Welcome to this month’s newsletter. Now is a great time to think about your goals and plan this year’s garden. I’ve redesigned my kitchen garden for optimum production, created a plant list of species that will provide multi-functional benefits including biodiversity and have started implementing my plan.

This month, I share tips and resources to help you with your goals; gardening guides to make it easy; ways to garden in just five minutes; keep garden records; moon planting and what to do in your garden in subtropical Queensland. Plus I announce the winner of my Live Chat Garden Consultation. Dig in!

I grow plants for many reasons quote

Garden Goals for 2021

We are living in very uncertain times with many suffering from stress and health issues. One of the simplest ways we can empower ourselves is to grow food and medicine in our own well-designed garden. I urge you to consider prioritising your garden this year. If it’s been low on your radar, maybe NOW is the time to take positive action rather than procrastinate. Consider how you can make space for spending time IN your garden to expand its value.

In 2020, there was huge pressure on seed and garden supplies, food shortages in supermarkets and farmers trying to navigate new regulations to transport their produce. I believe food security begins at home – in our garden and pantry. Taking responsibility for what we eat and producing at least some of our own needs is vital to living more sustainably.

If the stresses of life or health issues are weighing you down, spending time gardening is a scientifically researched* way to improve these outcomes. A review of many studies* has found our diets improve through healthier eating; connection to nature** helps relieve mental fatigue; while physical exercise and psychological health improve, amongst other benefits.

Plant Life Balance ambassador and researcher Dr Dominique Hes says “Being able to see plants or be surrounded by them can be an effective mechanism of dealing with stress. Experts say tending to plants can be one of the most accessible and simplest ways to engage in mindfulness.”

* Soga, Masashi, Gaston, Kevin J., Yamaura, Yuichi, Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis, Preventive Medicine Reports (2016)

** Kaplan, S., 1995. The restorative benefits of nature: toward an integrative framework. J. Environ. Psychol. 15, 169–182.

Dementia study reveals gardening may prevent disease

Gardening Guides to Get you Growing

Healthcare can be expensive so doesn’t it make sense to learn how to save money and improve health by growing and eating nutrient-dense food and herbs? These are some tools to help you.

Easy Ways to Garden in Just 5 Minutes

Last month, I suggested setting a goal to spend just 5 minutes in your garden daily. Did you try that? There are so many enjoyable things you can do in this short timeframe.

  • Aim to grow fresh ingredients by sowing seeds weekly if you can – as microgreens, sprouts or to raise seedlings. You can do this indoors by choosing the right varieties for your climate conditions.
  • Add a spoon of compost or worm castings to your container gardens to feed them for free.
  • Sprinkle mulch around a few pots.
  • Liquid fertilise a couple of plants or spend time watering.
  • Write in your garden journal or photograph plant milestones or pests you observe.
  • Pick some herbs, boil the kettle and make a herb tea!
  • Check your soil pH, prune back a plant or take cuttings.
  • Indulge your senses! Smell fragrant flowers, listen to bees buzzing, wind blowing and birds singing. Pick a ripe tomato. Rub herb leaves to release the scent of their volatile oils. Walk barefoot. Look at your favourite plants and feel proud of what you’ve already achieved. Just ‘be.’

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Keep Garden Records

One of the most important actions you can take to improve your gardening skills and results is to spend time thinking about last year’s garden.

  • What were your successes and failures?
  • What did you enjoy most?
  • Any disappointments or pests to deal with?
  • What plants grew well?
  • Which garden beds or pots struggled?
  • Did you leave it too late to plant certain varieties?

There are many questions to ask yourself and some things you’ll likely want to change or do better this year. If you have started a Garden Journal, this will be easy. You’ll likely feel a sense of achievement just by looking back on your notes of what you did and learned. This process helps you gain insights into problems you need to fix and inspires you to dream about what you want to achieve this year. DOWNLOAD THIS MASTER LIST below to start now.

Get in touch if you’d like one-on-one personalised advice via a live chat or onsite garden consultation. One hour can make a BIG difference to shortcut you to success with an action plan.

Gardening Tips for January

January is one of the most challenging months to grow a food garden in our subtropical climate. Heat, intense UV sunlight, drying winds, humidity, heavy rain/storms with insect pests and fungal diseases can make it tough to keep plants healthy.

My advice at this time of year is: Know your limits. Choose your battles. Keep it simple. Container garden. Grow microgreens, herbs and perennials. Grow less, but do it well. Compost all your green waste. Be water-wise. Establish perennials and fruit trees. Plan for autumn planting. I go into more detail in this month’s gardening tips.

Subtropical SE Queensland – What to Plant Now

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

Moon Planting this Month

We’re at the beginning of the new moon phase – a time of the moon’s monthly cycle when prolific growth above ground happens. I have been busy fertilising (because we’ve had rain) and this is an ideal time for nutrients to be taken up by plants with the upward flow of sap. It’s a time when plants often push out flowers, fruit and high leaf growth (sorry, that means the grass and weeds too)! It’s also the best time to prune to encourage new growth (e.g. a hedge you’re trying to establish) or take cuttings to strike more easily. I also notice faster seed germination and plant establishment between the new and full moon. If you haven’t already tried sowing seeds or planting to time in with the moon phases, why not give it a go? Time your activities to take advantage of sap flow in plants and soil moisture.

To get your plants to get off to a good start with strong shoot and root growth, try planting by the moon! Observe your own plants during this moon phase. I use this sustainable Moon Calendar – it’s simple to follow the best dates for sowing, fertilising, pruning and propagating. I’ve used the same calendar for over 10 years and still going strong.

Helpful Articles

Winner of Live Chat Garden Consult Announced

I sincerely appreciate all the customers who purchased products and left reviews prior to Christmas. Thanks for supporting my small business. All names went in the draw to win a personalised live chat consultation with customers from all over Australia, United States, Canada, UK and Singapore. I’m thrilled to announce the winner is:

Sharyn Hofer from Noosaville, Queensland. Congratulations Sharyn!

I’m looking forward to providing a tailored personalised coaching session for Sharyn soon.

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Want more inspiring ideas?

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.

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I look forward to sharing more news and ways to grow good health next month.

Happy gardening!


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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2020. https://themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.

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