This month, you’ll learn how to test old seeds to find out if they’re still OK to plant. You’ll also discover simple ways to frost protect crops; easy edibles to grow in shallow pots; plus sustainable uses for lawn clippings. I hope you pick up some new practical tips to apply this month!

May 2019 Newsletter The Micro Gardener


Can You Sow Out of Date Seeds?

Do you have a pile of seed packets stashed away? If you’ve been meaning to sow them, but haven’t got around to it, you’re not alone! 🤭 What if your seeds have gone past their use by date? Should you throw or sow them? In my latest article, I share an easy 3 STEP TEST to help you calculate the viability of your seeds. 🍃  You’ll discover whether those ‘bundles of joy’ are dead ☠️ or alive. 😃 No guilt for bad ‘parenting’! You’ll also learn how to store those potential ‘plant babies’ correctly to extend their life so you don’t waste money. 🍃🌿 I hope you enjoy it.  READ NOW

Can you sow out of date seeds? Find out How to Test Seed Viability in 3 Easy Steps + Tips for Storing your Seeds Safely


How do you Protect Vegetables from Frost?

Frost is a thin layer of ice that forms from water vapour and sits on the leaves or parts of an exposed plant. Plants grown in the ground rather than raised beds or pots are more prone to frost, especially in temperate and cold climates.

Vine crops like beans, grapes and the squash family, as well as Solanaceae vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant and capsicums are frost-sensitive. Root vegetables, however, couldn’t give two hoots about frost! Two especially vulnerable vegetables are cauliflower and broccoli. One night of frost can ruin a beautiful cauliflower head or broccoli florets and turn them into a mushy mess!

When frost is forecast, I use an easy way to protect cauliflowers. Simply pull the top leaves up over the head. Then gently tie them with a soft fabric strip or old pantyhose so they don’t get damaged. A bit like pulling hair back into a ponytail! This is also the best way to store your cauliflower in the fridge after harvest, to keep it fresh.

I sometimes slip a netted vegetable bag over the folded leaves to secure in place. It’s easy to pull off in the morning.

For broccoli, I either use this same method, throw over a frost cover or slip on a cut-off plastic bottle top. This stops frost landing on the actual plant. The next day, as the temperature warms up, I just remove these and the plants are good to grow!


Moon Planting in June

Prepare your garden or pots for sowing above ground vegetables after the new moon early in June. Try seasonal greens, fruiting crops, flowers, herbs and fruit trees. This is when the moon’s gravitational pull starts drawing moisture UP into plant sap, leaves, stems, flowers, seeds and fruit.

As long as your soil or potting mix is moist, your plants will have their strongest growth during this phase. So, why not take advantage of nature’s timing?

For most zones around the world at this time of year, some good crops to sow include peas, beans, spring onions, chives, lettuce and spinach. Slow-to-bolt coriander loves cool weather and checks out in the heat of summer.

Plan ahead to get Nature’s timing on your side by sowing the right crops in the new moon phase. You’ll benefit from faster seed germination, more robust leaf growth, pest-and-disease resistant plants, and quicker absorption of liquid fertilisers. My best harvests come from working with nature rather, than taking a ‘hit and miss’ approach. Later in June, after the full moon, there will be days ideal for sowing radish, garlic, onions and carrots.

If you’re not yet following a Moon Calendar to TIME your planting, fertilising, propagation and optimise seed raising success, then learn more about the benefits you could be enjoying.

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If you’re not sure what to plant or which garden tasks to undertake during our 5 seasons in SE QLD, I have a Subtropical Planting Guide to make it easy. June is the start of our short winter and this ‘window’ provides gardeners in this climate with an opportunity to prune and maintain specific plants. If you miss these tasks during winter, you have to wait another year, so timing is critical! If you live elsewhere, check my article on What to Plant When. It’s packed with links and tips.

Sustainable Gardening Guides

Sustainable Gardening Guides – Subtropical Gardening Guide, Moon Calendar + Potting Mix Guide


7 Easy to Grow Crops for Shallow Soil

If you have limited space and want to grow your food in pots, shallow-rooted vegetables and herbs are ideal. These space-saving edibles can grow in as little as 15cm or 6in of potting mix. For healthy plants, I suggest you improve a bagged potting mix or make your own.

Shallow-rooted leafy greens and herbs for container gardens

Shallow-rooted leafy greens and herbs are perfect for container gardens

  1. Lettuces. Sow seeds or seedlings of pick-and-pluck varieties. These are ideal because you can harvest individual leaves as they mature. Succession plant every 2 weeks for continuous salad greens.
  2. Asian vegetables. Tatsoi, Pak Choy and other similar varieties are quick growing and delicious in stir-fries, salads and soups. They also have pretty edible flowers.
  3. Rocket. This fast-growing herb takes up minimal space. It provides lots of lush leaves and flowers. You also get free seeds after flowering.
  4. Strawberries. I grow my best berries in shallow containers and the flavour is just so sweet with no harmful fungicides. These must be one of the easiest fruits to grow at home. Strawberry plants last for years, so give them a try.
  5. Garlic. This is one of my favourite healthy herbs to grow in pots. Follow this easy tutorial.
  6. Chives. Whether you choose common, onion or garlic chives, these delicious herbs will add flavour to meals and are perfect pot companions. With pretty pink or white edible flowers, they add a pretty pop of colour too.
  7. Spring Onions. These are very shallow-rooted and being tall and skinny, are one of the most compact edibles you can grow. I tuck them in everywhere as companions. You can never have enough!


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How Can You Use Lawn Clippings?

You can recycle grass clippings when fresh and green or dried out and brown. Both can be used in your garden to build healthy soil. These are a few ideas.

1. As a nitrogen-rich compost ingredient. When fresh and green, grass blades will add nitrogen to your compost. Sprinkle thinly as a layer so they don’t matt up and become anaerobic.
2. As a carbon compost ingredient. When dried out, aged and brown, the clippings can be added to the compost as a carbon layer.
3. Mulch. Avoid spreading fresh green grass clippings as mulch. The microbes rob your soil of nitrogen that could be feeding your plants. When dried out, you can sprinkle grass clippings lightly around plants as mulch but never in a thick layer. They can mat together, preventing rainwater or irrigation getting to your plant roots.

Dry dead leaves mixed with green grass clippings can both be used as compost ingredients

Dry dead leaves mixed with green grass clippings can both be used as compost ingredients

Tip: Avoid spreading as mulch if your grass clippings have seeds! Instead, hot compost them or soak in a bucket of water to kill the seeds first. Then use as a liquid fertiliser.


Preparing to plant?

Take a shortcut to success with these tips and tutorials.


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

Happy gardening!

Anne


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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2019. https://themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.

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May 2019 Newsletter
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