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Some good plants to grow


CHOICE has an article about starting a veggie garden - here are our tops picks for cost-effective vegetables to grow in your garden. Do you grow these? Or do you have any other thrifty gardening tips?


Possibly a more specific ABC Gardening Australia link to that provided at the bottom of the article is their

Click on the Vege Guide Web link on this page for when best to plant vegetables, herbs and fruits.

Many vegetable patches fail because one plants at the wrong time of the year. Success can be improved when seed/seedlings are planted at optimal times based on your location in Australia.

Also, ignore what the local nursery/plant section of supermarket or hardware store has a seedlings, as often seedlings for a particular vegetable are provided all year round. Because seedlings are available for purchase, does not mean that they will grow or it is the right time of year to plant them (note: these seedlings will have been propagated/germinated in controlled environment glasshouses, where germination occurs irrespective of the ambient air or soil temperatures). Use a seasonal/monthly planting guide instead.

The last thing is often better success is achieved by planting seeds rather than buying seedlings. Not only are seedling a lot more expensive, many plants (especially root crops) don’t like their roots disturbed. When disturbed, the plants either perform poorly, die or one had deformed produce.


Unfortunately, we have not been very successful in growing herbs and vegetables at our current home.

The pumpkins and zucchinis did not produce fruit due to a lack of Italian honey bees to pollinate them.

The tomatoes died from wilt.

The lettuces very quickly ran to seed.

The papaya trees were continually attacked by flying foxes and white tailed rats which splattered the fruit around the swimming pool.

My wife took over our Birdies raised garden bed which I had herbs planted in and planted cordylines in it.

So we now just have only tropical plants and buy our herbs and vegetables.


The cucurbits family (pumpkin, squash, zucchini, melons) often won’t self pollinate or pollinate well through insects. I would suggest that one gets a soft fine paint brush (art supply stores and hardwares have these cheaply) and then use the paint brush to move the pollen from the male flower (which has the anthers containing pollen) to the female flower (containing the stigma). It is also best to cross pollinate (between plants rather than the same plant).

One can alternatively break off the male flowers, strip the petals and use the exposed anthers to also polinate, by rubbing the anthers on the stigma. The pollen is the yellow powdery stuff a flower makes.

It is also best to use pollen from freshly opened male flowers and also pollinate recently opened female flowers early in the morning (withina few hours of sunrise).

This should maximise the chance of flowers being pollinated and thus producing fruit.

Also note that one plant will only carry a limited number of fruit. Therefore ongoing pollination may not produce more fruit on the same plant.

If your tomatoes grown in your area/soil is susceptible to wilt, then it is best to select a variety which is known to be resistant to the wilt (this website may be useful)

Growing lettuce in the tropics and be challenging as they do bolt. Try planting around Easter (April/May), water and use a nitrogen rich fertiliser regularly. This may increase the time to bolting.

Other option is to plant lettuce alternatives or tropical Asian veges instead.

Happens everywhere. Best solution is to bag them in something which is robust enough to keep the critters out.


Pumpkins and zuccs don’t need Italian honey bees, any kind of insect that will visit the flower will do but it’s mainly standard honey bees. If you don’t have active bees in the area you can play cupid as others have said by introducing the male flowers to the females but this is tedious as you have only a limited time to act. If you find pollination a problem a better way is to make it a longer term project and start with plantings that will attract bees all year round, then go on to bee-pollinated veggies later.

If you are wondering which veggies need bees, when, how, and how much this reference is a classic authority.

Many people make the mistake of growing lettuce in summer with no consideration of bolting. Many cultivars are not really suited to the hot Oz summer. Unless you are in a cool area lettuce have a strong tendency to bolt in warm weather. They are classed as summer veggies but will often stand cold conditions down to mild frost. To reduce/prevent bolting:

  • grow them between seasons,
  • choose the right cultivars,
  • mulch around heavily,
  • do not allow to dry out
  • and in hot areas cover with 50% shade cloth in summer.

Leaf crops will do fine in part sun unlike cucurbits which need full sun.


Broadly that’s a good article. Beans and herbs I support completely, lettuces with reservation due to the bolting problem mentioned elsewhere in this topic.

Tomatoes are probably the best return for the starting veggie grower because you can get a good crop in a limited area, they will be better tasting than supermarket ones if you pick good cultivars and you can pick them ripe off the vine. I don’t know why you emphasise cherry tomatoes, you can grow all sizes and the little ones are often filled with a greater proportion of seeds and are tedious to de-seed if that is your need. Tomatoes are very suited to seed saving, you can grow your favourite from one year to the next and they have no pollination problems.

If you don’t have the room or time to wait for the larger brassicas like cabbages, caulis etc try little ones that will be ready in a weeks rather than months. The Asian cabbages and allies come in a myriad of styles, flavours and sizes. Try Bok Choy, Mizuna and Choy Sum to start with. They don’t need much room and are easy to grow from seed with few problems. Try them in the cooler months where your summer tomatoes were. Unless you live in a cold region look out for cabbage butterfly, the grubs will destroy your crop in days. Pyrethrin will kill them but you have to keep spraying and it also kills beneficials. BT avoids that issue but must be applied frequently. Netting to exclude the adults is quite effective provided it stands off. If the adult cannot lay eggs directly on the plants you have no grubs as they cannot hatch elsewhere and crawl in.

You can even grow your own kale. Kale milkshakes! Yummo! I’m excited at the thought of all that green frothy goodness and between-the-teeth fibre.