My Story …

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A Bit About Me …

Hi and welcome! My name is Anne and I live on the Sunshine Coast, Australia with my beautiful family.  I haven’t always gardened in small spaces … I grew up in suburban Sydney on a quarter acre block at a time when Woollies and Coles did not exist and major shopping centres had not been invented yet!

In the garden | The Micro Gardener

Harvesting fresh produce from the garden is a daily highlight – I menu plan from what needs to be picked and is ready for the table!

Food came from the veggie garden and fruit trees in our backyard and trips to local farmers for fruit and fresh goat’s milk.  Pets were a flock of clucky chooks who provided eggs, chicks and plenty of manure as free fertiliser for the fruit trees.

Mum’s pantry was full of home preserves from the garden surplus and the food budget was minimal because our family grew most of its own needs.  Dad was big on composting all our fireplace ash, garden and food waste. So we had a very healthy garden with all those nutrients being returned to the soil. Nothing went to waste – everything was repaired, reused and recycled – or composted!

Spending so much time outdoors as a child with fresh air, safe food and in tune with the sounds and tastes of nature, had a strong influence on me – I learned to taste and enjoy a wide variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs because I was exposed to them at a young age.  I was also encouraged to actively and creatively play outdoors every day as a child – delighting in nature crafts, picking flowers, caring for pets and enjoying the garden.

Me in the garden with a rake ... I can't say I garden these days in a dress and stockings!

Gardening at a young age was encouraged when I grew up!

We were brought up to care about our environment, be resourceful, live simply and have an appreciation for the benefits of alternative health therapies. Mum’s knowledge about many aspects of healthy living and wellbeing percolated through my formative years and was reinforced with regular trips to my grandparents’ farm. Whilst I took these influences for granted as a child, many years later I’ve realized not everyone has had this same opportunity. As a parent, I now realise the skills and inspiration we share with our children (and grandchildren) can be like nuggets of gold – often they lie buried until later in life when we have an opportunity to discover and value their treasure.

After leaving home, the lure of the first major shopping centre with a ‘one-stop shop’ message was a step in the direction of becoming a ‘convenience consumer.’  Not appreciating my heritage and getting distracted gradually with the busyness of life, the endless variety of food and time saving pre-packaged products on offer, and little time to think about the choices being made, meant that sooner or later there would be consequences.


Salad ingredients freshly harvested from our garden | The Micro Gardener

A basket of freshly picked salad ingredients from our garden now saves me money, time and fuel by ‘shopping’ in our backyard.


In 2004, with a young family of my own, I was diagnosed with cancer.  Having taken perfect health for granted for a long time, it was a wake up call that changed my paradigm on everything. With a young family and a determination to regain my health, it was a time to reflect on the choices I had been making about where our food came from, our lifestyle, home environment and products we were using.

‘We all have a choice about what we consume, what we eat and how we live – and the consequences may include sickness or well-being.’

I began researching ways to make more informed decisions for our family and decided to get back to my sustainable organic heritage by growing safe healthy food in our own backyard. I started diligently reading the fine print on groceries items, asking questions about food, talking to farmers, producers, value-adders and retailers. I subscribed to health and natural news sources to learn more about the links to various diseases and ways I could support my body and immune system with organic food, herbs and natural remedies. I learned about organic and biological farming methods and how different they are to conventionally grown food. I also realised the importance of creating an outdoor sanctuary to reduce stress and promote healing.


A sensory edible garden is healing to the body and soul.

Our garden – no matter how small – can improve our health and well-being.


‘A sensory edible garden is healing to the body and soul.’

It has been an empowering and enlightening journey and as my health returned, I knew I’d made the right decisions. I am now convinced of the medicinal value of herbs in our everyday life and making sure we eat food that has been grown in soil with ALL the nutrients needed for plant and human health. Depleted soils grow sick plants and produce diseased people.  If that’s the kind of food we eat, then our bodies won’t be nourished with all the minerals and trace elements we need to prevent illness. I wish I’d been taught this sort of life-saving information at school. This has in part, driven my passion to educate children, teachers and parents through school garden programs and talks.


sLettuce, rocket, coriander, strawberries and celery are a picture of health in this raised garden bed.

No space is wasted in our hay bale raised no-dig garden – baby cos lettuce, coriander, celery, herbs and strawberries are growing with flowering rocket to save for seed.


This journey led me to completing a Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture and a Certificate in Horticulture to understand more about biological farming methods and the impact of the soil on how we grow our food and human health. Over the years I’ve connected with many farmers who grow a diverse range of crops for consumers. This has opened my eyes to not only the challenges they experience but also the diverse methods used and the impact this has. When I learned how non-certified organic food is commonly grown – with a toxic cocktail of chemicals that affect not only the produce but also human health and the environment – I knew I had to share this information and inspire people to take back some control over their food choices. I was surprised to hear firsthand how many conventional farmers grow commercial crops on their land (with chemicals and poisons) to sell to the public but grow food for their family in a separate plot organically for their own needs. I realised I had delegated responsibility for growing our family’s food to people I didn’t know and our health had been impacted as a result. Things had to change!


Stopping to smell ... and enjoy ... everything in the garden!

Connecting with nature is part of my every day routine – there is so much to be learned from being a silent observer.


Having completed workshops and courses in Biodynamic Agriculture, Permaculture, Composting, Worm Farming, Pest & Disease Management, Bee Keeping, Seed Saving, Organic Gardening, Tropical Vegetables and a Diploma in Australian Interior Design have enabled me to become a lot more self-sufficient, save money and make more informed and healthier choices. I hope my experiences will help you realise you can change how and what you eat and where you source your fresh ingredients – just like I have.

