The start of 2020 has been challenging for many gardeners, especially here in Australia with drought and fires affecting life, health and the environment on so many levels. My heart goes out to all those personally or indirectly affected. We’re starting to see how quickly such events impact our food supply and the rising cost of vegetables.
On a positive note, the start of a new year is the ideal time to reflect back, plan ahead and look forward to what you want to grow and learn. So this month I share resources to help you with those goals, gardening tips for January and what to do in your garden in subtropical Queensland; ways gardening can improve your health; sensational tips on strawberries; bushfire garden recovery and food security threats. Lots to dig into in this month’s newsletter!
3 Tips for Planning this Year’s Garden
In this short article, I share how I plan my garden at the start of each year + there’s a free journal download for you! I discuss ways to learn valuable lessons; reflect on past successes and disappointments for key insights and dig for details when planning this year’s garden. READ NOW.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” ― Benjamin Franklin
How to Set Goals for this Year
If you’re going to invest time, money and effort into your garden – even a few pots – isn’t it worth having a plan? At least an idea of what you’d like to achieve in a broad sense. Maybe you want to grow food to support your health and wellbeing, overcome a problem, learn how to grow and use herbs, design a space to expand what you can grow or try container gardening. Or maybe you haven’t given this year’s garden any thought yet!
Wherever you’re at, this article is packed with easy-to-achieve goals and resources to get you going.
When you make a purchase, you are making a difference by helping support my education work to teach people how to grow healthy food.
Benefits of a Garden Journal
If you’ve never kept notes or taken photos of your garden, it’s likely you’re missing out on some vital information that could be helping you get far more enjoyment and success from it. These resources will help you discover why keeping even a basic record is so beneficial and what sorts of options might best suit you.
- Why a Garden Journal is Your Most Valuable Tool
- Garden Journal Planner and Workbook – Downloadable Templates
Gardening Tips for January
Here in subtropical SE Queensland, Australia, we’re in the middle of summer. We’ve been through the longest drought I can remember and we’re just starting to get some very much needed rain. For other locations, read my article on what to plant and when.
It’s been horrendous in our country with drought, heat, fires, winds and dust storms. No doubt you’ve heard about it wherever you live. It’s impossible not be emotionally impacted by the scale of what’s happened and the loss of lives, properties, wildlife, plants and forests and so much more. Now in some places, wet weather and flooding are happening and gardens are getting waterlogged!
Drought and Water Management
If you’re impacted by drought, these resources may help you grow a more resilient garden and manage your water wisely.
- Garden Strategies to Cope with Drought – Part 1
- Garden Strategies to Cope with Drought – Part 2
- 18 Top Tips for Gardening in Dry Climate Conditions
- 10 Water Saving Tips for your Garden
- 17 Water Saving Tips for Container Gardens
- Tips to Grow Food in Hot, Dry or Windy Weather
Subtropical Gardening in January
If you’ve been lucky enough to get some rain, you’ll notice an immediate change in your plants from the free nitrogen hit. Town water with chlorine and fluoride damages our plants. I’ve been leaving buckets and tubs out to get as much rainwater as possible. My VIP fruit trees are getting the benefits and are bouncing back so quickly.
READ Gardening Tips for January for what to do now in SE QLD, pests to watch for and more. (Download PDF)
Subtropical Planting Guide – a laminated perpetual guide to the 5 seasons in SE QLD
Soil and Small Space Gardens
If you live in a different climate or are shivering through cooler temperatures in the northern hemisphere, you can’t go wrong building soil health, growing in pots or indoor edibles like microgreens and sprouts. These resources may help!
