THESE COOLER MONTHS ARE THE PERFECT TIME TO TRY YOUR HAND AT SOME VEGIES AND STRAWBERRIES
Chokos would have to be the blandest of all the squash-type vine vegetables. But it is what you do with them that is the best part.
Season with some butter as a simple side dish, chop and add to extend volume of an apple pie (they will take on the apple flavour, while keeping their firmness) or pickle choko as a main ingredient with a touch of hot ‘n’ spicy maybe? Or try them barbecued with olive oil.
Start two of them now on a fence trellis for a family supply, with a seedling in a punnet, as they need a good six months to maturity – by which time we are back into the higher temperatures. They’re easy to grow; give them fertiliser and water as normal.
Around garden edges that get a few hours of sunlight, plant silver beet about 30cm apart. Dig in some good compost before and harvest in two months (just pick what leaves you need).
Try turnips (the round white vegie with the purple top) in six hours of sun. They need three months to harvest plus average soil and water. Avoid planting near potatoes and tomatoes (other plants need space, steal nutrients and, as bad neighbours sometimes do, spread diseases like a common cold).
Plant strawberries in a little bed of their own raised soil, covered generously with (you guessed it) straw. Buy them in punnets of runners from a nursery and also use in hanging baskets. Keep them apart for air flow and to avoid fungal diseases. They like good drainage and liquid food.
As a landscape plant, coriander is among the best; spread by seed around the patch. Or, if you are lazy, plant seedlings for a quicker turnaround. The white flower and foliage make a good ground cover that smother weed ambitions. Harvest in a month to six weeks. This grows exceptionally well in a sunny corner in a shallow pot.
There are a handful of ideas to get some of your own vegetables going in the space of our cooler months. There are plenty of others that you know of and we can discuss these later. Plant a secession of seedlings for a constant supply, especially loose-leaf Asian greens and lettuces (try ice berg on the Tablelands).