I have also learned the value in extending our harvest with storage and preservation techniques. One of my favourite ways to maintain nutrients is with our food dehydrator. It allows me to preserve a surplus of fruit, herbs and vegetables when they are in season so we can enjoy them for longer and provides us with an ‘insurance policy’ – a survival supply of food for the pantry! Dried foods also take up less room so for those with limited space, I’ve found this to be a practical investment.

Click below for resources on dehydrating your food

Your support of this site is appreciated!


Luscious edible garden in a pot - tatsoi, baby spinach, marigolds, spring onions, chives, parsley and rocket.

This is one of our ever changing container gardens – many of our food crops are grown close to the house in boxes and pots for easy access and maintenance. In this one are tatsoi, baby spinach, marigolds, spring onions, chives, parsley and rocket.


During this time I began to realise with the globalisation of our food systems and ‘convenience consumer’ mentality, just how disconnected many people have become to the source of their food. I started to ask questions:  If I’m not growing this myself, then who is and what methods have they used? Has this produce been grown with chemicals? How far has it travelled  (food miles)? How have the animals been treated? Is it contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMO’s)? Environmentally friendly packaging? And so my research and journey began …

I’ll be frank – I didn’t like a lot of what I found out and some of the food choices I had been making for years changed at that point and continue to do so. Supermarket so-called “fresh” produce has been transported and then stored for months … farmers paid a pittance for their efforts … vegetables pumped full of nitrates and sprayed with chemicals instead of nutrients; imported produce radiated + a whole lot more. Just read my article on why you should grow your own garlic and you’ll see what I mean.

Farmacy cartoon

Any wonder obesity and health problems are on the rise – this is one of the motivating reasons I’ve volunteered time with school gardens so kids learn what “real food” tastes and looks like.


I now grow the majority of our family’s food needs and subsidise with seasonal local organic or biodynamic produce from farmers who can tell me the story behind our food.

Basket of yummy homegrown produce.

Basket of yummy homegrown produce.


Thankfully this change in lifestyle and choices plus eating homegrown nutrient dense food has helped me regain my health and wellbeing. This is a strong motivator to share what I’ve learned on my journey with others.

It’s never too late to change or make more informed choices – and no space is too small to get started!


Rainbow harvest of our home grown food

I urge you to question where your food originates and you may suddenly find yourself motivated to get dirt under your fingernails and learn how much safer it is to grow your own nutrient-dense, life giving food. I can guarantee your health will improve for your efforts.


Having moved 16 times, living on several acreage properties as well as very small garden spaces, I have learned that ‘micro gardens’ can be just as productive, much easier to maintain and are less time-intensive if we approach them the right way.  I have lived in units and apartments, a townhouse, on small and large suburban blocks, a flower & foliage farm and rented in places with limited space.  Each of these situations presents their own challenges and opportunities and what I share with you at The Micro Gardener is what I’ve learned from my experiences, including tips and tricks, money saving ideas and I hope a little inspiration with some ‘how to’ projects and photos of what you can achieve. Although I’ve had experience with growing beautiful flowers, natives, tropical plants and ornamental gardens, my passion is growing nutrient rich food and helping you do the same.


An abundant harvest of organic vegies from our garden.

A variety of our home grown nutrient dense food.


We now try to live a more sustainable lifestyle growing a diverse range of plants for culinary and medicinal uses. I’ve learned some productive techniques for growing  nutrient-dense food using Permaculture design principles and biological farming methods (not just growing without chemicals but a holistic approach to soil, biodiversity, biodynamics and the environment). I’ve grown healthy high yield crops on a farm and when you have lots of space, this is easily achievable. However, I’ve taken my experiences with organic farming and down-scaled the information here for people who are wanting great results in a micro or urban garden – essentially intensive cropping in containers with loads of creative ideas for maximising space! Even for people on the move – like renters, those in caravans or travelling – or renting plots in allotments or community gardens.


Pot shots - just some of my container gardens

Pot shots – just some of my container gardens


Highly productive, beautiful and functional gardens are achievable in small spaces – and you can create your own backyard or balcony supermarket with some simple techniques.


One of our edible salad gardens in a box. The colours, herby aromas and variety of textures give this micro garden plenty of eye appeal!

This is my daughter’s ‘pick and pluck’ salad garden – a box of rotating colourful edible flowers and salad greens and herbs with decorative shell mulch and garden art.


I now work part-time as a consultant helping people learn how to be more self-reliant and productive by establishing sustainable gardens at home and school. I’m currently writing a series of Sow Simple Guides and a book on Micro Gardening. I’m involved in permaculture, seed saving and biodynamics organisations and write, edit and publish articles relating to growing healthy local food, sustainability and treading a little lighter on the planet. I am a contributing writer for a number of publications including Healthy Recipes MagazineJunkies MagazineGarden Culture Magazine and Lorna Jane’s Move Nourish Believe blog.  Other online and print publications I have contributed to include MyApricotHill, Clean Earth Living Magazine (Urban Organic Gardening’ Feature Writer) and Permaculture Noosa’s newsletter. Contact me if you’re interested in a feature article for a publication, website or blog.


Potato, eggplants, capsicums and pumpkin

Our food is grown with love and we reap the rewards of what we sow … including this little ‘love spud’!


I present workshops for community education through local community gardens, schools, garden clubs and libraries and am currently writing a book. Contact me if you would like a personalised garden or phone consultation. Follow my journal, plantings and garden adventures on MyFolia – a great place to learn; pick up loads of tips and inspiration on Pinterest boards; and check out my photo albums on Flickr.


Welcome to my garden - I hope you enjoy wandering around my blog and picking up some tips, sharing your own ideas and experiences here and finding some inspirational photos to get you started with your own projects.

I LOVE garden art and find little spots all over our garden to include bits and pieces, like this one in a herb pot on our outdoor garden table. Easy to pick herbs are a centrepiece for last minute garnishes!


