March in the Garden

This newsletter is short and sweet. Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable that gardeners want to grow successfully, so this month, I’ve dedicated a new article to help you do just that. I also introduce you to an insect you might see in your garden – the Assassin Bug. Friend or foe? Read on to find out!

Check out my March tips wherever you live. Plus a special download for what to do in your garden in subtropical Queensland for local gardeners in my climate. Planning is just as much fun as planting so think about your design to optimise space. You can also grow microgreens as mini indoor gardens like these gorgeous colourful baby leaf greens.

Microgreens six different varieties of herbs and vegetables

Microgreens: six different varieties of herbs and vegetables you can eat raw in 7-21 days


Top Tips for Growing Terrific Tomatoes

In my Tomato Growing Guide, you’ll discover top tips for:

  • Selecting and growing tomatoes.
  • How to prepare your soil.
  • Sowing, harvesting and pollination.
  • Health benefits +
  • My yummy super-easy tomato sauce recipe.

Take me to the TOMATO TIPS!

March in the Garden - These indeterminate cherry tomatoes gave me a healthy harvest

My indeterminate cherry tomatoes produced a healthy harvest with amazing flavour



The Health Benefits of Growing Plants Indoors

Are you working from home or spending more time inside like 90% of Australians? If so, I invite you to read my recent article in Garden Culture Magazine (p72-81). You may be surprised to learn how an indoor garden can considerably improve your health and wellbeing.

Polluted indoor air contaminated by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is recognised as a major cause of building-related health conditions. These include headaches, nausea, lethargy, nose and throat irritation, and loss of concentration. Few people likely suspect an invisible enemy may be contributing to their health issues.  Click here to discover how your plants can come to the rescue!

The Health Benefits of Growing Plants Indoors Garden Culture Magazine p72-81

‘The Health Benefits of Growing Plants Indoors’ p72-81, Garden Culture Magazine

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Top Tips for Growing Terrific Tomatoes

Tomatoes are delicious herbaceous annuals and one of the easiest crops you can grow, even in a small space. If you’re a beginner gardener or had challenges, follow these practical tips for growing terrific tomatoes and a healthy abundant harvest.

Tomato Growing Guide

Top Tips for Growing Terrific Tomatoes

How to Select Tomatoes

Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum syn Lycopersicon esculentum) are members of the Solanaceae (Nightshade) plant family. Their relatives include potatoes, chilli, capsicum and eggplant. There are a huge number of varieties. So, how do you narrow it down to what is best for you?

Obviously, the most important consideration is to choose cultivars suited to your climate. Locally adapted tomatoes tend to be more resilient to weather conditions, pests and diseases.

3 Considerations when Selecting your Tomato Cultivar

  1. Firstly, whether to grow heirlooms, hybrids or grafted varieties. Do you want to save seeds or space?
  2. Secondly, do you want large or small sized fruit? How do you intend using them in cooking and do you want to preserve them?
  3. Thirdly, whether to grow indeterminate or determinate varieties. Your space, microclimate and growing season will influence this decision too.

1. Heirloom vs Hybrid vs Grafted Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

First, heirlooms or heritage tomato varieties have been carefully saved for purity and handed down for generations – at least 50 to 100 years. For this reason, I favour old fashioned heirloom tomatoes because are grown for their flavour, size, yield or other beneficial characteristics like disease-resistance. Heirloom cultivars grow ‘true-to-type’ (identical to their parent plant). Their seeds are open-pollinated by insects or the wind.

Therefore, the key benefit of heirlooms is you can save seeds and grow future crops for free. You know they will produce an identical tomato. So, once you have grown your favourite varieties, try breeding your own cultivars. Choose the best characteristics that are adapted to your garden conditions. Then, save seeds so you enjoy future harvests with the same tomato traits. Learn more about saving and sourcing seeds.



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Hybrid Tomatoes

Next, hybrids are the result of a controlled pollination method. This is where pollen from two different species of tomatoes is crossed intentionally by a gardener. The purpose is that each parent plant provides a beneficial characteristic (such as early maturity). Thus, producing a better plant in the next generation.

Hybridization does happen randomly in nature too. If you choose hybrid seeds you will see them labelled as ‘F1.’ This indicates a variety that has been bred specifically for a desired trait. Hybrid plants tend to produce bigger harvests and grow better than the two parent varieties due to ‘hybrid vigor.’ This sounds good, right? BUT the fruits grown from F1 plants will produce genetically unstable, sterile seed. Consequently, you can’t save seed to use in following years. Why not?

F1 hybrids do not grow ‘true-to-type’ like heirlooms or grow as strong in the next generation. Hybrid plants will revert back to one of the parent cultivars. This means you have to keep buying new seed every year. So, hybrids are not a very sustainable choice and certainly more expensive! There’s huge pressure on seed banks globally. For food security, it’s safer to be self-reliant with the freedom to grow food from your own seed stocks.

Grafted tomato plants

Finally, grafted tomatoes are formed by joining two plants together. They are grown on vigorous, disease-resistant resilient rootstock. They produce a larger harvest, without compromising flavour. Grafted tomatoes can be ideal for container gardeners because you don’t need as many plants or as much space. You can also graft your own tomatoes.

But what about size?

2. Should you Grow Large or Small Tomato Varieties?

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September 2018 Newsletter

September 2018 Newsletter | The Micro Gardener

Welcome to the September newsletter. This month of spring, I’m busy presenting 10 workshops at local events and helping clients co-create beautiful productive kitchen gardens. More on that below.

What’s on the menu?

Whether it’s spring or autumn/fall in your garden, or somewhere in between, you’ll likely find my tips and video lesson on creating a bee friendly garden really helpful. If you have a shady spot, check out my list of 10 best vegetables to grow. If you love tomatoes, read on to find out some surprising facts about them and we get to know the Umbellifer family of vegetables and herbs.

My special spring offer on my home visit service for local gardeners ends this month. So be quick to book, as I have limited places left! Grab your discount coupon code below.

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2019-03-30T11:31:02+10:00Categories: Newsletters|Tags: , |0 Comments
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