Oct 252017
 


We’re always being told to eat more fruit and veggies and get more exercise with this diet or that exercise program. If the thought of donning the Lycra and heading to the gym has you reaching for the chocolate cake, what about green gym? Get out into your sustainable garden for your daily workout. Sustainable gardening is not only good for the planet; it’s good for your health. There are more and more people using their gardens and growing fruit and veggies to help manage chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Think about all the weeding, digging, mulching, planting, and raking you can do in your garden. Wow, what a workout. Not only that, your sustainable garden is a great mood booster, so it’s good for your mental health as well.

Make November your month to start your green gym in your patch!

Warm Areas

Frost free or occasional light frosts (North from about Coffs Harbour and all the way across to the west to Geraldton)

  • Herbs are not only great to grow, they’re great for you! Get out and plant some basil, parsley, coriander, thyme and rosemary. Don’t forget to mulch them well. Good for your plants and helps you to burn some extra calories.
  • Get into the veggie patch and plant lettuce, silver beet, tatsoi, climbing beans, zucchini, pumpkin, carrot and beetroot. Don’t forget there’s still time to get your tomatoes in.
  • Garlic should be ready to harvest by now – look for leaves yellowing and beginning to die off.
  • Need to eat more fruit? Plant passionfruit, pawpaw, pineapples and for a potassium hit, some bananas.
  • How about adding some pretties to the garden: marigolds, verbena, petunias, cosmos, sunflowers and dianthus. They’ll not only add colour and interest to your patch, the beneficial insects will love them.
  • Your patch looking a bit tired and worn out? A green manure crop could be the lift it needs. At this time of year, try millet, lablab, or cow pea. Your soil will be alive and nutritious, next season’s veggies will love you.
  • Another great job to give you and your patch a good workout, top up the mulch on all of your garden beds. Make sure you choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, that’ll enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • How about making some shade cloth tents. They don’t have to elaborate, just a simple, moveable structure that you can pop over the top of some of the sun sensitive veggies as it gets hotter. Think of it as slip, slop, slap for your plants! Don’t forget to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide yourself.
  • Have a good look at your grafted fruit trees throughout November, if they’re sending up shoots below the graft, cut them off. You don’t want the rootstock taking over your precious fruit trees.
  • Weeding is a great workout so get out there and pull them out before they take over your patch.

Cool to Cold Areas

Low temperatures for extended periods of time (all of Tasmania, most of Victoria, the southern highlands of NSW, ACT and a tiny southern bit of SA)

November is one the best months to be starting your green gym in this part of the Australia, the soil and temperatures are warming up, but it’s still cool enough for a good garden workout.

  • Use your workout to plant some healthy herbs: dill, chamomile, parsley, oregano, rosemary, rue, thyme and sage. Plant some lemon balm and mint into pots….or you’ll get an even tougher workout pulling them out when they take over your patch.
  • Time to plant some home grown vitamin powerhouses: capsicum, chilli, beetroots, carrots, cucumber, eggplants, lettuce, potatoes, pumpkins, leeks, silverbeet, squash, sweet corn and zucchini.
  • Some colour in the patch isn’t only pleasing to the eye, but will attract pollinators and other good guys, try some chamomile, petunias, snapdragons, phlox or marigolds.
  • Get a super workout, top up your mulch on all your garden beds. Make sure you choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, that’ll enrich your soil as it breaks down
  • Build up some muscle for you and your soil by planting green manure crops, think soy bean, barley, millet and mung beans. Next season’s hungry plants will love it.
  • Before you know it, it’ll be hot, so plan for the heat by making a couple of shade cloth tents. They don’t have to elaborate, just a simple, moveable structure that you can pop over the top of some of the sun sensitive veggies. Think of it as slip, slop, slap for your plants! Don’t forget to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide yourself.
  • Got grafted fruit trees? Check for shoots growing up from below the graft and cut them off. The rootstock will take over your trees if you let them go.
  • Want a great mind and body workout? Pull out those weeds. It’s good for your muscles and relieves stress!

Temperate Zones

Occasional winter frosts (pretty much the rest of Australia, most of the inland, some areas of Victoria, most of SA and the southern area of WA)

  • Start your gym session by planting capsicums, chilli, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, sweet corn, eggplant, lettuce, zucchini, rocket and squash.
  • While you at it, extend your workout by planting some healthy herbs. How about basil (both sweet and purple), parsley, sage, pyrethrum, lemongrass, oregano, rue and marjoram. Mint is a great herb for adding to your healthy dinners and drinks, but it’ll take over, so plant it in a pot to keep it contained.
  • Some colour in the patch isn’t only pleasing to the eye, but can help us de stress and relax. The pollinators and other good guys will love it too. Try some nasturtium, dianthus, gerbera, verbena, snapdragons, petunias, marigolds, phlox and celosia.
  • Build some muscle into you and your soil by planting green manure, try cow pea, mung bean, soy bean and millet. Next season’s hungry plants will love it and you’ll get a great workout when it’s time to dig them in.
  • Want a solid workout in your green gym? Top up your mulch on all your garden beds. Make sure you choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, that’ll enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • It might seem a long way off, but, it’ll be hot before you know it. Plan for the heat by making a couple of shade cloth tents. They don’t have to elaborate, just a simple, moveable structure that you can put over the top of some of the sun sensitive veggies. Think of it as slip, slop, slap for your plants! Don’t forget to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide yourself.
  • Got grafted fruit trees? Check for shoots growing up from below the graft and cut them off. The rootstock will take over your trees if you let them go.
  • Check your garlic, if some of the leaves are turning yellow and the stalks softening, it’s time to start harvesting.
  • For a solid workout for mind and body, get out there and weed. Pulling out weeds is not only good for your muscles, it helps relieve stress!

Staying active is important for us all, whether we’re managing a chronic disease or not. So next time you read about a new miracle diet, superfood or exercise program and feel like hiding under the doona, remember you have your own green gym in your patch. Exercise, fresh air and growing your own tasty and healthy superfoods. Who needs fad diets or crowded gyms?

Remember, conditions and climate in your patch might be a bit different, so take this as a general guide. Spending time out in the patch will help you to understand the climate, microclimate and seasonal variations.

Happy and healthy November, see you next month!

References

Bagnall, L, Easy organic gardening and moon planting, Scribe Publications, Vic. 2012
Ellis, D. Sustainable Gardening for Dummies: Australian and New Zealand. Wiley, Aust. 2010
Groenewegan, PP, van berg, AE, de Vries S, and Verheij, RA. Vitamin G: effects of green space on health, well-being and social safety. BMC Public Health, 2006.
Martinsen, J, Gardening as Diabetes Therapy. Diabetic Living. 2014
McFarlane, A, Organic Vegetable Gardening, ABC Books, Sydney, 2010

Photos
Lettuce – Mary Trigger (SGA)
Basil and Alyssum – Elaine Shaulle (SGA)

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