Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

My Favorite Backyard Comestibles -- the plants I love to grow to eat.

I used to do plant-of-the-year lists,  but nowadays I seem to have settled in to a routine consumption.

Aside from the key issue of what you can actually grow, what you seek to eat is the true raison d'être of the backyard business.

Of course I have my breakfast, lunch and din din habits -- my domestic menu -- which tends to be a tad eclectic and exotic.

Multicultural 7 nights per week.

THE HERBS

I can live without a lot of things, but my kitchen needs parsley and thyme.  It also yearns for coriander which is not as reliable in the soil as I tend to never plant enough of it.

I may grow other herbs but these I need -- as in I need a 'fix'.

THE ALLIUMS

While I try to embrace the chives as they can masquerade as a herb, there is no substitute for spring onions, a plant that takes up more of my garden space than any other.

I use them in any and every thing culinary. In place of onions...and in their own right, granting them the respect they attain in Japanese and Korean cuisine. I grow the occasional leek -- but they are so slow to reach harvest able size.

THE GREENS

I am greens obsessed as they are the medley that maketh my daily soup.

Some eat salads, others drink their smoothies... My tipple is soup. My wonderful watery concoction within which so many leaves float about.

I grow so many different stalks to see me through each year that my garden may appear to some as  a home for  trophies logging my culinary journey.

Let's say that I'll never run out of foraging options.

Among my many choices I prefer the Longevity (Gynura Procumbens) and Okinawan Spinach (Gynura bicolor). Bang for nutritional buck they're tops.

For a bit more meatiness, I go with Nopales -- Prickly pear paddles. Mine isn't the nasty spiny thing, but Opuntia ficus-indica  -- which, aside from its tasteless fruit hairs, is benign (compared to the rest of the fam).

TOMATO

Any tomato is a good tomato.  Gotta have them. My garden may have a few varieties but Tommy Toes rule. It's a no sweat vegetable -- indeed, it grows like a weed -- a benevolent feral.

BEANS

My preference is for the long thick, Roma style pole beans, but I'm mightily impressed with the Winged Bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) harvest this year. Maybe this New  Guinea legume is more versatile than the usual snap varieties? It certainly packs one helluva nutritional punch.

Then there is my passion for Pigeon Peas (Cajanus cajan)-- harvested while the peas are still green in the pod. As we speak, harvest season is approaching...

Be still my beating heart

ROOTS

Herein I must confess that root veges don't grow well in my patch. Despite that, I persist  with them because I have a religious affiliation.

It is a duty I perform for the sake of my stomach.

There may be many faiths in this world, but mine rejects the heavens and is keenly  terrestrial and comes in many colours: the humble radish.

I think it's a childhood thing.

It  irks me that radishes are not granted the respect they deserve. For me -- and I grant you I'm a radish snob -- the ones to grow are Daikon and its variation, the Watermelon Radish.

There is a big wide world of Daikon (aka 'Icicle') radishes, and like the Spring Onion planet, I am on a quest to navigate it mouthful by crunchy mouthful.

SQUASHES

No one will ever say no to a cucumber (Cucumis sativus) . I wish I had more opportunity to say yes.

I am, however, disabled by the persistent   failure of the species to thrive in my garden.

If I have my druthers, it is the long thin Asian varieties that I am drawn to.

As we do: I too compensate. My workaround is Choko -- a plant I respect much more than the rest of the Queensland population. I have learnt that it is the good people of the Philippines and those of New Orleans (known as Chayote there) who value the ubiquitous choko as much as I.

Picked small, choko is my cucumber substitute.

But nothing, absolutely nothing, can match the stewable versatility of the Bottle Gourd (Lagenaria siceraria). A very generous vegetable.

There are other squashes -- Serpent Gourd especially -- but none are as reliable as the Bottle Gourd. Fortunately I have the space to indulge my passion for it.

SALAD

Granted I'm not a salading aficionado. Been there/done that.

But if we are to eat some weeds with a vinaigrette -- and they are to be picked from my garden -- then its Endive ( a Chicory) you'll be offered and Rocket -- even 'wild' Rocket.

These I like. These are dependable. Versatile enough for my menu choices.

CORN

Nothing like sweet corn home grown and shucked. Inasmuch as I know, the heirloom variety 'Balinese' suits me fine.


I may have my favs to hand and harvest but I still yearn for more.

Cabbages are something that I've had a patchy history with. But now that I have settled on a preferred species -- the Wombok -- I've been able to put my dilettantism aside and get down to grovelling in the dirt.

Wombok may be a to-do list vegetable, but I know I'll be eating my own soon enough as cabbages do OK outback.

So my pretties: root deep and prosper.

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