Vegie gardening from Alaska to the Sunshine Coast

Kevin Redd doesn’t follow the rules, choosing to experiment with the vegies he loves, no matter what his climate.

Black Sapote (chocolate pudding fruit) thrives in subtropical climates

There is a common misconception that vegies that do well down south simply won’t grow up north.

Kevin Redd begs to differ.
After moving to Tasmania in 2002 from Santa Cruz, California, Kevin was able to put down roots … literally, growing a myriad of traditional cool vegies for the table.

Married to a chef, together they established a community garden out the back of their restaurant, encouraging locals and visitors to eat seasonally and grow their own food. Work took Kevin from one end of Australia to the other, and he was suddenly faced with the daunting task of creating a garden, with no real information relevant to his new subtropical area.

That’s when he decided that trial and error would be his guide. A scientist, Kevin is no stranger to experimentation, referring to his garden on the Sunshine Coast as more of a Noah’s Ark of plants than a traditional garden.

“I found that in general, if I flip the sowing times by six months, I can grow most of the vegies I used to in Tasmania,” says Kevin.

“There are some plants that don’t do well, but in these cases, there is another variety that is similar that thrives in this climate. Although I do miss broad beans!”

Kevin is busy sowing tomato seeds ready for planting in autumn, growing not only the cherry tomatoes popular in northern gardens, but also the large full-bodied tomatoes traditionally grown down south.

“Autumn is the golden time for sowing and growing here,” he says. “The weather is mild and the soil is still warm. It’s the best time to plant citrus, fruit trees, perennial vegies as well as your annuals like tomatoes, beans, sweet basil and kale.”

Moving around the world from Pennsylvania to California, Alaska and then Tasmania, Kevin has experienced many climates and growing conditions, relating Pennsylvanian summers to Queensland growing conditions, although he admits the winters were indeed very different.

“When I was living in Alaska I used to get a few months off at a time and I loved to visit Asia. I was in awe of their food and ingredients, many of which I now grow, like galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, chillies and Makrut limes.”

 A Diggers member for over 10 years and passionate about plants and food, Kevin’s business, Sustainable Cuisine, offers catering and landscaping, as well as unusual plants and garden advice for the local area.

“We love catering parties with food that keeps people guessing. At the Christmas party we had a few fruits that had everyone asking … what is that? It’s great to be able to get others excited about unusual foods, especially those that they can grow themselves.”

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Kevin Redd

A former, restauranteur and current educator, caterer and self-professed plant geek!

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