum
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’
Skullcap, Scutellaria lateriflora – used as green tea to aid sleep
Summer savoury, Satureja hortensis – herb used like sage
Thyme, Thymus serpyllum – antibiotic, used as a gargle against sore throats
Turmeric, Curcuma longa – spice with anti-cancer properties

92 taxa

Jerry Coleby-Williams

19th February 2013


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Karin says:

    We are located on the Sunshine Coast. We had tall bamboo and a eucalypt come down in ex cyclone Oswald. With the dry spring, most of our citrus dropped fruit. The lemon, retained its fruit, only to drop them after the deluge at the end of the January.
    Good to see you still have cocoyam in your garden. I’ve been trying to source some – however the plants illustrated in online sources seem to have a different leaf structure (probably not the same plant, even though they are cited with the same name Xanthosoma sagittifolium). Would appreciate any tips on where I can source a tuber of the same variety that you grow.

    1. Hi Karin,
      If you come to my open day, advertised on line on Open Gardens Australia’s website, ask me for a piece.
      Otherwise around now a few fruit shops may sell White Taro, (a bad Qld pseudonym) from Australia’s last cocoyam farmer in Tully.

  2. Christa D'Orr says:

    Hi Jerry, I’ve just moved to the Sunshine Coast from the far south coast NSW and have a veggie patch to play with for the first time in years. I’m a novice to this type of climate (is it wet season or summer??!) and need a bit of advice on what to plant in my veggie patch for this time of year. Do you have a plant guide on your site? I’m also looking for a fast-growing climber (maybe snake beans?) to cover up an ugly rose arbour – any suggestions?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
    Cheers, Christa

    1. Dear Christa
      Brisbane Organic Growers post a list on their website. My planting list is published in The Organic Gardener magazine. Gardening Australia website has a vegie guide but their information isn’t all that good for the subtropics.
      Buy Madagascar bean from Green Harvest if you want a quick productive vine at this time of year.
      Happy to answer single questions.

  3. Rasa Dover says:

    Hi Jerry,
    Could not get to Mullumbimby Community Gardens yesterday. My road finally become impassable, first time in 12 years.
    I wanted to ask you what to do organically for leaf spot/brown spot on silverbeet, peruvian chard, southern spinach etc. Internet seems not to know. Thanks. Rasa ( Byron Hinterland Seed Savers)

    1. Dear Rasa,

      The cause is bacteria, they love warm, moist conditions and worst affect plants given plenty of nitrogen. So hold back on nourishment if you fertilise them.

      I get this disease on silverbeet so badly I only grow them in autumn and spring.
      Silverbeet is a favourite host.

      Pick off dead and dying foliage. You can compost the debris.
      If possible, encourage ventilation between plants (impossible in current soaking conditions) by thinning as you crop.

      In dry conditions you can spray foliage with a solution of 3 teaspoonfuls of bicarbonate of soda per litre of water. The alkalinity retards bacterial growth, it’s not a silver bullet, but if it can work for a day without rain or dew rinsing it off it can tip things your way.

      Sorry you couldn’t make it, completely understand, I was half expecting it to be cancelled as it was (for my garden) the wettest day in a decade: 175mm.

      Good luck

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