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Food from Perennial(ising) Plants in Temperate Climate Australia, for February 2013

This is the late Summer post for the ongoing research project about perennial plants and self-perpetuating annual plants providing food in temperate climate Australia. The original article introducing this project, stating its aims, and providing participant instructions, can be found here. Growers are sending me information on a month-by-month basis, then this information is collated and published the following month. All previous posts from this series can be found by clicking on my author name (Susan Kwong), just under the post title above.

Grower #3

Grower # 3
Latitude 32°
Broad climate information Mediterranean climate, winters mild, rarely have frosts, summers hot, dry and windy. Mean annual rainfall about 870mm, most of it falling between May – Sept. Can go many weeks without rain in the summer months.
Brief description of garden/farm

Established suburban garden undergoing conversion to food production. 720 sq m block with as much garden as I can squeeze in around house, studio and driveway (and I have my eyes on that). Front garden
south facing, exposed to strong winds (7km from coast), competing with two huge street trees (Queensland box and unknown eucalypt). Back garden north facing, more sheltered, partially shaded by 2 coolabahs and jacaranda, established citrus trees, chook pen. Soil type – water repellant sand, greatly improved by addition of bentonite clay and constant addition of compost and mulch. Watered twice weekly from bore during summer months, plus hand watering as needed.


Botanical name Austromyrtus dulcis
Common name(s) Midyim berry
Parts used for food Berries
How used Fresh
Notes Native to northern NSW/Queensland. Beautiful, graceful low growing shrub, growing on our street verge – hot, dry, windy.


Botanical name Carica papaya
Common name(s) Pawpaw, Papaya
Parts used for food Fruit
How used Green, grated in Thai style salad; ripe – fresh or dried
Notes These grew out of the compost — lots of them — and yet I’ve had no luck growing them from purchased seed. First fruit this year. I transplanted a group of about 6 close together, another 3 plants scattered through the garden. Plants are about 2 years old now, some laden with fruit, some with just a few. Grow well in light shade or full sun. Protect them from snails, the rot can set in where there is damage. Susceptible to frost. I pick the fruit when it is half orange and finish ripening inside. Absolutely delicious, not like anything I’ve had from the shop.


Botanical name Ficus carica ‘Black Genoa’
Common name(s) Fig
Parts used for food Fruit
How used Fresh or dried, jam
Notes Sooo sweet, and they’re even good if they are half dried when you pick them.


Botanical name Ipomoea aquatica
Common name(s) Kang Kong
Parts used for food fresh leaves and stems
How used salad, stir fry

Needs wet conditions. I grow this in a pot that has no drainage, in full sun. Haven’t tried it in my pond yet. Tropical plant, so it dies back in winter here. Easy to grow from cuttings (buy some from the veggie shop).

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