7 Sustainable Garden Design Tips

Want a productive, edible and sustainable garden? One that nourishes you with healing delicious foods? Growing your own organic food garden is one easy way to live more sustainably and tread lighter on the planet.

7 Sustainable Garden Design Tips

When you ‘shop’ for fresh ingredients from your garden, you save time and energy. Home gardeners don’t need to use huge amounts of precious water, toxic petrochemical fertilisers, expensive fuel, transport, tonnes of material and lots of land. Designed cleverly, a small sustainable garden avoids wasting resources and minimises the impact on the environment.

I believe being ‘sustainable’ is a lifestyle that helps sustain you physically and provides you with short and long-term benefits. Being a sustainable gardener is about making conscious choices about the actions you take and the resources you use. Giving back to the earth and not just taking from it.

Recycling food waste back into the garden is a sustainable practice

Recycling food waste back into the garden is a sustainable practice

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3 Tips on Growing Peas and Beans

Do you love the crisp sweet crunch of young peas and beans? These easy-to-grow crops are perfect for all gardeners in small urban spaces. In pots, plots or garden beds!

3 Tips for Growing Peas and Beans

How do you get the highest yield from your peas and beans, especially if you have limited space?

These are tips I use to grow healthy pea and bean plants that produce an abundant harvest. I hope they help you too.

3 Tips for Growing Peas and Beans

1. Healthy Soil and Fertilising

  • Peas and beans both prefer well drained, moist soils, with plenty of organic matter and a soil pH 6.0-7.5.
  • You can make your own potting mix like I do, or improve your soil with compost and worm castings if you have them. I also add minerals and mulch. Click here for tips on preparing your soil for planting.
  • Every couple of weeks apply a liquid fertiliser such as seaweed, fish emulsion or diluted worm casting concentrate to boost growth.
Sugar Snap Pea Seedlings - save time by planting seedlings if you have a short season.

Apply seaweed when planting seedlings to avoid transplant shock.

2. Get your Timing Right

  • Choose varieties suited to your season and climate. I’m lucky to be able to grow beans all year round in my subtropical climate. I just choose my varieties carefully for the season – climbing snake beans over summer; dwarf and runner beans for the rest of the year. So timing is important when selecting your seeds or seedling varieties – learn what will grow when.
  • Peas are another story. Sadly, I can only grow these through the cooler months, unless I raise seeds as microgreens. This is one way to extend your season to grow pea shoots for longer. A brilliant way to benefit from the extra nutrients too.
Quick growing pea shoot microgreens

Quick growing pea shoot microgreens

  • Sow early morning or late afternoon if in a warm/hot climate to avoid heat stress for seedlings.
  • Plant in the new moon phase for faster seed germination and strong growth. This is also the best time to apply liquid fertilizers as you’ll see much quicker results. Root development and leaf growth comes before flowers and pods, so use this timing to your advantage!

3. Succession and Companion Planting

  • Succession Planting – To get a continuous supply of peas and beans, you need to succession plant or “sow little, and often.” Every couple of weeks I sow more peas or beans, so I stagger the planting – and the harvest.
French climbing beans growing up a bamboo trellis

French climbing beans growing up a bamboo trellis

  • When choosing your peas or beans, dwarf or bush varieties will usually produce flowers and pods quicker than climbing peas or runner/pole beans. If you sow some dwarf seeds/seedlings first, you’ll enjoy a fast harvest, while the climbing varieties take longer to produce flowers and pods. While climbers are slow out of the starting gates, they’ll go the distance and produce a harvest over a longer period!
  • Companion planting – To improve pollination of pea and bean crops, there’s a simple principle you can apply. Plant flowers nearby. To attract pollinators, lease out some of your precious garden ‘real estate’ to flower ‘tenants’. They will ‘pay’ you in more peas and beans! As the bees visit the flowers for a free feed, they’ll also stop by and pollinate these crops. Win-win!
Bee pollinating a green bean flower

Bee pollinating a green bean flower

How to Grow Guides

For tutorials with lots of inspiring vertical structures and tips, see my growing guides:

Easy Guide to Growing Perfect Peas – An easy step by step guide with everything you need to know to grow, maintain and harvest peas + delicious recipe ideas.

