Vegetable Gardening Tips

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  • Tyres contain cadmium which fixes the colour in the rubber and potatoes, cabbages, carrots, radishes, lettuce, turnips, & peanuts are known to accumulate cadmium
  • Do not to use treated pine as a surround for your vegetable beds.
  • Beetroot is a root vegetable that originated in southern Europe. It was originally grown for its leaves, although now both the leaves and root are eaten. Beetroot is related to sugar beet and is one of the sweetest vegetables available. It is a member of the spinach family and is a favourite food of summer salads and comes in a variety of colours and sizes: Ruby Red and Crosbys Egyptian Flat are dark red with dark green leaves and red stems. Detroit Dark Red and Bulls Blood have dark red and light zones when sliced. Chioggia also has concentric rings of red and white flesh. Albino are white as the name suggests. Burpees Golden Globe are an orange yellow variety. Cylindra is a long cylindrical. Selecting and storing beetroot  Choose beetroot with smooth, firm skin and a deep red colour, if choosing the darker varieties. If the leaves are still attached they should be ridged with pink/red veins. A scaly area at the top of the root indicates a tougher beetroot. Smaller beetroot are much more tender. Before storing trim the leaves 2 inches from the root, remove any dirt and do not wash or cut off the tails as the beetroot will bleed. Store beetroot in a dark, cool environment with high humidity. It can also be stored unwashed in plastic in the refrigerator for a week. The leaves can be stored in a separate plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2 days and used instead of other green leafy vegetables. Beetroot can be bottled in an acidic liquid – such as vinegar or lemon juice – which preserves the colour, if the liquid is too alkaline the colour turns a brownish purple. Freshly cooked beetroot can be frozen; once cooked peel and slice or leave whole, store in airtight bags or containers and freeze for up to 10 months. Beetroot is often used pickled in salads and sandwiches but fresh beetroot is just as delicious. For a tasty alternative to some of your favourite meals try these tasty recipes: Roast Beetroot, Feta and Rocket Salad; Roast Beetroot and Walnut Salad; Beetroot Hummus; excellent dip
  • They only eat the seeds of pumpkin in Cappadocia, Turkey and use the flesh for fertiliser to grow more pumpkins for the seeds!
  • Luffas  If you want a soft sponge, pick the luffa while its green.  If you want a tougher quality, wait till the outer skin yellows and dries out.  Ref: John Kufrovich

    The bigger ones will be tougher and make good luffas; the new little ones should be good in stir-fries. There are lots of Google sites on making luffa sponges.      Ref:  Stephen

  • Pumpkin Seeds 

    Adrian  We use the seeds to make a nice snack. We simply put a little salt on them, then pan fry them with a little bit of oil till slightly brown. They are a really good crunchy snack! No need to peel them, they’re fine as is. Harvesting around 60kg of pumpkins this year means we get plenty of pre dinner snacks!

    Jason   I have never hulled my pumpkin seeds either when roasting them in the oven. Generally I put them on a tray after having cooked something else and just let the residual heat bake them. As for pepitas, they are from a specific kind of pumpkin I believe.

    Diane  I make similar but I use dukkah seasoning instead as there are many different dukkah mixes to suit every taste – enjoy them with wine/beer instead of nuts etc. They only take a short time in the oven to puff up.

  • Bok Choy Botanical name: Brassica rapa var. chinensis Other names:  Buk Choy, Pack Choy, Chinese white cabbage, Chinese chard    by Roger Goebel – DPI  BRASSICACEAE (Brassica) family

    Varieties of bok choy have different characteristics. The four most cultivated forms in Queensland are: Joi choi or Chinese white bok choy. Plants to 30cm high with white stems. Mei qing or Shanghai bok choy. Plants to 15cm high light green stems. Tai sai nikanme or Japanese celery mustard. Plants to 45cm high with thin leaves and stalks.

    Canton or squat. Plants to 20cm high with white stems.

Growing Bok Choy:  Ideal growing conditions are required to produce quality plants. Any stress will increase the growing time, reduce the flavour and size and are likely to cause the plants to ‘bolt’- produce a premature seed head. Recommended growing conditions include: Soil Ph 6.5 to 7 is preferred; Row spacing 30cm and Plant spacing 10cm; Plants sown in seed boxes, transplanted at 2 to 3 weeks of growth or direct planted; Rows on raised beds to increase soil drainage around the root area; Choose well drained soils with plenty of aged organic matter; Frequent light watering, twice each day when not raining;  Maintain the area weed free; Adequate nitrogen (equivalent to 1kg urea to 10m of row applied in 4 or more applications) Harvest entire plants or just cut the larger leaves. Harvest the entire crop as quickly as possible and dig in any remainder to reduce pest/disease levels. Don’t re-plant the area with the same or similar crop.

  • Pumpkins  For extended storage, wash skins in a solution of about a tablespoon of chlorine bleach to a gallon of water to disinfect the skin and discourage mould or rot. Dry immediately as dampness encourages spoilage. If you find mould, wipe with vegetable oil to remove the mould and seal the spot. You can leave them on the vines into the winter months. The longer you leave them the better they will store. Frosts will help to sweeten the fruit as well. Leave a good size of stem on the pumpkin and NEVER carry them by this as you can damage the fruit and this will start the whole thing rotting. Store in an airy place (shed is good) on their side as this will stop moisture developing near the stem area. I also use candle wax on any wounds to help prolong the storing time. Leaving them out in the sun for a couple of days will help to harden the skins, bringing them in undercover at night, before storing. If a stem happens to come off you can seal it by dripping melted candle wax onto the area. Turn them every couple of weeks so they aren’t resting on the same spot. Ref: Marilena Stanton

    Michelle says they have had great success storing them in the shed – the best “keepers” were the ones with the longest stems still on them – some over 1m long !! I also rubbed some vegetable oil in to their skins – heard someone recommend it once so I gave it a go. Also – the ones that I rolled over occasionally seemed to avoid getting mushy bottoms. I must say we did notice that the older the pumpkins got, the richer the flavour and colour. These were all Kent seeds that Jason gave me a couple of years ago.

  • Sweet Potato  Saw the best patch of Ipomoea batatas recently at Bruce Chadfield’s place grown in cut grass/mulch above ground. Zig in the Northern Territory also says that the best sweet potatoes he grew were plants that had run into a pile of acacia leaves (Acacia difficilis). The tubers were in the leaf mulch and not in the sandy ground below.
  • Taro  Just came back from a pot luck dinner where one of the dishes was a delicious taro dish. Consisted of 4 parts taro to one part sweet potato, cooked in 1/2 can of coconut cream, with a bit of honey added. Was mashed to a very fine soup like consistency. Really delicious!    Ref:  Oscar, Hawaii
  • Zeolite  –  A Natural Australian Mineral. It not only helps you grow better fruit and vegetables by increasing nutrient retention ability of your soil but zeolite also helps you store your fruit and vegetables longer because it absorbs ethylene produced by the ripening process. Place the fruit or vegetable in a plastic bag and add two tablespoons of zeolite. Close the bag and store in a cool place.