In Production Today: April 2014

Neon cuckoo bee visits Lagos spinach

Neon cuckoo bee visits Lagos spinach

A couple of brief April showers kept the grass green, but below the surface the soil remains dry.

It’s ideal weather for propagating Cranberry Hibiscus and Four Seasons Herb, cuttings are rooting within ten days.

Although the value of each watering is lasting longer now the days are shorter and the nights cooler, I won’t fill up the vegetable garden – yet.


I’ve sown tomatoes, mangelwurzel, Florence fennel because the current conditions encourage rapid, strong growth and I want them to be well established before winter.

This year the Lemon basil have hardly been eaten by vegetable grasshoppers. Zucchini are of excellent quality and didn’t get mildew until last week. I directly sowed the zucchini in February in soil enriched with buffalo and camel manure – they loved it – and one medium-sized ‘Lebanese’ zucchini, picked this week, weighed 1.14kg. I stuffed it with chickpea, savoury vegetables and breadcrumbs last night.

It has been a good season for marmalade making: mandarins and finger limes are poor, but Tahitian limes are abundant, large, juicy and seedless. I’ll have to shorten the stems on the lime tree, they have been close to snapping under the weight of fruit – I’ve picked 12 kg – about half the crop – from my ten year old tree. Last week I picked the last of the current crop of Meyer lemons, it’s been an average year for my dwarf tree.

Sweetpotato Marguerite and Ace of Spades, all onions, yams and and the mustard Osaka Purple are looking particularly healthy and lush.

The only significant pest problems are mussel scale and white louse scale insects, which ants have been farming on citrus.

I applied horticultural glue around the Native plum, aka Black plum (Planchonella australis) and mandarin trunks to deny Argentine ants easy access to scale.

Scrofa hawk moth caterpillars have eaten much of the Celery stem taro leaves, but otherwise plants are currently free of trouble.

The local Pheasant coucal, has been living nearby for three years, and I’m very pleased to see this cuckoo bird feeding on adult hedge grasshoppers.

The Neon cuckoo bee (a cleptoparasite) are still active, they drink Lagos spinach nectar during the warmest part of the day. A range of wasp species also favour the flowers of this ornamental vegetable.

I’ll continue waiting for useful rain before I sow a full range of winter crops.

 

Edible roots
Arrowroot, Canna edulis
Cassava, Manihot esculenta
Cassava, Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’
Cocoyam, Xanthosoma saggitifolia
Eschallot, Allium cepa var. aggregatum
Jerusalem artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus ‘Dwarf Sunray’

Edible leaves
Basil, sacred, Ocimum tenuiflorum
Basil, lemon, Ocimum x citriodora
Cassava, Manihot esculenta
Cassava, Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’
Celery stem taro, aka Tahitian spinach, Alocasia esculenta
Cha-plu, Piper sarmentosum
Chicory, Cichorium intybus
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 Calalloo’
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum
Curry leaf, Murraya koenigii
Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale
Edible peperomia, Peperomia pellucida
Garlic, wet neck, Allium sativum
Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum
Green Amaranth, Amaranthus viridis
Japanese parsley, Cryptotaenia japonica
Kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix
Kangkong, Ipomoea aquatica
Lagos spinach, Celosia cristata
Lebanese cress, Aethionema coridifolium
Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus
Lemongrass, Native, Cymbopogon flexuosus
Lovage, Levisticum officinale
Mexican Tarragon, Tagetes lucida
Mexican tree spinach, Cnidoscolus aconitifolius
Mint, apple, Mentha suaveolens
Mint, native, Mentha satureoides
Mint, Moroccan, Mentha spicata
Mustard, Brassica juncea ‘Osaka Purple’
Mustard, Brassica juncea ‘Red’
Nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus
Old man saltbush, Atriplex nummularia
Pandan, Pandanus amaryllifolius
Parsley, Petroselenium crispum ‘Italian flat-leaved’
Purslane, Wild, Portulaca oleracea
Radicchio, Cichorium intybus
Rocket, Wall or wild, Eruca saliva
Cranberry hibiscus, Hibiscus acetosella
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’
Variegated four seasons herb, Plectranthus amboinicus ‘Variegatus’
Variegated four seasons herb, Plectranthus amboinicus ‘Bayside Beauty’
Vietnamese mint, Persicaria odorata
Welsh onion, aka spring onion, scallion, Allium fistulosum
Welsh onion, perennial, aka perennial spring onion, scallion, Allium fistulosum
Zucchini, Cucumis pepo ‘Blackjack’
Zucchini, Cucumis pepo ‘Lebanese’

Fungi
Mushroom, white button, Agaricus bisporus

Edible petals
Fig-marigold, Aptenia cordifolia
Goldenrod, Solidago sp.
Mexican Tarragon, Tagetes lucida
Pigeon pea, Cajanus cajan
Rocket, Wall or wild, Eruca sativa

Edible seed
Chilean wine palm, Jubaea chilensis
Macadamia, Macadamia integrifolia

Fruit
Capsicum, ‘golden’, a home raised cultivar, Capsicum annuum
Chilli, Capsicum annuum ‘Portuguese Peri Peri’
Chilli, Capsicum annuum ‘Siam Gold’
Green banana, Musa x sapientum ‘Ladyfinger’
Kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix
Lemon, Citrus x limon ‘Meyer’
Lime, finger, Citrus australaisica
Lime, Tahitian, Citrus x latifolia
Pawpaw, Carica papaya ‘Southern Red’

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, Eletteria cardamomum
Cardamom, False, Alpinia nutans
Galangal, Alpinia galangal – spice used like ginger with similar properties
Ginger, Zingiber officinalis – 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’
Skullcap, Scutellaria lateriflora (currently young seedlings)
Turmeric, Curcuma longa – spice with anti-cancer properties

75 taxa

Jerry Coleby-Williams
22nd April 2014