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So far Anne Gibson has created 166 blog entries.

July in the Garden

Are Insect Pests Bugging You?

If you’re frustrated with pest problems, you’re not alone. In my latest article, How to Control Pest Insects Naturally, you’ll discover WHY plants attract pest insects so you can address the cause. It’s packed with loads of practical strategies to prevent damage without resorting to toxic chemicals. I share methods I use to control pest insects by working with Nature for a healthy productive garden. I think you’ll find some useful tips to dig into.

How to Control Garden Pest Insects Naturally - why they attack plants + organic and natural strategies to prevent and control damage

SHOW ME HOW TO PROTECT MY GARDEN FROM PEST INSECTS




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Fight Pests, Diseases, and Improve Soil Health with Vermicast

Have you discovered the joys and benefits of employing worms in your garden? I’ve been utilising these soil workers to create healthy soil and produce rich fertilisers for my plants for years. Worm manure (also known as vermicast or worm castings) is a valuable product they provide for free!

Did you know worm castings boost pest-resistant enzyme production in plants? This increases their resistance to insect attack and helps fight soil-borne plant diseases like root rot.

Liquid worm leachate and vermicast from my worm farm are free products to build soil and plant health

Liquid worm leachate and vermicast from my worm farm are valuable products to build soil and plant health

In a 2004 study (Edwards and Arancon), 20% and 40% vermicompost was added to growing media for a variety of vegetables. The results showed statistically significant reductions in arthropod (aphid, mealybug, spider mite) numbers! There were also subsequent decreases in plant damage compared to the control.

In field trials, researchers also observed the suppression of plant-parasitic nematodes. The numbers of spider mites and aphids were significantly reduced when they applied worm tea. These results are especially encouraging for home gardeners.

Earthworms are the intestines of the soil.” – Aristotle

Want to learn more about worms? I invite you to read my recent article in Garden Culture Magazine. I explain the difference between vermicast, vermicompost and vermicomposting. I also share the advantages of these amazing fertiliser factories.

Worm Farming Secrets: The Business & Biology of Raising Composting Worms eBook by Duncan CarverSome interesting findings from the article. “When liquid vermicast leachate is applied as a foliar spray, it provides natural resistance to certain plant diseases without the need for chemical alternatives. Various studies confirm vermicast plays a beneficial role in stimulating seed germination, shoot and root development, and vegetative growth.”

Looking for a way to feed your garden and earn an income?

Learn how with the Worm Farming Secrets eBook.

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2021-07-21T19:54:35+10:00Categories: Newsletters|0 Comments

How to Control Garden Pest Insects Naturally

Do you panic when you see an insect you don’t recognise in your garden? Do you assume it’s a pest causing damage? If so, it may help to understand WHY insects attack plants. I also share a toolbox of natural and organic strategies to help prevent and control the damage.

How to Control Garden Pest Insects Naturally - why they attack plants + organic and natural strategies to prevent and control damage

Firstly, a reality check! Don’t expect a pest-free garden. Even the healthiest gardens still get pest insect visitors. It’s more important to focus on creating a healthy balanced ecosystem. Aim for a productive harvest rather than a zero-tolerance policy!

There will be more beneficial predatory insects and pest controllers in residence with the right elements in place, than those causing damage. You need both – in balance.

If your garden is new, has few flowering species or has poor quality soil, it may be a different story. If you have a horde of herbivores eating your plants, don’t give up! Give it a little time and nature will restore the natural equilibrium. Read on to learn how.

Let’s colour in the picture so you know why the pest insects are there and what to do about it.

How do Pest Insects Damage Plants?

Some insects suck the sap out of plants or chew leaves, while others bore into the roots, seeds or stems. You can tell if you have some unwanted visitors in your garden by the visual damage. You won’t see underground pest insects. However, you WILL be able to observe the evidence they’re in residence by the appearance of your plant aboveground.

Why do some Plants Attract Pest Insects?

