Best plants for Brisbane’s weather

strawberry-watercolour

I attended a seminar on vegetable gardens presented by Tim Auld. He encouraged the group to brainstrorm the best plants for each of the seasons in Brisbane.

He explained that the traditional seasonal climates (spring, summer, autumn and winter) are mostly applicable to southern states of Australia. Queensland has a more temperate climate (sub-tropic) and further north have a tropical wet season (Dec – March).

Here’s the list of plants the group came up with:

Plants for the wet season (December to March):

  • ceylon spinach, choko, kang kong, melons, squash,  snake beans, sweet potato, taro and yams

Plants for a Cool temperate summer (April to August):

  • broccoli, carrot, garlic, lettuce, onions, peas, potatoes, radish, silverbeet, spinach, and tomatoes

Plants for a Mediterranean summer (September to November):

  •  basil, beans, beetroot, capsicum, chilli, corn, melons, silverbeet, and squash

Plants for honey bees

northey-honey

It is important to encourage bees to our gardens, so that they can help pollinate our fruit and vegetables. The best plants to grow are nectar-producing natives and flowering plants such as basil, borage, catmint, coriander, cornflowers, fennel, garlic chives, heather, hyssop, lavender (heirloom varieties), lemon balm, marigolds, mint, rosemary, scabious and sea holly, thyme.

Jerry Coleby-Williams recommends growing begonias, blue ginger, pigeon peas and salvias to encourage the native Blue Banded bees. He also says:

There’s a lot more I’d recommend, but one crop that is often overlooked is corn – for its pollen.

I’ve planted Eucalyptus tereticornis and Melaleuca leucadendron in my street for honeybees.

I use ‘Honey Flora of Qld’, by S.T. Blake & C. Roff, published by DPI Qld, ISBN 0-7242-2371-1″>0-7242-2371-1 as a standard reference book.

If you aim for a variety of different plants which flower at different times of the year, you’ll have more success with encouraging bees.

Northey Street City Farm honey

Native plants for butterflies

bnwbutterfly

To encourage butterflies to your garden you’ll need to provide both plants for the caterpillars and a good range of nectar rich flowers throughout the year for the butterflies. A source of water is also required – a bird bath is ideal. Local native plants from your region are the best choice.

Here are some that a suitable for the greater Brisbane area:

Ground covers and herbs:

  • Love flower
  • Spade flower
  • Stinging nettle
  • Yellow buttons

Native grasses:

  • Kangaroo Grass
  • Lomandra
  • Pademilon Grasses (Oplismenus)

Shrubs:

  • Bolwarra
  • Brisbane Wattle
  • Coffee Bush
  • Dogwood
  • Forest hop Bush
  • Green Wattle
  • Native Finger Lime
  • Native Plum
  • Pavetta

Trees:

  • Brown Kurrajong
  • Brush Box
  • Crown of Gold Tree
  • Lacebark Tree
  • Macadamia
  • Melaleuca and Callistemon
  • Rusty Gum
  • Sandpaper figs
  • Tuckeroo

Vines and Palms:

  • Barbed Wire Vine
  • Monkey Rope
  • Native Wisteria
  • Piccabeen Palm
  • Richmond Birdwing Vine

Native plants for frogs

frog

To encourage frogs to your garden you’ll need to provide them with shelter, food and water for breeding. It’s best to not take frog away from their original habitat – wait for them to take up residence in your garden. You can encourage them by building a garden pond, adding a rockery and using local native plants.

Frog-friendly plants for around ponds:

  • Bird’s Nest Fern
  • Brisbane Lily
  • Mat Rushes
  • Native Ginger
  • Native Lasiandra / Blue Tongue
  • River Lily

Frog-friendly plants for ponds:

  • Frogsmouth
  • Swamp Lily
  • Water Snowflake
  • Wavy Marshwort

For more information about frogs see:

Edible plants for shady areas

The majority of vegetables love the sun, so you’ll need to position your main vegetable beds where there’ll get over 6 hours of sun a day. The following plants may like the shade or part-shade. Don’t forget to check to see if they are suitable for your climate and space before planting.

