Sustainable Gardening Tips for August

Welcome to the August newsletter. I’m digging deeper into ways we can garden more sustainably by managing insect pests without chemicals. Growing a food garden can be frustrating when you feel insects get to enjoy your crops more than you do. This month’s plant profile is rosemary and there are seasonal gardening tips as usual. I hope you find these practical and helpful.

Sustainable Gardening Tips for August

Sustainable Gardening Tips for August

“The more life there is in a garden, the more likely there will be a balance between pests and diseases and beneficial organisms.”Dennis Crawford (Garden Pests, Diseases & Good Bugs, 2015)


How to Prevent and Get Rid of Aphids Naturally

Aphids are sap-sucking pest insects that every gardener deals with at some point. I’ve lost plenty of plants to aphids over the years, so in my latest article, I’m sharing what really works and the science behind why. Unfortunately, aphids are one of the most destructive pests because you can suddenly have plague numbers almost overnight. You’ll discover how this happens and why you need to have some ‘tools’ in your pest management toolkit for getting rid of aphids fast. There’s some fascinating research from scientific studies so you can feel confident about using natural strategies to manage this pest without chemicals. I hope you enjoy reading How to Prevent and Get Rid of Aphids Naturally to learn more about this insect. You’ll be armed with knowledge and tactics for when they visit your garden.

Severe infestation of onion aphids Neotoxoptera formosana on shallots

Severe infestation of onion aphids Neotoxoptera formosana on shallots – a common issue in spring


Insect Pest Management Tips

Maintaining a biodiverse ecosystem in your garden is one of the best ways to minimise pest insect numbers. Beneficial insects, soil microorganisms and birds play important roles in the life cycle of pest insects and the food chain. When Nature is in balance we have few issues to deal with. These are some other considerations.

  • Habitat. Insect-eating birds need shelter, water and a food source. Locate a bird bath close to a bushy shrub or protective tree canopy to encourage regular visits from small birds. They need to feel safe when looking for dinner and have a place to retreat to, drink and bathe.
  • Maintain good garden hygiene. Avoid bringing in pest-infested plants. Carefully check plant stems, leaves and buds at the nursery before purchase.
  • Crop rotate. To avoid a build-up of soil-related pest (and disease) problems, it’s wise to move members of the same plant family of annual vegetables to a different spot each season. Like human families sharing the flu, plant ‘cousins’ are prone to similar seasonal pest problems. Rotating crops interrupts their life cycle.
  • Propagate for plant health. Crowded plants create an environment suited to many pest insects. Plants weaken as they compete for nutrients. Air circulation becomes poor and parent plants can lose their vigour. Divide and separate perennials to encourage healthy plants. Learn propagation skills!
  • Keep weeds in check. Weed species that are related to crops or ornamental plants are hosts or food sources for pest insects. Once they exhaust their food, they often migrate to your more valued plants.
  • Avoid using chemicals. Quick fixes that disrupt nature’s sensitive ecological systems results in long-term damage. Every action has a consequence. Many synthesized chemical products indiscriminately kill your beneficial insect populations as well as pest insects. They can also harm bees, lizards, soil microorganisms, birds and aquatic life. Biological non-chemical pest control methods are safer and don’t destroy the very life you need to keep problem insect populations in balance.
  • Water consistently. Over or under-watered plants can suffer water stress and are more vulnerable to pest attack. Water the soil deeply and cover with mulch.
  • Avoid over-fertilising. Feed your soil naturally with organic matter, compost, minerals and mulch. Soil biology will do the rest. Flushes of growth from NPK or nitrogen-rich fertilisers are a major cause of unnaturally fast soft new leaf growth. This artificially creates a banquet of food for herbivorous insects. Slow and steady feeding avoids creating this issue.
  • Record your observations in a garden journal. Each season, write down when pests arrive in your garden and which plants are attacked. Note what remedies you tried. What worked? What didn’t? Your knowledge base is a valuable tool to use year after year.