Pest insects target plants that are minerally deficient. They are indicators of an imbalance. Weak malnourished plants are magnets for herbivorous insects. They are a CLUE you need to change something.

Pest insects often target nutrient-deficient plants

Pest insects often target nutrient-deficient plants

Professor Philip Callahan, the author of Tuning into Nature, observed that insect antennae enable them to sense a variety of environmental signals. He also found that plants emit infrared radiation (not visible to us). What’s really interesting is these signals vary depending on the nutrient levels inside the plant. He notes “A sick plant actually sends forth a beacon, carried in the infrared, attracting insects. It is then the insect’s role to dispose of this plant deemed unfit for life by nature.”

Survival of the Fittest

So, ‘pest’ insects are actually Nature’s ‘garbage collectors’. Their role is to remove ‘rubbish plants’ and help strong healthy plants survive! They leave plants with optimum nutrition levels alone. What can you learn from this? Grow nutrient-dense food and insect pests won’t bother your plants.

If you have a lot of pest insect problems in your garden, look at your soil health as a first step. Then, cultural practices like watering, feeding and position. It’s far easier to implement preventative strategies than deal with a big outbreak.

Pest insects select plants with a nutritional imbalance of one or more nutrients. They don’t have the pancreatic enzymes necessary to digest complex carbohydrates in healthy plants. Untouched plants are a clue you are meeting their needs. (more…)

June in the Garden

Dead Seedlings and Seed Germination Problems

Have you ever experienced sickly, wilted or dying seedlings? Seed germination problems? It’s frustrating and disheartening when plant babies die. Maybe you blamed the seed company or yourself and felt helpless! However, the culprit could be Damping Off disease caused by soil pathogens that destroy young seedlings or seeds before germination. In my new article What is Damping Off and How to Prevent It, I introduce you to the little rotters! You’ll discover the symptoms to look for and easy preventative strategies to avoid this common problem. I hope you find it an enlightening read.

TELL ME MORE ABOUT DAMPING OFF

What is Damping Off and How to Prevent It - Symtoms, Causes & Treatment




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Growing a Garden for Health and Wellbeing

Many are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety, especially related to health problems. The good news is that gardening provides us with a wealth of health and wellbeing benefits.

I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in tune once more. – John Burroughs, American naturalist

Happy healthy senior couple harvesting vegetables in their garden.

Do you want to improve your health and wellbeing? If so, I invite you to read my recent article in Garden Culture Magazine. I share the physical, emotional and mental health benefits of gardening as well as specific medicinal plants you can use for simple remedies. Read online from p56-63.

Here’s an interesting finding mentioned in the article. “Swedish research studies (Stigsdotter and Grahn, 2004; Stigsdotter, 2005) found that people who had access to a garden had significantly fewer stress occasions per year. They found those living in apartments without a balcony or outdoor area had more stress annually than those with a patio or small garden. Those who had the least stress were people with a large leafy garden, and the more frequently people spent time there, the less stress they suffered.”

‘Growing a Garden for Health and Wellbeing’ p56-63, Garden Culture Magazine

‘Growing a Garden for Health and Wellbeing’ p56-63, Garden Culture Magazine

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2021-05-31T13:58:34+10:00Categories: Newsletters|1 Comment

What is Damping Off and How to Prevent It

What is Damping Off?

Definition: ‘Damping off’ is a condition caused by pathogens that destroy seeds before germination or very young seedlings. The term refers to the outcome – weakened or dead seedlings or seeds. The seedling stem rots and the young plant collapses or seeds fail to germinate.

What is Damping Off and How to Prevent It - Symtoms, Causes & Treatment

Is it really that serious? Yes, unfortunately! Damping off can affect up to 80% of seedlings. So, if affected, you could lose a significant number of plants. Research has found that “even a very low population density of soil-borne pathogens can lead to severe epidemic development.” (1)

What Causes Damping Off?

So, who are the little rotters responsible for this sad end to your plant ‘toddlers’ or seed ‘babies’?

