Slowly switching to sub-tropical vegetables and herbs

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A selection of seeds suitable for sub-tropical climates.
A selection of seeds suitable for sub-tropical climates.

The coastal areas of Sydney sit half way between temperate and sub-tropical climates. This has historically been great for growing vegetables: just like a temperate climate, but without frosts and overall a bit warmer.

In recent years, however, Sydney has become hotter and more humid, at least where we live in Lewisham. This has led to vegetables prematurely bolting to seed, and to us losing the fight with powdery mildew (and its cousins).

So I’ve recently started to shift my mindset, to increasingly treating Sydney as a sub-tropical climate.

This was reflected in my last seed order from Green Harvest (who are located in Queensland):

  • Coriander ‘Slow Bolt’
  • Cucumber ‘Giant Russian’
  • Onion ‘Green Stem Welsh’
  • Cauliflower ‘Sixty Days’
  • Mexican Tarragon

These are all listed as being suitable for hot climates, slow to bolt to seed, and/or being disease resistant (in particular, powdery mildew).

We’ll see how they go!

Purple artichoke in full flower

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Purple artichoke flower
Purple artichoke flower

This year we decided to grow artichokes, having seen a plant in the nursery while shopping for other herbs and vegetables.

In theory it was a Globe Artichoke, like the ones you buy in shops (and then eat). While it produces beautiful flowers, it was a struggle to find the edible part.

So I think it comes out after it’s finished flowering. Any tips for the specific variety to look for, in terms of easy harvesting and eating?

Purple artichoke
Purple artichoke in closeup

Last orders from our winter vege garden

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The last haul of broccoli from the garden
The last haul of broccoli from the garden

We recently went away for a two week break to Western Australia. Just as we left, the weather was warming up and the garden was delivering its last harvest.

Luckily we lined up our next door neighbours to harvest the garden as well as look after the cat. When we got back, they told us that they had so many sugar snap peas, snow peas and broccoli that their family of four couldn’t get through it all!

Even after that, we still had a huge haul of brocolli, as shown above, plus pak choi, and peas.

But it’s now time to wind up the winter growing season, with spring on our doorstep. We need the space, so I pulled out the sugar snap peas this morning, and the old chinese cabbage. The pak choi will be next to go, along with the snow peas and carrots.

Onto the next round of growing (and eating!).

Sowing for Spring

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SowingLast weekend we planted seeds for both our future herb garden, and our summer veggies.

As you can probably gather from this pic, we have been collecting toilet rolls for several months to sow our seeds in. This way, we will be able to plant our seedlings and their protective toilet roll casing directly into the garden, thereby avoiding transplant shock.

We also bought some biodegradable pots from Bunnings to ensure we had enough for all our seeds

Now we’re just waiting for the seedlings to appear!

Cabbages are bedded in

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I’m excited by the rows of cabbages, both chinese and western. They should provide quite a crop!

Autumn planting: round two

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Four garden beds

Now that all four garden beds are in place, I could plant out the bottom two beds:

  • Snow peas
  • Cabbage, Chinese
  • Cabbage, Savoy King
  • Onions, red
  • Onions, white
  • Broccoli, Gamblers (from seed)
  • Broccoli, Bambino (a single plant)
  • Cauliflower, baby white

(Since I’ve left it a bit late, I’ve planted out all these from punnets rather than seed, with the one exception noted above.)

I’ve also got most of the rest of my kitchen herbs going:

  • Rosemary
  • Lemon thyme
  • Oregano
  • Chives

For some reason the parsley seeds haven’t come up, so I’ll give them another week and then might have to get a punnet instead.

Peas are growing strongly

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It’s amazing to see the sugar snap peas add about a centimetre of height every day.

Autumn planting: an addition

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There was a small gap in my second bed, so I planted red pak choy seeds. Amazingly, these sprouted in only two days, and are growing strongly.

Autumn planting: round one

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Having got the first two garden beds in place, I’ve planted out the following:

  • Sugar snap peas
  • Five colour silverbeet
  • Spinach, Bloomsdale
  • Kale, Tuscan Black
  • Spring onion (seed tape)
  • Baby carrots (seed tape)

(All of these were planted from seed, most from packet, two using seed tape.)

I’ve also got a few of my kitchen herbs in alongside the house:

  • Basil
  • Parsley