Six on Saturday – W22/2020 – Vegetables in May

To start off, I need to apologise for misleading you last week! The Hibiscus I bought from the native nursery in Maleny is not an Australian native after all. I contacted the nursery and they identified it as Hibiscus acetosella, the cranberry hibiscus or false roselle. The nursery has it growing in their food garden, and propagated some to sell. I had just assumed that the nursery sold only native plants! The young leaves can be picked and eaten. I have looked it up on the internet, and read that the leaves are slightly tart (high acid content) and mucilaginous and should therefore be eaten sparingly. I don’t think I will be eating too much of it somehow. With apologies out of the way, let’s take a look at the vegetable garden this week.

1. Broccoli. Seeds of an Italian heirloom variety of broccoli, ‘Di Ciccio’ , were sown before the end of March, and we have just started to harvest the heads. The lower leaves of each plant were removed as they had cabbage moth grubs on them.

2. Psyching yourself to eat salad instead of warm comfort food in winter can be difficult, but by adding a few leaves of Rocket (Eruca sativa) to the salad it adds a lovely tang. We sowed the seeds left over in a packet we had bought last year, and had a bumper crop. Winter is the best time of for us to grow salad vegetables here in Queensland.

Rocket

3. As soon as it became cooler the snow peas started thriving, and we have just begun harvesting them.

Snow peas, with some marigolds adding a splash of colour

4. The red stemmed Ceylon spinach, or Malabar spinach. This is not a true spinach, but the leaves resemble spinach, and can be eaten cooked or raw. The Basella rubra seedlings we purchased were planted out about a month ago, and are doing well. This Asian green loves warmer weather (I discovered this after I had purchased the plants), but despite the cool weather these plants all seem to be doing well.

The Malabar spinach plants need support
Flower buds of Malabar Spinach

5. Sweet Potatoes. After trial and error, we have found that sweet potatoes, at least in our garden, do better in pots than in our clay based soil. We have harvested a couple of pots of sweet potato and have been astounded by the size and quantity of the tubers.

One sweet potato plant growing in a large plastic pot

6. Choko. The choko vine is coming to the end of its fruiting period. It has borne well this year, and we have a lovely crop of fruit, which has been shared amongst friends and neighbours. We even found a double fruit (fasciated fruit) on the part of the vine that had grown into a bottlebrush tree.

Normal choko fruit

Fasciated choko fruit

We are heading for the winter solstice next month, and with it some colder weather. No matter the season, take a look at The Propagator’s blog, and in the comments section, view the links to other gardens from around the world. Happy gardening!

12 comments

  1. I’ve never come across that choko fruit before. It’s not selling itself on looks is it? Please tell us more about the taste and whether you cook it or eat it raw. The rest of your vegetable garden is looking very lush and I’m inspired to try growing sweet potatoes next year.

    • We’re planning to put in more sweet potatoes in spring as they are a staple vegetable for us. We love them! Although the choke is a fruit, we use it mainly as a vegetable, either baked in the oven (peeled, central pip removed, and diced or sliced), or in stews. We have also made a delicious curried soup with them. They are very mild in flavour, slightly sweet, and can be eaten whole if picked young. They generally take on the flavour of the dish you cook them with. They can also be added to apple pies to bulk the up, or with pears. When cooked they look just like pieces of apple and pear. The can be grated an eaten raw.

  2. Wonderful broccoli! I have been far too late getting mine into the ground and we’ll probably be eating it in the spring! The only thing I have is rocket, but that, at least, is delicious.

    • Mr S loves growing vegetables, and growing them here in this climate has been a learning curve! He is successionally planting the broccoli this winter. The rocket is powering on, and more seedlings are going in now. At least there are not too many bugs this time of year!

  3. Oh you put me to shame with all the lovely veg that you’ve been growing! My garden is flower dominant, with only strawberries and some other fruit. Although, husband has sown some salad seeds recently, and to my surprise, they’re growing well.

    What a strange plant the Choko fruit is. Seeing all these different fruits worldwide via Six has been an education. 😁

    • It is really our climate that helps so much! And Mr S just loves growing veggies and could not live without his veggie patch! (I don’t mind at all as I love my decorative plants, and only dabble in growing veggies!) Because of our sub tropical climate we cannot grow all the temperate fruits like peaches, apples, pears, which I grew up with and love. We do have a sub tropical nectarine and a peach, and it is going to be interesting to see how successful they will be in this climate of ours. I love seeing what is growing in everyone’s gardens, and I agree, it’s a great learning curve!

    • The sub tropics certainly does have some interesting fruit and vegetables. There are so many native plants that are edible, which are categorised as bush foods, which we haven’t even tried yet. I really enjoy trying new foods. The choke has a very mild flavour, and if you add it to a dish it generally takes on the flavour of that dish, as in a stew. We have it baked, and it has a slightly sweet flavour, which I actually love. We also add it to stews and made a delicious curried choke soup. It is very versatile as it is often used to bulk up apple pies, added with pears, and when cooked it closely resembles a piece of apple or pear. There are lots of people who will not eat it. It was a great easy food to grow here during the depression years and has a bit of a stigma attached to it from then.

    • The rocket is a must! Without it winter salads would be blah! If only we could grow salad greens in summer…. but no, here they thrive in our mild winter, so winter time is salad time if we eat from the garden. We do add warm baked veggies, seeds, nuts and a vegan cashew-Parmesan sprinkle to salads to make them more attractive to eat. The sweet potatoes are a staple food in the household, but we just never seem to be able to grow enough.

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