Problem Solving articles – here I answer questions and help provide solutions for common garden problems.

Tips to Grow Food in Hot, Dry or Windy Weather

Regardless of where you live, it’s likely you have some climate challenges to deal with when growing food. Here in my subtropical climate in SE Queensland, Australia is no different. During the year, we experience five seasons of different lengths. Some months are almost perfect food growing conditions and others are extremely challenging. It’s particularly difficult growing food in hot, dry weather.

Tips to Grow Food in Hot, Dry or Windy Weather | The Micro Gardener

Growing Food in Hot Dry Weather

During our summer months – December through March – hot and sticky weather is typical. We can get sudden storms which often bring torrential rain and even hail, flooding the garden and potentially damaging plants or even destroying them. Hail damaged leaves, fruit and stems are more vulnerable to diseases as the plant tissues are exposed to pathogens.

During storm season, strong gusty winds can stress plants out, particularly if they are hot and dry. During storms, wild weather can cause stems and branches to easily snap or fruit to drop.

Baking hot days often result in heat stress and scorching temperatures can cause sunburn. Plants can suffer dehydration very quickly if exposed to strong sun and wind, without sufficient soil moisture.

Not to mention the pest insects and diseases that thrive in hot, humid and windy conditions! At times it seems like everything is stacked against us as food gardeners.

Whilst these conditions may be common, they don’t happen EVERY day. I find the best way to cope is to know what to expect in your climate and be prepared with suitable strategies.

Likely you have difficult weather at times too. So, what can you do to help protect your precious plants?

3 Ways to Protect your Crops from the Weather

1. Provide Windbreaks

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Organic Aphid Control with Hoverflies

Controlling aphids organically is much easier if you encourage natural predators like hoverflies to take up residence in your garden. One natural pest management strategy for organic aphid control is to make your garden attractive to predatory insects. These can help keep aphid numbers and other sap suckers in balance – no chemicals needed.

Organic Aphid Control with Hoverflies

 

The Hoverfly or Syrphid Fly (Diptera)

Also known as Flower Flies, hoverflies are members of the Syrphidae insect family. As their name suggests, adults often ‘hover’ like mini helicopters over nectar and pollen-rich flowers.

They lay their eggs near or in the middle of aphid colonies so when their babies hatch, dinner is served! (more…)

Organic Fruit Fly Control Strategies

Fruit flies are one of the most destructive pest insects in home gardens and attack a wide range of fruit trees and fruiting crops. Many gardeners find they are the number one enemy they battle every year.

This pest insect is most active from spring through autumn and species vary in different locations. For vulnerable fruit, you need to be prepared to be vigilant and have controls in place at the right time. You really have to know your enemy to tackle it!

If you’ve experienced damage to your harvest, it can be disheartening to even try to grow your favourite fruit crop. What if managing this pest insect is all too difficult?

Organic Fruit Fly Control Strategies

If you don’t want to deal with fruit fly damage in your garden, you still have options:

1. Remove any host plants that are prone to attack.

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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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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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Why a Garden Journal is Your Most Valuable Tool

Why Should You Bother Keeping a Garden Journal?

Because if you want to minimize mistakes and maximize successes and enJOYment in your garden, being observant and recording what you see is essential. Even a few brief notes in a Garden Journal can make a massive difference.

Why a Garden Journal is Your Most Valuable Tool - Want to minimize mistakes and maximize successes in your garden? Discover how keeping a Garden Journal can help you take a shortcut to becoming an expert gardener in your own garden. Keeping a simple record of what you observe is vital + SO easy. Dig in!

Most of us think we’ll remember what we’ve seen or done in our garden. But, time is a funny thing. It’s so easy to forget with the busyness of life, what we saw or did, and when that occurred. Where did last year go? In a flash!

Have you ever noticed holey leaf damage on a plant? Have greedy insects beaten you to it? It can be disheartening and frustrating to feel you can’t do anything about it.

  • But what if you knew that at a certain time each year, grasshopper eggs were going hatch?
  • What if you kept a record so you could put preventative controls in place to avoid that damage?
  • Would that be valuable?
  • Wouldn’t you feel a sense of satisfaction knowing what to expect and what actions to take when?

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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 Secrets for a Low Maintenance Easy Garden

Do you feel your garden is hard work? Too much digging, weeding, watering and fertilising? For minimal results?

The principles for doing less work, with greater rewards are simple. These are just a few of my secrets for creating an easy garden. Dig in!

9 Secrets for a Low-Maintenance Easy Garden - Tips include Good Design; No-dig Gardens; Choosing Plants Wisely; Mulch + more. Dig in!

 

Easy Garden Ideas

1. Good Design

  • One of the secrets to less work in your garden is thoughtful planning. You may feel overwhelmed if you aim for perfection. I spend time applying Permaculture principles to ‘design out’ potential problems. You can refine and add to your plan later.
  • Begin one project at a time. A simple DIY edible planter is a good place to start. Once you gain confidence, you can create the next element in your garden.
  • Locate your edible containers and food gardens close to your kitchen for easy access.

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4 Steps to Improve Pollination and Your Harvests: Part 2

Do you want an abundant harvest? If so, you can improve pollination by making your garden more attractive to pollinators.

 

There are easy things you can do to improve pollination so you get lots more food on the table.

There are easy things you can do to improve pollination so you get lots more food on the table.

In Part 1 of this series, I discussed pollination problems in depth and the FIRST STEP you can take: Eliminate ALL chemicals from your garden. There’s some critically important information to be aware of in that article, so if you missed it, check out 4 Steps to Improve Pollination and Your Harvests: Part 1.

What other ways can you improve pollination and your harvests? Read on for 3 more practical steps you can take to work with nature for mutually beneficial outcomes:

  1. Learn to hand pollinate your crops
  2. Provide insect hotels for pollinators
  3. Plant bee-friendly flowers

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4 Steps to Improve Pollination & Your Harvests: Part 1

Are you ever disappointed with your harvests? Do you ever notice flowers and baby fruits forming only to drop, wither and die? If so, don’t despair! There ARE solutions to help improve pollination and ensure you have an abundant harvest.

Picking a handful of beans is rewarding, but a bucketful is better! Especially when you add up the money this saves you. Improve pollination & your harvests by working with nature to grow your food.

Picking a handful of beans is rewarding, but a bucketful is better! Especially when you add up the money this saves you.

 

You may be happy with your current edible yields, but it’s very likely you can improve your harvest even further. One of the secrets is about give-and-take relationships in your garden.

I work with nature to get the most from my Kitchen Garden. You may have a different climate and growing season, but the principles for a productive garden are basically the same wherever you live. I hope these tips will help boost your harvest.

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