I’m in the garden daily (every morning or late afternoons) – most likely with dirty fingernails, muddy gumboots, a basket and secateurs and often one of my dogs … it’s a place to get in touch with nature, learn, dig in the soil for hidden treasure and have loads of fun harvesting edibles, fragrant flowers and observing the wildlife.

My signature dish - repurposed salad bowl with knife, fork & spoon 'garden tools'!

My signature dish – repurposed salad bowl with knife, fork & spoon ‘garden tools’!

A Sow Simple Guide to Using Herbs for Health eBook by Anne Gibson, The Micro GardenerThe Micro Gardener site is a community of like-minded urban gardeners who enjoy sharing ideas, tips and experiences – please share yours here too by leaving comments and questions.

Claim your free copy of my eBook “A Sow Simple Guide to Using Herbs for Health” by joining my newsletter at the top of the page. It’s packed with quick, easy ways to enjoy the health benefits of herbs every day.

Take a look around this site and explore the categories packed with how-to information, projects and inspiring photos. I invite you to share the journey with me.

“Grow what you love. The love will keep it growing.” – Emilie Barnes


Happy gardening and thanks for stopping by, Anne

© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2011-2014. All rights reserved.

65 responses so far

65 Responses to “My Story …”

  1. Designer Kitchens Sunshine Coaston 12 Apr 2011 at 1:30 pm

    hey anne.nice post.

  2. Lissaon 08 Jul 2011 at 6:22 am

    Nice to put a face to the name Anne :)

    Must come back and have a thorough look through your site – really like the shoe gardens – makes me want to run down to Vinnies and buy a collection of funny ones for my own garden!

    Thank you for the wonderful informative newsletter each month. Because of these I have met the incredible folk at Yandina Community Garden and have attended many of their interesting free workshops.

  3. The Micro Gardeneron 08 Jul 2011 at 11:57 am

    Thanks Lissa – loved reading about your garden adventures too. We all have different experiences and micro climates and tastes for what we grow so it’s fantastic to share ideas and what works/doesn’t. Keep up the great work in your luscious productive edible garden! It’s an inspiration. :)

  4. Tonyon 06 Aug 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Hi Anne. You would be surprised how I found your site! I think it’s wonderful – very informative. It is a great time for garden lovers to view it during these upcoming months. I am going to recommend you on my blog.
    Good Luck.

  5. Cindyon 12 Nov 2011 at 3:20 am

    Hi Anne! Thank you for your great site! I am developing a sensory garden at my son’s preschool and one of our gardens is an ABC Garden. We are tripped up on a few letters and was hoping you would share what plants you have used for your ABC Gardens. I saw you wrote that you have a master list? Thanks!


  6. The Micro Gardeneron 12 Nov 2011 at 10:07 am

    Hi Cindy
    Thanks for your feedback. Happy to email you this list directly. Quite a few schools and childcare centres around the world have found the ABC list of plants useful for setting up gardens. It’s a great theme for kids and an educational way to engage them with learning new plant names too.

  7. Sallyon 13 Dec 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Hi Anne,
    I saw a post of yours on a forum and you mentioned the EWG’s Dirty Dozen. I love this handout and I would like to use it for my business, though I have some hesitations as it is produced in the US. You mentioned that farmers in Australia use similar chemicals and have similar pests to that in the US. My question is how can you confirm this? Thanks

  8. The Micro Gardeneron 14 Dec 2011 at 7:44 am

    Hi Sally

    Thanks for your enquiry about the EWG (Environmental Working Group)’s Shopper’s Guide to pesticide residues on fresh fruit and vegetables. They are a highly respected organisation that analyse the USDA’s pesticide residue data and also bases its rankings on data published by the FDA. To my knowledge, the closest equivalent organisation acting on behalf of Australians is the FSANZ (Food Standards of Australia & New Zealand).

    My understanding that there are similarities between the agricultural chemicals used in both Australia and the US is based on personal research and some training in biological farming practices. Conventional farmers apply three main types of chemicals in response to weeds (herbicides), pests (insecticides) and plant disease problems (fungicides). Whilst some pests and diseases are location specific, they generally fall into the same basic categories (e.g. fungal/bacterial diseases, sap sucking insects, caterpillars etc). So farmers generally apply the most commonly marketed chemical solutions to these common problems. i.e. the problems are not isolated in our two countries and similar solutions are applied often with the same/similar chemical compounds that have been found to be effective.

    Whilst there are thousands of products out there for conventional farmers to use, the global agrichemical industry is dominated by a handful of major players such as Monsanto, BASF, Bayer, Dow Chemical, DuPont and Syngenta. There has also been widespread use of glyphosate and Roundup in both our countries for many years. These companies have enormous budgets and have aggressively marketed their products into our countries so farmers become committed to a program of using their chemicals. The chemicals used in the US and Australia are determined by the regulatory authorities, so to get an accurate understanding, you would need to compare chemical-by-chemical based on data available from these two organisations and other research reports.

    The EWG makes their reporting methodology available online and answers FAQ based on their research. You’ll also notice on their guide that imported produce makes it onto the full list of worst affected produce including peas and blueberries. I think this is evidence in itself that produce from other countries have similar chemicals.

    UPDATED 26/2/15: As the 2015 Shoppers Guide says: “The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s tests have found widespread pesticide contamination on popular fruits and vegetables. At least one pesticide was found on 64 percent of the samples analyzed for the Shopper’s Guide™. Twelve percent of those samples had five or more different pesticide residues.” Consumers need to understand that the “USDA tests each fruit and vegetable samples for dozens and sometimes hundreds of chemicals. But federal regulations do not permit all pesticides to be used on all crops. For example, the pesticides approved for use on apples are different from those approved for, say, onions. When USDA tests every sample for a vast array of chemicals, it’s not surprising that 98 percent of tests for individual chemicals come back negative, as “non-detects.” Still, a number of pesticides are approved for each crop, and they do show up in the data. That’s why USDA tests found 64 percent of the produce samples analyzed for the Shopper’s Guide™ to be tainted with one or more pesticides.”