What to Plant Now in Subtropical SE QLD

August is typically when our temperatures start to warm up during the day. It’s usually dry and windy with an increase in pest insects after overwintering. We also notice many plants starting to wake up from winter dormancy. Some plants may be under stress if it’s too dry. Before the warmer weather arrives, it’s an ideal time to get all those big garden projects finished. Building new garden beds, mulching, setting up vertical garden structures for spring and getting shade covers ready. It’s exhausting trying to do those jobs when it’s hot and humid!

Download your August Gardening Tips PDF for planting suggestions, tasks to do in the garden this month plus issues to watch out for. 

If you can, try to time planting in harmony with the moon phases. Working with Nature’s timing can improve seed germination, help cuttings take root when propagating plants, 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 moon phases 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

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How to Prevent and Get Rid of Aphids Naturally

Aphids are sap-sucking pest insects that every gardener deals with at some point. Unfortunately, these are one of the most destructive pests. Having some ‘tools’ in your pest management toolkit for getting rid of aphids quickly is essential. So, let’s take a look at who they are, why they are such a problem plus how to prevent aphids and minimise the damage with practical science-backed strategies to get rid of aphids naturally. I’ve lost plenty of plants to aphids so I’m sharing what really works and why.

Aphids – Who are They?

Aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae) are tiny insects that clone themselves and feed on plant juices. They literally suck the nutrient-rich sap and life out of your plants. There are over 5000 species in various colours from green to pink and black!

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Aphids Naturally

In small numbers, they’re not always a problem on mature plants. Especially if you have natural predators in your garden like hoverflies, parasitic wasps or ladybirds. If these hungry omnivores are residents in your garden, they will often seek out and enjoy aphid dinner, taking care of minor numbers.

Why are Aphids Such a Problem?

However, aphids generally are a BIG problem. They may be tiny but can do a LOT of damage in just a few days. Colonies with thousands of aphids can build up VERY quickly. How’s that possible? To be blunt, their highly successful reproductive rate happens because female aphids don’t waste time or energy on looking for a male partner, courtship, sex, or laying and incubating eggs! Sorry boys, not needed here as aphids are primarily asexual. In most species, males are rare or absent! Males don’t get much attention until cold weather when they’re occasionally required to fertilise eggs as a backup plan! Even then, mother aphids control their population by laying eggs that morph into males when necessary!

Aphid colonies are started by a stem mother who flies to a new food source location. She carries live babies and gives birth on arrival to start the new colony.

Aphids are female cloning experts that take a shortcut. Mother aphids give birth to multiple live female nymphs rather than eggs. Not only are all these daughters born hungry, but also ready within days to produce their own look-alike families! There’s no time buffer for you to miss their arrival before the exponential population explosion gets out of hand. A gardener’s nightmare, right? Take a look at this video to see how quickly this scenario unfolds.

How Do You Know if You Have an Aphid Problem?

If you notice tiny dots on your plants, curled leaves or discolouration, check carefully. Look on the undersides of leaves, stems, on flowers and new lush bud or tip growth. Aphids are really good at hiding. Especially the tiny nymphs. They are masters of camouflage, often blending in with the same colour of the plant they are on. A magnifying glass may be helpful to locate them.

How Do Aphids Feed, Move and Multiply So Fast?

Aphids have two main goals in life. Eat and reproduce! They feed on plant sap to convert nutrients into aphid biomass as fast as possible. This enables them to duplicate themselves sooner. They devote their short lives and energy to eating, motherhood and finding the next host plant. So essentially these wingless, sedentary insects are continually pregnant and giving birth. They don’t waste energy on exercise! They only move to locate more sap on the host plant or hide from natural enemies – and maybe you.

Mature adult aphid with wings

Mature adult aphid with wings – Image source

If one plant gets too crowded with aphid clones, they walk to the next. So the cycle starts again.