There are over a dozen culprits of soil-borne disease-producing organisms – different species of fungi and fungus-like organisms called ‘oomycetes’. They live in soil and transfer to a seed or seedling when conditions are favourable. Some pathogens are carried inside seeds or on the seed coat. However, only a few are commonly associated with damping off.

Firstly, let’s meet a few pathogens and their tongue-twisting names! They include Pythium species, oomycetes like Rhizoctonia solani, Phytophthora, Fusarium and Aphanomyces cochlioides.

More importantly, where do they hang out? Wet or overwatered soil, particularly in cool temperatures or cloudy conditions, provides favourable conditions for oomycetes called ‘water moulds.’ Why? Clearly, because they require water to multiply and spread. Phytophthora and Pythium species are both parasitic oomycetes.

Difference Between Pythium and Phytophthora - Pathogen Comparison

However, if you have warm, dry soil conditions, Rhizoctonia and Fusarium can thrive and are usually the most likely offenders. Rhizoctonia attacks seedlings causing them to collapse. A dry brown discoloured stem is often a clue.

This fungal pathogen thrives in soils with poor fertility (nutrient-deficient) and insufficient moisture. The brassica family of vegetables including broccoli, rocket, kale and cabbage seem most susceptible to this pathogen. Making your own seed raising mix just before sowing seeds may prevent this fungus from ‘priming’ itself to infect the emerging crop.

What are the Two Types of Damping Off?

Damping off affects both seeds and seedlings. So, what evidence should you look for?

  1. Pre-emergence: Seeds rot in the seed raising media before germinating or emerging above the soil level. Your seeds never appear to germinate. So, you may be left wondering what went wrong.
  2. Post-emergence: ‘Newborn’ seedlings that have recently germinated wilt, collapse quickly or die from soft rot in the stem. They usually fall over at the soil level. Woody seedlings may start to weaken and wither while still erect, but baby roots may decay soon after. The infected stem looks soft, brown and water-soaked. A bit of a sad story really, isn’t it? It’s devastating for new ‘plant parents’!

What are the Symptoms of Damping Off?

Damping off in Seedlings:

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March in the Garden

This newsletter is short and sweet. Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable that gardeners want to grow successfully, so this month, I’ve dedicated a new article to help you do just that. I also introduce you to an insect you might see in your garden – the Assassin Bug. Friend or foe? Read on to find out!

Check out my March tips wherever you live. Plus a special download for what to do in your garden in subtropical Queensland for local gardeners in my climate. Planning is just as much fun as planting so think about your design to optimise space. You can also grow microgreens as mini indoor gardens like these gorgeous colourful baby leaf greens.

Microgreens six different varieties of herbs and vegetables

Microgreens: six different varieties of herbs and vegetables you can eat raw in 7-21 days


Top Tips for Growing Terrific Tomatoes

In my Tomato Growing Guide, you’ll discover top tips for:

  • Selecting and growing tomatoes.
  • How to prepare your soil.
  • Sowing, harvesting and pollination.
  • Health benefits +
  • My yummy super-easy tomato sauce recipe.

Take me to the TOMATO TIPS!

March in the Garden - These indeterminate cherry tomatoes gave me a healthy harvest

My indeterminate cherry tomatoes produced a healthy harvest with amazing flavour



The Health Benefits of Growing Plants Indoors

Are you working from home or spending more time inside like 90% of Australians? If so, I invite you to read my recent article in Garden Culture Magazine (p72-81). You may be surprised to learn how an indoor garden can considerably improve your health and wellbeing.

Polluted indoor air contaminated by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is recognised as a major cause of building-related health conditions. These include headaches, nausea, lethargy, nose and throat irritation, and loss of concentration. Few people likely suspect an invisible enemy may be contributing to their health issues.  Click here to discover how your plants can come to the rescue!

The Health Benefits of Growing Plants Indoors Garden Culture Magazine p72-81

‘The Health Benefits of Growing Plants Indoors’ p72-81, Garden Culture Magazine

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Top Tips for Growing Terrific Tomatoes

Tomatoes are delicious herbaceous annuals and one of the easiest crops you can grow, even in a small space. If you’re a beginner gardener or had challenges, follow these practical tips for growing terrific tomatoes and a healthy abundant harvest.