    What’s more disturbing is that the data used to create the EWG Shopper’s Guide™ is from produce tested as it is typically eaten. “For example, bananas are peeled before testing, and blueberries and peaches are washed. Because all produce has been thoroughly cleaned before analysis, washing a fruit or vegetable would not change its ranking in the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide™. Remember, if you don’t wash conventional produce, the risk of ingesting pesticides is even greater than reflected by USDA test data. EWG has not evaluated various produce washes for efficacy or potentially toxicity. Since some plants absorb pesticides systemically, a produce wash would have limited effect. The safest choice is to use the Shopper’s Guide™ to avoid conventional versions of those fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residues.”

    You can also download the USDA data if you wish to analyse it yourself.
    FSANZ (Food Standards Australia & New Zealand) also provides reports on pesticide residue data in Australia. This organisation monitors the food supply to ensure that existing food regulatory measures provide adequate protection of consumer health and safety. The Australian Total Diet Study (ATDS) is part of that monitoring and is Australia’s most comprehensive assessment of consumers’ dietary exposure (intake) to pesticide residues, contaminants and other substances. The survey is conducted approximately every two years and whilst this study no doubt has a different methodology to EWG’s Shopper’s Guide, you may find the results of use for a comparison.

    The 2003 20th Australian Total Diet Study has some very useful data on pesticide residues in Australian produce. Although more recent statistics don’t appear to have been published by Food Standards, it’s worth a read to see the detailed reports that were previously available with data consumers SHOULD still have access to. You can also find the 23rd full report published in November 2011 on the FSANZ website.

    In my opinion the more recent FSANZ Australian Total Diet Studies fall well short of information that consumers need, so they can make informed decisions. Up until 2005, every 2 years FSANZ produced a detailed report in ‘The Australian Total Diet Study’ (ATDS). This was (and apparently still is) Australia’s most comprehensive assessment of consumers’ dietary exposure (intake) to a range of food chemicals including food additives, nutrients, pesticide residues, contaminants and other substances.

    However, in the 2005 report they stated “Past studies have consistently shown that Australian dietary exposures to pesticide residues and contaminants are well below Australian or international reference health standards and DO NOT REPRESENT A PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY RISK. Therefore, the scope and format of the study has been changed. In this and future studies, subsets of a broader range of chemicals found in food, including additives and nutrients, will be examined. The new SMALLER surveys will be conducted more frequently in response to the need for current information on the safety of substances in food. This change has allowed Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) greater flexibility in focusing the study on specific food chemicals where further data on dietary exposure are desirable.” This does not seem to take into account the cumulative effect of consumers eating more than one type of produce (fruit/vegetables) that contain acceptable levels of contaminants. Sadly, this means we don’t have up to date data on pesticide residues on Australian produce. Thus in my opinion, without another organisation conducting similar tests in Australia, EWG’s guide is definitely useful for consumers living outside the US.

    There is information for consumers on imported produce and foods via the Department of Agriculture Information for Consumers. This is the 2014 Imported Food Inspection Data report.

    Unfortunately, there are loopholes for imported produce coming into Australia via New Zealand. The Department of Agriculture website states: “Most risk food and all surveillance food from New Zealand are not inspected due to the Trans–Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997. Both countries share most food standards and have very similar imported food control systems.” However, they also state: “In order to be exempt from inspection under the provisions of the Act, food imported from New Zealand must comply with the TTMRA principles whereby the food: 1) must be grown, harvested and produced in OR IMPORTED INTO New Zealand 2) must comply with New Zealand food laws, and 3) must be labelled at the point of sale with the importers name and business address in Australia or New Zealand.” See: for more details.

    As I’m sure you’d be aware, one of the key points to take into consideration when analysing or considering research results is the cumulative effect of these individual chemicals. When chemicals are looked at in isolation, some research may find certain levels are technically ‘acceptable’ but my personal viewpoint is that rarely are we consuming such produce with chemicals in isolation – it is more often a cocktail of chemicals. My views have been influenced by first hand experiences with conventional farmers. I’ve talked to farmers who won’t eat their own produce because they know what’s been used to grow it and the methods used. In fact, I’m aware many Australian farmers have their own vegie patch for their family away from their chemically grown crops produced for unsuspecting consumers. When I studied Sustainable Agriculture, many of the broadacre and horticultural farmers present were realising the error of their ways and converting to biological farming practices because they had realised the detrimental effects not just on their bottom line (the expense of being locked into using chemicals), but also the soil and human health.

    The 2015 EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce is available to download in various formats.

    I look at these guides as an educational tool for consumers to become more aware of the safety issues with their food and encourage people to ask questions about where their food comes from and how it’s grown.

    My focus is on teaching people to become more self-reliant and learn how to grow their own healthy safe organic crops at home. With the money saved, people are then empowered to supplement what they grow with certified organic produce which is regulated by allowable inputs.

    So, I guess the bottom line is to still eat fruits and veggies but grow or buy organic when you can; and if you have to prioritise, EWG’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ and ‘Clean Fifteen’ lists and the FSANZ study appear to be the best guides we have access to at this time. I hope this helps!

    Cheers Anne

    UPDATE: 18-6-2012 – A research report by Friends of the Earth in Victoria, Australia released Feb 2012 called The Dose Makes the Poison includes the ‘Top 20 Australian Foods with the Most Pesticides’ – a fascinating and disturbing read on contributing factors to illness in our society, which fresh produce to avoid and which imported foods fail the pesticide test for our maximum residue limits. All the more reasons to grow our own food.

  9. Sallyon 14 Dec 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Thankyou for your insightful and thorough response. Much appreciated.