Winged aphids have a different role. Adult aphids fly to locate new host plants and establish new colonies. They take off with embryos inside and give birth when they find their next plant victim. Aphids just keep coming back with new versions of themselves. If you eliminate most of them, it only takes one single aphid to repeat the nightmare. Sounds like an alien horror movie, right? They’re definitely a pest to take seriously.

What Damage Do Aphids Cause?

When aphids feed, they disturb the balance of the plant’s growth hormones. Leaves wilt, wither, yellow, and dry out. Aphids prefer new shoots and buds to older leaves. Buds may not open at all or produce distorted flowers. Aphids also transmit plant viruses.

After feeding, they secrete honeydew (a sugary substance). This food source often attracts ants who act as bodyguards for a sweet reward. It’s a win-win relationship.

Ant receives sweet honeydew reward from an aphid for security services

Ant receives a sweet honeydew reward from an aphid for providing security services – Image Source

The ants keep potential predators like ladybirds away and get paid with free food. Sticky honeydew covers the leaf creating the perfect growing environment for black sooty mould to develop. This, in turn, slows and stops photosynthesis so the plant can’t produce energy to grow. It’s a domino effect. Forewarned is forearmed!

So, one small dot on your plant can have serious consequences! A single aphid can lead to other diseases and plant death. If ants are present as guards, you have to remove them too. That’s why you need to act fast to prevent and control aphids.

Host Plants and Aphid Species

If you grow any vegetables, fruit or citrus trees, roses, perennials or annuals, it’s likely you’re going to encounter at least one species of aphid sap suckers! Most aphid species look for hosts of a particular plant genus, but others are generalist feeders. They’re not fussy about which plants they eat whereas others target specific plant family groups. Onion aphids, for example, are specialist aphids that feed on host plants (HP) in the onion family. Have you ever noticed those black bugs on your leeks, onions, chives, spring onions and garlic? They’re common in spring.

Severe infestation of onion aphids Neotoxoptera formosana on shallots

Severe infestation of onion aphids Neotoxoptera formosana on shallots – Image source

Neotoxoptera formosana is one of these species. It’s a global pest insect that sucks nutrients from the onion (Allium) family including onions (Allium cepa); shallots (Allium ascalonicum); spring or green onions (Allium fistulosum); garlic (Allium sativum); garlic chives (Allium tuberosum); chives (Allium schoenoprasum); leeks (Allium porrum) and Chinese onions (Allium chinense).

Research studies (Pickett et al., 1992; Pickett & Glinwood, 2008) show onion aphids can detect their preferred host plants in the Allium family by scent using olfactory cues. Aphids use their sense of smell to identify their host species by the unique aromatic airborne plant volatile compounds (volatiles) released by the leaves. They move directly towards the odour source, kind of like using GPS. Or pet dogs that magically appear in the kitchen when they smell their favourite food!

Two sulphur-containing compounds that are characteristically found in Allium plants are diallyl disulphide and dipropyl trisulphide (Hori, 2007). Since both these compounds are relatively uncommon among other plant taxa (Webster, 2012), aphids can accurately target the onion family. Amazing huh? That’s why you’ll see specific aphid species on thousands of different plants. Read on to find out how to use this to your advantage.

Natural Pest & Disease Management
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How to Prevent and Get Rid of Aphids Naturally

So what can we do to prevent and minimise aphid damage? I use a few key strategies and principles because you need more than one tool in your toolkit. From my experiences with black onion aphids on members of the onion family over the years, I’ve adapted my gardening practices.

7 Preventative Pest Management Strategies for Aphid Control

How do you avoid an aphid infestation on your plants? These are some science-backed suggestions for you to consider.

1.       Be observant. It’s much easier to tackle a dozen aphids when they first arrive than a major infestation problem in plague numbers. Check your plants daily if possible. As the weather warms up in spring, you can expect aphids to become more active with all the new growth to feed on. Early detection and intervention will help. If you see a few, don’t wait a week to do something about it! Act quickly.

