The following list covers the most popular and easy to grow vegetables for warmer climates. When sowing seeds, it isn't that important to place the seeds in a straight row. I remember when I was a child, watching my father plant his seeds. He would put two wooden pegs into the ground, then tie string from one peg to the other in order to have an absolutely straight row of plants! Seeds can be planted in circles, curved rows, or 'almost straight' rows. It really doesn't matter. In Nature, seeds usually grow best in the most suitable spot — never in a straight row.
Try not to grow plants out of season: peas in the warmer months or in areas too warm and humid for them to thrive. Remember a plant under stress will invite attack. Many crops grown during the summer months in temperate zones, can be grown during the winter months in warmer climates. Tomatoes, beans, lettuce, shallots, radish and eggplant are just a few of the summer' vegetables that can be grown during late autumn and winter.
There are some vegetables that cannot be grown in warmer areas. Broad beans will grow beautifully and flower, but will fail to set more than a few pods. The extremes of day and night temperatures often experienced in sub-tropical and tropical areas inhibit fruit setting. Brussels sprouts need a long cool to cold growing season (up to six months), and will not tolerate warm weather. When growing cabbage or cauliflowers, choose varieties that mature quickly and are fast growing.
During the summer months, when the heat and humidity are at their peak, some areas of the garden can be rested. Remove spent crops and weeds, and cover the beds with a thick mulch. Leave them until the weather has cooled down before re-planting. The combination of moisture and the hot sun can cause fruit such as tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicums to literally 'boil' in their skins, and they can rot on the plant.
Smaller vegetables, such as lettuce, parsley or 'bush' tomatoes, can be covered with shade cloth to protect them from the hot sun. A light frame built over the garden bed and covered with a good shade cloth can be quite efficient, and will enable gardeners in hot climates to grow some cooler weather vegetables during the warmer months.
Alternatively, vegetables can be grown in a shady part of the garden. Many areas have totally different micro-climates. For example, a coastal area might be hot, humid and frost free, whereas the hinterlands are cooler in summer and winter, with some frosts. The tablelands are cooler and with quite different growing conditions to adjacent coastal regions.
Study the vegetables that friends or neighbours grow successfully in your own area.
It is possible to grow asparagus from seed, but an established planting reaches the cutting stage much earlier if you buy and plant one year old crowns.
Select a special area in the garden because these plants will stay in their permanent position for up to 20 years. The crowns should be planted in the spring. Dig a trench approximately 40 cm deep and about 25 cm wide. In the bottom of the trench place an eight cm layer of rich, well-made compost. The rows should be one and a half metres apart. Place the crowns into the trench half a metre apart and 25 cm below ground level.
Cover them with a good eight cm layer of compost and water them in thoroughly. During the summer, the trench should be slowly filled with a mixture of fine topsoil and composted material. Do not fill the trench too quickly, or the plants will be stifled. Asparagus develops powerful fleshy roots, which can spread downwards and outwards to a distance of nearly two metres. This is why they require quite a lot of space in the garden and an ample supply of food.
Mulch the asparagus twice yearly with compost and well rotted animal manure for approximately two years. At this stage the feathery foliage should be cut down to ground level in late autumn and the plants mulched thickly with this material, together with straw or hay. In the following spring, shoots can be harvested when they are about 15 cm high.
Shoots can be cut below ground level, or at the surface. All shoots can be harvested for about 12 weeks. After this the plants should be allowed to develop foliage until late autumn, when once again, the foliage is cut down. Asparagus is not affected by many pests and diseases so normal garden hygiene should ensure healthy plants.
Artichokes are a herbaceous perennial, growing one to one and a half metres tall. They have large lobed leaves and good sized heads that take on a violet shade as they ripen. The base of the scale of the unripe flower head, along with the bottom part of the artichoke, can be eaten either cooked or raw.
Plant them as started seedlings in trenches 20 cm deep, lined with three cm of compost or well rotted manure. Plant them 15 cm below the surface, cover them with soil and tamp down firmly. When the plants are 15 cm high, mulch them heavily to preserve moisture.
Cut away all but six of the suckers that develop at the base, and transplant the suckers to a new row. Protect the artichokes with shade cloth until they're established. Cut the plants down to ground level in the autumn. During dry weather, water them thoroughly, and supply a thick mulch of half rotted manure between the rows.
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