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!
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.
- How to Restore Waterlogged Pot Plants
- Top Tips for Wet Weather Gardening
- 18 Top Tips for Gardening in Dry Climate Conditions
- Ten Water-Saving Tips for Your Garden
- 17 Water Saving Tips for Container Gardens
- 9 Strategies to Help Combat Common Edible Garden Problems
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.
Subtropical SE Queensland – What to Plant Now
READ Gardening Tips for October for what to do now in SE Queensland, pests to watch for and more. (Download PDF)
We’re in Sprummer now! A very changeable fifth season in our climate. Time to protect your crops from pests and a wide variety of weather conditions.
Subtropical Planting Guide – a laminated perpetual guide to the five seasons in SE QLD.
Vegetables Growing Guide – a reference chart to help you grow 68 of the most popular vegetables to grow in Australia and New Zealand climate zones. Includes information on companion planting, making compost, soil and moon planting.
For other locations, read my article on what to plant and when.
Updates from my Kitchen Garden
Over the past few months, I have added four 1m x 2m (3 x 6ft) raised beds in a narrow rectangular space. This zone is well protected from eastern and southerly winds but exposed to strong western sun, hot drying westerly winds and storms! No microclimate is perfect. However, I’m utilising the shade from neighbouring trees for plants that prefer a little sun relief. I have also installed several trellises for climbers to optimise vertical space. The four beds allow me to crop rotate to minimise pest and disease problems in my soil.
You don’t need a lot of room but it helps to plan your space carefully to optimise what you can grow. I’ve designed my space as a Potager (pronounced poe-ta-zhay) – an ornamental vegetable garden. It’s a collection of annual and perennial edible plants with diverse colours, textures, and flavours, interplanted with flowers. A kitchen garden can look just as gorgeous as an ornamental garden. Adding beauty also feeds the mind and soul as well as the body!
Many of my brassica or crucifer cabbage family of vegetables are coming to an end. I have had a plentiful harvest of baby broccoli, leaf broccoli, red cabbage, cauliflower, annual rocket, kale, Asian greens and radish. After brassicas, members of the onion family enjoy growing in the firm soil. Leeks, onions, shallots, chives and spring onions are always welcome in the kitchen!
Peas and beans are also finishing. They struggle in warmer temperatures. I’ve collected a big bucket of pea and bean pods to dry and save seeds from. The purple snow peas are a winner and will definitely make it on my list for next year’s planting. Legumes like peas and beans ‘fix’ nitrogen in the soil, so I’ll plant nitrogen-loving brassica crops or leafy greens next. They will take advantage of the free fertiliser these plants left in the soil.
Interplanting with marigolds has been a successful strategy.
Cons: I gave up valuable space to accommodate these flowers in a small garden so I positioned them in the centre of an existing garden bed that was too wide. I planted other crops around them.
Pros: Their beautiful blooms attracted bees and pollinators which helped improve yields. The strong scent of the leaves and flowers helped repel pests. I have thousands of free seeds and new plants to swap, give away and sell. They have produced a huge quantity of organic matter (nitrogen and carbon) for my compost.
Dig into tips to help you design your own productive kitchen garden.
Tips for Growing Beautiful Berries
- Blueberries are ideal for pots or a full sun position in any small garden. These bushes also tolerate partial shade.
- Prune blueberries back after fruiting. This keeps them compact and encourages new growth which will produce your next harvest. Remove all unproductive older canes low to the ground or soil and prune the tips on each branch. Ideally, prune in harmony during the new moon phase to encourage new healthy growth.
- Most blueberries are self-fertile. This means they don’t require another plant to produce fruit. However, in practice, if you grow several varieties, you will achieve a higher yield and extend your harvest as they mature at different times.
- One of the benefits of blueberries is you can pick a handful as they ripen. Not all blueberries in a cluster ripen at once so you get the pleasure of anticipating the next day’s harvest.
- Strawberries enjoy a full sun position in well-drained compost-rich soil with added aged manure.
- Prevent fungal diseases by avoiding damp, waterlogged soil conditions.
- Strawberries are heavy feeders so liquid fertilise during their growing season and top up with compost and aged manure.
- They need consistent moisture while fruits are forming and benefit from a thick blanket of mulch.
- Cut new runners off and replant to allow the mother plant to put energy into current season fruit.
- Pick quick! Once fruits ripen to a juicy deep red colour, harvest at once. They rot quickly so don’t waste your precious harvest.
- Raspberries are easy to grow in rich soil. They prefer a spot protected from strong winds and hot afternoon sun. They hate wet feet so ensure well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter as they are heavy feeders.
- They are cheapest when purchased in winter as bare-rooted plants, without soil. Pre-soak the root ball in liquid seaweed before planting it.
- The beauty of growing a raspberry plant is that it self-propagates! The raspberry canes produce many basal shoots or suckers as the plant matures. Dig them up and replant, sell or swap and share with friends and neighbours.
- Be prepared to train your raspberry vines along a trellis of some kind.
- Prune old canes right back to soil level during winter. Berries will grow on new season canes.
- Raspberries are high in fibre and antioxidants which help reduce cell damage in the body.
Gardening Guides + Coupon Code
Our range of gardening guides helps you learn more ways to grow a nutritious food garden to support your health. For a 10% Discount, enter Coupon Code: 10%OFF during checkout and click Apply. You can use this code for all guides, books and DVDs in your cart this month. Enjoy! No limit on guides and they make great gifts. To help someone learn to grow food is a gift that keeps on giving.
Sow at the Best Time with Moon Cycles this Month
During the new moon to full moon phase, it’s an ideal time to sow and transplant all above-ground plants. The moon influences the movement of all water on earth. Not just the tides, but also the water table, soil moisture and plant sap. Seasonal leafy greens, fruiting crops, shrubs, herbs and trees are best planted at this time. I take advantage of this cycle each month to maximise new growth, encourage flowering and fruiting, germinate seeds and propagate from cuttings. With more nutrients available in the plant sap, they ‘strike’ much faster.
If you are still taking potluck and sowing at any time, your results will likely vary! Some plants might thrive while others fail, bolt to seed, wither or seeds never germinate. Timing is everything in gardening! Swinging this aspect in your favour can make the difference between a productive garden and a frustrating one. It may help to learn more about the benefits of moon gardening.
- Money Saving Tips for Growing your Garden
- Seed Starting Guide: Quick Tips for Starting Seeds Successfully
- Design Tips for a Productive Kitchen Garden
- Easy Food Gardening Guide for Beginners
- 17 Fast Growing Vegetables for Impatient Gardeners
- 40+ Best Shade Tolerant Vegetables
- Plants for a Survival Food and Medicinal Garden
Dig into my free online Article Library for more topics
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Each week I share photos and videos of what I’m growing, harvesting and eating from my garden and ways I use my homegrown food. Follow me for more tips and inspiration in between newsletters.
I look forward to sharing more news and ways to grow good health next month.
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