September 2018 Newsletter | The Micro Gardener

Welcome to the September newsletter. This month of spring, I’m busy presenting 10 workshops at local events and helping clients co-create beautiful productive kitchen gardens. More on that below.

What’s on the menu?

Whether it’s spring or autumn/fall in your garden, or somewhere in between, you’ll likely find my tips and video lesson on creating a bee friendly garden really helpful. If you have a shady spot, check out my list of 10 best vegetables to grow. If you love tomatoes, read on to find out some surprising facts about them and we get to know the Umbellifer family of vegetables and herbs.

My special spring offer on my home visit service for local gardeners ends this month. So be quick to book, as I have limited places left! Grab your discount coupon code below.

10 Top Tips to Create a Bee Friendly Garden

In my latest article, I share easy ways to design a bee friendly garden. This is one of the most important things you can do to support your local bee population while benefiting from a more productive garden. These simple tips will help you make your space more attractive to bees and other pollinators. You’ll learn how to attract and feed bees, increase pollination and harvests, some of the best flowers to grow and how to provide safe habitat.

10 Top Tips to Create a Bee Friendly Garden


I’ve also created a quick VIDEO LESSON for you on using flowers for beauty, bees and pollination in your garden. Watch to the end for the BONUS Tips Summary!


10 Shade Tolerant Vegetables

Do you have a shady spot in your garden? Or too much shade from your aspect, neighbouring buildings or trees? If so, why not plant more shade lovers?

Avoid trying to grow sun worshippers that will struggle. Instead, work WITH nature and your microclimates and grow plants that will put up with at least some partial shade or filtered sunlight. Sun-loving edibles tend to grow weak and straggly when grown in too much shade and won’t produce as big a harvest. Shaded gardens tend to be cooler and may be slower to warm up in spring. This environment tends to attract more slugs and snails. Don’t despair though!

There are benefits too. In summer or on very hot days, leafy greens and other crops like tomatoes can become sun burned and turn white, brown and even crispy! Having the option to grow them in a protected shady or partially shaded microclimate can be an advantage to avoid damage.

So who’s on the shady characters list?

Top 10 Vegetables to Grow in Partial Shade

  1. Lettuce
  2. Spinach
  3. Sorrel
  4. Silverbeet
  5. Beetroot
  6. Carrot
  7. Ginger
  8. Turmeric
  9. Kale
  10. Parsnip

10 Top Vegetables for a Shady Garden

Tomatoes: Did you Know?

One of the most popular crops to eat and grow, tomatoes come in many flavours, sizes and colours. Here are a few interesting facts:

  • Tomatoes are technically a fruit, but are eaten and used as a vegetable!
  • Tomatoes are better for you COOKED than raw!
  • The longer you cook them, the more health benefits you get. Why? HEAT increases their food value by:
  1. Breaking down the cell walls so the nutrients are more bioavailable.
  2. Changing lycopene (a potent antioxidant that affects our wellness) into a more bioavailable form that is easier to absorb.
  • According to research, tomatoes cooked with olive oil in a sauce have a greater benefit on cardiovascular health than those without this combination.
  • Dark red tomatoes have more lycopene than yellow, gold or green varieties.
  • Unripe tomatoes should be stored at room temperature out of direct sunlight to encourage ripening. Speed up this process by putting in a paper bag with an apple or banana.
  • Tomatoes are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients that can help promote immune health.
  • Tomatoes are a member of the Solanaceae (or nightshade) family and are ‘cousins’ to eggplant, chillies, potatoes and capsicum. (Remember this when crop rotating)!

I hope you enjoyed those snippets about tomatoes and are inspired to grow your own. Try heirloom and certified organic varieties that grow well in your local area.

Tomatoes - surprising facts you may not know

Meet the Umbellifer Family!

The Umbellifer or Apiaceae family of vegetables and herbs originates from the root word ‘umbrella‘. It might sound strange, but if you take a closer look at this family’s flowers, you’ll notice how similar they are to an umbrella shape! So who are they?

