It has taken us 10 years of experience to learn what to grow in
our vegetable garden at Cape Tribulationand how to grow it. Here
are some helpful hints for those who follow in our footsteps:
to cope with the high rainfall,
the wet season, the insect plagues, the tropical heat and humidity,
the acid soils, the bandicoots and still have vegies to eat!
Here are some of the vegetables we grow at
or Ceylon Spinach (Basella rubra)
One of the easiest plants to grown, and no pests eat
it. Grows readily from cuttings. A succulent sprawling plant with
heart-shaped leaves. It will readily climb on a fence. Grows like
crazy in the wet and is one of the veges to pick and eat in the
Can be eaten raw ( the tender leaves) in a salad -
it is now found in those trendy supermarket mescalun salads sold
in plastic bags. Also great in stir fries especially when added
to the pan in the last minute of cooking. Tastes a little slimy
- mucilagenous - you can't have everything!
A great legume which grows for a few years and bears
pods between July and October. Pick pods when small about 5 cm,
so that they are still tender and juicy. Also starting to appear
in trendy restaurants. Check out the recipe for Winged
Beans with Sesame, one of our favourites.
These bushes are treasures because they last for 3-4
years in the tropics. They are not as luscious as the capsicums
you buy in the supermarket - those big fat juicy things that are
force fed on steroids. But they grow, they survive the wet season
and they taste OK. You can usually get this seed (and all the others
I describe) from EDEN SEEDS ph.1800 188 199
A tropical climbing bean which grows to 30cm long.
The smaller the seed inside the better the taste. Survives in the
hottest heat and resists the bean-flies. Grown by the
early Chinese settlers. Put in a trellis that is at least 2 metres
tall and make it 3 metres long and you will have enough beans to
keep you going for a whole season. As good as temperate beans if
you pick them young.
This is really the only tomato that you can grow in
the tropics as it is resistant to nematodes and keeps on bearing
for a long period. I have tried a whole range of different type
but Cherries are the only reliable variety. They self seed easily
and once you have them , they come back every year. All you need
to do is transplant the seedlings to where you want them.
This is well suited to the tropics and if you are
lucky the plants will last several years. I usually have at least
half of what I plant survive for a second season. Eggplant need
a long growing season - about 5 months - so you need to have them
ready to transplant into the garden as soon as the wet season finishes.
If you really want lettuce then stick with mignonette
- choice of red and green varieties. The other types can't tolerate
the heat, although sometimes you can be lucky, but I tend to stick
with the mignonette because I know they will grow.
An ideal salad green - a mildly flavoured Japanese
Mustard, crisp and vigorous. You just pick the leaves you need and
add them to the other salad greens. The plant tends to die in October
as it can't take the heat. This plant has become very trendy and
is now found in those mescalun salad mixes. although my leaves always
have had at least 20 caterpillars have a nibble before I get to
pick it - the commercial leaves are perfect. Makes you wonder what
they use to kill the caterpillars doesn't it.
Another hardy salad plant which survives the tropics
for the dry season. It is rather spicy and can be used in cooking.
Pick the leaves as you need and the plant can last for 6 months.
Has become a trendy favourite by those chefs who serve small meals
on big plates. Also in mescalun.
This is a tropical climber which needs a huge trellis
and which produces gourd like fruit that taste like Zucchini if
picked when small. The fruit grows up to 60 cm long.This is a great
vegetable and does everything that Zucchini does - except it survives
the tropics whereas Zucchini grows mould. In 10 years I have never
produced a Zucchini, though I tried a number of times. Grow what
Most of these grow quite well, and there is a large
variety. I tend to pick just a few leaves from each plant and then
they last for months.