About Anne Gibson

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So far Anne Gibson has created 152 blog entries.

Plants for a Survival Food and Medicinal Garden

If you are concerned about food security, there’s never been a better time to grow a survival food and medicinal garden. There’s no need to worry about buying fresh food if you grow your own groceries in your ‘backyard supermarket’! Your own food garden not only saves money and time but also provides peace of mind and nutritious fresh ingredients.

Plants for a Survival Food and Medicinal Garden

When you live sustainably, you don’t have to rely totally on supermarkets always having full shelves, just for daily basic needs. Living simply and eating a plant-based diet rich in nutrients and healing compounds can help to promote good health and a strong immune system. Connecting with nature via a food garden may help relieve stress, bring joy and a feeling of control by growing at least some of what you eat.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates

How Plant Defences Can Help Humans Too

Plants naturally have their own in-built defence mechanisms – phytochemicals – that help them resist pest and disease attack. When we eat healthy, nutrient-dense organically grown foods, our immune systems benefit too! I’ve found that a diet rich in fruits, herbs and vegetables provides energy, health and wellbeing.

Phytochemicals are biologically active, naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants, which provide health benefits for humans as medicinal ingredients and nutrients (HASLER & BLUMBERG, 1999). They protect plants from disease and damage, and also contribute to the plant’s colour, aroma and flavour. In general, the plant chemicals that protect plants from environmental hazards such as pollution, stress, drought, UV exposure and pathogenic attack are called as phytochemicals (GIBSON et al., 1998; MATHAI, 2000). Recently, it has been clearly shown that they also have roles in the protection of human health, when their dietary intake is significant (SAMROT et al., 2009; KOCHE et al., 2010).”

Why are phytochemicals important for you? Because as you can see from the above research studies, they have high value in terms of their protective properties. When you grow your own food, you can be sure your plants are raised in healthy living soil, devoid of chemicals and high in nutrients. These plants, in turn, can then provide you with optimal health via their nutrients.

If you have a lawn, turn it into lunch! I helped one of my clients turn her front yard into a productive edible food garden in just 10 weeks - enough to share with her neighbours. You can too!

If you have a lawn, turn it into lunch! I helped one of my clients turn her front yard into a productive edible food garden in just 10 weeks – enough to share with her neighbours. You can too!

Starting a Survival Food and Medicinal Garden

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Gardening Tips for February

The last few weeks have created a lot of uncertainty around the world with the threat of a pandemic. It’s a timely reminder to reflect on our health, how sustainable our lives are and whether we can feed ourselves from our home gardens or are dependent on our global food system. So, this month’s newsletter focuses on practical and positive ways you can support your health with nourishing foods and herbs.

Gardening Tips for February | The Micro Gardener


Gardening Tips for February

Here in subtropical SE Queensland, Australia, we’re still in the thick of summer heat, humidity and rain. Last month we were in drought, had bushfires and dust storms, and now it’s too wet in many areas! Soggy soil, high temperatures and humidity create the perfect environment for many fungal diseases like powdery mildew and root rot. Not to mention the increase in hungry insects like grasshoppers and caterpillars feasting on the new growth!

Subtropical SE Queensland – What to Plant Now

If your water tanks are full and soil moist from recent rains, it’s an ideal time to sow seeds to raise seedlings ready for autumn planting and put in the last of fast-growing summer crops. Or sow sunflower seeds as microgreens for fast-growing protein-rich ingredients. Citrus, pumpkins, tomatoes, summer spinach varieties, spring onions, herbs and cucamelons are growing like crazy in my garden. With a move to a new garden soon, I’m taking cuttings in the new moon cycle so they strike roots quickly. You can propagate your garden for free in this way.

READ Gardening Tips for February for what to do now in SE QLD, pests to watch for and more. (Download PDF)

Subtropical Planting Guide – a laminated perpetual guide to the 5 seasons in SE QLD

For other locations, read my article on what to plant and when.


Grow a Medicinal Herb Garden to Build a Strong Immune System

One of the reasons I grow my own food and specifically, a wide range of herbs, is because a Home Pharmacy Garden is the first place I ‘shop’ to support my family’s health. I believe there’s never been a more important time to focus your energy on the medicinal properties of the plants you grow. Herbs, in particular, help support a healthy immune system with phytonutrients like vitamins and antioxidants. (more…)

Gardening Tips for January

The start of 2020 has been challenging for many gardeners, especially here in Australia with drought and fires affecting life, health and the environment on so many levels. My heart goes out to all those personally or indirectly affected. We’re starting to see how quickly such events impact our food supply and the rising cost of vegetables.

