Permablitz’s ‘hero of the month’


Every month, Adrian O’Hagen from Forest Hill, or one of his colleagues, discusses a ‘hero of the month’ on the Permablitz website. The links below are those related to food.

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The amazing avocado – delicious, nutrient dense and the source of last year’s millenials-vs-millionaire great smashed avo/mortgage debate. Still, what could be better than having a ready source of avos in your backyard?
Babaco A versatile and remarkably easy to grow subtropical: the quiet achiever of the Carica genus, there is the papaya, but then there is the babaco – the champagne fruit – which will thrive in Melbourne.
Cape gooseberry Cape gooseberries have more antioxidants than goji berries, broccoli, apples or pomegranates, and contain twice the vitamin C of lemons. And they even come naturally packaged in their own paper-like wrapping!
Cherry Nothing is better than planting a tree in your own backyard. The perfect backyard variety is the Stella, as this is self-pollinating and crops in heavy clusters.
Ebbings silverberry Is this the perfect permaculture plant? Well, it ticks a lot of boxes – nitrogen fixer, tough evergreen shrub, makes a good hedge or windbreak, is a useful dense habitat, edible fruit, has perfumed white flowers, is a bee plant … what more could you want?
Finger lime Finger limes are a delicate rainforest understorey tree in SE QLD and Northern NSW where they can grow to 10 metres. In Melbourne – not so much!
Guava – Chilean Queen Victoria’s favorite fruit has many names: strawberry myrtle, ogniberry, New Zealand cranberry, tazziberry. Some call it just ugni or uñi. But it doesn’t really matter because this great drought tolerant shrub produces berries that are just delicious.
Midyim berry Midyim berries are one of Australia’s tastiest bush tucker foods, with a sweet and tangy flavour that has a delightfully subtle hint of spice.
Tamarillo The tamarillo, or tree tomato, is an attractive foliage specimen tree, growing to 3-4m and fruit within 1-2 years – as such they’re one of the best-value perennials you can ask for!
Tomatillo The tomatillo is a close relative of cape gooseberry and a distant relative of tomato. It grows a thin husk (or lantern) around the fruit that must be peeled prior to using the fruit.
Asparagus If any veggie is worth waiting for, it has to be asparagus. For 10 months of the year asparagus is little more than a weedy looking perennial, but in spring the plant is transformed.
Beans – dragon tongue Dragon tongue beans are an open pollinated heirloom variety originally cultivated in the late eighteenth, early nineteenth century in the Netherlands. From there it spread to France and England then eventually to the New World.
Beetroot Beetroot is of exceptional nutritional value; especially the greens, which are rich in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. The greens should not be overlooked; they can be cooked up and enjoyed in the same way as spinach.
Capsicum – bullhorn Bull’s horn (or cow horn) capsicum is an old Italian heirloom variety of sweet capsicum that produces curved fruits up to 20cm long. The fruits can be harvested green or red after 70-90 days.
Chilli – rocoto tree In Melbourne, rocoto is one chilli plant that can be grown all year round. Whilst severe or successive frosts can damage the plant, it usually recovers sufficiently to grow even bigger the next year.
Cucamelon Cucamelons are native to Mexico and Central America. They also go by the following names: mouse melon, Mexican sour gherkin, Mexican miniature watermelon and Mexican sour cucumber. These climbing plants produce masses of grape-sized fruit.
Fennel Fennel is a perennial grown as an annual, easy to grow, great in salads or pasta, and can be a hit with the kids as “it tastes like black jelly beans!”
Feverfew The feverfew herb was used in the past to treat a variety of conditions such as headaches, arthritis, and as the name implies, fever!
Garlic It is the season for colds and flu so what better way to make it through than chewing down on what you grew: garlic!
Good King Henry The Good King Henry, sometimes known as ‘poor man’s asparagus’ [Blitum bonus-henricus], is a perennial that produces edible shoots and spinach-like leaves. Once common in gardens, it’s something of a rarity today.
Kohlrabi Kohlrabi is a low stout cultivar of the cabbage family that deserves to be more widely eaten, don’t be put off by its rather unusual appearance! Kohlrabi is German for turnip, and it certainly looks like one.
Leek – perennial Growing regular leeks requires dedication and patience; they take 100-130 days to reach maturity. But luckily for gardeners there is a handy shortcut: perennial leeks!
Lemon balm The green leaves of lemon balm have the scent of lemon with a hint of mint, with leaves that look like oversized mint—no surprise, since lemon balm is part of the mint family!
Melon – shark fin The Asian green shark fin melon is an essential ingredient for the healthy and nutritious shark fin melon soup (not shark fin soup!) boiled using a Tanyu claypot.
Nasturtium Nasturtium is a ridiculously easy-to-grow plant whose leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible! They also look good in the garden, repel aphids and perform a host of companion planting duties.
Okra Okra (or lady fingers) are easy to grow and its flowers and fruit can add both ornamental and edible value to your garden. The flower has white or cream-coloured petals and its throat is a deep claret red.
Onion Onions are a simple to grow garden crop, and are used in a multitude of dishes worldwide. Some prime ministers have even been known to eat them raw!
Parsley Parsley is a must have in any self-respecting home garden, with culinary and medicinal uses that have been celebrated for centuries.
Radish Have you ever thought that you were possibly the worst gardener ever? If you haven’t ever tried to grow food for yourself then the humble radish is about to be your new best friend.
Rocket Rocket grows like a rocket! It is so fast that only two weeks after planting, the leaves will be ready to pick for salads and sandwiches. It’s definitely worth growing in the veggie patch.
Snow peas and sugar snap peas These delicious peas should be grown at home, as their sugars convert to starches once picked, so half of the sugars are gone within an hour of picking. You’ve never tasted a snow pea unless you have picked it yourself.
Tromboncino This is the zucchini with outstanding flavour that doesn’t get too big too soon. Be sure to train the quick growing vines up a trellis so it hangs straight or you’ll have lots of long and curlies!
Warrigal greens Packing protein and a choice selection of vitamins and minerals, these greens are a ready addition to your garden and your gullet.
Yacon Fresh out of the ground yacon looks like a baking potato, however its flavour is a little strange for what you might expect from an underground tuber – it’s like a sweet cross between early apples, watermelon and very mild celery, with a touch of pear!
Borage (aka Starflower) Popular companion plant borage is one of the most frequently consumed wild plants foods in many Italian communities, and is also consumed as a vegetable across different Spanish, Cretan and German regions.
Burdock There is no better time than just after Christmas to get into burdock. The root is a perfect accompanying vegetable or herb to include as you set to release some of that toxic load and make healthful news year’s resolves!
Calendula Calendula flowers are like warming, energising suns. A plant of riveting historical roots, it helps wounds to heal faster, and the flowers themselves provides a sense of being uplifted and energised with warmth.
Dandelion The dandelion is a medicinal plant with a wealth of benefits for your garden that far outweigh its reputation as a pesty weed.
Sage From the same family bringing you mint, rosemary, thyme and lavender, to name a few, sage has multiple qualities and attributes that have been recognised and utilised for millennia.
Tulsi (aka Holy Basil) Tulsi presents the promotion of optimum health physically, emotionally and spiritually, with additional environmental benefits thrown in too.
Purslane Purslane is an aesthetically attractive weed with fleshy leaves and often yellow flowers, but its health benefits are even more desirable.
Stinging nettle Nettle has a bad rap for its stinging nature, but is an incredibly under-appreciated source of vitamins and good health.

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