- 5 Simple Secrets to Building Healthy Soil
- Easy DIY Potting Mix Recipe
- How to Use Compost and 7 Benefits of Composting
- Easy Guide to Growing Microgreens
- Microgreens Growing Guide Chart
- How to Garden on your Benchtop – Grow Sprouts
- Fast Food! DIY Instant Veggie Garden: Part 1
Bushfire Garden Recovery
Many gardeners in Australia and around the world want to help those in bushfire affected communities. Personally, I’m donating seeds and cuttings from my garden. If you’d like to donate seeds and share a little hope for the future for those whose gardens have been destroyed, there’s a Facebook group you can join which makes it easy for both givers and receivers to connect. Or just share this group through your network so more people can get involved. “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
SAC are asking for people to make paper seed envelopes for a Bushfire Recovery Project to send 1000 seed parcels to fire victims. These are practical ways we can help those in need. If you can share your time or a few seeds with our extended gardening family and let them know we’re thinking of them when they need it most, I’m sure it will bring a much-needed smile. Thank you if you can help in any way. xx
If you or someone you know has been affected by fire, these resources may also assist in recovery.
Food Security Threats from Bushfires and Drought
Easy access to food from retailers in our local communities is often taken for granted. However, when disaster strikes, it’s interesting to see how quickly our food system is broken. Disruption to transport, water shortages resulting in fewer crops at higher prices and a rush on supermarket shelves are just a few issues we’ve seen here in recent weeks. Growing at least some of your own food and supporting local growers can help minimise the impacts of food shortages and price increases. These articles are food for thought.
- Vegetable prices may soar 50 per cent as growers face perfect storm of bushfires and drought
- Bushfires cutting off Nullarbor likely to cost millions and cause food shortages in Perth
Your Garden, Health and Wellness
I believe gardens offer us so many benefits – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Our connection to the earth, plants, food, medicinal herbs and creatures great and small can provide us with a wealth of health on so many levels. So many research studies support this. With the stresses of life and health issues overwhelming so many, we need ways to stay well, find joy daily and thrive.
I’ve written several eBooks to help you grow your health and enjoy a more abundant sustainable life and share a few resources below:
- Guide to Using Kitchen Herbs for Health – Quick Easy Ways to Grow Eat & Use Herbs Daily eBook
- 7 Secrets to Growing a Healthy Organic Garden – * NEW eBook! *
- Herb and Medicinal Plants Growing Guide Chart
- 3 Herbs to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
- Anxiety and depression: why doctors are prescribing gardening rather than drugs
- Gardening is beneficial for health: a meta-analysis research study
- How Can I Use Herbs in my Daily Life
Sensational Strawberry Tips
- Strawberries are high in Vitamin C (immune building) and anthocyanins (antiviral properties).
- Buy organically grown strawberries. Year after year, these berries top the list of the most chemically-contaminated fruits. Even better, homegrown berries are a healthy addition to the diet.
- A Swedish study (2007) found organic strawberries contained more Vitamin C and were more effective at killing cancer cells than conventionally grown strawberries.
- Wash freshly picked or bought strawberries in a small bowl of water with a capful of apple cider vinegar. Pat dry. The acidity on the berry surface stops mould forming so they last longer!
- If buying strawberries, look for those that are 100% red in colour rather than partly white and red. Unripe fruit are less nutritious and devoid of flavour.
- Pick strawberries when they are dark red and fully ripe. Eat as soon as possible. Mine rarely make it into the kitchen! Shh … don’t tell my husband.
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I look forward to sharing more news and ways to grow good health next month.
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Is there an address I can send seeds to? I live in the USA, and I’m part of several seed savers groups and collect heirloom seeds from anywhere. I’m not particular, so I have a wide variety. I would be happy to send some seeds to a collection bank in AU.
Also, have you heard of wicking containers? Look them up on Youtube. They are famous in the permaculture movement and can help gardeners in drought-stricken areas.
Thanks so much for your kind offer and so happy to meet a fellow seed saver. Have just written a 4 part series for Garden Culture Magazine to encourage more people to learn this skill. The last two articles haven’t been published yet.
In terms of an address, I’ll email you so we can organise this.
Yes, I’m very familiar with wicking beds and how they work. Thanks for mentioning it. I might include in a future article. I apply Permaculture principles also and love that this knowledge has spread far and wide. It all originated with people I know personally in my local area.
Thanks again and will touch base by email. Cheers Anne 🙂