Gardening Tips for January | The Micro Gardener Newsletter

On a positive note, the start of a new year is the ideal time to reflect backplan ahead and look forward to what you want to grow and learn. So this month I share resources to help you with those goals, gardening tips for January and what to do in your garden in subtropical Queensland; ways gardening can improve your health; sensational tips on strawberries; bushfire garden recovery and food security threats. Lots to dig into in this month’s newsletter!

3 Tips for Planning this Year’s Garden

In this short article, I share how I plan my garden at the start of each year + there’s a free journal download for you! I discuss ways to learn valuable lessons; reflect on past successes and disappointments for key insights and dig for details when planning this year’s garden. READ NOW.

3 Tips for Planning this Year's Garden: Get some inspiration for ideas

Photos of projects and plants can help spark ideas for this year’s garden plans


“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” ― Benjamin Franklin


How to Set Goals for this Year

If you’re going to invest time, money and effort into your garden – even a few pots – isn’t it worth having a plan? At least an idea of what you’d like to achieve in a broad sense. Maybe you want to grow food to support your health and wellbeing, overcome a problem, learn how to grow and use herbs, design a space to expand what you can grow or try container gardening. Or maybe you haven’t given this year’s garden any thought yet!

Wherever you’re at, this article is packed with easy-to-achieve goals and resources to get you going.

17 Garden Goals for Your Health and Wellbeing

17 Garden Goals for Your Health and Wellbeing


When you make a purchase, you are making a difference by helping support my education work to teach people how to grow healthy food.


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3 Tips for Planning this Year’s Garden

Planning this year’s garden? At the start of a new year, I take time to reflect on the past year and learn valuable lessons from my garden. Why bother? As a life long ‘student’ in Nature’s garden ‘classroom’, I make incredible discoveries and observations every year and always learn new things that make gardening more enjoyable and easier. You can too!

3 Tips for Planning This Year's Garden

3 Tips for Planning this Year’s Garden

1. Learn Lessons by Observing

When you literally ‘stop to smell the roses‘, you not only slow down for a few minutes to relieve stress with beauty and fragrance, but this action can open up a whole new world of discovery. You may notice aphids and ants or spots on the leaves.

Rather than going unnoticed, these observations can help you learn how to remedy or prevent any potential problems. Instead of feeling disappointed when you notice ‘problems’, consider them ‘learning opportunities’!

3 Tips for Planning this Year's Garden: Learn Lessons by Observing your Garden

Observing details can help with troubleshooting and insightful discoveries

By studying details like how plants grow under diverse weather conditions or how insects interact at different times, you can start to form patterns and learn so much about your garden.

What to Observe in your Garden

For example, I spend time observing the various microclimates; plant varieties; which cultivars do well and those that don’t. I have discovered which plants tough it out without water for months (little champions!) and which plants are vulnerable to pests or diseases.

The insights are fascinating and valuable data for decision-making. I know which plants are easy, low-maintenance and highly productive and those who don’t deserve a space because they’re too ‘precious’ and a pain in the neck! Grow more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

3 Tips for Planning this Year's Garden: Take a closer look at your garden to open up a whole new world of insights.

Take a closer look at your garden to open up a whole new world of insights

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December 2019 Newsletter

It’s the last newsletter for the year and I hope you enjoy it. For many gardeners, it’s been a tough one facing health issues and climate challenges. So I’ve collated some good health news from interesting research studies on how gardening may help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and written a timely article on tips for gardening in a dry climate. I have also been writing a series of articles on the art of seed saving – a skill every gardener should master for personal food security and to mitigate extreme climate conditions. Plus I’ve created a quick intro video on moon gardening. Grab a relaxing herb tea and dig in!

As it’s the season of giving, there’s also a special 15% Discount Coupon for you! Simply use the code XMAS on checkout and save on all educational products in The Shop during December!

December 2019 Newsletter | The Micro Gardener


Gardening in Dry Climate Conditions

Gardening in dry climate conditions can be really stressful but there are loads of simple strategies you can apply to make it easier. Many gardeners in Australia and around the world have been struggling to keep gardens alive and thriving. Drought, winds, dust storms, extended heatwaves and fires have been impacting plants, people and our wildlife.

For many gardeners though, water – or lack of it – is our biggest issue. Struggling, water-stressed plants become magnets for pest insects as nature’s ‘clean up crew’ move in to feed. It’s natural to expect some casualties in hot and dry weather. Without sufficient water, crops can’t take up nutrients from the soil to grow, flower and fruit. Small container gardens also need more frequent watering.

18 Top Tips for Gardening in Dry Climate Conditions | The Micro Gardener

I’m in a drought-stricken area, currently experiencing a heatwave with dry winds, high temps and no let-up in sight. It’s tough – I get it! So how do I protect my garden and grow food in these conditions? In my latest article, I share sustainable, practical strategies for gardening in dry climate conditions. These 18 tips will give you options to help your plants not just survive but thrive.

