Each month this year I plan to write a Top 5 post about the best things in season in Melbourne gardens (well my garden anyway) in the upcoming month. This post begins this series.
February is the last month of summer here. The schools go back at the start of February and most people have returned to work after varying length breaks over Christmas and January. It’s usually pretty dry and reasonably hot in Melbourne in February (although our forecast for this week is for pretty cool weather) and its a time when our summer crops come to maturity. With this in mind this top 5 is probably exactly what you’d expect to find in a summer garden.
1. Tomatoes – Whilst tomatoes start cropping here from late December/early January if planted out in October/early November, the bulk of my crops tend to ripen in early February (or they do when they haven’t all been eaten green by rodents). This year I have Black Cherry, Yellow Boy, Tiny Tim and Broad Ripple Currant all ripening and KY1, Yugoslav, Black Krim and a couple of others about a week behind them. If I can keep the rodents at bay I should get at least a few of each to try - not the bumper crop I hoped for but at least something to salvage from a frustrating season.
2. Eggplant - I harvested my first Bonica Eggplants in January but the bulk of the crop should appear in February along with my Lebanese and hopefully a Listada de Gandia or two. I love how you suddenly get overrun with eggplant in February. It prompts me to try new recipes, make pickle and generally enjoy a crop that I tend to only eat when I grow my own. The other members of my family aren’t super keen on them but when I grow my own I figure I can indulge my own tastes a bit…
3. Capsicums (Sweet peppers)- I could have just as easily put these under March but I think I will leave that honour for chillies. I have Sweet Mama, Marconi Red, Mini Mama, Cherrytime and Hungarian Yellow Wax fruits set and reaching maturity. All of these should be harvestable in February. I may have to wait longer for the Purple Beauty though as they are only just starting to set fruit.
4. Beans - Although my Purple King plants are nearing the end I should have heaps of Majestic Butter, Windsor Long Pod, Jade and Beanette ripening through February. My favourite way to prepare beans is to French slice them. Steam them. Fry off some garlic in butter, add some black pepper and chopped tomato and the cooked beans. Really, really good!
5. Cucumbers – Cucumbers are reaching glut proportions in my garden at the moment and the plants still have a heap of fruit forming. Fortunately a cucumber glut isn’t really a glut in the true sense of the word as I happily turn any that aren’t eaten fresh into Bread and Butter Pickles. In my garden this year I have Summer Dance, Catalina Pickling, Lebanese and Lemon Cucumbers. The Lemon cucumbers seem to be slower than my other varieties and in February I should get my first harvests which will be lovely.
That is what I’m looking forward to from my garden in February. What is in season where you live? What do you have growing and what are you most looking forward to?