What can I sow or plant in the coastal subtropics in winter? Now the mid-winter solstice is behind us, days are cool but lengthening – ideal for sowing watercress, dwarf beans and snow peas. This winter, like the last five, has been mild, slightly damp with just two cold snaps so far.
It’s time to lift, multiply and replant yam, elephant foot yam and cocoyam, my favourite staples. Let’s hope drizzle and humidity stay away, otherwise we’ll have tomatoes infected by canker disease and anthracnose disease infecting mango and avocado flowers. The best news is there’s a long list of delicious food plants that can be sown now for your spring menu. Here’s sixty to get you started. Just think of all those recipes you can use them in!
Always follow crop rotation each season. If you don’t do it, even a raised bed or window box can accumulate unwanted diseases and pests. Crop rotation is vital as it frustrates pests and diseases, making life hard for them to flourish on their favourite hosts. Crop rotation has the reverse effect on food plants, it helps them thrive.
In each rotation, grow new crops that are botanically unrelated to the ones you have just removed. So, by replacing capsicum (Solanaceae family) with kale (Brassicaceae family) you limit opportunities for pests, like root knot nematodes, to do their worst. This is the fundamental way that crop rotation operates, so understanding a little backyard botany can simplify food production and improve your harvest.
Control perennial weeds before sowing or planting. I pour boiling water on bulbous Oxalis before disturbing the soil.
Prepare a proper seed bed before sowing;
Use fresh propagating mix for sowing and cuttings. Can’t afford to? Then pasteurise old mix by adding boiling water, allow to cool, then sow;
Practising successional sowing is one way to extend your picking season of favourite varieties;
Save seed from your best plants and eat the rest. Last week, I saved coffee seed. This week, I’m saving seed from my eggplant ‘Listada de Gandia’ and my chillies. Here’s my tip on how to make saving eggplant easy, quick and simple. The only secret here is using a similar domestic blender. Why? A commercial grower attempted the same on a massive scale by using an industrial liquidiser. The result wasn’t the same – instead of separating the flesh from the seed, they pureed both eggplant and seed.
Protect tender crops, like tomato and eggplant, from cold snaps by draping old net curtains or shadecloth over them overnight, removing them at sunrise.
Control scale insects and rust mites on citrus, hibiscus spinach, and general fruit trees by spraying with lime sulphur;
Control virus-spreading aphids, especially on onion crops and banana suckers by spraying with horticultural soap;
Deter possums from ravaging leafy crops by spraying with my atomic chilli spray formula. If you don’t grow Carolina Reaper or Bhut Jolokia chillies, maybe now is the time to order seed;
Crops to sow now
Basil, sacred, Ocimum tenuiflorum (I sowed mine three weeks ago and they’re ready to plant);
Bean, climbing and dwarf, Phaseolus vulgaris (I sowed my first batch in June, it’s time for a successional sowing);
Chervil, Anthriscus cerefolium (it does best sown now: in shade, it’ll crop until November);
Chicory, Cichorium intybus ‘Red Dandelion’ (my sowing in 2019 have been flowering all winter);
Chinese celery, aka parcel or smallage, Apium graveolens (great for an all year round supply);
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum;
Coffee, Coffea arabica;
Coriander, Coriandrum sativum (I’ve sown mine amongst my sweetcorn);
Cosmos, golden, Cosmos sulphureus (sow in succession for all year round pollen);
Curry leaf, Murraya koenigii;
Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale;
Dill, Anethum graveolens (always does best in the dry season);
Endive, Cichorium endivia ‘Green Bowl’;
Eschallot, Allium cepa var. aggregatum (I’ve just lifted, divided and replanted mine);
Fennel, Florence, Foeniculum vulgare Azoricum Group;
Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum;
Huauzontle, Chenopodium berlandieri (no fuss, all year round spinach alternative);
Japanese parsley, aka mitsuba, Cryptotaenia japonica (all year round alternative parsley);
Kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix (mine started fruiting all year round in 2010);
King’s salad, Cosmos caudatus;
Lagos spinach, Celosia spicata (all year round alternative spinach);
Landcress, Barbarea vulgaris (cabbage white moth, cabbage white butterfly control);
Lebanese cress, Aethionema cordifolium;
Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus (flowering now);
Lettuce, Lactuca sativa;
Mint, native, Mentha satureoides;
Mint, Moroccan, Mentha spicata var. nana (lift and divide, this one is sterile);
Mizuna, Brassica juncea var. japonica (time for my second sowing);
Mustard, Brassica juncea (ditto);
Nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus;
Nettle, annual, Urtica urens (great for nettle soup);
Onion, Welsh perennial, or perennial spring onion, aka scallion, Allium fistulosum;
Parsley, Petroselenium crispum;
Pea, Pisum sativum (time for a second sowing);
Purslane, Portulaca oleracea var. sativus;
Radicchio, Cichorium intybus;
Radish, Raphanus sativus;
Radish, podding, Raphanus caudatus;
Rocket, Wall or wild, Eruca saliva;
Stinking Roger, Tagetes minuta;
Variegated four seasons herb, Plectranthus amboinicus ‘Variegatus’;
Watercress, Nasturtium officinale;
Crops to plant
Arrowroot, Canna edulis;
Bedding Begonia, Begonia semperflorens (edible petals);
Cocoyam, Xanthosoma saggitifolia;
Curry bush, Helichrysum italicum;
Jerusalem artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus ‘Dwarf Sunray’;
Marjoram, Origanum marjorana;
Mexican tree spinach, Cnidoscolus aconitifolius;
Pepino, Solanum muricatum;
Society garlic, Tulbaghia violacea;
Tomato, Solanum lycopersicon (I’ve just planted the cultivar ‘Pineapple’, I always trial a different cultivar each year);
Yam, winged, Dioscorea alata;
Medicinal / Spices to plant
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;
Brahmi herb, Bacopa monnieri – aids cognitive function;
Cardamom, False, Alpinia nutans;
Catnip, Nepeta cataria; the juice left by rubbing elbows and ankles with fresh leaves helps deter mosquitoes;
Galangal, Alpinia galangal – spice used like ginger with similar properties;
Greater celandine, Chelidonium majus – stem juice kills warts on hands;
Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis;
Skullcap, Blue, Scutellaria lateriflora;
Turmeric, Curcuma longa – spice with anti-cancer, anti-stress properties;
Total 63 taxa
What are you doing on 18th September?
🌸 Spend a day (ex-Brisbane) exploring the magnificent gardens of Toowoomba during the Carnival of Flowers in spring with gardening expert Jerry Coleby-Williams and a certain Vietnamese market gardener.
🌼 Email your expression of interest to Devin Hunt:
29th June 2020
2 Comments Add yours
Thanks for the information.
Thank you for answering my veg question on Qld garden expo today. I have taken your advice and am looking at the list of veg to plant on your website. Regards
Sheila Waterman, Glasshouse Mountains, kettles always on at our place if you’re down this way.