SHOW ME THE STRATEGIES


Affiliate Links: Your support of this site is appreciated!

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18 Top Tips for Gardening in Dry Climate Conditions

Gardening in dry climate conditions can be really stressful but there are loads of simple strategies you can apply to make it easier. Many gardeners in Australia and around the world have been struggling to keep gardens alive and thriving. Drought, winds, dust storms, extended heatwaves and fires have been impacting plants, people and our wildlife.

18 Top Tips for Gardening in Dry Climate Conditions | The Micro Gardener

Extreme temperatures and long periods without any significant rain in many places are some of the biggest problems. It’s no wonder many gardeners are giving up trying to grow an edible garden.

Yet a garden – no matter how small – gives us hope as well as healthy food. It feeds our mind, body and soul; provides wonderful stress relief; and is a welcome sanctuary to escape to. Even a single, well-cared-for plant can bring great joy and healing.

For many gardeners though, water – or lack of it – is our biggest issue. Struggling, water-stressed plants become magnets for pest insects as nature’s ‘clean up crew’ move in to feed. It’s natural to expect some casualties in hot and dry weather. Without sufficient water, crops can’t take up nutrients from the soil to grow, flower and fruit. Small container gardens also need more frequent watering.

So, what can we do to help our gardens survive and even thrive?

Gardening in Dry Climate Conditions and Hot Temperatures | The Micro Gardener

18 Top Tips for Gardening in Dry Climate Conditions

For years I’ve endured all sorts of harsh growing conditions in my gardens. By careful observation, applying Permaculture design principles and journalling where my gardens have been exposed to harsh dry or hot weather, I’ve learned how to grow a kitchen garden that not only survives but thrives! This has enabled me to help my clients who suffer similar problems but in different locations to get the most out of their edible gardens.

I hope by sharing some of these strategies, you will be able to enjoy an abundant productive kitchen garden too.

1. Audit your Garden and Make Tough Choices

That’s right! If you can’t save ALL your plants, prioritise and focus on keeping the most valuable ones alive. If conditions are really tough and you have limited water resources, concentrate on your high-value fruit trees, perennials and essential crops.

Turn thirsty, low-value plants into compost to feed your soil. Some plants may just have to survive without your help or be sacrificed to save others.

Collect seeds and take cuttings to pot up as a backup plan! You can always start again with these.

Save seeds from your garden to sow again in more favourable weather

Save seeds from your garden to sow again in more favourable weather

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October 2019 Newsletter

In this newsletter, I discuss earthworms in container gardens; risks and safety tips for using bagged soil mixes; introduce a new herb and medicinal plant guide; share tips for changing seasons and moon gardening timing. Grab a cuppa and dig in!

October 2019 Newsletter | The Micro Gardener


Earthworms in Pots

Earthworms provide incredible benefits in the garden. They help aerate the soil with their tunnels, opening soil pores and improving soil structure and drainage. This helps plant roots access oxygen and allows moisture and nutrients to penetrate. They digest organic matter and leave their castings (‘vermicast’ or poop) with soluble nutrients plants can access immediately, improving crop yields. Vermicast is humus and a pure plant food and soil conditioner. Earthworms are wonderful soil workers indeed!

If you have container gardens and add garden soil or compost to your potting mix, then you may sometimes find an earthworm or two. Whilst earthworms perform many valuable roles, they can occasionally be problematic in pots, especially small ones. If you have just one or two worms, it may take a while for their tunnels to make an impact. However, if you have a community (yes they will breed!) then the plant roots may become exposed to too much air in the potting mix.

The other thing to watch for is if you are raising seedlings in a small pot and there is little organic matter in the potting or seed raising mix, any earthworms present may resort to eating the plant roots if all the organic materials are consumed. I was doing container garden maintenance once and picked up an old pot that was very heavy. Curious, I discovered it was almost pure worm castings that were retaining moisture and the pot was filled with earthworms! They had turned all the potting mix media and mulch into vermicast.

Earthworms with their rich castings

Earthworms with their rich castings

Feeding Earthworms and Repotting Plants

If you notice fresh worm castings on top of the potting mix or mulch, or around the base of the pot, these are a clue of their presence. If you notice a potted plant declining and suspect you have earthworms in your potting mix, you have a couple of options. Keep providing plenty of alternate organic matter like mulch to the top of the pot for the worms to eat instead of your plant roots.

Alternatively, repot your plant. This is simply a matter of upturning your pot and gently setting aside your plants in a cool location. Give them a quick soak in liquid seaweed as a boost. Then look for a network of tunnels in the potting mix and worms squirming around. If you can, rescue your earthworms and add them back into your garden soil where they can continue to work for you. The worm castings are indeed beneficial, so you want to retain this valuable free plant food in your potting mix.