  10. The Micro Gardeneron 15 Dec 2011 at 8:49 am

    Glad to help Sally. It’s a BIG topic – hope this summary covered it!

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  12. MARCIA BRENNANon 18 Jan 2012 at 10:15 am

    I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Your website was forwarded to me and I passed it on to the rest of the club. They are saving all their shoes to use as containers and we are going to have a contest this summer. You have a great website and I shall continue to “check in” periodically.

    Marcia Brennan
    Ingomar Garden Club

  13. The Micro Gardeneron 18 Jan 2012 at 10:40 am

    Hi Marcia
    Thanks for dropping by … and for passing my website onto your club members. Inspired to hear about your shoe contest this summer. Why not take some snaps and share with others in our Micro Gardener community? We’d all love to see more shoe planters!! I’ll be posting more pics of inspiring containers to grow in this year so keep an eye out for these!
    Cheers for now and all the best with your competition. Anne

  14. Barbara @ DIY Home Staging Tipson 28 Feb 2012 at 12:48 am

    Anne –Thank you for the comment on my blog about faux finishing a plastic container to look like granite. I hope you can use the tutorial in your work.

    Coincidentally, although I live in the U.S. on the North Carolina coast, my son who lives in Seattle, Washington state, is visiting your country now and for this entire month, studying permaculture. I will absolutely forward a link for your site to him.

    Thanks for the inspiring posts. They encourage me in my own gardening efforts here where it is now spring. I’m one of your followers now.


  15. The Micro Gardeneron 28 Feb 2012 at 8:40 am

    Hi Barbara, lovely to hear from you and welcome to the community of gardeners who visit here regularly and are looking to live more sustainably, grow their own food, get a little inspiration along the way and meet like-minded others.
    Fantastic to hear about your son studying Permaculture here – lucky boy! I’m very involved myself in our local groups and practice the principles in my own backyard and in life in general. We have excellent teachers and courses here as the originators of the Permaculture concept live here. Most of my friends practice permaculture too. There are some excellent websites and resources I can direct him to – I’ll email you personally to find out what part of Australia he’s visiting and perhaps give you some connections.
    We’re just about to jump into Autumn here – my favourite time of year when the weather cools down a little from summer heat and humidity and I can plant without interference from too many insects and wild weather!
    Look forward to staying in touch.

  16. Janiceon 13 Apr 2012 at 9:08 am

    I just discovered your site. It is great. I love new ideas for my garden. I use all manner of odd, recycled containers in my yard. I have done so for over 20 years. But, a problem. ALL of my wooden containers have rotted away. And my 2 old wheelbarrows rusted through, as well as my long “chicken feeder, rusted out, and it was galvanized. I still plant now, but use mostly old galvanized buckets and such. I loved that pallet vertical planter, but in two or three years it would be all rotted out. Any answers? I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ca., USA

  17. The Micro Gardeneron 13 Apr 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Hi Janice thanks for asking this question – it’s certainly a valid consideration … My take on reusing and repurposing materials and their useful reasonable life expectancy depends on several factors:

    1. How long you want the re/upcycled container to last – Is it a long or short term project?
    2. The material it’s made of – Metal and timber have a limited lifespan left outdoors and untreated in some way.
    3. The time, money, effort & safety of treating the materials – How comfortable are you with using chemical treatments to protect your repurposed planter? Are there safer/cheaper alternatives? Your skill level?
    4. Your weather conditions – Do you have severe weather or a mild climate? Can you protect the planter outdoors? Can you reposition it or cover it to some degree to reduce exposure to sun & rain and prolong its life?

    The initial condition of the container you intend to repurpose may determine whether/not you are able to treat it anyway. e.g. For hardwood pallets, these can be preserved with non-toxic timber treatments and paint but eventually as they will be in contact with moisture over an extended period, the timber will deteriorate. You would also need to research a sealant product you would be happy using depending on the chemical/safety issues. It would be difficult to repaint or treat a pallet planter while it is planted so it’s best to plan ahead for this kind of project. Whether you would want to treat it depends on if you are planting it out with edibles or just ornamentals. See my tips at the end of my article on 20 Creative Ways to Upcycle Pallets in Your Garden.

    Here are some other possible solutions/considerations:

    • With repurposing metal containers like tins, chicken feeders and wheelbarrows (some are of course plastic, wooden & synthetic) – again, there are rust proofing treatments but you would need to weigh up whether these are safe to use for your purposes or whether a more creative solution might solve your problem. e.g. wheelbarrows can be lined with suitable plastic as a membrane between the soil & the metal/timber frame, reducing moisture contact although you would still need to ensure adequate drainage holes in the plastic.
    • Another way to plant a wheelbarrow garden to lengthen its life is to sit a cache pot (outer pot/container made of a non-perishable material) in the wheelbarrow and remove it when you need to water. If you are going to plant succulents for example that don’t require much water, this could also lengthen the life of your container, however thirsty veggies will need regular watering.
    • If you get 2-3 years out of a pallet planter, then maybe it’s best to accept you’ve saved this from landfill and it has lived its useful life – time for a new project!
    • I share a lot of tips and ideas on Creative Container Gardens on my website and also on my Pinterest board on this topic so please check these articles and tips out and you may find some other solutions.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions. All the best with your recycled projects Janice. :)

  18. Shelley Wigglesworthon 21 Jun 2012 at 12:40 am

    Hello- First and foremost- I LOVE YOUR STUFF! I write for Yankee Magazine online and would love to share your photo of a pallet garden with permission and full photo credit of course. The blog is scheduled to go live soon. Thank you for your consideration, I look forward to hearing from you-
    Shelley Wigglesworth

  19. Jean Burkeon 01 Sep 2012 at 1:22 am

    This is a great blog, I have visited before, but never read your personal story. Inspirational.

