Enabling change in our Society, Environment and Economy (SEE)

5 easy to grow crops

Story by Edwina Robinson 
14 March 2018

Growing food at home can be extremely satisfying.

At the end of the day, rather than joining the rush at the supermarket, I like to wander through my garden to see what’s on offer.

Here are 5 plants growing in my garden in Moruya that can also be grown in Canberra. Although Moruya’s climate is milder than Canberra it still experiences frost.


Turmeric (Curcuma longa) boasts handsome leaves and provides a tropical feel. I’m currently growing it in a garden bed with a mix of native shrubs and grasses and vegetables. The tuber is the valued food part and is harvested once the leaves die down in autumn. It’s reputed to be a super food and is traditional used in the powdered form in curries and Asian food.

You can grow turmeric in a pot in Canberra and it makes a handsome indoor tropical plant.

Read ABC article about turmeric


I hear you sigh, and think, you’ve got to be kidding. But all bamboos aren’t created equal. There are two main types. Running bamboo is the sort you need to run a mile from, unless you keep it contained in a pot and make sure it’s rhizomes aren’t trying to escape into the nearest soil or gravel.

The second type, is clumping bamboo. And by it’s nature it’s not a problem. This one is Bambusa oldhami and according to the label will survive up to -9. And it’s new stems are edible. Stems must be boiled prior to eating.

This type of bamboo can be grown in a large pot and it needs to be kept well-watered in hot weather. The leaves will start to fold up in the heat, then turn yellow if it’s not receiving enough moisture.

Check out clumping bamboo

Vietnamese mint

Vietnamese mint (Persicaria odorata) is in the same genus as a number of Australian wetland plants. It loves moisture and is a coloniser, so unless you want it to escape, keep it in a well-watered pot.

This herb has a peppery taste and is excellent added to Asian style salads and stir-fries. It will die down during frost – or you can bring it inside or place in a sheltered position where it’s protected from the elements.


If you like spice in your life – then you need at least one chilli (Capsicum annuum) plant. Even if you are an apartment dweller you can probably grow one of these babies. At a minimum it would need to receive 4 hours of sunlight a day in order to fruit and flower.  And you will need to keep it protected from the frost.

We try and grow enough chilli so we can dry and freeze the fruits and add chilli to our meals all year.

And we keep the seeds of chillis we like and propagate them for the next growing season. At the moment we are growing a rather fiery chilli bush, Chilli ‘Carolina Reaper’ – refer to photo above. Apparently it was crowned the world hottest chilli in 2013 and it’s heat rating is 15/10. One chilli added enough spice for 5 x 500mls jars of cucumber chutney.


I started growing garlic (Allium sativum) in Canberra three years ago with the aim to grow enough for one year. I didn’t achieve that goal but managed to supply myself and the household with garlic for 5 months.

Last year we grew a crop in Canberra and a crop in Moruya.

Garlic is planted in the cooler months and harvested in spring once it’s started to flower.

According to commercial growers the key to success is ensuring it’s weed free and that the PH of the soil is suitable. The NSW Department of Agriculture recommends between 5.5 and 7.0. You can purchase a simple ph test kit from your nursery to assess your soil.

Tips on growing garlic in Canberra.








With thanks to our


  • ACT Government Environment and Planning
  • The Association of Independent Schools of the ACT (AISACT)
  • Catholic Education Office (Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn)
  • Education and Training Directorate
  • ACT Government