Welcome to the January newsletter. A fresh opportunity to plan your gardening projects and grow your knowledge. What seeds of change will you sow, grow and nourish this year? Without intention, goals and action, nothing changes! I have spent time reflecting on what I achieved last year after moving to a new property and starting a garden from scratch. I put in the thought, time and effort and it has paid off. We eat out of our garden daily with significantly less reliance on outside sources. Now is a great time to think about your goals and plan this year’s garden. I encourage you to start small if you’re a beginner gardener to build your confidence and save money. If you already have a garden, perhaps set a goal to expand it with new plants or improve your harvests.

Container gardens with salad greens and herbs are easy, portable and affordable

Container gardens with salad greens and herbs are easy, portable and budget-friendly

Sustainable Gardening Tips for January

There is so much instability in the world. Food producers are closing due to labour shortages and food facility sabotage. You’re likely aware of accelerating inflation and food prices; fertiliser shortages; supply problems due to transport system disruptions; biosecurity threats; unnatural weather and climate impacts of floods, storms and droughts on crops and farms. Many factors are increasing the likelihood of global famines in the near future. Some countries may experience food riots and rationing. NOW is the time to be growing an edible garden with urgency. Find joy in taking empowering actions. Be prepared, upskill and network within your community with like-minded souls.

Time to focus on sustainability! It makes sense to consider how you will sustain your health, food supply, nutrition, and ability to maintain your garden long-term. A few tips:

Relying on supermarkets and long-distance food delivery systems won’t be sustainable when prices are too high, supplies are short or unavailable. When health is compromised, energy levels are low. It’s all in the ‘too-hard basket’ to feel like gardening or growing food. It’s wise to have a plan to hedge against threats like ill health and the unavailability of seeds or garden materials. Remember in 2020 how there was a run on seeds and they sold out?

Do you feel confident your garden can meet your needs with herbal and natural remedies and survival food and medicinal plants? It’s a thought worth pondering. Self-reliance is empowering. Self-sufficiency gives you a level of control over your life, food, emotional wellbeing and ability to thrive rather than just survive. I never underestimate how vital nutritious food is to sustain health. It’s wise to keep in mind Hippocrates’ words: “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.”

Tips for Sustainable Gardening from my Garden

The Micro Gardener's kitchen garden and harvests

One of my raised beds with vegetables, herbs and edible flowers and some of my harvests this week. 4kg of cherry tomatoes and 18 pumpkins!

I’m designing my kitchen garden for optimum production with minimal inputs of time, water and energy. I am intentionally planting low-maintenance species that provide multi-functional benefits. If you choose plants wisely, they can play many useful roles. My biodiverse garden includes edibles and flowers for food, colour and beneficial insects; compact early maturing species that provide quick harvests in tight spaces; herbs for flavour and medicine; and companion plants that minimise pests and diseases or create useful microclimates. Even after a short time, I am seeing the benefits of implementing these design features in my garden. Consistently abundant harvests, vibrant resilient plants, a balanced ecosystem and living nutrient-rich soil. Reach out if you need personalised advice or help.

Getting the principles right and growing strong healthy plants is like giving your children that vital support before you send them off to school. You give them a good grounding so they will survive on their own for periods of time without you! That’s what designing a sustainable garden is all about. Providing the foundations for resilient plants. It’s incredibly satisfying.

Encourage Fast Plant Growth by Getting your Timing Right

I grow plants such as Queensland Arrowroot (Canna edulis) and Comfrey (Symphytum spp.) as ‘chop and drop’ mulch and compost ingredients. They help build bulk organic matter in the soil quickly and add vital nutrients. In this video, I show you how pruning your plants back and taking cuttings at the right time of the monthly moon cycle can make a massive difference to your results. Timing is everything in gardening! You might be surprised at just how fast plants grow when sap flow is running high. I hope you enjoy it. Plus you get a peek into my compact home pharmacy garden next to the house for quick remedies.

During the new moon to full moon phase, it’s an ideal time to sow and transplant all above-ground plants. The moon influences the movement of all water on earth. Not just the tides, but also the water table, soil moisture and plant sap. Seasonal leafy greens, fruiting crops, shrubs, herbs and trees are best planted at this time. I take advantage of this cycle each month to maximise new growth, encourage flowering and fruiting, germinate seeds and propagate from cuttings. With more nutrients available in the plant sap, they ‘strike’ much faster.

If you are still taking potluck and sowing at any time, your results will likely vary! Some plants might thrive while others fail, bolt to seed, wither or seeds never germinate. Adjusting the timing can make the difference between a productive garden and a frustrating one. It may help to learn more about the benefits of moon gardening. You’ll wish you’d done it sooner!

This month, I share tips and resources to help you with your goals; gardening guides to make it easy and what to do in your garden in subtropical Queensland.

Gardening Guides to Get you Growing

Healthcare doesn’t have to cost the earth. Learn how to save money and improve health by growing and eating nutrient-dense food and herbs. These are some resources to help you.

Subtropical SE Queensland – What to Plant Now

READ Gardening Tips for January for what to do now in SE Queensland, pests to watch for and more. (Download PDF)

We’re in Summer now – a challenging growing season in our climate. Time to protect your crops from pests and a wide variety of weather conditions.

Subtropical Planting Guide – a laminated perpetual guide to the five seasons in SE QLD.

Vegetables Growing Guide – a reference chart to help you grow 68 of the most popular vegetables to grow in Australia and New Zealand climate zones. Includes information on companion planting, making compost, soil and moon planting.

For other locations, read my article on what to plant and when.

Resources to Grow Your Health and Garden

I aim to garden sustainably – growing food and medicinal plants that match my time, energy and budget. Check out the resources below to help you do the same:

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Each week I share photos and videos of what I’m growing, harvesting and eating from my garden and the 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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