Tomato Growing Guide

Top Tips for Growing Terrific Tomatoes

How to Select Tomatoes

Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum syn Lycopersicon esculentum) are members of the Solanaceae (Nightshade) plant family. Their relatives include potatoes, chilli, capsicum and eggplant. There are a huge number of varieties. So, how do you narrow it down to what is best for you?

Obviously, the most important consideration is to choose cultivars suited to your climate. Locally adapted tomatoes tend to be more resilient to weather conditions, pests and diseases.

3 Considerations when Selecting your Tomato Cultivar

  1. Firstly, whether to grow heirlooms, hybrids or grafted varieties. Do you want to save seeds or space?
  2. Secondly, do you want large or small sized fruit? How do you intend using them in cooking and do you want to preserve them?
  3. Thirdly, whether to grow indeterminate or determinate varieties. Your space, microclimate and growing season will influence this decision too.

1. Heirloom vs Hybrid vs Grafted Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

First, heirlooms or heritage tomato varieties have been carefully saved for purity and handed down for generations – at least 50 to 100 years. For this reason, I favour old fashioned heirloom tomatoes because are grown for their flavour, size, yield or other beneficial characteristics like disease-resistance. Heirloom cultivars grow ‘true-to-type’ (identical to their parent plant). Their seeds are open-pollinated by insects or the wind.

Therefore, the key benefit of heirlooms is you can save seeds and grow future crops for free. You know they will produce an identical tomato. So, once you have grown your favourite varieties, try breeding your own cultivars. Choose the best characteristics that are adapted to your garden conditions. Then, save seeds so you enjoy future harvests with the same tomato traits. Learn more about saving and sourcing seeds.



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Hybrid Tomatoes

Next, hybrids are the result of a controlled pollination method. This is where pollen from two different species of tomatoes is crossed intentionally by a gardener. The purpose is that each parent plant provides a beneficial characteristic (such as early maturity). Thus, producing a better plant in the next generation.

Hybridization does happen randomly in nature too. If you choose hybrid seeds you will see them labelled as ‘F1.’ This indicates a variety that has been bred specifically for a desired trait. Hybrid plants tend to produce bigger harvests and grow better than the two parent varieties due to ‘hybrid vigor.’ This sounds good, right? BUT the fruits grown from F1 plants will produce genetically unstable, sterile seed. Consequently, you can’t save seed to use in following years. Why not?

F1 hybrids do not grow ‘true-to-type’ like heirlooms or grow as strong in the next generation. Hybrid plants will revert back to one of the parent cultivars. This means you have to keep buying new seed every year. So, hybrids are not a very sustainable choice and certainly more expensive! There’s huge pressure on seed banks globally. For food security, it’s safer to be self-reliant with the freedom to grow food from your own seed stocks.

Grafted tomato plants

Finally, grafted tomatoes are formed by joining two plants together. They are grown on vigorous, disease-resistant resilient rootstock. They produce a larger harvest, without compromising flavour. Grafted tomatoes can be ideal for container gardeners because you don’t need as many plants or as much space. You can also graft your own tomatoes.

But what about size?

2. Should you Grow Large or Small Tomato Varieties?

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January in the Garden

Welcome to this month’s newsletter. Now is a great time to think about your goals and plan this year’s garden. I’ve redesigned my kitchen garden for optimum production, created a plant list of species that will provide multi-functional benefits including biodiversity and have started implementing my plan.

This month, I share tips and resources to help you with your goals; gardening guides to make it easy; ways to garden in just five minutes; keep garden records; moon planting and what to do in your garden in subtropical Queensland. Plus I announce the winner of my Live Chat Garden Consultation. Dig in!

