In time for this spring’s planting of summer vegetables I increased my growing space by converting some of the lawn, bought heirloom and organic seeds from The Diggers Club and planned out my beds in advance. The planning was a novelty and some of the plans got changed along the way, but the planning is paying off and this summer’s crop should be more bountiful and varied than last summer.
The majority of the fruit and vegetables we eat are not endemic to Australia (except macadamia nuts). One edible endemic plant I grow is New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonoides). I think the New Zealand part of Tetragonia’s name comes from the fact that it also grows in NZ. It’s cooked like English spinach or silverbeet, thus it’s a good addition to quiche. There are a few other bush tucker plants local to the Swan Coastal Plain that I know of, but they’re not in my garden.
New Zealand spinach spreads as much as the strawberry plants it grows next to. I regularly rip most of the Tetragonia out and it pops right back up. It also grows wherever I put compost (as do tomatoes and lettuce). Even though strawberries are an introduced plant, lizards love them and while partaking of the strawberries, they can hide in the New Zealand spinach. In the past a bob-tail lizard has visited for this feast and I’m hoping it will again this summer. My strawberries fruit every year and assorted animals often get to them before me, but there’s always a few for me to nibble on, even if I have to chew around bite marks. Usually the fruit are mini-strawberries, but this year they are more the size of “shop-bought” strawberries, which I’m very happy about.
This spring I’ve planted
- green beans
- brown onions
- spring onions
- various herbs to replace those going to seed – parsley, basil, thyme
I ripped out a lot of the endlessly spreading mint to make some room, but kept and transplanted two bushes. At first both of them were looking very sad, but they’re coming good now (you can’t kill mint) and shoots are still popping up in the old spot, so there should be a forest of mint again soon.
These plants need regular watering during Perth’s long, hot summer. The 30°C plus (86°F) days have already started. In order to help my sandy soil retain water, I add compost and then pea-hay mulch to my garden beds. The oldest bed in my garden is always a bit moister than the newer beds, but over time they should improve. The mulch grows peas for a bit after its first put down, but I pull them out as I see them and feed them to the worms.