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So far Anne Gibson has created 148 blog entries.

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


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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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May 2019 Newsletter

This month, you’ll learn how to test old seeds to find out if they’re still OK to plant. You’ll also discover simple ways to frost protect crops; easy edibles to grow in shallow pots; plus sustainable uses for lawn clippings. I hope you pick up some new practical tips to apply this month!

May 2019 Newsletter The Micro Gardener


Can You Sow Out of Date Seeds?

Do you have a pile of seed packets stashed away? If you’ve been meaning to sow them, but haven’t got around to it, you’re not alone! 🤭 What if your seeds have gone past their use by date? Should you throw or sow them? In my latest article, I share an easy 3 STEP TEST to help you calculate the viability of your seeds. 🍃  You’ll discover whether those ‘bundles of joy’ are dead ☠️ or alive. 😃 No guilt for bad ‘parenting’! You’ll also learn how to store those potential ‘plant babies’ correctly to extend their life so you don’t waste money. 🍃🌿 I hope you enjoy it.  READ NOW

Can you sow out of date seeds? Find out How to Test Seed Viability in 3 Easy Steps + Tips for Storing your Seeds Safely

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Can You Sow Out of Date Seeds?

Do you have old seeds you haven’t got around to planting? If they are out of date, you may be wondering if you can still sow them. Most gardeners have good intentions when buying seeds, but then life happens! Rather than wasting money you’ve spent on expired seeds, why not test their viability to see if there’s any life left in them? You may be pleasantly surprised.

Can you sow out of date seeds? How to test seed viability and store seeds safely

Out of Date Seeds

Seeds, like other living things, have a shelf-life! Just because seeds are out of date, doesn’t mean they won’t germinate and grow normally. Don’t get rid of them yet! Checking your seeds is much more sustainable than throwing them out and assuming they are useless. I’ll show you an easy way to test them. So you won’t waste time and effort planting the packet if they’re not going to grow.

If the seed packet date has expired, it’s similar to the ‘Best Use By’ date on food packaging. It doesn’t mean the food isn’t edible, but the quality may have deteriorated. Likewise, some of the seeds may still grow if planted, but not necessarily every seed in the packet. The longer you wait to sow, the lower the chance of successful seed germination. (more…)

April 2019 Newsletter

In this month’s newsletter, I share lots of juicy tips on fruit and answer some common questions to help layer your learning, so dig in!

April 2019 Newsletter | The Micro Gardener


Why are my Lemons Staying Green not Yellow?

If you have a lemon tree, you’ll likely have a lot of questions about this fruit. Maybe your lemons are not ripening? Staying green or small for too long? Not sure when to pick them? In my latest article, you’ll discover 5 reasons why lemons may be slow developing (these can apply to other citrus) plus easy ways to tell when they are ripe and ready to harvest. READ MORE

Mature lemon trees with heavy crops of fruit require more water and nutrients to sustain growth

Mature lemon trees with heavy crops of fruit require more water and nutrients to sustain growth

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Pros and Cons of Eating Apple Skin

Numerous research studies support the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples (Malus sp., Rosaceae) contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals vital for good health. It’s not just the flesh of an apple that provides nutrients, but the polyphenols in apple skins have powerful documented health benefits.

Pros and Cons of Eating Apple Skin

According to one study in Finland, people who ate five apples a week had the world’s lowest rate of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

An apple with skin ON contains 50% MORE phytonutrients than a peeled one! 

Apple skins have exceptionally high concentrations of antioxidants. They also contain compounds (triterpenoids) with significant anti-cancer capabilities. Particularly so, when it comes to preventing liver, colon and breast cancer. Research shows apple peels and extracts may also help lower cancer risk for several types of cancer.

With so many health benefits, it’s worth exploring the pros and cons of eating apple skin

With so many health benefits, it’s worth exploring the pros and cons of eating apple skin.

Is Apple Skin Safe to Eat?

It depends on how the apples are grown and how well they are washed. If you grow your own without chemicals, there’s no issue of course. Unfortunately, chemically grown apples absorb the sprays into the flesh, not just on the skin surface.

In the 2019 EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, conventionally grown apples again made it into the top 5 most contaminated fruit and vegetables in their ‘Dirty Dozen’ list. Over 90% of apple samples tested positive for two or more pesticide residues. Apple skins contain higher nutrient value than flesh. However, they have also tested for a greater concentration of toxic chemicals.

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