About Anne Gibson

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So far Anne Gibson has created 105 blog entries.

Is PVC Plastic Safe to Use in an Organic Garden?

Are you growing food? Are you concerned about your health, avoiding chemicals and eating safe produce? Me too! Over the years, I’ve been asked many times whether PVC plastic (Polyvinyl Chloride) is safe and has a place in a food garden. You may have wondered too.

Is PVC plastic safe to use in an organic garden?

 

We live in a world filled with plastics and some are more harmful to our health and environment than others.

There are all sorts of uses gardeners find for PVC tubes including irrigation pipes, in wicking beds, worm farms, compost systems, rain gutter gardens and vertical tower planters. It’s understandable. PVC is cheap, widely available and an easy solution. It’s commonly used in landscaping, aquaponics, hydroponics, garden gloves and hoses too.

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The Micro Gardener wins Sustainable Business Award

2017 has been an exciting and action packed year so far. Here’s a quick peek behind the curtain, to share a little of my world and what I’ve been up to and what’s coming up.

I’ve delivered and spoken at 20+ workshops and gardening and sustainable living events so far this year.

This is just one of the beautiful groups of people I worked with, sharing freshly brewed herb teas and taste tested microgreens at a healthy morning tea.

Living Choice Twin Waters residents having a healthy morning tea

I’ve been coaching and mentoring my clients and helping them create abundant gardens. One of the absolute joys in my life!

Anne ready for client consultation with basket of goodies

I’ve been involved in my local community with urban streetscape and community garden projects. (more…)

2017-09-09T15:19:05+00:00 Categories: Blog|Tags: , |0 Comments

August 2017 Newsletter

Organic Gardening Tips for an Abundant Harvest

August 2017 Newsletter | The Micro Gardener

Welcome to the August Newsletter. As usual there are lots of quick tips to get you thinking about the food you eat and grow.

This month, I’m sharing another quick ‘How To’ video in my Sow Simple series of free tutorials to help you grow and use food wisely in just minutes. Dig in and help others by sharing these tips!


Benefits of Growing Sunflowers

In this quick video lesson, I share some of the ways I use sunflowers to get more food from my garden, pest manage, encourage biodiversity and maintain healthy soil. You can even grow these useful blooms in pots. I hope you enjoy the tips.

 


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5 Reasons to Grow Sunflowers

Why grow sunflowers? There are many benefits to growing these beautiful blooms including their cut flowers and free edible seeds. They also attract pest-patrolling birds and bees to improve your harvest, and even help detox contaminated soil. These flowers are not just pretty faces!

5 Reasons to Grow Sunflowers

The botanical name for sunflowers is ‘Helianthus’ – ‘Helia’ meaning sun and ‘Anthus’ for flower. Sunflowers are called ‘tournesol’ in French (meaning ‘turns with the sun’). Curious to learn how to use these cheerful flowers to advantage in your garden? Read on…

 

5 Reasons to Grow Sunflowers

1. Feed your Pollinators

The showy large outer petals help attract many species of bees to your sunflowers including honey bees and bumble bees. The centre of the sunflower houses hundreds and thousands of tiny individual florets that contain nectar and pollen, a food source for bees.

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July 2017 Newsletter

Organic Gardening Tips for an Abundant Harvest

July 2017 Newsletter

Welcome to the July Newsletter. Lots of quick tips to get you thinking about the food you eat and grow.

This month, I’m sharing another quick ‘How To’ video in my Sow Simple series of free tutorials to help you grow and use food wisely in just minutes. Dig in and help others by sharing these tips!


Clean out the Fridge Soup

In this quick video lesson, I share an easy way to use up small quantities of vegetables, herbs and spices in your fridge.  I call it my ‘Clean out the Fridge’ Soup – a simple idea for using up leftovers! Recipe below – I hope you enjoy it.

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How to Use Compost and 7 Benefits of Composting

Do you have problems with your plant and soil health? If so, compost may be one of your greatest ‘assets’ to help you resolve these issues.

