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Garden Tips for October


Welcome to the October newsletter. The cost of food is on the rise, especially fresh produce. Growing even a few foods at home saves money and can help improve your health and well-being on many levels. I started our new compact kitchen garden around nine months ago. Now, a lot of our fresh produce comes out of our garden and it’s increasing all the time. For every edible you grow, it’s one less you need to buy!

Garden Tips for October

What’s on the menu this month?

  • Tips for growing food in challenging weather conditions and building healthy soil;
  • Growing delicious blueberries, strawberries and raspberries;
  • Need inspiration? Peek over the virtual fence into my new garden and what I’ve been up to;
  • Get your timing right with moon planting this month for better success;
  • Coupon Code for all guides and books!

Growing Food in Challenging Climate Conditions

Weather conditions have been tough for many gardeners around the world. Read on to dig into tips for working with climate challenges. These articles offer you a barrowload of strategies to optimise planting wherever you live.

Healthy Soil Tips

With a little soil preparation, your plants will produce an abundant crop, resist pest and disease attacks and support your health. Check out the articles below to help you grow, restore and rebalance your garden.




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Gardening Tips for October

Apply compost, feed your soil, top up with a layer of mulch and observe your plants daily. Look for clues your plants may need a little help. Are they wilting, being attacked or leaves changing colour? Look closer for pests or disease symptoms. Check the soil moisture. Refer to your garden journal for when you last added nutrients to the pot or garden bed.

If the weather conditions are changing, it may be time to remove annual crops. Add the plant material to your compost. Get seasonal seeds started and crop rotate annual plants to minimise pest and disease problems.

The new moon growth phase in the last week of October into November is an ideal time to sow all above-ground plants. The strong upward sap flow into stems, branches, flowers, seeds and fruit makes this phase a good time to liquid fertilise as nutrients are transported quickly. Sow seeds and seedlings or transplant potted plants. Plant flowers, herbs, fruit trees, and vegetables that you harvest for their fruit or leaves above ground.

Spend a few minutes pottering around your plants. What stage of growth are they? If they are just getting started or fruiting and flowering, keep up liquid feeding to support strong growth. Soak up vitamin D in the sun, walk barefoot to connect with the earth and listen to the sounds of nature. Pick a few herbs and enjoy a herbal tea.

Note other observations such as seeds starting to form or flowers being pollinated and setting fruit. Are any crops ready to harvest? Which ones need support with a stake or trellis?

When annual herbs reach maturity, they will flower and produce seed pods. Watch as they turn brown and are ready to gift you a rich bounty of free seeds. Collect and save your own seeds and start propagating plants to grow them for free. Take cuttings from your best plants this season. These skills save you money and help you become a sustainable gardener. If you have a surplus of seeds or cuttings, swap or sell them or plants you propagate to earn an income.

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Garden Tips for August


Hi and welcome to the latest newsletter. I’ve been busy presenting 7 workshops on Incredible Edibles – Small Space Gardening over the last 10 days. With rising inflation especially food and the cost of living increasing, it makes sense to grow your own groceries. In these challenging times, feeding ourselves nutritious healing foods and growing plants for medicine is vital for a strong immune system and to live more sustainably.

I’ve also been establishing my new kitchen garden and helping people grow nutrient-dense food to support good health. I have a barrowload of tips to help you grow a healing productive garden.

Garden Tips for August - What to do in the garden this month

What’s on the menu this month?




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Gardening Tips for August

Continue planting above ground edibles with the new moon growth phase. Spend just five minutes to spend time around your plants, pots, walk barefoot, breath fresh air, feel the sun on your skin and relax. Gardening is incredibly good for our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Nature therapy does wonders for the mind, body and soul!

Observe your plants. Are they flowering before producing seed? I encourage you to collect and save your own seeds and start propagating plants to grow them for free. Not only does this save money but helps you grow a sustainable resilient garden. You can share what you grow with others or sell your surplus for an income.

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2022-11-25T11:07:53+10:00Categories: Newsletters|0 Comments

How to Grow Turmeric Tips for a Healthy Harvest

How to Grow Turmeric Tips

Turmeric, Curcuma longa is an edible, medicinal, attractive self-pollinating perennial plant. Turmeric is worthy of a place in everyone’s garden, even in a pot. I believe it is one of the most healing herbs you can grow and use for preventative health benefits. It’s a member of the ginger family and is known for good reason as the Spice of Life!

How to Grow Turmeric Tips for a Healthy Harvest

Where to Grow Turmeric – Likes and Dislikes

Turmeric is a rhizome (root crop) and is planted from a piece of turmeric rather than seed. It prefers a well-drained, consistently moist compost-rich soil in a partial to full sun location. Turmeric thrives in warm, humid subtropical and tropical climates protected from strong winds and frost. In these conditions, turmeric will grow with just morning sunshine. However it  benefits from shade relief in intense heat, especially over hot summers.

