CROP ROTATION with The Veggie LadyYou may have heard of crop rotation but perhaps relegated it to the basket where moon planting and biodynamics reside.
But did you know that crop rotation isn’t something that gardeners should scoff at because of it’s importance in the life-cycle of plants and insects.
In fact it’s a really important strategy that organic gardeners use.
Let’s find out..
Toni only changes crops once every 12 months but uses a 4 bed rotation system. Changeover is usually spring.
- This system divides per type of vegetable
- Start with a 4 bed rotation.
- That means you’re only planting the same thing in the same place every four years.
- So you will be growing four different types of crops in each garden bed.
- Toni divides it into leaf and legumes in one bed, then, flowering crops are split into two beds-tomato family in one, and all the rest into the other.
- Finally root crops like carrots, beetroots, onions and garlic.
PO 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675
Curry TreeI was wandering through a fruit and veggie market and noticed they were selling curry leaves in a little packet for quite a few dollars.
So I thought I would let you know how easy it is to grow yourself.
- Curry Leaf Tree or Bergera koenigii used to be callled Murraya koenigii, and for the most part, because people are more familiar with that botanical name, the nursery industry is sticking to it and so shall I.
Even when fresh, the leaves of this tree have a strong curry aroma, but they take on a whole different flavour in cooking. Mmmm!
- Be careful though, because are other shrubs also called curry plant, and they aren’t the edible or cooking variety.
The Curry tree is native to India and Sri Lanka, and can grow into a large shrub to small tree growing 4-6 m tall. However, if you keep it in a pot, you can keep it reasonably small. e leaves are much like but in a smaller way to Murraya or Orange Jessamine being in the same genus.
Why wouldn’t you grow this bush with the highly aromatic leaves, and heads of flowers that are white, and fragrant appearing in Spring and Summer?
One thing to remember though, is that after flowering, the plant produces small black, shiny berries that are edible, but their seeds are poisonous.
The second part of the botanical name or the species name takes its cue from the botanist Johann Gerhard König which translates to king in the German language.
Where it likes to grow
Curry tree likes to grow in full sun or light shade and all you need to do is fertilize with palm or citrus fertilizer to get plenty of leaves.
Curry leaf plants can be grown in large pots and also on the ground.
The type of soil doesn’t matter either.
I have one plant in large pot and it’s only about 1 metre in height.
I’ve got to say that it’s pretty slow growing so don’t worry too much about re-potting it.
They have a tendency to sucker when in the ground, so keeping it a pot if you’re worried about this, is probably a good idea.
For gardeners in cold climates you’ll be pleased to know that plants in the ground, when mature, can survive frosty conditions , plus the curry leaf tree is hardy and drought tolerant once established.
Where Can You Grow it?
- Murraya koenigii or curry leaf tree grows anywhere from tropical areas to cool temperate districts.
- A listener, Lesley, has written in to say that she has have several plants in the ground in Melbourne which are now nearly 2 ½ to 3 metres, and thriving. She doesn’t even cover them during winter period!
- Picking of the leaves for cooking is also a way of getting bushy growth.
- If you want to propagate this plant, when you see the berries at the very tips of the branches turning black, is the time to propagate from seed.
- By the way, in some sub-tropical districts this tree has spread into bushland because of birds eating the berries.If you live in those districts, prune off the berries before the birds get them.
- They can be propagated from root suckers but the new plant will sucker even more if you do it this way.
The fruits should also never be allowed to dry, because the curry plant seeds in them lose their viability when they shrivel or dry up.
Peel the seed out of half ripe or fully ripe fruits by squeezing out the flesh before planting.
The fruit around the seed may slow down germination.
Seeds are best planted quite shallowly in seed raising mix and germinate in about 10 days -they germinate best with warm soil 210 to 270 C
HOW TO USE CURRY LEAF
Here’s how to use young leaves, throw them into curries, soup stocks and sauces.
The leaves are spicy but not hot so they can flavour vinegars and salad oils.
Curry leaves are used a lot in South Indian kitchens, where the curry leaves are generally sautéed in oil with mustard seeds and added to dhal, fresh coconut chutney or vegetable dishes.
I always strip the leaves from their stalk before frying, and sometimes tear and crush them between my fingers to release more of their essential oils.
Cooking them this way makes a tasty garnish for curries.
UNUSUAL TIP: do you worry about bad breath?
You probably haven’t heard of this type of breath freshener before.
Did you know that the people of India grow the curry leaf tree, Murraya koenigii, not only to flavour traditional dishes but also known for treating bad breath.
What you do is put a few of the fresh leaves in the mouth and hold them there for several minutes and voila’-fresh breath.
I can’t say I’ve tried it though.
Why Are They Good For You?
Apparently scientists are studying the extract of the leaves as a natural medicine against high cholesterol and high blood sugar.
Curry leaves are also known to be good for your hair, for keeping it healthy and long.
But be careful that you’re not getting the curry leaf bush-Helichrysum italicum.
This has a grey feathery leaf and can’t be used in cooking at all, even though it smells of curry when you brush past it.
Think of the king when buying your Curry tree plant-Murraya Koenigii!