April – Permaculture Sustainable Food Gardening in Subtropical Australia

by Ewa Bekiesch, Permaculture designer, educator, sustainable living consultant, and healthy food advocate.

April is the month when we start to feel the Autumn, and we love it! The lower temperatures make gardening so much more enjoyable. The first winter seedlings are emerging out of the soil, and you can literally watch them grow, or at least some of them. Let’s have a look at the jobs which we usually do during this month.

General jobs in April

  • Regenerating, enriching the soil, and mulching, if not done yet. Check my previous articles and Youtube videos on how to do it.
  • Sowing and planting into the prepared garden beds.
  • Watering young seedlings and keeping the soil moist are now crucial. Water helps the roots to absorb the nutrients, and young plants need lots of nutrients!
  • Now is a good time to plant fruit trees and bushes. The temperatures are still warm enough so the trees can get established before winter. Watering the newly planted tree/bush is essential! Straight after planting, then every day in the first week, and then twice a week for a month to give the young tree the best conditions to get established. From the second month, you can reduce watering to once a week for the first year.
  • Pruning fruit trees and bushes, depending on the variety and growing stage. This may vary from year to year. I will make a separate article about pruning trees and bushes soon.

Sowing, planting, harvesting

I am pretty sure that I forgot about a few, but if so, I will update the list during the month as I progress with the work. If you want to know how we use the plants we grow, or you like to add something or ask a question, simply comment on this article, join our discussion board and follow us on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. I am also offering workshops, and courses and occasionally selling plants and seeds, too. Check our Online-store if you are interested in any of that.

Notes:

  1. This is the monthly edition for that particular month. If you haven’t read my ‘autumn gardening jobs’ article yet, start there: Autumn – Permaculture Sustainable Food Gardening in Subtropical Australia
  2. There are more plants you can grow in the subtropical climate but I am limiting my list to the plants which I grow in my food forest and I have the best experience.

Sowing

Many of them are self-seeding in our food forest. If you don’t know some of the plants in the list below, check my ‘Food Forest Guide’ for more info about the plants, how to grow and how to use them, along with some other tips and tricks.

  • Asian Pigeonwings, Butterfly Pea – Clitoria Ternatea
  • Indiana Lettuce, Chinese Sword Lettuce – Lactuca indica
  • Ethiopian Cabbage – Brassica carinata
  • bok choy, pak choy
  • rocket lettuce
  • radish
  • beetroot
  • broad beans
  • cabbage
  • carrot
  • cauliflower
  • celeriac
  • celery
  • coriander
  • chives
  • dill
  • kale
  • mizuna
  • mustard greens
  • leeks
  • lettuce
  • onion
  • peas
  • rocket lettuce
  • silverbeet
  • flowers
  • garlic
  • potatoes

Planting

No trees in this list, mostly because there are too many fruit trees you can grow in a subtropical climate so simply choose what you enjoy eating and what suits your garden. Especially during a very dry and hot summer. If you want to know what trees we are growing, check our ‘Food Forest Guide‘.

  • bush basil – Ocimum oxcitriodorum
  • Galangal – Thai Ginger –Greater Galangal, Alpinia galangal
  • Goldenrod – Solidago
  • Gotu Kola – Centella asiatica
  • Lemongrass – Cymbopogan citratus
  • Longevity Spinach – Gynura procumbens
  • Okinawa Spinach – Hawaiian lettuce – Gynura bicolour
  • Peruvian Parsnip – Arracacia xanthorrhiza
  • St John’s Wort – Hypericum perforatum
  • Goldenrod – Solidago canadensis
  • Tarragon, Estragon – Artemisia dracunculus
  • Cassava – Manihot esculenta
  • Pigface, Baby Sunrose – Aptenia cordifolia
  • Brahmi-Memory Plant – Waterhyssop – Bacopa monnieri
  • Bana Grass – Pennisetum purpureum x amaricanum
  • Sugarcane Red – Saccharum officinarum
  • horseradish
  • tomatoes
  • oregano
  • shallots
  • onions
  • garlic chives
  • pineapples
  • sweet potatoes
  • strawberry plants
  • chilly, capsicum
  • eggplant
  • mint

