10 Top Tips to Create a Bee Friendly Garden

If you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, it’s likely bees have played a vital role in pollinating many of the foods on your plate! One way to help these threatened, tiny but hardworking insects, is to create a bee friendly garden. A magnet if you like, to lure them to spend more time hanging out at your place!

10 Tops Tips to Create a Bee Friendly Garden

If you have a garden, even a small one, you can encourage your local bees to visit regularly. Bees help fertilise up to 90% of the earth’s major food crops and you can support their health and survival, while reaping some awesome benefits.

4 Benefits of Attracting Bees to your Garden

An intentionally designed bee friendly garden:

1. Has a beautiful variety of perfumed colourful flowers that bloom continuously throughout the seasons. (A visual and sensory smorgasbord for you!)
2. Improves the quality, size and flavour of your fruits and vegetables. (A more delicious edible feast too!)
3. Increases the quantity of produce you harvest. (More food on your table)
4. Attracts beneficial insects that help reduce pests. (Less effort needed on pest management)

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13 Benefits of Growing Flowers in your Vegetable Garden

If you’re thinking you don’t need to bother with flowers in your vegetable garden, especially if you have a small space, you may be surprised with the many benefits they offer you.

13 benefits of growing flowers in your vegetable garden to improve pollination, reduce weeds + pests, get free fertiliser & plants

Flowers play multiple beneficial roles in EVERY garden, especially if you want an abundant harvest of fruit and vegetables. Did you know that with the right choices, you can increase your harvests, save money, reduce weeds and pests, get free fertiliser and plants, and much more? If not, dig in!

Powerful Reasons Why You Should Grow Flowers

Growing a food garden without flowers is an uphill battle. If you want fruit and vegetables, you need flowers too!

My compact kitchen garden has some flowering plants year round because I’ve designed it that way. So I’m going to share 13 compelling reasons why I think you should grow at least a few flowers in your vegetable garden.

1. Use as Companion Plants

Flowering companion plants are ‘friends’ with benefits! They offer neighbouring plants, or you as a gardener, some kind of useful ‘service.’ For example, tall flowering shrubs provide shade to sun-sensitive ground covers and strong smelling flowers may camouflage vulnerable crops nearby.

Flowering herbs are some of the best companions to grow in amongst your vegetables and fruit. Let’s just look at one example I mention in my Book, GUIDE TO USING KITCHEN HERBS FOR HEALTH:

“Chamomile has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, and this may be one of the reasons it benefits other plants in the garden. No serious diseases are known to affect this healthy flowering herb. While the fresh flowers are very aromatic, they have a very bitter flavour because they contain a volatile oil, a bitter extractive and some tannic acid. This could explain why pests don’t find them all that attractive to munch on!”

“Chamomile also has a reputation for behaving like a nurse plant, helping to encourage other plants to increase their essential oil content and thus their flavour and aroma. Ailing plants seem to revive. It reportedly helps improve growth, resistance to pests and disease and increase harvests.”

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New Guide to Using Kitchen Herbs eBook

I have a lot of projects on the go each year. From speaking at events, presenting workshops, coaching local clients to grow their gardens, to writing, donating time in my community, growing food for my family and my online education work.

But this year, I finished a project I’m really proud of. It had been sitting there for a while as the ‘seed’ of an idea, but I needed a huge push to make it happen. The only way to do that is set a deadline. How do you make change in the world without setting a goal? Nothing like having a date to finish a book by to make you really focus!

My New Guide to Using Kitchen Herbs for Health eBook

It’s hard work. It takes dedication and very long hours. Planning, nurturing, thought and time. It’s like carrying a baby for months and putting huge effort into it, until finally it’s time to deliver and birth it into the world! A real labour of love.

So, I thought I’d take you behind the scenes a little, into my private world and why I wanted to write this new eBook and how it came about.

Growing up with Herbs

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12 Valuable Tips to Grow Healthy Microgreens

Do you want an abundant harvest of healthy microgreens? Whether you’re growing these nutrient-packed vegetables and herbs for your own health or to sell, these tips can help you succeed quickly.

12 Tips on How to Grow Healthy Microgreens

I’ve been growing microgreens for over 6 years and raised thousands of these tiny vegies and herbs in that time. Not only for our own use and good health, but also to share at public workshops and garden events to help inspire others.

I love these babies and have learned SO much about their needs. So, here are a few of my secrets to help you get a continuous abundance of healthy microgreens.