If you are in a cool climate, plant it in a full sun position with maximum warmth. Avoid wet or waterlogged soil or the rhizomes can rot. Turmeric is sensitive to drought or drying out completely. Avoid frosty conditions or heat stress.

How to Grow Turmeric in a Container or Garden Bed

Turmeric is very well suited to growing in large pots (35L or 9 gal). Perfect for renters, those who don’t want to dig to harvest and small space gardeners.

Use a nutrient-rich, moisture-holding potting mix and a thick layer of mulch. I have several in pots that just keep producing year after year with very little effort required to maintain them. The quality of the potting mix makes a HUGE difference, so don’t skimp.

If planting into a garden bed, improve the soil with plenty of compost and mulch. Turmeric is a hungry feeder! So prepare the soil well with nutrients (rock minerals and trace elements). Make sure the soil is well-drained so your crop doesn’t rot.

Turmeric is grown from plant material. Start with a large healthy organic turmeric rhizome. Ideally, it will have roots or small knobbly bits that are starting to shoot. The larger the original rhizome, the more energy the plant will have to grow and produce more turmeric. Makes sense right? So don’t skimp on your planting material! Sow 15-20cm (6-8″ apart).

How to grow turmeric tips: Turmeric rhizome ready for planting new buds or eyes

Propagate a new plant from an organically grown turmeric rhizome

Always put a plant marker in the garden or pot. It’s easy to forget your dormant turmeric plant is there sleeping! You can lose it while it’s snoozing, accidentally damage it or forget to care for it. So label it well!

When to Plant and How to Feed Turmeric

Turmeric is planted in early spring. If you sow at other times, don’t expect a flush of growth! It may stay dormant until warmer soil temperatures arrive. Turmeric will take around 8-10 months before the leaves die back and it is fully mature in winter. This is when it will have produced a full ‘hand’ of rhizomes that look like little ‘fingers’.

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June Garden Tips

With weather challenges, food shortages, rising prices for fresh produce, escalating living costs and food security concerns, it makes sense to grow your own groceries. Even just a few basic homegrown vegetables and herbs can make a positive impact on your budget. I’ve got lots of creative, practical and super easy money-saving ideas to help you in my latest article.

10 Smart Tips to Garden on a Budget

Saving seeds, simple propagation skills, growing food from kitchen scraps, making healthy soil, growing mulch plants and DIY fertilisers are a few of the cost-effective tips in this article. Dig in with quick how-to video lessons.




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Budget-Friendly Ways to Grow Food from your Kitchen

Are your grocery bills costing you more? You’re not alone. Global food prices are on the rise as producers continue facing ingredient and labour shortages, as well as increased transport and fuel costs. Consumers are paying the price. With no relief in sight, it’s time to get our kitchen gardens producing. I share budget-friendly ideas to help you in this Garden Culture Magazine article.

 


Lettuce Sow!

At $10+ a lettuce in many shops, it’s essential to grow your own. Lettuce is one of the easiest and fastest foods to grow in a pot or garden bed. From seed to feed in just a few weeks! Lettuce seeds need light to germinate which makes sense because the dried flowers with tiny seedheads are blown by the wind with little parachutes! They easily self-sow where they land on the surface. I often dig them out of the grass with a fork from the kitchen and gently transplant them. Lettuce will gift you so many free seeds you can save and keep growing. Learn how in my short video. I’d really appreciate a Like and Share if you find the tips helpful.


NEW Sustainable Gardening Guides

Two of the best ways to save money in your garden are to:

  1. Save your own seeds and create a home seed bank. You won’t have to buy seeds year after year.
  2. Learn how to propagate new plants. There are many techniques to save you from getting your purse out at the nursery!

Both these strategies involve learning new skills that will be invaluable to you. Not only to save money and be self-reliant but potentially to earn an income by selling new plants and seeds. Food for thought!

To help you get started, I now have two new laminated 8-page gardening guides on Seed Collecting and Saving and Plant Propagating.

For a 10% Discount, enter Coupon Code: 10%OFF during checkout and click Apply. Enjoy!

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10 Smart Tips to Garden on a Budget

With weather challenges, food security concerns and shortages plus escalating prices for fresh produce and living costs, it makes sense to grow your own groceries and garden on a budget. Even just a few basic homegrown vegetables and herbs can make a positive impact on your budget and more importantly, your health.

10 Smart Tips to Garden on a Budget - money saving ideas to grow food

These tips will help you:

  • Save money.
  • Live more sustainably.
  • Eat healthier.
  • Be more self-reliant.
  • Improve your food security.

So let’s dig in!

How to Garden on a Budget

1. Sow Seeds vs Seedlings

Seeds save you money, whereas seedlings save you time. You just need to be organised to plan ahead. That’s because seeds take time to germinate and grow big enough to transplant. However, you can grow way more plants from one packet of seeds than a punnet of seedlings!

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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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