  20. The Micro Gardeneron 01 Sep 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Thanks so much Jean for your lovely comment. Everyone has a story to tell. Sometimes a health crisis can be the catalyst for a positive learning journey – I hope what I share with others here helps avoid some readers from waiting till they get an ill health wake up call before they act. Most people can improve their health at least to some degree with a greater knowledge about edible and medicinal plants and the healthy emotional and physical benefits of growing a garden – no matter how small. I love your blog and follow your adventures regularly. Keep up the inspiring posts to share with others. I encourage my readers to jump over to Jean’s blog and dig into it.

  21. serendipity2000on 13 Oct 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Hi Anne. I stumbled across your site today and am inspired by your story. I look forward to reading more on your tips for small space gardening.

  22. The Micro Gardeneron 13 Oct 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Welcome Serendipity! Hope you enjoy the site. Warm regards, Anne :)

  23. […] The Micro Gardener Anne blogs about urban abundance. […]

  24. The Micro Gardeneron 26 Nov 2012 at 8:41 am

    Science on the Land has some thought provoking articles on their blog, particularly on food – worth checking out!

  25. Liz Potteron 04 Jan 2013 at 3:19 am

    Hi Anne,

    Love your website and the ethos behind it. I’m looking for ideas for our March issue of Garden Answers magazine and was hoping for a private email chat with you about possible project features?

    Can you email me?

    Regards Liz

  26. The Micro Gardeneron 04 Jan 2013 at 6:21 am

    Hi Liz
    Thanks for contacting me and your feedback. Will touch base via email re your mag.
    Warm regards
    Anne :)

  27. Tayla Paske-Arnoldon 12 Jan 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Hi Anne, This is amazing! I have finally had a chance to really look around at your website and it is truly inspirational! I look forward to reading more and learning a lot more! This is amazing :) Tayla

  28. The Micro Gardeneron 13 Jan 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Hi Tayla, thank you so much for your feedback and glad you enjoyed digging around on my site! Let me know if there’s anything I can help with for your garden. Perhaps some herbs for the BBQ? :)

  29. Kelion 21 Jan 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Hello Anne,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to “pin” all the wonderful pins on Pinterest. The pins are informative, practical, and creative. Can’t wait to implement some of the ideas in my garden this spring.


  30. The Micro Gardeneron 22 Jan 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Keli
    Thanks for dropping by to visit my blog. Glad you are enjoying my Pinterest boards – it’s a great place to swap/share ideas and get inspired. I’ve found lots of helpful tips there too. Spring’s not too far away so hope you enjoy planning this season’s garden.
    Cheers Anne :)

  31. Colinon 16 Feb 2013 at 8:27 am

    A serious question Anne, I garden in Kent, UK and have a serious problem with Vine Weavils. Nemotode applications are beyond my budget in retirement and whilst I have become acutely aware of how to recognise when they are doing their evil work and can solve that location at the very best all I am doing is controlling the spread.
    Is there any advice you can offer?

  32. The Micro Gardeneron 17 Feb 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Hi Colin

    I haven’t had to deal with these specific pests but another kind of weevil. The Royal Horticultural Society UK makes some useful suggestions for non-chemical solutions you could try that may be within your budget:

    “On mild spring or summer evenings inspect plants and walls by torchlight and pick off the adult weevils. Shake shrubs over an upturned umbrella to dislodge and collect more. In greenhouses, look under pots or on the underside of staging benches where the beetles hide during the day. Trap adults with sticky barriers, such as Agralan Insect Barrier Glue, placed around pots or on greenhouse staging. Encourage natural enemies. Vine weevils and their grubs are eaten by a variety of predators such as birds, frogs, toads, shrews, hedgehogs and predatory ground beetles.”

    Other organic solutions include:

    “Check plants every week to prevent vine weevil infestations becoming out of control and deal with early signs immediately. Use netting and fleeces to stop adults moving between plants and laying eggs within pots. Replant perennial pot plants in the spring and look for and remove any vine weevil larvae you find.”

    I would encourage more diversity into your garden to let nature take care of them if you can. There are some ways to do this in my post Imitate Nature for Higher Yields & Less Pests that may assist.

    Finally, perhaps once you have the situation under control, consider future prevention measures such as:

    1. Quarantine or dispose of any soil from pots where vine weevil have been found. 2. Don’t reuse this or throw on the garden because it may still contain vine weevil eggs, larvae or pupae. 3. Remove plants that have inexplicably wilted and died and examine the roots. If they appear eaten, then search the surrounding soil and destroy any vine weevil larvae that you find. 4. Avoid using broad spectrum insecticides which will kill soil-dwelling predators of vine weevil larvae, such as centipedes and carab beetles. 5. Encourage insectivorous birds by hanging feeders in winter and provide nesting boxes in spring. Hope this helps. :)

  33. sueon 19 Feb 2013 at 1:43 am

    Micro gardening was recommended to me and I found your site… It has inspired me ready for work again in my garden this spring… Winter gardening in the UK is difficult so the season for me starts in spring with sowing seeds etc.. and your website has motivated me to get started again.

    We have joined our local Horticultural Society and have lots of bargains and tips there but my hubby and I do like recycling things for use in the garden and garden art too… I have a 6ft x 3 ft x 2ft raised bed and a small corner plot but the rest of our garden is pots so growing salad and herbs in these is something I will try this year. You have so many ideas I cant read it all at once and will have to be systematic otherwise I will get too excited and get distracted… thanks for your ideas… I will be logging in again soon.

  34. The Micro Gardeneron 19 Feb 2013 at 6:26 am

    Hi Sue – welcome along here!

    So glad you’ve been inspired. You’re certainly on the right track – Micro Gardening IS all about starting small with manageable, easy to do projects you can enjoy and that generate a harvest for you with not too many inputs, time or money. I’d encourage you to start with my post on Easy DIY Potting Mix or my Seed Starting recipe (in the comments same article) for raising your seeds. Add your seedlings in little pockets or handfuls of the potting mix in your raised bed. That way, they’ll have the nutrition they need to get off to a good Spring start. Remember to mulch well with any leaves or other garden waste you’ve saved from your winter period. This will insulate your little seedlings as they grow and add valuable organic matter to your garden.