Fruit Trees

  • Acerola Cherry
  • Babaco
  • Beach Cherry
  • Bilberry
  • Blackberry
  • Blueberry
  • Capulin Cherry
  • Cherimoya – Custard Apple
  • Cherries
  • Chilean Guava
  • Cranberry
  • Dragonfruit
  • Goji Berry
  • Golden Fruit of the Andes
  • Gooseberries
  • Logan berry
  • Marionberry
  • Miracle fruit
  • Monstera
  • Morella cherry
  • Naranjilla
  • Pawpaws
  • Pepino
  • Pineapple Guava
  • Raspberry
  • Raisin Tree
  • Red currant
  • Rhubarb
  • Rose apple
  • Sea grape
  • Strawberry
  • Strawberry Guava
  • Tamarillo
  • Teaberry (Wintergreen)
  • White Sapote
  • Yellow Guava

Nuts

  • Macadamia
  • Walnut
Vegetables

  • Asparagus
  • Beetroot
  • Calabrese
  • Chard
  • Cress
  • Dandelion
  • Globe Artichoke
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Lettuce
  • Mitzuba
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions: welsh and tree
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Silverbeet
  • Spinach
  • Spring Onion
  • Three cornered leek
  • Yacon
  • Water Chestnut
  • Wild garlic

Herbs etc

  • Bay
  • Chives
  • Coffee
  • Golden Pineapple Sage
  • Horseradish
  • Japanese Pepper
  • Juniper
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lemon Verbana
  • Lemongrass
  • Mints
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Stevia
  • Tarragon
  • Tea
  • Watercress
  • Wormwood

Prolific edible plants

I half-heartedly planted a choko underneath our grape with a handful of compost. Matthew shook his head and said I’d regret it. Neither of us like chokos. It only took a few months for the choko to overtake the gnarly aged vine and started ascending the garage wall. A weedy tomato is also mixed into the montage. Chokos are notorious for being fast growers.

I wanted to know what other plants were heavy yielding. In retrospect, these are the types I wish I had leaned towards growing for our self-sufficiency challenge.

Here’s a list of prolific edible plants:

