Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Maybe the weather has been on my side (salad), but the main reason I built my over bearing shade-generating trellis seems to be fulfilled: it's late January and I'm harvesting salad greens!

The shade isn't enough as it is remarkable how much shade you need to 'protect' greens from burning or bolting. While I cannot insulate them from humidity -- underneath the structure, under the New Guinea Bean/Cucuzzi, Chokoes and sundry climbers aloft, I'm growing and harvesting chicory, matsuma  and arugula (rocket). 

Lunchtime -- my salad time -- is thrilling. Culinary chomping.

Growing salad vegetables -- green leafy things -- is the absolute main reason why you need to have a garden. Tragically, in the sub tropics just at the time of year when you want to munch more on foliage, your plants will usually fail to thrive or sabotage your culinary plans by seeding.

Working against that imposition of Mother Nature  has been my quest. Promoting  unnatural green habits has been my marker...

I'm also generating dandelions but they aren't shaded and pay the price. Their leaves burn when they aren't wilting in the Summer sun. 

Pity as I do like a good dandelion leaf. My salading is a weedful mix and texture and taste are exotic. In comparison to my preferred greens your main stream cos lettuce is tasteless.

Elsewhere -- out there under the Summer sun -- I'm growing and harvesting capsicums to good effect. They are a bit dry as I have had a lot of trouble keeping water up to them and it has been dry.

The crows are sampling my tomatoes before I can get to them but my garden is egg plant self sufficient.

I haven't as yet needed to fall back on my reserve greens for salading: sweet potato or chocko leaves, Ceylon spinach (yuk!) and water spinach. They aren't my favorites. I don't hold to the adage that just because you can grow it you  have to eat it.

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Comment by Dave Riley on January 21, 2012 at 14:57

But with the eggplants you gotta master Caponata....

Comment by Dave Riley on January 21, 2012 at 14:56

yes I have nasturtium...but I'm explore the sorrell. Basil is a tad too strong for my tastes in a salad as is the nasturtium leaves. i use water spinach for fill. 

Of course the main game is 'salada'-- a mix of weeds -- and I grab what is there depending on how desperate I am to green up the bowl. So the more variety there is -- the grater the culinary choice regardles of season.

Comment by Anne Gibson on January 19, 2012 at 8:36

We have a lot of delicious lemony flavoured sorrel (which is also a spinach substitute) and grows exceptionally well in the sub-tropics - perhaps this is another option to try if you're not already? When everything else is fainting from the heat, my sorrel is saying 'bring it on!'  I love the long leaves as they are a much more delicate flavour than traditional spinach and as Elaine says above, can be used as a substitute in any dish you'd add spinach (great with all egg dishes). Aside from the odd grasshopper, there's not much that messes with it either.

For colour and flavour I add a variety of fresh basils to salads too. They grow well in summer and are quick to get started by seed. I have purple, sweet and lemon varieties at the mo doing well and they all add their own zing. I've also grown Mini Greek basil that has what I call a Mediterranean flavour (a combo of olive and lemon - quite delicious) but there's nothing Mini about it in size - just the leaf - so the name might be misleading! I planted it the first time in a space that was only about 30 x 30cm (as per the advice) and it ended up more like perennial basil - taking up plenty of personal space and also growing new plants when the woody stems hit the ground!

I also add nasturtium leaves to our salads as many of our plants grow under shady tree gardens and don't suffer from burnout. Their leaves are slightly peppery (very much like young rocket) so I'm sure they'd be to your liking. I snip them into several pieces to blend the flavour throughout the salads but their health benefits are amazing and since learning about them, we try to eat them regularly. Do you have any growing?

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on January 19, 2012 at 4:39

Ceylon Spinach is a bit of an acquired taste, especially the texture. Think of it as digestible fibre rather than mucilaginous gunk and appreciate the flavour, which is quite different to our other greens. The Aibikas are a bit like that, look nice, grow well in summer but have a bit much of the soluble fibre to be eaten in any quantity. Quite good in cooking though, especially omelet/frittata as is Okra, just divine lightly fried rather than raw.

Capsicums are real water hogs and the long thin ones are more efficient users of water than the big fat bell ones; all by themselves I've got two bushes of long Capsies, one ripens yellow, the other ripens red.

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