Jack and the Beanstalk Theme Garden – Tutorial tips for growing beans and a themed garden for children.

If you like this article, please share the love!

Happy gardening until next month.  Anne

April 2017 Newsletter

Organic Gardening Tips for an Abundant Harvest

April 2017 Newsletter - Organic Gardening Tips | The Micro Gardener

Welcome to the April Newsletter. Lots of quick tips to get you thinking about the food you eat and grow.

This month, I’m sharing another quick ‘How To’ video in my Sow Simple series of free tutorials to help you grow an abundant, healthy garden in just minutes. Dig in!

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March 2017 Newsletter

Organic Gardening Tips for an Abundant Harvest

Welcome to the March Newsletter. I’m sorry it’s a little late due to my work commitments, but I’ve put together some helpful tips to get you growing and inspired.

This month, I’m sharing another quick ‘How To’ video in my Sow Simple series of free tutorials to help you grow an abundant, healthy garden in just minutes. Dig in!


How to Grow More Basil Leaves

In this quick 2 minute video clip, I share tips on how to grow more leaves on your basil plants. I show you an easy technique to stimulate new growth so you get an abundant harvest of this delicious herb.

Like this video? Let me know in the comments if you found this helpful.

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2017-04-18T14:44:05+00:00 Categories: Newsletters|Tags: , , , |4 Comments

9 Foods You Can Regrow from Kitchen Scraps

Are you growing an edible garden? One easy way to save money is to grow some of your plants for free. How? From leftover food scraps that are often thrown away!

9 Foods You Can Regrow From Kitchen Scraps | The Micro Gardener

9 Foods You Can Regrow From Kitchen Scraps

 

You may already be composting your kitchen ‘waste’. That’s a great way to build a healthy soil. However, it may save you money to be selective before throwing everything into your compost system. There are many plant parts that can help you propagate new plants. For minimal effort and no cost.

 

Why Should You Only Regrow Organic Food?

  • First, a word of warning! For health reasons, I suggest you select organic vegetables, fruit and herbs. Too expensive? So is the cost of poor health! I think safe food is one of the best investments we can make.
  • Sadly, non-organic produce is grown using chemicals. Not just one spray either. It’s commonly a cocktail of herbicides, fungicides, pesticides and other -icides. These are applied during the growth cycle and even after harvesting. These are often systemic chemicals. That means you can’t wash them off the skin. The chemicals are absorbed internally into the plant tissues through soil and water. Root crops like potatoes are especially vulnerable. Other crops are genetically modified or imported and radiated.

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How to Choose the Healthiest Seedlings … and NOT buy duds!

If you’re serious about saving money in your garden, then growing plants from seed is definitely the smartest choice.  It’s about 10 times cheaper than buying seedlings!

The reality is though, we’re often busy and don’t always have the time, knowledge or space to raise plants from seed. If you do buy seedlings, how can you avoid wasting money on unhealthy ones or those that are destined prematurely for the compost? Photo: Susy Morris

The reality is though, we’re often busy and don’t always have the time, knowledge or space to raise plants from seed. If you DO buy seedlings, how can you avoid wasting money on unhealthy ones or those that are destined prematurely for the compost?

 

I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and been seriously cheesed off after ending up with ‘dried arrangements’ not long after planting what appeared to be ‘healthy’ new seedlings!

 

Dead plants give a new meaning to 'thin & crispy'!

I hate wasting money and time on plants that cark it with no warning – especially when I give them my usual love and attention.

 

I figure ‘failures’ are  just learning opportunities! So over time, I’ve done some digging to find out what contributed to my unplanned compost additions. I hope sharing my experiences will help you avoid ‘dried arrangements’ at your place … (more…)

The Benefits of Moon Gardening

I’d like to share a secret I use in my garden to get great results. Strong, healthy happy plants. This ‘secret weapon’ saves me a LOT of time and money.  It’s moon gardening or planting by the moon!