Bean, Broad – Coles Dwarf; Egyptian; Long Pod
Bean, Bush – Blue Lake; Brown Beauty; Cherokee Wax; Dwarf Snake Bean; ES 58; Frenchie; Golden Wax; Hawksberry Wonder; Provider; Strike; Roma; Stringless Green Pod; Tendergreen; Violet Queen; Walter; Windsor Long Pod
Bean, Climbing – Blue Lake; Climbing Princess; Daydream; Green Zebra; Kentucky Wonder; Lazy Housewife; Natural Salt (Lohey’s Special); Purple King; Zebra
Beans, Dried – Red Kidney
Beetroot – Detroit
Broad Bean – Big Ben; Coles Dwarf; Early Long Pod
Broccoli – Waltham
Capsicum – Californian Wonder; Jimmy Nardello; Lipstick (Pimento); Orange Bell
Carrot – Nantes
Chilli – Cyklon; Jalapeno; Serrano;
Cucumber – Crystal Apple; Double Yield; Giant Russian; Green Gem; Japanese Climbing; Lemon; True Lemon; West Indian Gerkin; Wisconsin Pickling
Eggplant – Black Beauty; Little Finger; Rosa Bianca; Thai Green; Turkish Orange
Honeydew Melon – Early Silverline
Kale – Red Russian
Leek – Musselburg
Pea, Bush – Greenfeast; Southern Cross; Sugarsnap
Pea, Climbing – Alderman (Telephone)
Pea, Snowpea – Melting Mammoth; Oregon Sugar; Sugarsnap
Pumpkin – Delica; Golden Nugget; Jack Be Little; Waltham Butternut
Rockmelon – Noir des Carmes
Silverbeet – Fordhook Giant; Lucullus
Snowpea, Climbing – Melting Mammoth; Roide Carauby; Youkumo Giant
Spinach – Winter Giant
Squash, Button – Early White Bush; Golden Scallopini; Green Tint; Patterson Juane et Verte; Yellow Bush Squash
Squash, Winter – Blue Hubbard; Table Queen (Acorn)
Tomatillo – Toma Verde
Tomato, Bush – Budiah; Burpees Quarter Century; Burwood Prize; KY1; Napoli; Pink Ping Pong; Roma; Thai Pink Egg; Tiny Tim; Yellow Sausage
Tomato, Climbing – Baby Red Pear; Beans Yellow Pear; Beefsteak; Black Cherry; Break O Day; Broad Ripple Yellow Currant; Cherry Fox; Cherry Yellow Pear; Cherokee Purple; Daydream; Golden Sunray; Green Zebra; Gross Lisse; Harbinger; Lemon Drop; Moneymaker; Mortgage Lifter; Olomaic; Oxheart; Peruvian Cherry; Ponderosa Pink; Purple Lalabash; Purple Russian; Raspberry; Red Cherry Cocktail; Red Cloud; Red Fig; Siberian; Snow White; Speckled Roman; Sunray (Golden Orange); Super Sioux; Tigerella; Tommy Toe; Verna Orange; Yellow Pear
Watermelon – Northern Sweet;
Zucchini – Black Beauty; Early Prolific Straightneck; Golden Arch Crookneck; Rondo de Nice; Round; Yellow Straightneck

It’s pretty long list, but please let me know if I’ve missed any heavy bearing edible plants.

From comments:

Potato
Sweet potato

Drought tolerant edible plants

I’ve been doing some research about different types of seeds and their characteristics. I love making lists and flicking through seed catalogues, so this little exercise has combined these two joys in one.

Although, I’m not a big fan of watering. It’s…. well…. it’s boring. Thankfully we’ve had lots of rainfall recently so I’ve been able to skip the odd day or two. Matt has a water gauge and has been faithfully recording the rainfall on a registration chart. Sadly, between bush fires and torrential rainfall Australia remains a predominantly dry sunburnt country.

Here’s a list of tough drought tolerant edible plants:

Bean – Scarlet Emperor Runner
Broccoli – Waltham 29
Cucumber – Sweet and striped
Leaf Amaranth
Quinoa
Rockmelon – Planters Jumbo
Tomato – Cherry Yellow Pear, Purple Calabash Climbing
Warrigal Greens (New Zealand Spinach)
Watermelon – Sugarbaby

Once again, if you know of any other edible varieties that are drought tolerant, please let me know.

Edible plants for small areas and pots

Strawberries in hanging basket

There are a range of different plants you can grow in small gardens and areas. Some of these are also suitable to grow in a pot or container. Plants in pots will need more watering as they dry out quicker. Jerry provides insulation for his pot plants by keeping them in their plastic pot, but popping them in a larger display pot and filling the gap up with bits of broken up styrofoam.

The best plants to grow in small spots are: asian greens, capsicum, carrots, lettuce, radish, rocket, tomato, salad greens, and silverbeet. Sprouts are the ultimate space saver. Don’t forget most herbs and chillies grow easily in a pot. And strawberries look pretty in hanging baskets.

Here are some good small varieties to try:

Beetroot – Mini Gourmet
Bok Choy
Cabbage – Mini
Carrot – Mini Round (Paris Market)
Cauliflower – Mini
Cucumber – Spacemaster
Honeymelon – Sakatas Sweet
Pumpkin – Delicata, Golden Nugget
Rockmelon – Ha-ogen, Minnesota Midget
Tomato – Silvery Fir Tree, Sweet Tumbler, Tiny Tim
Watermelon – Sweet Siberia

Let me know if you have come across any others.