Organic Gardening Tips for an Abundant Harvest
Welcome to the June Newsletter. Lots of quick tips to get you thinking about the food you eat and grow.
This month, I’m sharing another quick ‘How To’ video in my Sow Simple series of free tutorials to help you grow an abundant, healthy garden in just minutes. Dig in and help others by sharing these tips!
Tips on Harvesting Pumpkin
In this quick video lesson, I share simple ideas to help you with ways to harvest pumpkin to avoid waste and cure it to improve storage life.
7 Sustainable Garden Design Tips
With fresh food prices escalating and more health issues being linked to foods grown with chemicals, it makes sense to grow at least some of your own. I think of my garden as a home pharmacy and backyard supermarket rolled into one! I just step outdoors to self serve fresh ingredients for an ailment, to add flavour or a whole basket to make a meal.
If you want to create a garden that not only sustains you physically, but also matches your ability to maintain it, then it takes careful thought and good design. By applying some simple principles you can save money and resources, while creating a low impact garden.
In my latest article, I share seven design tips to help you grow a sustainable edible garden. I encourage you to pick one or two tips and put those into practice. Even just one small change can make a BIG difference! CLICK HERE to read now.
Eat a Rainbow of Health Benefits
The more research studies I read, the more convinced I am of the health benefits of eating a rainbow of colours on every plate. When you eat a variety of different coloured fruit, herbs and vegetables, they provide your body with a wide range of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fibre, water and other nutrients. I’m all for eating them as whole foods, to maximise the nutritional value and health benefits.
Phytochemicals* are plant chemicals or compounds that give fruit and vegetables their colour, aroma and taste. *(phyto = ‘plant’ in Greek). They also help protect the human body against disease, just like they do in the plants they come from. Pretty awesome hey?
How powerful are phytochemicals (fight-o-chemicals)?
“Special plant ingredients can prevent and treat disease, and transform your health. Phytochemicals interact with your biology and act like switches on your DNA to heal the body. The nutrients and phytochemicals in food are more powerful than the medicine you’ll find in a pill bottle. Food can be the most powerful medicine available to defend against getting cancer.”
– Dr Mark Hyman, M.D., chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, and founder and medical director of the UltraWellness Center
10 Easy Ways to add Colour to your Diet
If you’re not used to adding colourful foods to your meals, here are a few suggestions to make some simple changes:
1. When writing out your shopping list or menu planning, set a goal to add specific coloured fruits or vegetables that are missing in your diet. Look up recipes to inspire you to get creative with new foods. e.g. If you eat a lot of potatoes, but few greens, pick one and try adding to a meal to expand your diet. Find one you like and make it a habit!
2. Try to make one vegetable the hero of a dish and complement the flavour with at least one other herb or vegetable. e.g. If you’re making a tomato-based sauce, add a herb or two like basil, thyme or oregano. Or add a red or brown onion to boost flavour and nutrition.
3. If you are making a salad, then maybe lettuce is the main ingredient. If so, try to buy or grow a few different lettuce varieties with leaves of various colours e.g. light and dark green, brown or red. Not only will your salad taste better and look prettier on the plate, but you’ll be eating a wider range of beneficial nutrients to support your health.
4. If you have fussy taste buds, add vegetables you might not normally eat to a casserole, soup or baked dish. This helps you disguise the flavours but benefit from the nutrients!
5. Try roasting vegetables for extra flavour before adding to a soup. Or grate them so the taste is distributed throughout the dish.
6. If you enjoy carrots, why not try an heirloom variety that’s a different colour? e.g. purple or yellow.
7. Make your own food art. We ‘eat with our eyes first’ so why not create a pretty platter you find more appetizing with a rainbow of colours. Try adding more colour to your fruit salads with berries and seasonal varieties.
8. Substitute meat with fruit or vegetables in recipes, so you eat a more plant-based diet.
9. Edible flowers like organically grown nasturtiums are an easy way to add colour to sandwiches and salads.
10. Add fruit and vegetables to juices – mix them up to find your favourite flavours.
Which tip was the most helpful? Let me know in the comments.
“Mother Nature has the best box of crayons.”
How the Moon Affects Plant Growth
I’ve always been intrigued by the moon. As a little girl, I used to go fishing with my nana and we’d often go as the sun was setting, when the moon was lighting up the sky. She caught fish to feed the family and rarely came home without a good catch. Nana also had an abundant garden I spent a lot of time in. She just seemed to know how to time things to get a good result.
I didn’t understand then, but many years later I realised what she had been doing. She was timing the dates we went fishing to coincide with the moon cycle so we’d have a greater chance of them feeding and taking the bait. She also had a very small, but well designed edible garden. I was fascinated by how big and healthy the plants were. Generations past seemed to observe and tune in to nature’s cycles more than we do today. Perhaps it’s the busyness of life!
Many years later, I learned that the moon’s gravitational pull not only affects the tides, but also the moisture in the soil, water table and plant sap. The water gets pulled up or down into the plant at different times of the monthly moon cycle. ‘So what’ you say?
Well, as a gardener, I want to maximize the time, money and energy I spend on growing food. I don’t want to grow weak poor-producing plants! I want healthy strong plants that produce lots of food and don’t suffer from pests and disease. In my experience, plants sown in harmony with the moon cycles and moisture flows, consistently grow better and have higher yields. Plant growth is also affected at night around the full moon with the additional moonlight.
I’ve learned that timing planting activities to coincide with the rise or fall of the moon (and soil moisture) can work in your favour. I’ve experimented many times, and am always impressed with the results. Now I follow a simple sustainable moon calendar to optimise my gardening activities each month. CLICK HERE to learn about the benefits of gardening using the monthly moon cycle.
Find out what other gardeners have experienced when timing their activities with the moon cycle.
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“Gardening is medicine that does not need a prescription and has no limit on dosage.” – Unknown
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Thanks for reading! Until next time, I encourage you to embrace dirty fingernails, muddy boots and the joys of growing your own.
Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener
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