I grow plants for many reasons quote


Garden Goals for 2021

We are living in very uncertain times with many suffering from stress and health issues. One of the simplest ways we can empower ourselves is to grow food and medicine in our own well-designed garden. I urge you to consider prioritising your garden this year. If it’s been low on your radar, maybe NOW is the time to take positive action rather than procrastinate. Consider how you can make space for spending time IN your garden to expand its value.

In 2020, there was huge pressure on seed and garden supplies, food shortages in supermarkets and farmers trying to navigate new regulations to transport their produce. I believe food security begins at home – in our garden and pantry. Taking responsibility for what we eat and producing at least some of our own needs is vital to living more sustainably.

If the stresses of life or health issues are weighing you down, spending time gardening is a scientifically researched* way to improve these outcomes. A review of many studies* has found our diets improve through healthier eating; connection to nature** helps relieve mental fatigue; while physical exercise and psychological health improve, amongst other benefits.

Plant Life Balance ambassador and researcher Dr Dominique Hes says “Being able to see plants or be surrounded by them can be an effective mechanism of dealing with stress. Experts say tending to plants can be one of the most accessible and simplest ways to engage in mindfulness.”

* Soga, Masashi, Gaston, Kevin J., Yamaura, Yuichi, Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis, Preventive Medicine Reports (2016)

** Kaplan, S., 1995. The restorative benefits of nature: toward an integrative framework. J. Environ. Psychol. 15, 169–182.

Dementia study reveals gardening may prevent disease


Gardening Guides to Get you Growing

Healthcare can be expensive so doesn’t it make sense to learn how to save money and improve health by growing and eating nutrient-dense food and herbs? These are some tools to help you.


Easy Ways to Garden in Just 5 Minutes

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Gardening Tips for December

Our gardens have taken on new meaning this year. Perhaps your garden has been a peaceful sanctuary to relieve stress? An abundant resource to feed and heal you, or an exciting and maybe bumpy journey if you’re a new gardener!

Grow more food in a small garden tip: Utilise all garden bed space with vertical stakes to support tomatoes in the centre and salad greens around the perimeter

Growing food to sustain and nourish your health is a positive empowering action to take especially in uncertain times

During the holiday season is a good time to reflect and plan how your garden will serve you next year. What would you like to grow? What would you like to change or do better? What didn’t quite go to plan this year and what were your successes?

Start a garden journal as an empowering learning tool – you’ll be surprised what a massive difference this can make to your successes.

I want to thank you for joining me throughout the year, especially all my clients I’ve had a chance to work with personally. In this newsletter, I’ve put together some planning tips for small gardens, ways to grow food on a budget, use your garden as therapy, moon planting and December planting tips to take you into the new year. There’s also a chance to win a Live Chat Garden Coaching consultation with me – be quick. Dig in for details!


Planning Tips for Small Gardens

Compact gardens require careful decisions to use space wisely. No one has the perfect location including me! We all have pros and cons to work with as we decide what to grow and where. These are a few quick practical tips to consider.

  • Grow only foods you enjoy eating! There’s no point investing time, money and effort into edible plants unless they’ll end up on your plate.
  • Consider how much time you really have to care for a garden each week. If you’re busy working full-time, an hour may be realistic to grow just a few healthy foods in pots.
  • Learn when your seasons are. Follow a seasonal planting guide to avoid sowing at the wrong time.
  • Choose pest and disease-resistant crop varieties suited to your climate. Heirlooms, open-pollinated and certified organic seeds often are well adapted and resilient. Do your research! Buy local when you can, then save your own seed.
  • Invest in your soil. Make your own compost, install a worm farm for free vermicast, make your own potting mix or buy quality soil rich in organic matter and nutrients. Your plants will only be as healthy as the soil they’re grown in!
  • Protect your plant babies. Seedlings and young plants are vulnerable while establishing. Crop covers, cloches and netting help buy them time to grow so they can cope with a few nibbles.
  • Grow less, but better. It’s more rewarding to grow a dozen healthy herbs and vegetables than a BIG garden you feel overwhelmed maintaining. Find joy in little things and take the pressure off!
  • Avoid growing too much of one crop or it may go to waste. If you sow seeds, you can grow just the number of plants you want.  Sow a little at a time, every week or two for a continuous harvest.
  • Start with easy plants and give challenging ones a miss until you feel confident and have the time to manage them.
  • Design your space efficiently. Use vertical structures, consider the microclimate with sun, shade and soil type so you make informed decisions about what to grow where to optimise space and productivity in your kitchen garden.
Grow Food in a Small Space - This narrow space is divided with a pathway and picket fence to keep animals out with a feature pot beyond. Trellises at the back of raised gardens are perfect for climbers to take advantage of sunny vertical space & add interest to break up pale walls.