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Health Benefits of Eating and Growing Purple Foods

If you’re interested in good health, or are growing an edible garden, have you heard about how purple foods can benefit you? In this article, I share 50+ purple fruits and vegetables you can eat and grow, as well as their special protective health benefits, so let’s dig a little deeper.

Health Benefits of Eating and Growing Purple Foods

If you’re a food gardener, it’s likely you’re aware that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is healthy. It’s also one of the easiest ways to prevent disease. That’s why I’m growing my own healing, nutrient-dense food garden.

I’ve intentionally planted a rainbow of foods including those with purple pigments like eggplant, sweet potatoes and mulberries. Why? Because edibles with diverse colours and in different plant families each provide us with unique nutrients. Every food crop (vegetables, fruits and herbs) have different nutrients, so expanding the variety of colourful foods you eat can help boost health. More on that in a moment.

“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” – Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine

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Tour Through my 2017 Garden

Growing Food in a Challenging Climate

2017 was the worst and longest drought I have ever experienced. The growing conditions were the toughest I can ever remember. The rain just didn’t come for 7 long months. In fact, it was so bad in our local region, the Sunshine Coast of Australia, that thousands of people ran out of water for their homes and personal needs, let alone their gardens. Many had to get water and take showers in local parks. It was really, really dry.

As you’d expect, I had a few plant casualties. The grass was crispy. Sadly, an ornamental tree died and it wasn’t worth planting some of my favourite foods because the conditions were too unfavourable.

However, what delighted me was that through this entire time, my little kitchen garden kept feeding us. Not just now and then, but every day. Now you probably think I spent hours and hours every week out there planting and tending it. But nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve never had a busier year. Some weeks, I was lucky to spend an hour or two – and that was harvesting rather than planting or maintenance. Take a look at a few of the foods we enjoyed this year.

2017 tour and harvests from my garden | The Micro Gardener

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5 Simple Secrets to Building Healthy Soil

Why does soil health matter? Because if you want pest and disease-free plants that are nutrient-dense to nourish your health, you need healthy soil!

5 Simple Secrets to Building Healthy Soil

“Healthy soil has an ongoing capacity to function as a vibrant living ecosystem that can sustain plants, animals and people.” – Anne Gibson

Do YOU have Healthy Soil?

There are many factors that indicate soil health including:

  • a stable pH (not too acid or alkaline);
  • good soil structure;
  • ability to hold and release nutrients to plants;
  • level of organic matter; and
  • biodiversity of soil life.

A soil test kit will help you discover what your soil pH is. Picking up a handful of soil will allow you to get a feel for its structure and how ‘alive’ it is with worms and other tiny soil creatures.

Healthy soil does not look like dead dry lifeless dirt!

If your soil looks and feels like lifeless dry dirt, you may have a lot of work to do!

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9 Reasons You Should Grow Cosmos Flowers

Cosmos flowers (Cosmos bipinnatus or Mexican aster) are showy annual flowers that offer you SO many benefits. If you’ve never grown these ornamental beauties, you may be surprised how useful these cheerful flowers can be.

9 Reasons You Should Grow Cosmos Flowers

Cosmos Flowers

Cosmos is a member of the Compositae or Asteraceae family, just like their ‘cousins’: sunflowers, marigolds, yarrow, daisies, zinnias, lettuce and dandelions.

These easy care flowers are perfect for a full sun position in your garden or a pot, growing through spring to autumn.

Not surprisingly, the name Cosmos comes from the Greek word ‘kosmos’ which means ‘beautiful’. Aww! These flowers come in many colours and grow tall with attractive feathery leaves. I encourage you to find a pot or tiny space to sow a few seeds.

“Texture and foliage keep a garden interesting through the season. Flowers are just moments of gratification.” – Kevin Doyle

So why grow these beautiful blooms?

 

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Best Tips for Growing Root Crops

Do you love digging for hidden treasures in your soil, but sometimes feel disappointed in your harvest? If so, these tips should help make growing root crops much easier and more successful.

Best tips for growing root crops

Discovering an edible surprise is a bit like unwrapping a present, isn’t it? You get that feeling of anticipation as you unearth a handful of potatoes or pull up a bunch of crunchy carrots. Then you start dreaming up how you’re going to enjoy eating those tasty homegrown crops.

So let’s dig into some juicy tips on ways to get more of these delicious vegies and spices on your plate. (more…)

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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