Urban Permaculture Design Melbourne


Every vegetable has a story to tell.  Put your ear to the ground, and come along for a horticultural, pharmaceutical, gastronomic and historical tour of the characters in your VEG bed... 

Brassica rapa
Family: Brassicaceae

A hardy annual that can withstand cold and heat. Grows to around 20cm and is great in stir fries and many asian inspired dishes. Also the young tender leaves are great in any salad.

Brassica oleracea
Family: Brassicaceae

Broccoli is the same species as cabbage. In fact it means 'cabbage sprout' in Italian where it was developed as a cultivar.

Brassica oleraceae - Capitata group
Family: Brassicaceae

Cabbage is a very versatile vegetable and can be pickled, eaten raw or cooked, used in stir-fries and even added to a health-giving green smoothies. Sure, soggy overcooked cabbage and fast food coleslaw aren't the greatest, but don't let childhood food traumas prevent you from appreciating the potential of this fine plant. With it's slight mustardy and sulphurous flavours, sliced finely it makes for a fine salad ingredient, or contribution to an excellent stew. The brassicas are renowned for their antioxidants and anti-cancer properties.

Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon

The Fabaceae family is the third largest family of flowering plants in the world. These delicious peas are a vegetable very much worth growing at home as the sugars in them convert to starches once picked. Half of the sugars are gone within one hour of picking, so it can truly be said you have never tasted a snow pea unless you have picked it yourself.

Allium Cepa
Family: Alliacaeae

Onions are used in countless ways from crunchy onions rings to pickles and stir fries. They form an important basis of most cooking traditions of the world. The poor onion is often a neglected home produce crop and we would love to see our friends growing them at home chemical free. They keep so well and one less thing to put in the fridge means a smaller fridge, or a fridge that can be shared, fridge pooling - the way of the future!

Rocket or Arugula - Eruca Sativa
Family: Brassicaceae

Rocket is an annual that grows up to a meter in height when left to go to seed but in cultivation is around 40cm tall. It has a peppery taste and is great in salads, pesto and on pizzas amongst many other things.

Raphanus sativus
Family: Brassicaceae

If you haven't ever tried to grow food for yourself here is your new best friend. Radishes grow very quickly and are one of the best ways to get your salad garden started. They are so easy to grow, can be planted any time of year and you'll be eating them in 4-6 weeks. Don't throw out the leaf tops unless your compost is begging for bulk because they are more nutritional than the root and quite edible as a leafy green, either in a stir fry or a salad. The seeds are also a spicy addition to salads - Germans even eat them as an accompaniment to beer. 

Beta Vulgaris sub species maitima
Family: Chenopodiaceae

Basically a multi-coloured relative of beetroot and silverbeet, this plant is one of the easiest to grow in the garden and you wont have to force yourself to drink wheatgrass juice, this plant is packed with chlorophyll! Just be sure to steam or cook as the cellular structure and oxalates need a little breaking down to get to that goodness. Alternatively only eat the young leaves for salads.

Petroselinum crispum
Family: Apiaceae

Parsley is a must in any self-respecting home garden, with culinary and medicinal uses that have been celebrated for centuries.

Vicia Faba
Family: Fabaceae

Before we can relax and get into the details about this plant, let us first say that we love the broad bean so much, some may deem it almost inappropriate. But tell me, what else grows so vigorously, so tall and strong in the winter garden? What bean has such culinary versatility? What plant is steeped so pungently in history and culture?

I tell you there is nothing like the broad bean. Also known as the fava bean, it is a delicious and abundant food crop, but is also extremely useful as a soil improver, capturing the elusive nitrogen from the atmosphere with its specialised root nodules.

Allium ascalonicum
Family: Alliaceae

Spring onions have been used in China and Japan for centuries. They have a white stalk and green leaves.

Lactuca Sativa
Family: Asteracea

One of the world's most popular vegetables of which there are thousands of varieties. Lettuce is a temperate annual and sometimes biennial and is a member of the daisy family Asteracea.

Beta Vulgaris
Family: Chenopodiaceae

The Beetroot belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family along with Quinoa and Spinach amongst others.

Solanum lycopersicum
Family: Solanaceae

Ah the red in red-blooded, the wonderful ubiquitous tomato. How on earth did the Italians identify as true Italians before Africans gave them wheat for their pasta and the South Americans, tomato for their sauce?! Most tomatoes on the shelves in supermarkets are picked unripe and are sprayed with ethylene in storage to force ripening and as a result are less juicy and more mealy with much less sweetness and flavour, so tomatoes grown at home are far better than you can buy. Growing tomatoes at home is a must.