    Don’t be overwhelmed by possibilities – be inspired! I start with the big picture and usually just decide on a project that will help get me there and finish that before moving onto the next one. Hope you come back again soon. If you haven’t already, please pick up a free copy of my eBook by joining my newsletter. :)

  35. iphone 4on 25 Feb 2013 at 12:13 am

    Hello, I just came by to learn about this blog. It appears really cool and I liked reading it, thank you very much for the great writing!

  36. Ritaon 20 Nov 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Please let me know how to make the boots stiff so that they can be used as a planter?

  37. The Micro Gardeneron 20 Nov 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Hi Rita
    What are your boots made of? I usually use old gumboots/rainboots/Wellingtons (depending on what you call them!) and just fill them up with potting mix. This gives them shape and the plant roots eventually fill out to hold them firm. Hope this helps. :)

  38. Hemaon 14 Mar 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Hi Anne,

    Great website! Love the whole moon planting article. I’ve been inspired to perfect my green thumb by a rose tree that I found at the front of the house a few days ago.

    Is there any advice on growing herbs such parsley, basil and coriander (I have some at hand at the moment)? And what is the best procedure on repotting?
    Do herbs go by the moon cycle too?


  39. […] can be a fun, convenient, and attractive way to grow vegetables, herbs, and even a few fruits. The Micro Gardener is the content-rich blog of Anne, gardener and small-space-genius. Want a way to grow without the […]

  40. maryamon 05 May 2014 at 9:49 pm

    Very interesting and informative ideas. Learnt a lot and still learning.

    Any ideas how to grow hydrangeas Indoors?

  41. Anne Gibsonon 09 May 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I’ve written a post on hydrangeas – you can find more tips @ Hydrangeas are ideally grown outdoors but you could try growing them in a pot indoors in the same light conditions. You may also find this article helpful:

  42. Johnf639on 09 May 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Great, thanks for sharing this blog. Really thank you!

  43. Anne Gibsonon 09 May 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Glad you are enjoying it John and welcome!

  44. Andrewon 31 May 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Great post Anne, it is rare to find someone with both perspective and knowledge

  45. Anne Gibsonon 31 May 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Thanks Andrew. Appreciate your feedback. :)

  46. Mark & Marilynon 01 Jun 2014 at 11:31 am

    We just want to say thank you and enjoyed your web site.
    We live in the South Burnett on our small farm.

  47. Anne Gibsonon 02 Jun 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks for stopping by Mark and Marilyn. Hope you enjoy the tips and tutorials on my website. :)

  48. Betty Russellon 20 Aug 2014 at 3:03 am

    Hi Ann, I just discovered your blog and I am so excited to read all your wonderful ideas. I am interested in growing healthy herbs and vegetables and the uses also. I have diabetes so would love to learn ways to cut back on the unhealthy sugar and carbs. I look forward to your newsletters and wish you much success! Blessings, Betty

  49. Anne Gibsonon 20 Aug 2014 at 6:56 am

    Welcome Betty – there’s a barrow load of information on this site so feel free to dig around. Check out the categories on the left for more articles. Have you tried Stevia as a natural sugar replacement? It’s such an easy plant to grow and you can also buy GMO free Natvia in sachets. It’s low GI so suits diabetics. My mum uses it. Many thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy the newsletters too. Warm regards Anne

  50. Regina Corrison 05 Nov 2014 at 8:30 am

    Hi Anne,

    I absolutely love, love, love your site! I get so excited because your DIY ideas are fantastic. I’m sorry about talking business here but, I couldn’t find your email address. I am just starting a website about micro gardening and I’d like to know if you might be interested in starting an affiliate marketing program when my site is finished?

    Let me know what you think?



  51. Kathieon 05 Dec 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Just learnt about your site today when an image was shared on a chook forum at Facebook about nasturtiums and chooks. So I had to come visit your site and I’m so glad I did.

  52. Carol Zimnyon 07 Mar 2015 at 4:52 am

    I was wondering where you had purchased the scalloped edge labels and interesting lettering for the tin cans you repurposed with herbs in them.

  53. Anne Gibsonon 08 Mar 2015 at 8:41 pm

    Hi Carol
    I think you are referring to the DIY herb gardens in tin cans. I suggest you contact Gwen via her blog Simply Healthy Farm and ask her direct. I shared her project.
    Alternatively there are many suppliers online such as Etsy or try your local art/craft store.
    Hope this helps. Please feel free to email me a pic of your project so I can share & inspire others Carol.
    Cheers Anne

  54. Sadzidaon 15 May 2015 at 2:42 am

    Hi Anne,

    I think I my kids may go hungry and housework may not get done in the next few days while I read information on your site. We are about to get an allotment with some friends and will be growing vegetables and hopefully some berries in a ‘real’ garden but I want to expand my little balcony project. Can’t wait to read more on here. 😀

  55. Anne Gibsonon 15 May 2015 at 6:23 am

    Love your humour Sadzida! Made me laugh. How exciting for you to get started. If you need one-on-one help, I also provide consultations – via phone/Skype/Google Hangouts or face-to-face on site if local. Sing out if you need assistance! Enjoy the journey. :)

