As June begins, so does winter here in the southern hemisphere and for those of us who live in the tropics, it is the beginning of the busiest time of year in the vegetable patch. Ask someone who lives here in Far North Queensland and chances are, they will tell you it’s the best time of the year . . .
The heat, humidity and heavy rains of summer are gone. The days are warm and comfortable. You can mow the lawn and barely raise a sweat.
The nights are cool and while the rain may still persist at times, it isn’t the torrential downpours that drench the land during the monsoon. In fact, around here most people forget winter, spring, summer and autumn and simply refer to two seasons: the wet and the dry.
Winter is the start of the dry.
Now, for those of us who love to grow fresh vegetables in our backyards, this is the time of year to do it here in the north. All your classic European-style crops do well. Tomatoes, peas, French beans, cabbages, lettuce, beetroot, carrots, silver beet, green onions, eggplant, corn, zucchini, cucumbers and the like all love the mild conditions.
European and Mediterranean herbs also thrive, albeit in pots away from our heavy clay soils.
With such wonderful produce on hand, you can’t help but feel inspired to explore recipes from the northern hemisphere – after all these ingredients have been used there for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
I don’t know about you, but a fresh bunch of thyme has me thinking French dishes, oregano Greek and basil of course means Italian.
In the orchard, citrus trees are bearing fruit, just in time to help boost vitamin C levels in our bodies to hopefully keep the dreaded winter flus at bay. Oranges and mandarins taste pretty damn good for medicine!
Out on the waters of the Coral Sea, the annual mackerel runs take place, giving keen anglers a chance to fill their eskies with these fantastic eating fish when the south-easterly trade winds ease off long enough to allow a trip.
And markets bursting with produce attract crowds of tourists and locals alike on Sunday and Saturday mornings.
Yes, it’s easy to see why I love winter. And I can’t wait to share my experiences through the next three months, as I search for the best and freshest ‘real’ food this region has to offer.
Watch this space!