This narrow space is divided with a pathway and picket fence with a feature pot beyond. Trellises at the back of raised gardens are ideal for climbers to take advantage of sunny vertical space and add interest to break up pale walls.


Gardening Gifts

Need a last-minute gift but left it a bit late to send in the post?

Our ever-popular Garden Journal Planner and Workbook and eBooks are instantly available for download so you can send anytime. Gift Vouchers and Garden Consultations are also a popular gift with 12 months to redeem for a Live Chat or Onsite Visit. From now until Christmas, with every purchase or product review (if you’re already a customer), you get a chance in the draw to win a one-hour Live Chat Garden Consultation. The lucky recipient will be announced in the January newsletter, so visit the Shop to purchase or leave a review now. So, if you’ve purchased a product in the past, but haven’t left a review yet, now’s your chance to be in the draw! Every product and review counts as a chance to win.

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2020-12-23T13:28:31+10:00Categories: Newsletters|0 Comments

Gardening Tips for November

The year is rocketing away and it’s been a time of great change for everyone. A time to reflect on our health, wellbeing, choices and connecting with nature. Perhaps you have taken the opportunity to live more sustainably by growing some of your own food and medicinal plants or at least getting started as a beginner gardener. In this newsletter, I share powerful reasons to grow parsley, quick foods to grow before Christmas, how to seed save and gardening tips for this month.

Plus, I’m excited to offer a bonus gift for purchases and a chance to win a Live Chat Garden Coaching consultation with me. Dig in for details below!

Gardening Tips for November | The Micro Gardener


Gardening Gifts

If you’re thinking about what to give your gardening friends and family, I invite you to check out the practical and educational laminated gardening guides, moon calendar, eBooks and books available in my online store. I also offer Live Chat Garden Coaching Gift Vouchers (digital and printed) that can be used anywhere in the world. Gift Vouchers for Onsite Consultations are popular too. Knowledge is a gift that keeps on giving and I’m grateful for your support and helping sustain my small business.

For your bonus discount, use the Coupon Code: 10%OFF during checkout to save 10% off your order.

All orders over $20 placed before Christmas will also receive my new eBook Guide to Growing a Nutrient-Dense Organic Food Garden as a BONUS Gift. It’s packed with practical tips and a checklist with key principles and action steps. Another tool to help you grow a productive healthy garden. SHOP NOW.


Win a Live Chat Garden Consultation!

Since it’s the season for giving and I value your support, I want to give back to my readers. So, for every product ordered or product review from now until Christmas, customers will get one ticket in the draw to win a personalised live coaching class. A one-hour one-on-one tailored consultation to answer your questions, design your space, troubleshoot problems and spend time helping you with shortcuts to grow an abundant healthy garden. I’m excited to offer the chance to win a Live Chat to every customer. So, if you’ve purchased a product in the past, but haven’t left a review yet, now’s your chance to be in the draw! Every product and review counts as a chance to win.

If you order 2 products and leave 1 review, you get three chances to win and so on. So, if you decide to buy your Christmas gifts in my store, you may well be the lucky winner of this special consultation. I’ll announce the winner in the January newsletter. What better way to start the new year, than with your own personalised class to plan next year’s garden? Visit the Shop here. Remember to use the discount coupon code: 10%OFF too!

