Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

There are many plants you can grow in your kitchen garden and I own up to sometimes not being able to see straight. I'd say I 'cannot see the wood for the trees' but that doesn't seem right.

Within my network of friends and fam I get asked for advice on what to grow 'when' (there is always a nebulous 'when') I get my vegey garden established.

#1 HERBS

I reckon herbs just gotta be the first plants in the ground or pot. They are so often used and so difficult to have 'on hand' when you need them -- usually the most. But which herbs?

That's the thing you see. In the Greek Islands the herbs deployed in the same or similar dishes often vary from island to island as culinary herbs are very much a product of taste, climate/soil, tradition and preference.

If you look to your menu your star herbs will become evident. The way I cook there are  8 essentials:

  • parsley
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • oregano
  • dill
  • mint
  • basil
  • coriander/cilantro

I cannot now live without thyme. If you can register a garden that can supply these needs you are sure to be blessed with the green belt of thumbery. And really you need not bother to garden further...as you would be right to feel smug.

#2 TOMMY TOE TOMATOES

The seeming ubiquitous Tommy Toe is a blessing that we can all embrace & thank the Tomato God for. It may not offer the slice size you'd want in a sandwich, but it is nonetheless a very versatile creature. Cooking. Chopping for salsa or salad. Drying. Saucing.

Resistant to so many of the diseases its cousins fall victim to, Tommy Toe is also one of the sweetest  tomatoes you can eat. Just remember ti stagger your plantings so that you have a regular supply -- with luck, 12 months per year(give or take).

#3 SPRING ONIONS & CHIVES

This may be an especially personal preference, but growing your own spring onions (aka scallions, or eschallots) is one of my great moments in horticulture. By applying the cut-and-come-again harvest technique these delights regrow for you if you leave their bulb in the soil. (or replant it:LINK)

Of course, the other trick is to know how to use them -- and that's simple: just use them instead of onions. Over time you develop an feel for their unique flavor and utility.

Chives, on the other hand, can have an over powering taste but the Garlic Chives offer a great way to finish off a dish. Like a herb, really.

#4 BEANS

Finding your bean footing may not be easy -- as Jack found out a while back. Beans -- as in 'green' beans -- are such a subjective preference. I like my legumes fat and climbing. The bush beans leave me cold.

So I'm a Roma man.

# 5 LETTUCES

Of course you want to grow  lettuces if you a salad-ing person, but please try to pursue cut-and come-again protocols so that you get so much more out of each plant. OakLeaf, for instance, works so well like that.And there are so many salad greens that you can really mix it up in your salad patch and bowl.

In SEQ, just remember a little shade helps a lot for the salad harvest over the year.

# 6 MISCELLANEOUS

Before you press on, give some thought to perennial greens: Okinawa Spinach (Gynura bicolor) and Warrigal Greens( Tetragonia expansa). I'm not trying to shove these plants down your throat -- but...well actually I am!

Just because they aren't on the menu radar doesn't mean you can't add them to your larder.If you are a green leaf person (or even YUK! a green smoothie one)  you gotta try these and see what you can cook them with.

Easy to grow here in SEQ.

We all want to grow zucchini and cucumbers and root veg and whatever but master the basics first, I reckon.Before you go chasing the target squashes -- like zukes or cukes -- consider the squashes overall.

The normal bush zucchini can be fickle when the clambering tromboncino will perform so much better.

The much maligned choko is easy to grow  but how do you eat it so that it works in your menu? Pick 'em small I say. A whole other experience  altogether. They'll grow anywhere over any thing.

Pumpkins can be huge and far too much of a glut: so why not attempt the wee Kobochas. Quick to start fruiting too.

If you love passion fruit, plant a  vine.

As for fruit trees...I'm all at sea.

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Good tips mate. 

It would be good to see this post - or a link to it - in the FAQs. BUT there is no way to post new material to the FAQ section. Is there a way to unlock that section?

That's a good basic starter garden for the kitchen, especially the herbs, tomatoes and lettuce and chives and I would add radish to that list. 

The creeping plants like pumpkin and vines do take over the yard sometimes but great if you have the space.

It would be good to see a garden bed set up and photographed to show newbies how to do it in a small area.  

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