In Production Today – November

P1220027 - Version 2Apparently, Australia’s former Prime Bean Counter, John Howard, reckons Global Warming is for zealots. Interesting.

I thought Global Warming is about chemistry and physics. Not policies (or lack thereof). Farmers and gardeners are aware of the influence of our continually surprising climate on pests, diseases and crops.

Never trust a politician who is ignorant of the reason why the pear industry feels threatened by Global Warming. If a politician doesn’t understand the reason why my sugar palm is flowering and why I am picking naranjilla and ‘Java Blue’ bananas in October, they are a liability in need of an education.

Never trust a Prime Bean Counter, however former, who doesn’t understand the economic and political impact of Global Warming. Bean counters understand what 5% inflation means in economic terms, but they haven’t a clue that having 5% more water vapour in our atmosphere translates into violent flooding. In our continually surprising climate, farmland is being impacted by floods, drought and fires of increasing severity. Toowoomba, Bundaberg, Rockhampton and the Lockyer Valley have recently been relandscaped.

In 2009, Victoria burned brightly. Many lives were lost.

Didn’t notice, Mr Howard?

Australian communities have felt – are feeling – the social and economic impact of Global Warming. The Queensland government is discussing the necessity of re-building flood damaged infrastructure stronger and more disaster-proof than before.

Quite right too.

Rebuilding better and wiser than before requires greater investment. More beans. We have entered the era when coastal businesses and families are finding they can no longer get decent flood coverage, or can’t afford adequate flood insurance. We have documented evidence confirming king tides are becoming commoners. Physics and chemistry again.

Sea levels may be rising by only a few millimetres per year. But they are rising faster, and also unevenly, around our coastline. Experts believe the predictions for sea level rise is an underestimate, and this makes planning sea defences harder. Mr Howard, please look into your crystal ball and tell me by which financial year should the capital beans be allocated to construct a dam wall to keep the Sydney Opera House dry?

Or is the long term plan to create the most architecturally stunning fish farm on the planet there at Bennelong Point?

Away from the fevered ideologies of abstract Bean Counters, back in the real world I have real beans (of the Phaseolus kind) to count…

Grasshoppers beware!

The praying mantis in my Brisbane garden are plump with eggs, and when these hatch, grasshopper will be on their menu.

Whatever the calendar reckons, the life – and the crops – in my garden are saying the physics and chemistry of summer are here. Since September the weather has been very warm, very dry, very sunny, regularly windy – and surprisingly humid.

In my subtropical food garden, my tropical Sugar palm flowered for the first time last month. The first cowboy beetle of summer arrived in the last week of October, about a month earlier than usual.

The koels, which over winter in Papua New Guinea, arrived in mid-October, and as they arrived, the cicadas started singing. That’s a sign the storms of the wet season are around the corner.

Today green tree frogs started their mating calls. The last time I heard my green tree frog (that lives by the compost bin) four cultivars of banana started to flower. This was amazing, because I had four cultivars of this tropical fruit all blooming in the middle of winter. And eastern Australia was experiencing the hottest ever winter.

It was a good season for beans. I had a lovely, crisp crop of dwarf French beans, Madagascar beans and ‘Epicure’ climbing beans. This real bean counter had a good picking on 12th October. I harvested 7kg of French beans from a 7 metre row.

The beans, though good, had a very brief season. Thanks to the hot, dry gales, my cocoyams are dormant, thirsty and waiting for rain.

Edible roots
Arrowroot, Canna edulis
Cassava, Manihot esculenta
Cassava, Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’
Cocoyam, Xanthosoma saggitifolia
Eschallot, Allium cepa var. aggregatum
Radish, Palestinian, Raphanus sativus
Yam, Winged, Dioscorea alata

Edible leaves
Basil, sacred, Ocimum tenuiflorum
Cabbage, Ethiopian, Brassica carinata ‘Old Women Meet & Gossip’
Cassava, Manihot esculenta
Cassava, Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’

Celery stem taro, aka Tahitian spinach, Alocasia esculenta
Chinese celery, aka smallage, Apium graveolens
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum
Curry leaf, Murraya koenigii
Curry leaf bush, Helichrysum italicum
Endive, Cichorium endiva ‘Green Bowl’
Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum
Good King Henry, aka Lincolnshire spinach, Chenopodium bonus-henricus
Heart leaf ice-plant, Aptenia cordifolia
Japanese parsley, Cryptotaenia japonica
Kale, Brassica oleracea Acephala group ‘Two Peters’
Kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix
Kangkong, Ipomoea aquatica
Lebanese cress, Aethionema coridifolium
Leek, Multiplier, Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum
Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus
Lemongrass, Native, Cymbopogon flexuosus
Lettuce, Lactuca sativa ‘First Fleet’
Lettuce, Lactuca sativa ‘Purple Royal Oakleaf’
Lovage, Levisticum officinale
Love-lies-bleeding, Amaranthus caudatus
Mint, apple, Mentha suaveolens
Mint, native, Mentha satureoides
Mint, Moroccan, Mentha spicata
Mizuna, Red, Brassica juncea var. japonica
Mustard, Brassica juncea ‘Giant Red’
Nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus
Parsley, Petroselenium crispum ‘Italian flat-leaved’
Radicchio, Cichorium intybus
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’
Swinecress, Lepidium didymum
Variegated four seasons herb, Plectranthus amboinicus ‘Variegatus’
Variegated four seasons herb, Plectranthus amboinicus ‘Bayside Beauty’
Vietnamese mint, Persicaria odorata
Watercress, Nasturtium officinale ‘Aqua Large-Leaf’
Welsh onion, aka spring onion, scallion, Allium fistulosum
Perennial Welsh onion, aka perennial spring onion, scallion, Allium fistulosum
Warrigal greens, Tetragonia tetragonioides

