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!