Get your own easy DIY Homemade Potting Mix Recipe Guide using worm castings.

Learn more about the business and biology of worms with the Worm Farming Secrets eBook.

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August 2019 Newsletter

In this juicy newsletter, you’ll find a list of fast-growing vegetables for quick harvests so you eat your own fresh ingredients in <60 days from sowing seed. There’s a free online course available now to help prevent and heal cancer, and I share a new video with tips for companion planting with fruit trees. I cover fertilising your garden organically; planting in August/September, moon gardening and bite-sized gardening tips. Grab a cuppa and dig in!

August 2019 Newsletter | The Micro Gardener

 


17 Fast Growing Vegetables for Impatient Gardeners

Are you keen to get some fast-growing vegetables on your plate? A beginner gardener wanting some quick results? Maybe you have a short growing season and want to maximise your time? Or want to fill a few spare pots. Or maybe you’re like me – an impatient gardener! If so, dig into my new list of 17+ speedy veggies for quick picks in 60 days or less + 5 bonus tips to help speed up your harvests. Show me the list.

A list of 17+ fast growing vegetables for quick picks in 60 days or less. Includes leafy greens, legumes, roots vegetables + more for healthy 'fast' food! Plus 5 tips to help speed up your harvests.

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17 Fast Growing Vegetables for Impatient Gardeners

Are you an impatient gardener? Eager to get some fast growing vegetables on your plate? Maybe you have a short growing season? Or want to fill a few spare pots. If you’re keen to find out which vegetables grow quickly, read on!

A list of 17+ fast growing vegetables for quick picks in 60 days or less. Includes leafy greens, legumes, roots vegetables + more for healthy 'fast' food! Plus 5 tips to help speed up your harvests.

Thankfully, there are plenty of fast growing vegetables like leafy greens, legumes, brassicas and root crops you can grow. So let’s dig in.

What do ‘Fast Growing’ Vegetables really mean?

Days to Maturity

While the time frame is open to interpretation, let’s assume you’re looking for foods that will be ready to eat in 60 days or less. You can find the average ‘days to maturity’ on seed packets and in catalogues. This is the time from when you sow seeds to first harvest. Often you will see this as a range e.g. 45-60 days. The vegetables in this list are based on the average harvest date from the time you sow seeds. If you start with seedlings, you can pick even earlier!

Vegetable Varieties

The vegetable variety you choose will play a part in how quickly they grow. So, for example, a small round baby carrot heirloom variety like ‘Paris Market’ that only grows to 4cm in diameter, will be on your table much quicker than one with a long root, like ‘Nantes’. Similarly, climbers will take longer to grow than bush or dwarf varieties. Makes sense right?

Seasonal Timing

It’s also worth remembering that plants tend to grow faster in warmer seasons and mature more slowly in cooler months. So WHEN you plant will also be a factor.

Other Plant Growth Factors

As there is so much variation in climate conditions, soil types, sunlight, moisture and seasons around the world, these suggestions are a guide only. Here in subtropical Queensland, Australia, I can grow year-round with only a relatively mild winter. Your climate may be different. Make sure you give your plants the sunlight hours they do best in if possible as this will speed up or slow down growth accordingly.

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July 2019 Newsletter

In this newsletter, you’ll find tips to grow potatoes and some disturbing information about pesticides. I encourage you to go small when growing your favourite leafy greens and herbs with sprouts and microgreens, share planting tips for this month, the most nutritious lettuce varieties plus some inspiring news about the health benefits of gardening. I hope you pick up some new practical tips to apply this month!

July 2019 Newsletter | The Micro Gardener


Can you Grow Potatoes from Potatoes?

The short answer is yes! If you’ve never seen a packet of potato seeds, that’s for good reason. To grow your favourite potato variety, you need to start with a tuber. An actual potato called a ‘seed potato.’ It’s a funny name because potatoes don’t have seeds!

‘Seed potatoes’ have ‘eyes’ or dormant sprouts, also known as ‘buds.’ Each eye will sprout and develop either a stem with leaves or form roots. Once the plant is big enough, small potatoes will form and then grow.

Organic chitted potatoes ready for planting

Organic chitted potatoes ready for planting

Are all potatoes safe to grow?

Ideally, grow from organically certified seed potato varieties. Why? You want to start with disease-free, safe spuds. Unfortunately, potatoes were included in the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2019 ‘Dirty Dozen’ list that ranks the most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables. It’s not surprising potatoes made the top 12 because studies show root vegetables are particularly vulnerable to absorbing chemicals in the soil.

There’s another important reason to choose certified organic potatoes. You want to avoid the risk of planting GMO spuds as they absorb more toxins. See: Are GMO Potatoes Safe? A Former Monsanto Bioengineer Tells The Truth.

How do you get potatoes to grow shoots?

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