How to Grow articles share practical steps to growing food, flowers and ornamental plants in your garden – indoors and out! Learn more about what to plant when, moon gardening and choosing seedlings and plants to save money.

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 5cm (2″) deep and 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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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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The Squash Family – How to Grow Curcubits

Zucchini, squash, marrows, pumpkins, cucumbers, melons and gourds are all members of the Curcubitaceae, Squash or Gourd family. These fruits and vegetables are also known as ‘Curcubits’.

The Squash Family - How to Grow Curcubits

They are delicious tummy fillers and worth finding a space for in your garden.

When to Plant the Squash Family

All curcubits are sun worshippers and suit warm climate conditions. Unless you have a very cold climate, you should be able to grow some varieties of these fruits and vegetables. In cool climates sow in spring, summer and autumn.

If you’re in the subtropics, this family grows with the least problems in spring to early summer and autumn through winter. In tropical climates, they grow most of the year but thrive during the dry rather than wet season, when they are hardest hit by fungal problems.

Where to Plant Curcubits

Cucurbits are best suited to a full sun position with soil high in organic matter and good drainage. Most varieties of these vegetables require ample space in a garden bed, although a few suit large, deep containers.

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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 9 years and raised thousands of these tiny veggies 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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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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3 Tips on Growing Peas and Beans

Do you love the crisp sweet crunch of young peas and beans? These easy-to-grow crops are perfect for all gardeners in small urban spaces. In pots, plots or garden beds!

3 Tips for Growing Peas and Beans

How do you get the highest yield from your peas and beans, especially if you have limited space?

These are tips I use to grow healthy pea and bean plants that produce an abundant harvest. I hope they help you too.

3 Tips for Growing Peas and Beans

1. Healthy Soil and Fertilising

  • Peas and beans both prefer well drained, moist soils, with plenty of organic matter and a soil pH 6.0-7.5.
  • You can make your own potting mix like I do, or improve your soil with compost and worm castings if you have them. I also add minerals and mulch. Click here for tips on preparing your soil for planting.
  • Every couple of weeks apply a liquid fertiliser such as seaweed, fish emulsion or diluted worm casting concentrate to boost growth.

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Easy Guide to Growing Basil

How to Plant, Grow, Use and Harvest Basil

Easy Guide to Growing Basil - How to Grow Basil + Planting, Using & Harvesting Tips

Why Grow Basil?

As a gardener and cook, I couldn’t bear to have a garden without Basil. This fragrant herb has many benefits.

  • FLAVOUR: Basil is a favourite ingredient in so many dishes. From pestos to pizza, pasta, sauces and savoury meals, basil has no comparison for flavour. I use it in our kitchen as much for its delicious taste as I do for its medicinal properties.
  • MEDICINE: Countless studies confirm basil species have many health benefits. For example, in one study the essential oils were found to have “much better antibacterial activity than ampicillin” (penicillin antibiotic). In addition, the results revealed basil oils showed “a great ability to inhibit fungal growth, which was 10-to-100-fold higher than the commercial antifungal agents ketoconazole and bifonazole.” Not bad for a humble herb!
  • FOR POLLINATORS: I grow a variety of basils for bees and beneficial insects as the flowers provide valuable food. Perennial basil and Tulsi or Sacred/Holy basil are in flower all year in my subtropical climate. They are literally bee magnets for many species. I intentionally position them where I want pollination of fruiting crops and fruit trees. They make perfect companions.
  • BEAUTY: The attractive flowers look beautiful in any garden and have a long vase life in arrangements.
  • EASY TO PROPAGATE: Basil self-sows readily and it’s easy to save seeds. It can be grown from cuttings and propagated by layering.

Interested in growing basil? Try it in a pot, garden or on your kitchen bench as sprouts or microgreens. Every year, I allocate ‘prime real estate’ space to basil in pots, as well as around my garden. Read on for how you can use this versatile herb.

Basil Varieties – Which Basil should you Grow?

Basil (Ocimum Basilicum) is a member of the Mint family (Lamiaceae). Like its mint ‘cousins’, basil comes in a large range of aromatic varieties, with flavours to please even the fussiest taste buds. Annual varieties will last you a season and then provide you with free seeds. Perennial cultivars last much longer and are even better value. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Sweet Basil and Genovese are two of the most popular basil choices for pesto as they have mild sweet flavours.

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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Raising Seeds

Have you tried raising seeds but they failed to germinate successfully? It may be due to one of these five common causes.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Raising Seeds

Raising Seeds: 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid

1. Choosing Unsafe Food Seeds

  • Did you know the majority of seeds (non-certified organic and some heirloom and open-pollinated brands) are sprayed with fungicides? This chemical process is used to stop rodents and insects from eating the seeds during storage. GMO (genetically modified) seeds are also creeping into our food system. Read the packets carefully when buying your seeds. Look for wording like “Certified Organic” and “Non-GMO”.

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How to Prevent and Fix Leggy Seedlings

After seeds germinate, do your leggy seedlings look weak and straggly like this? Need some help?

The stems on leggy seedlings are long and thin, but there are few or very tiny leaves.

The stems on leggy seedlings are long and thin, but there are few or very tiny leaves.

What Causes Leggy Seedlings?

‘Leggy’ seedlings typically have stretched skinny stems and look fragile. They may be bending forward rather than growing up straight with a strong stem.

If your newly germinated seedlings look like this, it may be due to one of three common causes: (more…)

9 Foods You Can Regrow from Kitchen Scraps

Are you growing an edible garden? One easy way to save money is to grow some of your plants for free. How? From leftover food scraps that are often thrown away!

9 Foods You Can Regrow From Kitchen Scraps | The Micro Gardener

9 Foods You Can Regrow From Kitchen Scraps

You may already be composting your kitchen ‘waste’. That’s a great way to build healthy soil. However, it may save you money to be selective before throwing everything into your compost system. There are many plant parts that can help you propagate new plants. For minimal effort and no cost.

Why Should You Only Regrow Organic Food?

  • First, a word of warning! For health reasons, I suggest you select organic vegetables, fruit and herbs. Too expensive? So is the cost of poor health! I think safe food is one of the best investments we can make.
  • Sadly, non-organic produce is grown using chemicals. Not just one spray either. It’s commonly a cocktail of herbicides, fungicides, pesticides and other -icides. These are applied during the growth cycle and even after harvesting. These are often systemic chemicals. That means you can’t wash them off the skin.
  • The chemicals are absorbed internally into the plant tissues through soil and water. Root crops like potatoes are especially vulnerable. Other crops are genetically modified or imported and radiated.

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