  56. Rachelon 12 Jun 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Hi Anne,
    I stumbled across your site last night, and am hoping you can help me. I was reading the thread “Choose Safe Containers for Growing Food”, and as I am not familiar with blogs and responding, this is the only way I could find to ask you my question.
    First, my situation…I have these great wooden wine boxes, I decided to plant herbs in them for my small patio. Before doing any research, I drilled holes in them, and finished them with a small can of clear oil based finish I bought at Home Depot. And, woops toxic finish and herbs don’t mix. So as they are not easily replaceable, I started researching lining the boxes with something to protect the herbs. Seems plastic is the only option, and PP #5, or polyethylene #2 are the best. Another site states polypropylene 5 is much less toxic than ethylene 2, but my problem is I cannot find either to purchase. I have found plastic rolls at the hardware store, but the chemical composition is not stated, and the nurseries have been no help. Do you have any idea where I can pick up or order the right kind of plastic lining for my edible planters? Oh, please help.
    Thank you,

  57. Anne Gibsonon 12 Jun 2015 at 8:22 pm

    Hi Rachel
    My first suggestion would be to use your wooden wine boxes as cachepots or decorative outer container gardens and plant into another container or liner inside them. Wood will deteriorate in time and if you love the look, then this is a way you can preserve them for longer without the worry of any possible leaching of toxic chemicals. You may possibly find another container to fit inside your boxes but an easier solution you could try are coir peat (coconut fibre) liners. You can buy this in rolls (e.g. or in rectangles (e.g. The advantage is the liners are long lasting and can be reused. You may prefer this natural product to plastic. I am not sure of the shape or size of your wine boxes but possibly small grow bags or smart pots may also fit. You may want to take a look at some of the options available via Amazon in my store to check out these options.
    I hope this helps.

  58. Carolynon 09 Jul 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Hi Anne
    Am new to this micro gardening….. Or gardening for that matter!! I have recently turned a portion of my ‘concrete’ backyard into a raised garden bed. (Had an area 3.5m x 1.5m cut out of concrete) but have lined this with heavy duty builders film plastic. It has three drainage holes at back of each box about four inches up. My concern, after reading a few of the post above, is that the plastic may be toxic to the plants!?!?!
    The garden bed is made up of three boxes and I have planted a Japanese maple in the centre box mainly for shade in summer. The area faces west and being all concrete, gets extremely hot. Will this be ok or have I jeopardised the vegetables I have/will plant in the outer boxes.
    I have also had my brush with cancer recently and after reading your story am inspired to learn how and what I can grow in my own garden that will benefit my health and my families.
    Have signed up for news letters and ordered the moon calendar to help me along on my new journey. Thanks Anne!!!!

  59. Anne Gibsonon 09 Jul 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Hi and welcome Carolyn. Thanks for supporting my site with your purchase. I’ll get the Moon Calendar sent off to you shortly.

    I love helping new gardeners – it’s such an exciting journey and all the more satisfying when you are striving to grow good health with edible plants. I’ve been on my own ‘green journey’ for the last 11 years studying, researching and learning how to grow nutrient-dense sustainable gardens that support health and wellbeing. I coach people who want to boost their health and find it very satisfying and a real privilege to share what I’ve learned.

    Plastics are a challenge in an organic garden but not one that can’t be overcome. So don’t panic! There are always solutions. The maple isn’t an edible so there’s no issue there, however I am a bit concerned from your description that it may suffer from scorching (burned leaf tips) due to the location. Maples are slow-growing deciduous trees that do best in a protected spot away from strong winds and very hot sun. They prefer morning or dappled sun rather than a hot blast. They need thick mulch and consistent watering to establish a healthy tree. If you have just planted a small sapling, perhaps you may possibly be able to relocate it in a pot to a more suitable spot? The other consideration with maples is they can attract pest insects like caterpillars, aphids, scale and mealy bug that may stop over in your veggie patch nearby. Perhaps you could consider replacing with a fruit tree that provides both shade and healthy harvests? These are just a few quick points to consider!

    I can’t visualise your box set up exactly without a photo and the drainage hole location may need attention. Plastics can leach toxic chemicals over time but there are ways to address this if you’ve used it in your veggie boxes. You don’t mention what your boxes are made of so I can’t comment on that.

    There are many tips and links in the comments section on many pages of this site such as the article on Choose Safe Containers for Growing Food. You may find this helpful to read through past tips.

    If you need further support, design ideas, tips or trouble-shooting any problems along the way, I also provide phone consultations to clients as a personalised one-on-one service. This is an economical solution if you need advice specifically for your situation. Happy to help any time and you can find more details here.

    Hope this helps! Warm regards Anne

  60. Joelon 28 Jul 2015 at 3:52 am

    Hi Anne :) I wanted to ask a couple of questions about your blog – would you mind emailing me? Thanks, Joel

  61. Anne Gibsonon 28 Jul 2015 at 9:51 am

    Will get in touch Joel. Cheers, Anne

  62. Cherryon 31 Jul 2015 at 11:19 am

    Hi Anne. Just discovered your website via Pinterest… It is wonderful!!
    May you continue to have an abundantly healthy life…you so deserve it. Your generosity of spirit in all that you do is fabulous!
    I am a novice gardener and I love how connecting to the earth/nature brings me peace and balance. I help out at the local school garden (
    Am learning along with the children! ) and their vibrant energy enhances and contributes to the success of all that grows…lovely.
    Thanks so much Anne…you are doing the most important work on the planet…how to love and care for ourselves via the earth (and the sun and the rain and the moon etc…! )

  63. Anne Gibsonon 31 Jul 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Thank you so much for your humbling feedback Cherry. I have a passion for helping people grow good health. I look forward to staying in touch and sharing more tips soon. Have a wonderful day! Anne

  64. Geirgieon 15 Aug 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Hello Anne. Sunshine Coast Land for Wildlife would like to enquire about holding LFW workshops on the insect hotel featured in the current Junkies magazine. Can you please email me a contact and I will pass on to LFW. Thanks. Georgie Bull

  65. Anne Gibsonon 18 Aug 2015 at 6:53 am

    Hi Georgie will email you someone I know who presents these workshops locally. Thanks for your interest. Warm regards Anne

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