January – Permaculture Sustainable Food Gardening in Subtropical Australia

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

The summer is here. This is the time where we try to slow down mostly because of the high temperatures during the day. However, there are still some jobs you can do if you love your green space, and if you want to harvest all year round! I have prepared a list for you below and I am aware that this might be just a fraction of what is possible in January in subtropics. I have purposely limited it to the edibles I have in my food forest and got the best experience with over the years. The list is quite long and I am pretty sure that I have forgotten a few species so will update the list if required. If you want to know how we use the plants we grow, simply comment under this article, join our discussion board and follow us on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

Note: This is the monthly edition about gardening in that particular month. If you haven’t read my ‘summer gardening jobs’ article yet, start there: Summer – Permaculture Sustainable Food Gardening in Subtropical Australia

Sowing

I have most of them self-seeding and taking care about themselves in the food forest so not much for me to do but if you don’t have them yet, you can sow now ( check the ‘Food Forest Guide’ for more info about the plants listed below).

  • Asian Pigeonwings, Butterfly Pea – Clitoria Ternatea
  • Bottle Gourd, Calabash – Lagenaria siceraria and other gourds
  • Cape Gooseberry – Physalis peruviana
  • Egyptian Spinach – Corchorus olitorius
  • Winged bean, Asparagus Pea – Psophocarpus tetragonolobus
  • Luffa – Luffa aegyptiaca
  • Tromboncino, Summer squash – Cucurbita moschata 
  • Rosella – Roselle
  • Okra – Abelmoschus esculentus
  • West Indian Gherkins, Maroon Cucumber – Cucumis anguria
  • Orange Cosmos Flower – Cosmos sulphureus
  • Indiana Lettuce, Chinese Sword Lettuce – Lactuca indica
  • Pigeon Peas – Cajanus cajan
  • Cranberry Hibiscus – Hibiscus acetosella
  • Jicama – Pachyrhizus erosus
  • Capsicum and Chilli
  • Different sorts of Corn, Sunflower, Zucchini, Sweet Corn, Beans, Squash and Pumpkin will do well, too

Planting

I am not mentioning any trees here, 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. Talking about planting trees, you should resist to plant any young fruit trees during the summer time as they may struggle to get established. Especially during a very dry and hot summer. If you want to know what trees we are growing, check our ‘Food Forest Guide‘.

There are many plants which 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.

  • bush basil – Ocimum oxcitriodorum
  • Cranberry Hibiscus – Hibiscus acetosella
  • 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
  • Jicama – Pachyrhizus erosus
  • Pepino Solanum – muricatum
  • Rosella – Roselle
  • Yacon – Smallanthus sonchifolius
  • 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
  • West Indian Arrowroot – Maranta arundinacea
  • Sugarcane Red – Saccharum officinarum
  • Sweet Leaf – Sauropus androgynous
  • Yacon – Smallanthus sonchifolius
  • shallots
  • garlic chives
  • pineapples
  • sweet potatoes
  • bananas
  • passion fruit
  • chilly, capsicum
  • eggplant
  • mint

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 January harvest list includes and it is based on what grows in our food forest and what is possible, including fruit from our fruit 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 January:

  • 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
  • Pepino Solanum – muricatum – fruit
  • 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
  • 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
  • grapes
  • Logan berries – leaves and fruits
  • Horseradish leaves – leaves and roots
  • limes
  • black berry – leaves and fruits
  • star fruit – fruit

Short living perennials and annuals we harvest in January:

  • squash, tromboncino, zucchini, pumpkin
  • chilly, capsicum
  • eggplant
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • celery, celeriac
  • 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
  • Pigeon Peas – Cajanus cajan
  • sunflower
  • Bottle Gourd, Calabash – Lagenaria siceraria and other gourds

I hope that my article will help you to plan and organise your garden and brings you one step closer to grow abundance of food and become self-reliant sooner than later 🙂

Any questions or comments? Consider joining our discussion board and become part of the Permaculture Haven community! Looking forward to meet 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 workshop or enroll to the self-paced online course. More info here.

Next article comes out in the first week of February.

Ewa