Learn the Benefits of Moon Gardening and how to work with nature's moon cycles to boost your success

Discover the Benefits of Moon Gardening and how to work with nature’s moon cycles to boost your success

OK, ‘moon gardening’ may sound a little strange if you’ve never heard of it before! Stay with me and I’ll reveal the secret in more detail and how YOU can use this to your advantage.

You are probably already familiar with your climate zone and are planting in the right season for your location. One easy way for you to maximise your gardening success is by working with nature’s lunar cycles. By that, I don’t mean getting outdoors with a shovel in the middle of the night! Moon planting has been practiced by farmers and gardeners who were in tune with nature’s patterns. In our busy modern world, many gardeners have lost sight of this age old science-based technique.

 

“Gardening by the moon has been practiced for many thousands of years and is not about planting at night but about being in harmony with natural growth patterns.” – Sheree Scott

“Gardening by the moon has been practiced for many thousands of years and is not about planting at night but about being in harmony with natural growth patterns.” – Sheree Scott

 

How Does Moon Gardening Work?

The moon has four ‘phases’ or ‘quarters’ – each last about 7 days.  (more…)

Do you Know What to Plant When?

Planting in Season for your Unique Location

One of the biggest challenges in gardening is learning what to plant when. To save time and money and get the best results, it’s wise to plant in season.  That simply means that you work WITH nature to sow or transplant when the weather and season is most favourable to growing what you want to plant.

Learn the right time to plant in your zone - it will save you time and money! | The Micro Gardener

Ever had a seedling or plant die shortly after planting? Your climate zone and time of year can play a big role in gardening successfully.

 

How to Determine What to Plant and When

  • Know your zone – Climate zones are generalised because seasons can change quickly. They can arrive early or late – or not at all!  If you are not sure already, find out which climate zone you live in.  This will help you choose the best plants for your area and learn the correct sowing time.  (more…)

Planting Tips to Save You Time & Money

Thrifty Ways to Buy, Sow & Plant

These are a few tips from my personal experiences to help you get the most out of plants you grow and cost you less.

  • Be Prepared: Prepare your garden bed or pot before choosing the seeds, seedlings or plants that suit your climate zone.  Check the amount of space you have available before planting. Some plants need more ‘personal space’ than others so avoid buying more than you need or have the space to grow.  There’s nothing worse than coming home with an armful of seedling punnets and watching them become ‘dried arrangements’ by the front door because you weren’t ready to plant them!  I’ve learned my lesson by composting too many ‘mistakes’!

 

Shallots are the lead actor in this edible micro garden - I prepare my potting mix first before rotating the food crops I grow in this productive small space.

Consider the space you have to work with: I chose shallow rooted edibles like tatsoi, parsley, baby spinach, marigolds and skinny chives and spring onions which could all share this pot comfortably!

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DIY Fertilisers – How to Use Banana Peels

Want to save money in your garden and grow healthier plants?  One of the easiest ways to do this is to make your own free DIY fertilisers with organic materials and household food waste, including banana peels. A sustainable solution!

 

DIY Fertilisers - How to Use Banana Peels to Feed your Plants for Free

DIY Fertilisers – How to Use Banana Peels to Feed your Plants for Free

 

Tips for How You Can Reuse Bananas

Like all plants, bananas contain important nutrients. You can recycle these back into your garden to build soil and plant health.

Bananas are rich in minerals including:

  • Potassium. This mineral helps promote general plant vigour; build up resistance to pest and disease; is necessary to help fruit develop; is involved in regulating around 50 enzymes in a plant; and relates to the turgor (or uprightness of stems and the thickness of cell walls) i.e. plant strength!  This is extremely important for plants like staghorns which literally hang onto tree trunks in nature and vertical vegetables like spring onions, leeks and fruiting crops.

 

Bananas are mineral rich and recycling the peels back into your garden saves money and returns these nutrients to the soil where they can benefit other plants. This is NO WASTE gardening!

Bananas are mineral rich and recycling the peels back into your garden saves money and returns these nutrients to the soil where they can benefit other plants. This is NO WASTE gardening!

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