2.       Maintain plant health and watering. Weak nutrient-deficient plants are a magnet for pest insects. Keep up the soil moisture, nutrients and mulch. Strong, healthy plants have a better chance of resisting attack. Studies have found plants with adequate bioavailable phosphorus and potassium have higher resistance to aphid populations. Water in dry times so plants can access nutrients in the soil. Drought or heat-stressed plants release chemical cues that insects pick up on. If your plants are showing signs of wilting or leaf discolouration, check nutrient availability. Foliar spraying with seaweed can also help strengthen cell walls and encourage earthworm activity.

Foliar feed plants with liquid seaweed to strengthen and protect against pest attack

Foliar feed plants with liquid seaweed to strengthen and protect against pest attack

3.       Avoid excess nitrogen. An imbalance of too much nitrogen can create a flush of new sappy growth. The allium family is particularly vulnerable. Whenever I’ve applied nitrogen-rich organic fertiliser pellets and watered them in, within 24 hours, aphids appear. Like magic. Every time. Scientific studies confirm excess nitrogen fertilisers attract aphids and other sap-sucking pest insects like whiteflies. You can’t go wrong with slow-release compost and worm castings. Nature’s food with a balance of nutrients.

4.       Practice biodiversity. Aphids use scent cues. They are attracted to the volatile compounds your host plants release. So, avoid planting large numbers of the one plant family all in one spot. It may look pretty to have a row of onions or broccoli and make crop rotation in garden beds easier. However, this just spotlights your crops making it easy for aphids to find them. Instead, spread them around the garden. Interplant alliums as beneficial companions near other plants like beets, brassicas, carrots, cucumber, dill, lettuce, potatoes, roses, spinach, strawberries and tomatoes. The scents and diverse leaf shapes of other vegetables and herbs can also help make it more difficult for the aphids to find them. Win-win!

“Solid blocks of the same plant variety, though easy to seed and harvest, act as an ‘all you can eat’ sign to insect pests and diseases. Harmful bugs will stuff themselves on this unbroken field of abundant food as they make unimpeded hops from plant to plant and breed to plague proportions.” – Toby Hemenway, Author – Gaia’s Garden

5.       Plant flowering species that attract aphid predators. Aphid natural enemies include omnivorous hoverflies, ladybirds, lacewings and their respective larvae, plus predatory wasps. These beneficial insects also dine out on nectar from many flowers as a supplementary food source. They eat meat and veg! So, try growing herbs and flowers like oregano, dill, buckwheat, sweet alyssum, nasturtiums and bachelor buttons in your garden prior to spring when aphids generally are most problematic. You’ll have your friendly predatory ‘armoured guards’ ready to take care of these unwelcome aphid guests on arrival. Early intervention can keep the pest-to-predator ratio in balance. Insect-eating birds that feed on aphids include wrens, silvereyes, willy wagtails, finches, honeyeaters, pardalotes and some sparrows. Make your garden bird-friendly with habitat and water!


A Silvereye feeding on aphids on a Red Russian kale plant

6.       Interplant with strongly scented herbs like rosemary and pennyroyal. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in these non-host plants have been found to help mask the odour of alliums and repel aphids of various plant species. (Hori, 1996). Keep in mind though, you need to maintain your herb health as well. The production of these volatile compounds that help repel aphids is often dependent on moisture availability. Research studies (3) show rosemary, for example, decreased the release of VOCs after a four-day water deficit. Pruning can also help increase the release of VOCs. So you can encourage plants to provide a protective role at critical times in spring.

7.       Cover your crops. Obviously, if you use exclusion insect netting or crop protection bags, aphids will find it hard to access their host plants.