Harvesting

We are harvesting daily and as required, depending on what we like to eat and cook, and/or what needs to be harvested. The April harvest list includes and is based on what grows in our food forest and what is possible, including fruit from our trees. As you may think, we don’t harvest all of it every day. Many of them simply keep growing and wait patiently for their turn to end up in the kitchen, or as green mulch ‘chop and drop, go to compost if they are taking over, or as food for our chickens, ducks, or worm farm. The possibilities are endless.

Perennials crop we harvest in April:

  • Cherry Guava
  • bush basil – Ocimum oxcitriodorum
  • Cranberry Hibiscus – Hibiscus acetosella – leaves
  • Galangal – Thai Ginger –Greater Galangal, Alpinia galangal – leaves and roots
  • Gotu Kola – Centella asiatica – leaves
  • Lemongrass – Cymbopogan citratus – leaves and stalks
  • Longevity Spinach – Gynura procumbens – leaves and stalks
  • Okinawa Spinach – Hawaiian lettuce – Gynura bicolour –  leaves and stalks
  • Peruvian Parsnip – Arracacia xanthorrhiza – leaves and roots
  • Rosella – Roselle – leaves and calyx
  • Tarragon, Estragon – Artemisia dracunculus – leaves and flowers
  • Cassava – Manihot esculenta – leaves and roots
  • Brahmi-Memory Plant – Waterhyssop – Bacopa monnieri – leaves
  • Bana Grass – Pennisetum purpureum x amaricanum – leaves for mulch
  • West Indian Arrowroot – Maranta arundinacea – root
  • Sugarcane Red – Saccharum officinarum – cane, mostly to dry and store for smoking meet later on
  • Sweet Leaf – Sauropus androgynous – leaves
  • Elderberry – Sambucus Nigra – berries and flowers
  • Alpine strawberries – Wild Strawberries – berries
  • Aloe Vera
  • Dragon fruit
  • Hawaiian guava
  • shallots
  • garlic chives
  • pineapples
  • sweet potatoes – leaves and roots
  • bananas
  • passion fruit
  • pawpaw – leaves and fruits
  • Loganberries – leaves
  • Horseradish leaves – leaves and roots
  • limes
  • grapefruit
  • Blackberry – leaves
  • Star fruit – fruit
  • Limes

Short living perennials and annuals we harvest in April:

  • squash, tromboncino, zucchini, pumpkin
  • Winged bean
  • chilly, capsicum
  • eggplant
  • tomatoes
  • all sorts of herbs
  • Asian Pigeonwings, Butterfly Pea – Clitoria Ternatea
  • Okra – Abelmoschus esculentus
  • West Indian Gherkins, Maroon Cucumber – Cucumis anguria
  • Bottle Gourd, Calabash – Lagenaria siceraria, and other gourds
  • Luffa – Luffa aegyptiaca
  • Armenian cucumber
  • QLD Arrowrot – leaves for chickens and bulbs for us

I’m pretty sure that I forgot about one or the other plant we sow, plant or harvest but will update as we progress into the month. Any questions or comments? Consider joining our discussion board and to become part of the Permaculture Haven community! Looking forward to meeting you there. If you would like to learn how to plan and design your edible garden, and how to grow food, consider joining one of our workshops or enroll in the self-paced online course. More info here.

I hope that my article helps you to plan and organise your garden, and brings you one step closer to growing an abundance of food to become self-reliant sooner than later 🙂

The next article comes out in the first week of May.

What are you sowing, planting, and harvesting in your subtropical garden at the moment? Leave your comment under the article below or in the discussion board on my website.

Ewa