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.
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.
- Succession plant by ‘sowing little and often’ so you enjoy continuous harvests. This habit avoids having too much or too little produce.
- Each month plan to sow a few seasonal vegetable and herb varieties. At least grow microgreens indoors and sprouts if your climate is challenging. Get your guides here.
- Learn how to grow herbs as food and medicine to boost your immune system and energy. Invest in your health. Our quality of life depends on it!
- Instead of buying seeds or seedlings, learn how to save seeds and propagate new plants from your garden. It’s fun and you save so much money. See: Frugal Gardening – How to Get Plants for Free; How to Grow More Plants for Less and 9 Foods you Can Regrow From Kitchen Scraps.
- Use your space wisely to maximise production with vertical gardens where possible. Many climbing plants live longer with improved airflow. Watering is more efficient with stacked planters.
- Make your own fertilisers, garden supplies and pest remedies. With a little creativity and resourcefulness, you can repurpose, reuse and upcycle materials to grow your garden on a budget.
- View all frugal gardening articles to learn how to garden more sustainably.
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
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.
- Follow my Easy Food Gardening Guide for Beginners if you’re just getting started.
- Dig into my detailed ‘how-to’ Guide to Using Kitchen Herbs for Health if you want to optimise growing a herb garden for both the kitchen and healing medicinal purposes.
- Keen to try growing baby leaf herbs and vegetables indoors? The Microgreens Growing Guide Chart has 28 varieties to get you started.
- Discover 3 Tips for Planning this Year’s Garden.
- Not sure what herbs and medicinal plants to add to your garden? The Herb and Medicinal Growing Guide provides a fantastic summary of 72 plants to grow.
- A Superfood Nutrition Garden has crops that provide you with the maximum nutritional value. Discover 24 outstanding foods to grow and their nutritional and health benefits.
- Guide to Growing a Nutrient-Dense Organic Food Garden gives you a practical checklist with key strategies, principles and techniques for growing nutrient-packed food.
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:
- Why a Garden Journal is Your Most Valuable Tool
- 17 Garden Goals for Your Health and Wellbeing
- Seed Starting Guide: Quick Tips for Starting Seeds Successfully
- Plants for a Survival Food and Medicinal Garden
- Design Tips for a Productive Kitchen Garden
- 17 Fast Growing Vegetables for Impatient Gardeners
- 40+ Best Shade Tolerant Vegetables
- 10 Tips to Grow More Food in a Small Garden
- 9 Foods You Can Regrow from Kitchen Scraps
- 7 Sustainable Garden Design Tips
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I look forward to sharing more news and ways to grow good health next month.
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