Exclusion Insect Netting for Crop Protection
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Companion Planting – How to Confuse and Lose Aphids

This is a complex area of pest insect and plant interactions. Research studies vary widely in their findings. However, some of the science-backed findings regarding companion planting are interesting and give us the confidence to use plants as part of our integrated pest management (IPM) toolkit. Evidence-based research shows many companion plants have been found to work in several beneficial ways. (more…)

How to Control Garden Pest Insects Naturally

Do you panic when you see an insect you don’t recognise in your garden? Do you assume it’s a pest causing damage? If so, it may help to understand WHY insects attack plants. I also share a toolbox of natural and organic strategies to help prevent and control the damage.

How to Control Garden Pest Insects Naturally - why they attack plants + organic and natural strategies to prevent and control damage

Firstly, a reality check! Don’t expect a pest-free garden. Even the healthiest gardens still get pest insect visitors. It’s more important to focus on creating a healthy balanced ecosystem. Aim for a productive harvest rather than a zero-tolerance policy!

There will be more beneficial predatory insects and pest controllers in residence with the right elements in place, than those causing damage. You need both – in balance.

If your garden is new, has few flowering species or has poor quality soil, it may be a different story. If you have a horde of herbivores eating your plants, don’t give up! Give it a little time and nature will restore the natural equilibrium. Read on to learn how.

Let’s colour in the picture so you know why the pest insects are there and what to do about it.

How do Pest Insects Damage Plants?

Some insects suck the sap out of plants or chew leaves, while others bore into the roots, seeds or stems. You can tell if you have some unwanted visitors in your garden by the visual damage. You won’t see underground pest insects. However, you WILL be able to observe the evidence they’re in residence by the appearance of your plant aboveground.

Why do some Plants Attract Pest Insects?

Pest insects target plants that are minerally deficient. They are indicators of an imbalance. Weak malnourished plants are magnets for herbivorous insects. They are a CLUE you need to change something.

Pest insects often target nutrient-deficient plants

Pest insects often target nutrient-deficient plants

Professor Philip Callahan, the author of Tuning into Nature, observed that insect antennae enable them to sense a variety of environmental signals. He also found that plants emit infrared radiation (not visible to us). What’s really interesting is these signals vary depending on the nutrient levels inside the plant. He notes “A sick plant actually sends forth a beacon, carried in the infrared, attracting insects. It is then the insect’s role to dispose of this plant deemed unfit for life by nature.”

Survival of the Fittest

So, ‘pest’ insects are actually Nature’s ‘garbage collectors’. Their role is to remove ‘rubbish plants’ and help strong healthy plants survive! They leave plants with optimum nutrition levels alone. What can you learn from this? Grow nutrient-dense food and insect pests won’t bother your plants.

If you have a lot of pest insect problems in your garden, look at your soil health as a first step. Then, cultural practices like watering, feeding and position. It’s far easier to implement preventative strategies than deal with a big outbreak.

Pest insects select plants with a nutritional imbalance of one or more nutrients. They don’t have the pancreatic enzymes necessary to digest complex carbohydrates in healthy plants. Untouched plants are a clue you are meeting their needs. (more…)

Gardening Tips for October

Connecting with nature is healing on so many levels. I hope you’ve been spending time in your garden – big or small. The past few weeks I’ve been busy filming for a project and helping clients set up new gardens on balconies, rooftops, front and backyards, Zooming all over the world! I love every minute of this work. Growing food and medicinal plants is one of the most empowering things we can do to take care of our physical and mental health, especially in uncertain times. Food security has never been more important. I’ve also been designing my urban garden to maximise space vertically and growing lots of food in containers, attracting beneficial insects and improving the soil. In this newsletter, I’m sharing practical resources to help you learn more about container gardening and how to manage a common pest insect – the fungus gnat + gardening tips for this month. So let’s dig right in!

Gardening Tips for October | The Micro Gardener


Why do potted plants die?