Edible petals
Begonia x semperflorens
False cardamom, Alpinia nutans
Garden pea, Pisum sativum ‘Melting Mammoth’
Nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus
Pansy, viola tricolor ‘Johnny Jump Up’
Pigeon pea, Cajanus cajan
Goldenrod, Solidago sp.
Radish, Raphanus sativus

Edible pods
Climbing bean, Phaseolus vulgaris ‘Epicure’
Dwarf bean, Phaseolus vulgaris
Pigeon pea, Cajanus cajan
Snow pea, Pisum sativum ‘Delta Matilda’
Snow pea, Pisum sativum ‘Oregon Sugar Pod’

Edible seed
Chilean wine palm, Jubaea chilensis
Garden pea, Pisum sativum ‘Dwarf Skinless’
Garden pea, Pisum sativum ‘Dutch Purple Podded’
Madagascar bean, Phaseolus lunatus
Pigeon pea, Cajanus cajan

Green banana, Musa x sapientum ‘Dwarf Ducasse’
Green banana, Musa x sapientum ‘Goldfinger’
Green banana, Musa x sapientum ‘Java Blue’
Green banana, Musa x sapientum ‘Ladyfinger’
Chilli, Capsicum annuum ‘Portuguese Peri Peri’
Chilli, Capsicum annuum ‘Siam Gold’
Davidson’s plum, Davidsonia  pruriens var. pruriens
Kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix
Lime, Tahitian, Citrus x latifolia
Mulberry, Morus alba ‘White Shahtoot’
Naranjilla, Solanum quitoense
Pepino, Solanum muricatum
Strawberry, Fragaria x ananassa ‘Red Gauntlet’
Tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum ‘Sweetbite’

Edible sap
Sugar palm, Arenga pinnata

Medicinal / Spices
Aloe vera – leaf juice used to heal sunburn, scratches, and for shampoo
Bulbine frutescens – leaf juice used to treat burns, rashes, as an infusion for sore throats
Cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum
Cardamom, False, 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
Krachai (root), Boesenbergia rotunda
Rosemary, dwarf, Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Benenden Blue’
Rosemary, fastigiate, Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Miss Jessopp’
Turmeric, Curcuma longa – spice with anti-cancer properties
78 taxa

Jerry Coleby-Williams

6th November 2013


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Arthur says:

    John Howard is a has-bean! Or maybe a snake (in the grass) bean!
    Unfortunately his political love child, now our PM, has inherited his views on climate change and global warming. We will all suffer the consequences of this as time goes by.

  2. Rosemary Sutherland says:

    Jerry…. I really appreciate having access to the information in your post. Your lists of edible and useful plants I shall keep for my own guide to planting from now on.

  3. Bernadette Dyer says:

    Wow! I don’t think I have seen a banana plant produce so many bananas in my life. What species of banana is pictured in the photo? I might have to grow one of them myself.

  4. Pat P says:

    I love your style, Jerry. Lockyer Valley ‘re-landscaped’, Victoria burning brightly – terrific imagery. More seriously though, I too, am exasperated by the persistence of this idea that our climate isn’t changing and changing in ways that demand our attention. Amazing how otherwise seemingly sensible people can stick their heads in the sand when confronted with and unpleasant reality. Of course, they’d better hope no king tide creeps up on them while they are in their happy place.

    Thanks for all your work. I’ve watched you on GA since your first appearance and always come away better informed and more encouraged to keep on battling with the elements in my little plot. I’m finally starting to see some improvement in my black soil garden after many many years of mulch, mulch and more mulch. It’s all in the chemistry (never my strong suit in school) but I think we’re finally getting there. Thanks for all the encouragement and info. All the best to you and yours,

    1. Dear Pat,
      Thank you for your kind words!
      It’s always nice to be appreciated, but it’s even nicer when comments like yours go to the Executive Producer of Gardening Australia.
      Why? Because all presenters are on annual, renewable contracts. Positive feedback keeps us presenters with the ABC team.
      Your opinion is particularly valuable to me because TV is not a medium that normally attracts such long term loyalty.
      So thank you once again, I’m glad I am of use.

  5. Bryon says:

    Thank you for your honesty and continuing to ring the alarm bells of climatic changes that are affecting us all globally. It is sad that it boils down to votes and monetary gain for the few where politicians are concerned and this seems to me to be a global patterning. The evidence of climate change is upon us earthlings,creatures great and small We too are experiencing wilder weather here in Tasmania, plants flowering and fruiting earlier than they have in the past. Swallows arriving earlier than they did in previous years etc etc.. The best action for starters that we can do as a people is to be the change that we want to see. You have set a wonderful example of that change for us and you are living it .
    Regards Bryon

  6. Mrs.Nora stevens says:

    Very interesting reading and learn more info about tropical gardening.Is it possible to visit your garden?I am looking forward to Saturday night to watch gardening Australia especially when they mention you will present a segment of the show.
    Hope to hear from you,
    Mrs.Nora Stevens

    1. Yes, I’ve been opening my garden to the public for eight years…go to Open Gardens Australia website for details

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