How to Use Compost and 7 Benefits of Composting

In this article, discover:

  • What compost and composting are;
  • 7 benefits of using compost;
  • Why composting is vital for every garden; and
  • 4 easy ways you can use compost to grow healthier plants and more nutrient-dense food.

What IS Compost?

Compost is simply decomposed or decayed organic matter, created during the process of composting.

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June 2017 Newsletter

Organic Gardening Tips for an Abundant Harvest

June 2017 Newsletter

Welcome to the June Newsletter. Lots of quick tips to get you thinking about the food you eat and grow.

This month, I’m sharing another quick ‘How To’ video in my Sow Simple series of free tutorials to help you grow an abundant, healthy garden in just minutes. Dig in and help others by sharing these tips!


Tips on Harvesting Pumpkin

In this quick video lesson, I share simple ideas to help you with ways to harvest pumpkin to avoid waste and cure it to improve storage life.

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7 Sustainable Garden Design Tips

Want a productive, edible and sustainable garden? One that nourishes you with healing delicious foods? Growing your own organic food garden is one easy way to live more sustainably and tread lighter on the planet.

7 Sustainable Garden Design Tips

When you ‘shop’ for fresh ingredients from your garden, you save time and energy. Home gardeners don’t need to use huge amounts of precious water, toxic petrochemical fertilisers, expensive fuel, transport, tonnes of material and lots of land. Designed cleverly, a small sustainable garden avoids wasting resources and minimises the impact on the environment.

I believe being ‘sustainable’ is a lifestyle that helps sustain you physically and provides you with short and long-term benefits. Being a sustainable gardener is about making conscious choices about the actions you take and the resources you use. Giving back to the earth and not just taking from it.

Recycling food waste back into the garden is a sustainable practice

Recycling food waste back into the garden is a sustainable practice

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Choosing Fruit Trees for Small Gardens

Thinking about growing your own fruit trees? No matter how little space you have, there’s almost always room for at least one fruit tree.

The taste and satisfaction of picking homegrown fruit is one of life's pleasures!

The taste and satisfaction of picking homegrown fruit is one of life’s pleasures!

5 Tips for Fruit Trees in Small Gardens

I grow a LOT of fruit trees in a small space. Some in containers, others in the garden. It’s highly productive and I grow kilos of fruit every year. Some fruit trees are young and on their way to producing. Others are putting food on the table regularly!

Here, I grow a lot of tropical fruit trees like bananas, papaya, mango, mulberries, citrus and peaches. It takes time to get to know each fruit and how much space they require to be productive.

It can be overwhelming if you’re just starting out growing fruit trees, so I hope these tips help you avoid expensive mistakes.

1. Only Grow Fruit you LOVE to Eat

Fruit trees are like a long-term investment – in time, space and money. I think of my fruit trees like V.I.P.’s in the garden. Very Important Plants! They get the best position and special treatment, so why bother growing fruit you aren’t that fond of?

How do you choose, if you love LOTS of fruits? Which fruit do you spend the most money on? Which fruit do you eat the most of? Consider adding these fruits to your wish list.

These are a good starting point for researching varieties that may be suitable to grow in your area.

My husband always wanted a peach tree, so I found a tropical peach that produces plump fruits every year in a large pot.

My husband always wanted a peach tree, so I found a tropical peach that produces plump fruits every year in a large pot.

2. Choose Fruit to suit your Sun, Space and Climate

Sunlight

If you only have limited sunlight, your choices in fruit will be more limited than if you have 6-8 hours of sunlight/day. The majority of fruit trees need at least some sun to produce a healthy fruit harvest, and most prefer full sun. However, there are some fruits that will grow in partial shade too, so don’t despair!

Vertical Space

Remember to consider your vertical space as a potential area to grow fruit. Some fruits can be espaliered (trained to grow vertically on a frame).