As container gardeners, our plants are dependent on us for survival. Their roots can’t just reach out and find the moisture and nutrients they need outside their pot ‘home’! The most common reasons for killing potted plants are:

  • Overwatering them. They drown due to waterlogged roots and lack of air spaces in poorly drained mix.
  • Underwatering them. They don’t have sufficient moisture to rehydrate and take up soluble nutrients.
  • Not feeding them by meeting their nutritional needs, so they ‘starve’ due to an empty ‘soil pantry’.
  • Using a poor quality potting mix or garden soil. Potting mixes tend to dry out, become hydrophobic and repel moisture quickly. Garden soil often compacts, doesn’t drain well and may contain plant pathogens.
  • Not repotting them when they outgrow their home. Roots become ‘pot bound’ if not upgraded to a bigger pot.
  • Putting them in the wrong spot – too hot, cold, frosty, windy, shady or sunny for their particular needs.
  • Neglecting them altogether. Bad plant ‘parenting’!

So how do you avoid these problems and save your plants?


7 Tips to Avoid Killing your Container Plants

If you’ve accidentally murdered one of your plants or turned it into a ‘dried arrangement’, don’t feel too guilty! Compost it and reuse your potting mix to start again. These are some simple tips to avoid future potted plant casualties.

7 Tips to Avoid Killing your Container Plants

  1. Start with a good quality potting mix that has excellent structure, holds moisture and nutrients and drains well. Even better, make your own potting mix for more control than a commercial mix or amend a bagged mix. This is my recipe.
  2. Choose your pot wisely. If you live in a hot climate, terracotta pots may not be the best choice as they dry out quickly. Do your homework and compare different materials and options.
  3. Water consistently and appropriately. It can be tricky to know how often to water. Some plants need more moisture than others. Large-leafed plants, fruiting and flowering crops, and thirsty herbs like mint typically have greater water needs than small-leafed herbs, succulents and perennials. Large pots in the shade won’t need watering as often as small containers in a sunny or windy position. Avoid waterlogging by leaving the plant sitting in water.
  4. Treat houseplants differently. Indoor plants have lower light levels so they use water comparatively slowly. They need to dry out a little between waterings (but not bone dry). Learn to ‘read’ your plant’s clues before the whole plant turns brown and crispy! I only water my houseplants every 10 days or so when a particular Spathiphyllum, Mr Droopy lets me know it’s seaweed spa day! They all go into a deep bucket for a refreshing deep drink, drain and hose down.
  5. Keep a garden journal if you’re busy or forgetful. I’ve found this really helpful for keeping a record of which plants need more or less moisture and general observations. A watering routine before/after work or a set time may help.
  6. Repot when needed. If you notice roots extending out the base of the pot, it’s time to transplant into a bigger one.
  7. Maintain plant nutrition. If you’re initially potting up a plant, add the nutrients to your potting mix. Liquid feeds are really useful to apply trace elements. A seasonal application of compost, worm castings, slow-release minerals and mulch will keep your plants healthy and happy.

Dig into more Container Gardening Tips.

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Why are Ants in my Plants, Pots and Soil?

Do you ever see ants running up the stems or along branches and leaves? What about your pot plants? Do you notice them in your potting mix? Or in your lawn making little mounds that blunt your mower blades?

Why are Ants in my Plants, Pots and Soil?

Perhaps you’re wondering WHY they are there and WHAT they are doing? Are they causing damage or are they just annoying? If you want to know the answers and how to get rid of them naturally, read on.

Why are Ants in my Plants, Pots and Soil?

The answer is simple. Ants are extremely smart insects and ALWAYS have a good motive for inhabiting your plants, pots or soil. The two most likely reasons are for:

  1. Food
  2. Shelter

Seems reasonable enough, doesn’t it? We all need a roof over our heads and something to eat! Believe me, ants won’t expend energy doing anything unless there’s something in it for them.

If you see little black ants ON your plants, it’s likely because they have found a source of food. Ants are often a clue you have a bigger problem. Don’t shoot the messenger!  They are just the ‘couriers’ delivering you a message. They’ll take you straight to it. By being more observant, you’ll understand what they’re doing and why. Assuming they are harming your plant may be a BIG mistake because you only have part of the picture!

