The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

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).

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