GROW FOOD slow food Have your garden and eat it too. A practical guide to organic gardening in the sub-tropics with step-by-step instructions and delicious seasonal recipes. Come with me too on some of my travels in Australia, Europe, Asia and beyond.

WHAT to plant and WHEN? Planting guide for the sub-tropics

 There are some jobs in the garden that are just plain fun – like seed saving

NOTE: I have found that I have the most success by using local seed – something passed around from gardener to gardener – they tend to be better fruiting varieties and more resistant to pests and diseases.

I have had very little luck with seed produced by the large companies – they are just not meant for our part of the world – the sub-tropical east coast of Australia. Growing your own vegetables from seed is a great way to really get you in touch with your garden; it’s a fun activity for the whole family, doesn’t involve any heavy work, saves you money, helps to save valuable heritage varieties – and best of all – if you plant a few seed at a time, but on a regular basis (like lettuce) you will have salad greens when you want it and nothing goes to waste.

If you don’t have time to grow your own from seed then buy seedlings from a local supplier.  I get mine from a grower at our local farmers market or our rural co-op.  Those sold in large hardware stores are often grown out of your climactic zone and won’t be as successful those grown locally.

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What’s for dinner?

TOP TIP: Understanding PLANT FAMILIES  – who is related to whom – will benefit you and your garden. It helps you decide what to plant next to each other, solves crop rotation dilemmas, does companion planting for you and looks wonderful because a productive garden can’t help but be beautiful.

A- Annual
P – Perennial

Autumn/Winter 

Amaranth A
Beetroot A
Broad beans A
Brussels sprout A
Broccoli A 
Carrot (Chantenay) A
Cabbage A
Cauliflower(Romanesque) A
Celery (Chinese) A
Ceylon spinach P
Chard A
Chinese greens – boo choy, pak choy, tatsoi A
Coriander A slow bolting
Cucumber A use local seed + plant late winter
Kholrabi – eat fresh or cooked
Garlic A  – harvest late spring
Horseradish P – divide in autumn
Kale (Cavalo Nero) A/P
Kangkung P  – water spinach
Leeks A
Lemon Grass P – divide in autumn
Lettuce A  
Onion
Mustard Greens A
Parsley A/P (flat leaf -Italian)
Peas  (Longpod, Honeysnap, Snow) A
Potatoes (Kipfler, Desiree, Dutch Cream) A
Purslane P
Rhubarb P  – ready to pick early spring
Silverbeet A
Sorrel A/P
Spring onion A
Tomatoes A  – use local seed + plant late winter
Warrigal Greens P
Watercress A
Wild rocket P
Zucchini A – use local seed + plant late winter

Spring/Summer

Asian greens A  – not after December
Beetroot A
Bush basil P
Bush beans A
Capsicum A
Choko P
Climbing beans A
Corn A
Cucumber A – not after December
Dill A
Eggplant  (long, Asian)
Fennel A
Italian basil A
Leeks A  – not after December 
Lettuce A – not after December
Melons A
Okra A
Pumpkin A
Radish A
Snake beans A
Spinach A  – not after December
Spring onion A
Squash A
Sweet potato P
Tomato A  -not after September
Winged bean A
Yacon P
Yam bean/Jicama P
Zucchini A  – not after October

You don’t need a lot of land to grow your own food – you just have to start!


My Mullumbimby garden where I have over 50 perennial food plants scattered among the flowers and shrubs.  The annuals I grow in raised beds and pots.