Parsley, carrots, celery, coriander, dill, fennel, carroway, cumin and parsnips are all members of the same family. One of the best reasons to grow them in your garden (apart from the flavour and nutrient-value), is their beautiful blooms provide added benefits. These stunning flowers provide multiple sources of nectar and have incredible value as “insectory” or beneficial insect attracting plants. Simply allowing some of these herbs and vegetables to flower and go to seed, is an easy way to create a more ecologically balanced and beneficial insect-friendly garden.

Here you can see beautiful yellow dill with its clusters of magnificent flowers towering above the vegetable garden. I often see ladybird families feeding on aphids on these blooms. Evidence of pest to predator balance in a safe habitat garden.

Dill flowers Apiaceae family in the vegetable garden

If you look closely, the fragrant showy flowers in this family all have a distinctive pattern. The stems of each flower cluster radiate out from one point, at the tip of the stalk. They look just like an umbrella with spokes! Then at the end of each of these flower stems, you’ll see another smaller ‘umbrella’ of stems.

Generally these crops prefer cooler seasons to thrive and full sun. They make excellent companion plants for crops that require pollinators, especially the Solanaceae or Nightshade family (e.g. tomato, eggplant, chilli and capsicum).

Unfriendly Fennel

However, whilst this family is pretty ‘social’ with other plant families, there’s an exception! Fennel has a reputation for being a plant with not many ‘friends’ in the garden with it’s anti-social behaviour! It’s a herb you should probably grow in a pot rather than in amongst other plants. It’s really NOT a good house-mate. That’s because not-so-neighbourly Fennel seems to be antagonistic towards other plants, sometimes inhibiting their growth. This may be due to chemicals it releases around the root zone that affect other nearby plants. It’s a complex world down there!

Given the many benefits of the Umbelliers, why not include a few in your garden?

Spring Special Offer on Consultations

So many people spend time, money and energy on growing the perfect green carpet of lawn only to ‘harvest’ the grass and throw it away! Water guzzling grass can often be better used to grow a productive food garden with a valuable harvest that saves time, money and energy spent on shopping for groceries.

Here’s an example of my client, Colin’s garden. At 89 he wanted to convert a small patch of unused space into a productive vegetable garden that would provide fresh healthy ingredients. I showed him some simple strategies that required little time and energy to implement and look at the results. If he can do it, so can YOU!

The Micro Gardener garden coaching - shortcuts to success with healthy abundant food gardens in weeks

A closer look – after just 7 weeks

The Micro Gardener garden coaching - client garden after just 7 weeks

With lots of abundant harvests!

The Micro Gardener garden coaching - client with an abundant harvest

Need help to create a healthy abundant kitchen garden? If you live locally on the Sunshine Coast/Brisbane, I’ve extended my special Spring discount offer until 30 SeptemberSave $34 when you book a 2 Hour Onsite Garden Consultation for $175 using the Coupon Code 2018GCPROMO. You can also pay by instalments. This service represents exceptional value and includes:

  • Pre-Visit Questionnaire – to help you clarify your needs and optimise time spent together.
  • Plant Material for your garden – yes you get free seasonal seeds, cuttings or seedlings from my garden).
  • Expert advice and/or hands-on help and an Action Plan Report for you to follow up and implement as you are ready.
  • Local Suppliers & Resource List – save time and money when sourcing local garden supplies (my little black book!)
  • Garden Journal Planner & Workbook [Value $4.97] to record your garden notes year after year.
  • BONUS Garden Health Check – Find out which plants need help and what to do to optimise health.

This offer includes 50km round trip and is available for SE QLD and Sunshine Coast residents only. Please enter your coupon code during the checkout process to apply your discount. OFFER ENDS 30 September 2018.


Gardening Guides

To make it easier to grow a sustainable edible garden, I offer a series of helpful gardening guides and resources. Making a purchase is one way you can make a difference by helping support my education work to teach people how to grow healthy food. These are also available at my local events and workshops (save on postage)!

Upcoming Events

You can check out all public events on my calendar. FREE Seasonal Gardening workshops during September at local libraries are almost fully booked.


Seasonal Gardening Workshops - Sunshine Coast libraries

Dig into my free online Article Library for more topics


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 soon.

Happy gardening!


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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2018. All rights reserved.

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