Garden Consultation - One-on-one personalised class with Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener




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Quick Foods to Grow Before Christmas

Want to enjoy fresh homegrown ingredients in coming weeks? Then now is the time to get planting! There are many fast-growing crops you can grow. Here are a few suggestions and tips: (more…)

Gardening Tips for October

Connecting with nature is healing on so many levels. I hope you’ve been spending time in your garden – big or small. The past few weeks I’ve been busy filming for a project and helping clients set up new gardens on balconies, rooftops, front and backyards, Zooming all over the world! I love every minute of this work. Growing food and medicinal plants is one of the most empowering things we can do to take care of our physical and mental health, especially in uncertain times. Food security has never been more important. I’ve also been designing my urban garden to maximise space vertically and growing lots of food in containers, attracting beneficial insects and improving the soil. In this newsletter, I’m sharing practical resources to help you learn more about container gardening and how to manage a common pest insect – the fungus gnat + gardening tips for this month. So let’s dig right in!

Gardening Tips for October | The Micro Gardener


Why do potted plants die?

As container gardeners, our plants are dependent on us for survival. Their roots can’t just reach out and find the moisture and nutrients they need outside their pot ‘home’! The most common reasons for killing potted plants are:

  • Overwatering them. They drown due to waterlogged roots and lack of air spaces in poorly drained mix.
  • Underwatering them. They don’t have sufficient moisture to rehydrate and take up soluble nutrients.
  • Not feeding them by meeting their nutritional needs, so they ‘starve’ due to an empty ‘soil pantry’.
  • Using a poor quality potting mix or garden soil. Potting mixes tend to dry out, become hydrophobic and repel moisture quickly. Garden soil often compacts, doesn’t drain well and may contain plant pathogens.
  • Not repotting them when they outgrow their home. Roots become ‘pot bound’ if not upgraded to a bigger pot.
  • Putting them in the wrong spot – too hot, cold, frosty, windy, shady or sunny for their particular needs.
  • Neglecting them altogether. Bad plant ‘parenting’!

So how do you avoid these problems and save your plants?


7 Tips to Avoid Killing your Container Plants

If you’ve accidentally murdered one of your plants or turned it into a ‘dried arrangement’, don’t feel too guilty! Compost it and reuse your potting mix to start again. These are some simple tips to avoid future potted plant casualties.

7 Tips to Avoid Killing your Container Plants

  1. Start with a good quality potting mix that has excellent structure, holds moisture and nutrients and drains well. Even better, make your own potting mix for more control than a commercial mix or amend a bagged mix. This is my recipe.
  2. Choose your pot wisely. If you live in a hot climate, terracotta pots may not be the best choice as they dry out quickly. Do your homework and compare different materials and options.
  3. Water consistently and appropriately. It can be tricky to know how often to water. Some plants need more moisture than others. Large-leafed plants, fruiting and flowering crops, and thirsty herbs like mint typically have greater water needs than small-leafed herbs, succulents and perennials. Large pots in the shade won’t need watering as often as small containers in a sunny or windy position. Avoid waterlogging by leaving the plant sitting in water.
  4. Treat houseplants differently. Indoor plants have lower light levels so they use water comparatively slowly. They need to dry out a little between waterings (but not bone dry). Learn to ‘read’ your plant’s clues before the whole plant turns brown and crispy! I only water my houseplants every 10 days or so when a particular Spathiphyllum, Mr Droopy lets me know it’s seaweed spa day! They all go into a deep bucket for a refreshing deep drink, drain and hose down.
  5. Keep a garden journal if you’re busy or forgetful. I’ve found this really helpful for keeping a record of which plants need more or less moisture and general observations. A watering routine before/after work or a set time may help.
  6. Repot when needed. If you notice roots extending out the base of the pot, it’s time to transplant into a bigger one.
  7. Maintain plant nutrition. If you’re initially potting up a plant, add the nutrients to your potting mix. Liquid feeds are really useful to apply trace elements. A seasonal application of compost, worm castings, slow-release minerals and mulch will keep your plants healthy and happy.

Dig into more Container Gardening Tips.

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