February – Permaculture Food Gardening in Subtropical Australia

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

Hot and humid! However, nature is generous with rain at the moment and we appreciate every single drop and enjoy the food we harvest at this time of the year, and there is plenty to harvest!

We are not running out of jobs in the garden, however, we are limiting the work to the early morning and/or very late afternoon hours. In addition to the summer gardening jobs listed below, February is the month when I prune all sorts of my perennial and self-seeding bushes. Especially Pigeon Peas, Cranberry Hibiscus, and Lemon Grass are getting a good cut and are turned into highly nutritious mulch straight away. Lemon Gras can be used straight away, the more “brunchy” plants go through the mulcher. Smaller pieces will break down much quicker and provide the growing plants with the nutrients much more quickly.

I have prepared a list of what is happening in our food forest in February. I’m pretty sure that I forgot about a few jobs, 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 below, and follow us on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. I am also offering onsite and online/email consultations if you are not sure where to start. More info about my services here.

We do sell many of the fruits and veggies in the form of seeds, cuttings, and plants through our online store at www.foodforestseeds.au All are naturally grown, non-GMO, heirloom, and open-pollinated plants, and most of them are coming from my food forest. Check it out! In the list below, I included the links to the individual plants so you just need to click on it to get to the shop to find more info about the plants and to order one if you like to grow your own. NEW! I started to include info about the health benefits of each plant. All based on academic articles and also my research while studying “Food as Medicine” at Monash University.

One of the reasons for providing all the information is to encourage everyone to grow their own healthy food, build resilience and confidence, and taste the difference of homegrown food! Your orders are always very much appreciated as they help us do what we do. Thank you very much for your support.

Notes:

  1. This is the monthly edition about that particular month. If you haven’t read my ‘summer gardening jobs’ article yet, start there: Summer – 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 that I grow in my food forest, and that’s a lot!
  3. I have included links to the individual seeds and plants I sell. Simply click on the name with the link and a new page will open where you can read more info about the plant, and you can buy it if you don’t have it yet (all coloured names include links, more to come!). Enjoy!

Preparing for the winter season

February is the time when I start to think about winter vegetables like all sorts of brassicas, radishes, garlic, and seed potatoes so now is the time to order the seeds. If you want to grow healthy food, go for the heirloom, non-GMO, open-pollinated seeds only. Heirloom varieties are open-pollinated which means that you can collect and save your own seeds from the plants you grow in your garden, store them for the following season, and use them from year to year. Some people say that the heirloom varieties give you a much better taste compared to the hybrid ones but I cannot confirm since I always use heirloom seeds. It makes me think now, maybe that is why our homegrown food tastes so delicious. We have a good collection of Autumn and Winter season seeds available in our online shop here. Many of the winter vegetables can be started in trays at the end of February as listed further below.

Sowing

In the last week of February also:

Planting

There are many plants that don’t mind the heat. Make sure they are sun-trained before you plant them and also check where they grow best, sun, half-shade, or shade.

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

Harvesting

We are harvesting daily and as required, depending on of what we like to eat and cook, and/or what needs to be harvested. The February 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 in February:
  • Yellow Cherry Guava
  • Tamarillo fruit
  • 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
  • St John’s Wort – Hypericum perforatum – flowers
  • 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 fro mulch and as food for animals
  • West Indian Arrowroot – Maranta arundinacea – root
  • Sugarcane Red – Saccharum officinarum – cane
  • Sweet Leaf – Sauropus androgynous – leaves
  • Elderberry – Sambucus Nigra – berries and flowers
  • shallots
  • garlic chives
  • pineapples
  • sweet potatoes – leaves and roots
  • bananas
  • passion fruit
  • pawpaw – leaves and fruits
  • Loganberries – leaves
  • Horseradish leaves – leaves and roots
  • limes
  • blackberry – leaves
  • star fruit – fruit
  • Panamaberry fruit
Short-living perennials and annuals we harvest in February:
  • squash, tromboncino, zucchini, pumpkin
  • chilly, capsicum
  • eggplant
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • parsnip
  • beans
  • Asian Pigeonwings, Butterfly Pea – Clitoria Ternatea
  • Okra – Abelmoschus esculentus
  • West Indian Gherkins, Maroon Cucumber – Cucumis anguria
  • Indiana Lettuce, Chinese Sword Lettuce – Lactuca indica
  • sunflower
  • Bottle Gourd, Calabash – Lagenaria siceraria and other gourds
  • Luffa – Luffa aegyptiaca

I’m pretty sure that I forgot about one or the other plant which we sow, plant, or harvest but I will update here as we progress into the month. Any questions or comments? Simply comment below. Are you looking for seeds, cuttings or plants? Check out our online shop at www.foodforestseeds.au

Would you like to support our work? You can do so by sharing our articles and videos and subscribing to our YouTube channel which also helps other people to find us more easily.

For design, consultation, workshops, and courses check our website here.

If you would like to buy us a coffee, you can do so 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 🙂

How is your garden doing in February? I would love to hear from you! Comment below.

Happy Gardening!

Ewa

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