Welcome to the June newsletter. So much to dig into this month. Tips for small gardens with inspiring photos, comfrey plant profile, an update on my garden, garden therapy and what to plant this month.
Sustainable Gardening Tips for June
Firstly, these are a few easy ways to garden sustainably in small spaces. I’ve spent 13+ years helping people grow food in compact urban gardens. The smaller the space, the more important the decisions we make regarding design, plant varieties and functionality.
- Give priority to your sunniest locations for fruiting crops and fruit trees. Fill in the gaps with plants that can tolerate shady conditions.
- Group plants with similar water needs together. This saves time, a precious resource and avoids over- or under-watering problems.
- If you have limited room, consider removing plants that don’t serve you. Replace them with edible species that do!
- Grow at least one pot of edible flowers in your favourite colour. Beautiful blooms make you feel happy, attract pollinators to improve your harvests and provide you with nutrients.
- Use space wisely. Position tall and climbing plants at the back of a garden bed to protect and shade low-growing species.
- Use vertical structures to access sunlight higher up. Boundary fences, railings and hanging baskets are a few opportunities.
- Consider portable planters to give you more flexibility for accessing sun or shade seasonally. Container gardens on brackets and mobile trolleys are ideal solutions.
What to Plant Now in Subtropical SE QLD
In June, we experience cooler days and nights as winter sets in. We typically enjoy lower humidity and fewer pest insects as they overwinter. Yay! When there’s rain we have almost perfect growing conditions with only a few regular pests to worry about like cabbage butterflies. It’s the ideal time to plant winter crops and bare-rooted fruit varieties. Download your June Gardening Tips PDF for planting suggestions, tasks to do in the garden this month and issues to watch out for.
I always aim to time my planting in harmony with the moon phases to optimise seed germination, help cuttings take root, and encourage healthy plant growth and establishment. There are also times each month to optimise the quick uptake of liquid nutrients. This helps plants access nutrition and get off to a good start. Working with Nature’s timing and a Moon Calendar has distinct benefits. It helps me stay organised. I plan forward for the best times to take specific actions in my garden and reap the rewards. The natural cycles of energy and water that ebb and flow each month are there for us to tap into. Learn more here.
The Vegetables Growing Guide is a reference chart to help you grow 68 of the most popular vegetables in Australia and New Zealand climate zones. It includes information on companion planting, making compost, soil and moon planting.
What to Plant Now in Other Locations
PLANT PROFILE: Comfrey
Comfrey (Symphytum Officinale) is a flowering medicinal perennial herb with a deep tap root and attractive foliage and blooms. ‘Comfrey‘ comes from Latin and means “to grow together”. Makes sense it is also known as ‘Knitbone’, ‘All Heal’ and ‘Woundwort’. Comfrey grows year-round in most climates and is one of the most valuable plants you can grow.
Common comfrey has so many uses I can’t imagine my garden without it. The most popular way to grow it is from small root cuttings (even the tiniest piece) and crown division. It also grows from seed. Make sure you plant it in a permanent position though or a pot as it will be very difficult to dig out after it matures and can self-sow. Comfrey is one of the 72 herbs covered in the Herb and Medicinal Plants Growing Guide.
- Use leaves as medicine – a poultice, applied topically has been used since 400 BC to heal many ailments including burns, broken bones, bruising, tissue damage and arthritis. See How Can I Use Herbs in My Daily Life for 8 pages of information on this and 500+ herbs. It’s my go-to herb bible!
- Comfrey roots gather potassium and other minerals from deep in the subsoil. So this plant is ideal to fertilise flowering and fruiting crops like tomatoes and potassium-hungry potatoes.
- In situ fertiliser. Chop and drop leaves and stems around plants as a nutrient-rich mulch.
- Comfrey tea. Add to water and allow to steep for several weeks. Dilute and use around plants as a liquid fertiliser. Watch them grow!
- Compost activator and dynamic accumulator. Chop leaves and add to compost systems and worm farms to release nutrients.
- Poultry forage rich in protein, calcium and phosphorous.
- Cooked leafy green like spinach, or enjoy in salads, juice, soups, casseroles and stuffing.
- Seeds typically germinate in about 25-30 days at a soil temperature of 20-22°C. Best sown in the new moon phase.
- At least 3 hours of sun or shade and soil pH 6.0 to 7.0. Enjoys protection from hot summer sun.
- Aged manure releases nitrogen for quick leaf growth.
- Thrives in moist, fertile, well-drained soil but tolerates poor soils and can help break up clay.
- Regular moisture until established but will tolerate dry conditions when mature.
- Can die back in cold weather. Prune and use leaves at the end of autumn or in winter if this occurs.
- Thin soils over rock.
What’s Been Happening in My Garden?
May was very dry so I did a LOT of watering and mulching. It was a busy month of sowing more peas, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, leeks, onions, shallots, celery, broccolini and cabbage. A few pumpkin vines are still hanging in there with fruit maturing. To my delight, I discovered several butternut pumpkins hidden under vines I never planted! Who knows how they get there? I just love surprises in the garden. It’s been a tough few months for pumpkins and arrowroot. They certainly need a lot of water to thrive. So I’ve been watching their needs in this soil and working on strategies for going forward. Staple plants deserve support. I’ve harvested well over 100kg of pumpkins this season and had plenty to share. They store well so I have enough to last until spring planting time.
Lettuce, sorrel, rocket and spinach are keeping us busy in the kitchen making salads and cooked meals to use up the leafy greens. I’m out daily picking raw ingredients and edible flowers like nasturtiums, cosmos and herb blooms to add colour, nutrients and flavour to salads. Pawpaw fruits are growing well. Our mandarin and lime trees are loaded with fruit. Two of the mandarins didn’t get watered except sparsely by nature. Consequently, the fruit is smaller this year and I’m in awe of the abundance. Clay soils have their benefits! I’m incredibly grateful the citrus have valiantly produced a full crop, despite the hard times. It’s a testament to the miracle of mulch to lock in moisture and help trees during times of stress. Mulch is a vital strategy for every garden.