The Australian government released its new dietary guidelines this week, a document I was mildly interested in due to occasional paranoia about my health (this paranoia commenced the moment I become a parent and applies to things other than health – large trees, some types of dog, all forms of motorised transport etc etc). Somewhat surprisingly the first point in the guidelines was about exercise and the need to spend about 45-60 minutes doing something sweaty. Whilst I was relatively comfortable with my activity levels, maybe I need to do more. I am an active user of the local Leisure centre, although 1hr of swimming on one day, 1 hr of pilates on another and 1 hr of Body Combat on another isn’t really every day is it? (For the uninitiated Body Combat is an exercise class which combines martial arts with a ‘pumping soundtrack’ and a lot of jumping around. It serves as a constant reminder that I have no co-ordination whatsoever but I live under the vain hope that one day I will be able to punch and move forward simultaneously). Anyway the exercise requirements in the guidelines aside I was pretty comfortable with the government’s eating message (Note: I studiously ignore all references to alcohol consumption in such documents…). The guideline to eat lots of fruit and vegetables was particularly enjoyable reading. That I can do happily, and these are the fruit and veg I will enjoy in March.
Chillies – I always find that it is in March when the chillies reach glut proportions – not so much that I have too many to deal with, but it can get a little overwhelming. Whilst a few cayenne chillies ripened in February I am looking forward to the bulk of my chilli crop being ready in March. The Scotch Bonnets (known elsewhere as Bishops Cap) are dripping with green chillies, and the cayenne has quite a few developing, as has the birdseye.
Pumpkins – March to me is all about the pumpkin. The main crops tend to be towards the end of the month but they are worth the wait. Pumpkin soup, spicy pumpkin curries and pumpkin thrown into the roast dish are all worth being patient for. The rats may have got my pumpkins but they didn’t get mum and dad’s and they have some beautiful looking ones this season.
Parsley – Now I know that parsley grows here all year round, but it is in March when the Spring planted seedlings are big enough for good levels (and by that I mean tabouli levels) of harvesting. My parsley invariably goes to seed in Spring and I have a couple of months during which I have to use it fairly sparingly, whilst the new plants establish themselves, but by March the plants are big enough to tolerate a decent haircut. My mint is looking good, so hopefully I’ll still be getting some tomatoes and I’ll be very happy indeed.
Figs – The most popular fruit tree in Melbourne’s northern suburbs is clearly the lemon but I think the fig is probably the second. Next door has one, as has the house directly behind. There’s a huge one down the road, two on the adjoining street and so on. March is when many of them ripen. Sadly next doors (which underhangs my garden – it has grown under the fence) has no fruit on it this year, but I’m hopeful I will still get some figs to feast on from somewhere.
Passionfruit – I went back through last years harvest photos from March and in each week I found at least one of a passionfruit. Those photos were of the last fruit my old vine bore before we ripped it out over winter. I have a new vine but whilst it has flowered a lot it has yet to set any fruit (I’m hoping this is just due to youth) so I wont be enjoying many passionfruit this year. But others will, hopefully many of you Melbournites with trees will be eating some this month.
And that is my Top 5 for Melbourne in March. What will you be feasting on next month?