Espaliered fruit trees trained to grow in a narrow space against brick wall

Espaliered fruit trees growing in a narrow space against a brick wall

Apples, pears, apricots and plums are a few fruit trees suitable for espaliering up trellises, fences and even unused vertical space along walls.

Lawn vs Fruit Trees

If you spend a lot of time mowing, watering and maintaining grass, how much return you get for your efforts? If you have children or pets that really need the space, you can probably justify your lawn. However, if you have limited space for fruit trees, consider swapping grass for groceries. You could grow kilos of fruit every year in the same space! Lawn or lemons? Mmm … I’ll leave you to ponder that one.

Climate

There are so many fruit tree varieties to choose from, but one of the most important factors is your unique climate. Contact local nurseries, speak with neighbours, visit community gardens or farmers in your area to find out what grows well.

Whilst most apples thrive in cold climates here in Australia, in the subtropics where I live, we can thankfully grow tropical apple varieties! It might take a little effort to research suitable fruit tree varieties in your area, but this can make the difference to your long-term fruit tree success.

You can also create a suitable microclimate for the fruit tree you want to grow e.g. by providing shelter or planting against brick walls to benefit from reflected heat.

Lemon tree in portable container garden indoors in winter in a warm sunny microclimate with reflected heat through glass doors

Lemon tree in portable container garden indoors in winter in a warm sunny microclimate with reflected heat through glass doors

3. Dwarf Fruit Trees

Most fruit trees typically reach a mature height of at least 4.5m (15ft) if not pruned. In a small garden, most of us wouldn’t have room for more than a few trees this size. If you want to grow several varieties, you’d quickly fill the space or have to spend a LOT of time pruning.

So what’s your solution? Dwarf fruit trees! These are grafted onto roots from a related species – a shorter, more compact fruit tree ‘cousin’!  So dwarf fruit trees grow in less space and to a lower height than if they grew on their own roots.

Compact dwarf fruit trees offer you a number of benefits:

  • They don’t need much pruning;
  • Often fruit in under two years;
  • The fruit are the same size as regular fruit trees;
  • Multi-grafted fruit trees grow several different fruits on the one tree, saving space;
  • Are more suitable for balconies, containers and espaliering in narrow spaces;
  • Are easier to net (to protect against birds and animals); and
  • Are much easier to access for harvesting – no ladders!
Grafted dwarf fruit tree varieties in pots suitable for small gardens

Grafted dwarf fruit tree varieties in pots suitable for small gardens

Some dwarf rootstock offer you other advantages, like being resistant to disease; suited to wet or dry soils; strong vigorous growth; or ability to withstand winds.

4. Growing Fruit Trees in Containers

You may be thinking of growing a fruit tree in a container, rather than a garden due to space limitations or because you are renting. If so, there are other things to consider such as:

  • The size of the pot will limit the growth of your fruit tree.
  • You will need to re-pot into a larger container as the tree grows, probably at least every 18 months – 2 years.
  • The shape of container should make it easy to remove your tree.  Grow bags and fabric Smart Pots are a couple of solutions. Only choose pots that have straight sides or taper in towards the bottom for easy removal.
  • Many pots (especially unfired clay) and potting mix dry out quickly. So consider a low-maintenance drip watering system like EasiOyYa to keep moisture up to your potted fruit tree.


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5. Fruit Tree Pollination

Many fruit trees need pollinators such as bees, beneficial insects or bats to fertilize flowers and ‘set’ fruit. Other fruit tree varieties need more than one tree to cross-pollinate. If you want a variety of different fruits in a small space, this can present a challenge. No pollination = no fruit!

An abundant harvest from the mandarin tree

An abundant harvest from the mandarin tree

In a small garden space, one of the easiest solutions is to purchase fruit trees that are ‘self-fertile’ or ‘self-pollinating’.  Some fruit trees that are usually self-fertile are citrus, figs, peaches, apricots and nectarines. You may also find some multi-grafted trees such as citrus (lemon, orange and mandarin on the one tree) are also self-fertile.

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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2017. https://themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.