The Wet Season Summer Garden

Tonielle Christensen Blog, Land & Nature Stewardship 1 Comment

The Wet Season Summer Garden

About the Author
Tonielle Christensen

Tonielle Christensen

Tonielle is a designer focused on improving the wellbeing of people and landscapes to generate abundance and efficiency.

In the tropics, we deal with the 'dry and wet', with less defined seasons, however winter generally means the most diverse variety of crops can be grown. Crops like carrots, kale and snowpea produce well then, amongst other standard European crops and herbs like Chamomile and lemon balm. However, it is the humid weather and torrential rain during summer that has many people begging the question "will any veggies grow in summer? Yes is the short answer.

Before you jump to the list of plants species for a summer garden below, I invite to consider the difference between planting out an annual garden and perennials...
Annual vegetables come and go with the seasons but perennial vegetables are planted once, root deeply and continue to produce food for you all year long. It is important to have both the diversity of annual and perennial crops in your edible garden, to ensure resilience and expand your caloric, nutrient and protein intake.

Annual crops take more effort, as they need to be grown from seed, planted, fertilized and harvested within the season they are encoded to grow within your climate. In the tropics, we can grow so much, all year long, however the European veggies we know so well from the supermarket shelves should really be grown from seed as soon as the big wet finishes - so they can be in the ground, growing and producing over winter. As spring approaches, the temperature heats up quickly and everything bolts to seed.

The list of plant species below well help you grow successfully in the wet!

List 1:
below is a list of fruits and vegetables that can be seeded now or on September first to be exact – in spring – to grow for your summer culinary tastes. I haven’t listed them in alphabetical order, but rather in useful guilds to plant in beds together. The vines become very handy for growing on trellises that can shade your outdoor living areas or provide shelter from the harsh summer sun over your vegetable patch.

List 2:
These are some crops that you may be able to grow now, depending.
List 3:
 further down the page, you will find a list of plants that you can grow all year long in the tropics, just to give you an idea of what else can be included in your autumn planting frenzy to enjoy the harvest over winter too.
List 4:
At the very bottom (saving the best for last in my opinion), is a list of what we call the incrEDIBLE tropical superfoods. Everyone in the tropics should have them taking up space in a garden. Not only are they highly nutritious and easy to grow, they produce consistently so you will always have something to eat - from your garden to your plate!

List 1, annuals to plant in a tropical spring:
Asian greens
Tomato, some bush varieties suited the tropics but vine tomatoes are the hardiest for the deep heat and rain of the wet.
Spring onion
Beans, French climbers
Snake Beans
Sweet corn
Sweet potato
Melons; Rockmelon and Watermelon
Mustard greens
Choko (vine)
Cucumber (vine)
Luffa (vine)

List 2: Some mixed annual and bi-annual crops listed above can be planted all year long, and be producing throughout the year (except in the midst of the monsoonal rains):
Beans, most
Chinese cabbages
Cape gooseberry
Water Cress
Mustard greens
Sweet potato, however its mostly the leaf that grows during winter and the tubers grow during spring, summer, or the harvest in autumn and winter – although leave them in the ground dormant and get them when you need to eat (unless you have hungry bush turkeys or small marsupials digging them up).
Vine Tomatoes

List 3, You may be able to take a punt and plant the following crops now, depending on your micro-climates in your garden or closer to a subtropical climate. Too much sun and rain will wither or set seed quickly. If the wet season comes early, then mildew and the onslaught of bugs make it difficult for these annual crops to survive:
Lettuce; non-hearting varieties.
Broccoli; the sprouting flowering type, not the compact head variety.

List 4, the incrEDIBLE perennial tropical superfoods perform well during the tropical summer climate and usually slow down growth during the colder months, however will still produce food or medicinal qualities for your health. The plants in the list with a (S) symbolizes salad/spinach green and (R) means rhizome for root harvesting:
Aibika, tree spinach
Brazillian spinach
Drumstick Tree, or known as Moringa
Ceylon Spinach (Malabar spinach, vine)
Celery Taro
Egyptian Spinach
Leaf Ginseng, or known as water leaf
Mushroom Plant, or known as Runghi
Pinto Peanut
Sweet leaf
Vap Ca
Vietnamese Mint
Watercress (R)
(Water) Chestnuts

The following have a special mention because they offer multiple uses within a landscape and ease of growing. They should be a priority to plant before all of the other amazing tropical fruit and nut trees - that is our opinion anyway!
Aloe Vera
Kaffir Lime
Lemon Grass
Mother of Herbs
Pigeon Pea

Please let us tell us if you know of anything we have missed in this list
North Queensland has one of the easiest climates to grow food throughout year long. It simply comes down to trying new foods, expanding your tastes and having an culinary adventure in your kitchen. This photograph is the backyard of our rental property in Kuranda, midst summer. All of this food is growing within 20 meters from our patio and we literally carry a basket to harvest the goodness prior to dinner. Needless to say, we eat a lot of stir-fry and Asian style soups. In permaculture, this is known as a Zone 1 garden, relevant to energy use.

This year, cyclone blew winds strong enough to knock down many Bananas, Papaya, Arrowroot and since then, the Ginger and Tumeric has died back as it does during winter. So this landscape has changed, looking less dense and with more defined pathways. With more light reaching the soil, we have filled the spaces with cooler climate annuals such as tomatoes, dill, lettuce, cucumbers and nasturtium.

It is always here for a full list of recommended plants and to read more...

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