Most likely, if you look closely and follow their trail like a good detective, you’ll find it ends in sap-sucking insects like aphids, scale, mites, whiteflies or mealybugs. These pest insects are what you should be really looking for! Ants are your ‘tour guides’ and can detect the presence of these pests with their antennae. Smart hey?

So, instead of treating them as the enemy to be killed, learn to value their presence. Why? Because they have alerted you to the problem you really need to deal with! Micro gardening is about looking at details; learning to understand who, what, where and why things happen and ‘joining the dots.’

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October 2018 Newsletter

October 2018 Newsletter | The Micro Gardener

Welcome to the October newsletter. It’s been a busy few weeks but I have some interesting tips for you to tuck into.

What’s on the menu?

In this newsletter, I tackle a common pest insect enemy – the fruit fly and share strategies for preventing and controlling the damage. If you’ve ever cut open fruit and found it spoiled by larvae inside, it could be this offender. If you are plagued by tiny sap sucking aphids, then you’ll enjoy learning about Hoverflies. These beneficial predators dine out on these pesky insects. Discover how to attract them to your garden. I also share nine clues that may indicate you have problem soil and explain the fascinating reason why flowers make nectar. Dig in!

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Organic Aphid Control with Hoverflies

Controlling aphids organically is much easier if you encourage natural predators like hoverflies to take up residence in your garden. One natural pest management strategy for organic aphid control is to make your garden attractive to predatory insects. These can help keep aphid numbers and other sap suckers in balance – no chemicals needed.

Organic Aphid Control with Hoverflies

 

The Hoverfly or Syrphid Fly (Diptera)

Also known as Flower Flies, hoverflies are members of the Syrphidae insect family. As their name suggests, adults often ‘hover’ like mini helicopters over nectar and pollen-rich flowers.

They lay their eggs near or in the middle of aphid colonies so when their babies hatch, dinner is served! Hoverfly larvae not only eat aphids but also soft bodied sap suckers like scale, mites, thrips and some small caterpillars. They are valuable predator insects to have in your garden as part of your organic pest management strategy. (more…)

Organic Fruit Fly Control Strategies

Fruit flies are one of the most destructive pest insects in home gardens and attack a wide range of fruit trees and fruiting crops. Many gardeners find they are the number one enemy they battle every year.

This pest insect is most active from spring through autumn and species vary in different locations. For vulnerable fruit, you need to be prepared to be vigilant and have controls in place at the right time. You really have to know your enemy to tackle it!

If you’ve experienced damage to your harvest, it can be disheartening to even try to grow your favourite fruit crop. What if managing this pest insect is all too difficult?

Organic Fruit Fly Control Strategies

If you don’t want to deal with fruit fly damage in your garden, you still have options:

1. Remove any host plants that are prone to attack.

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November 2017 Newsletter

Organic Gardening Tips for an Abundant Harvest

November 2017 Newsletter | The Micro Gardener

Welcome to the November Newsletter. There are lots of quick tips to get you thinking about the food you eat and grow, to help your health and wellbeing.

This month, I’m sharing another quick ‘How To’ video in my Sow Simple series of free tutorials to help you grow and use food wisely in just minutes. Dig in and help others by sharing these tips!

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New Season Garden Planting Tips

Have you ever experienced unhealthy plants? A poor harvest … or worse, no harvest at all? This may be due to a lack of preparation. Before planting, is the ideal time to prepare and reinvigorate your soil to avoid disappointment. 

New Season Garden Planting Tips

Creating healthy soil is one of the key factors to focus on before you begin planting. It’s unlikely plants will grow well in ‘dead dirt’!

“Organic matter, nutrients, moisture and an active microbe population are important elements to add to your soil.” – Anne Gibson

So let’s take a look at some tips and simple ways to prepare your garden for planting and using your space wisely.

Garden Planting Tips

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