FOSGA Gift Membership

Friends of Sustainable Gardening Australia (FOSGA) Gift Membership is the perfect zero waste gift for those in your life that are enthusiastic about protecting the natural world and enabling local healthy food production.

What does it mean to be a FOSGA?

FOSGA stands for Friends of Sustainable Gardening Australia and is SGA’s much loved and valued membership program.

As a FOSGA, your recipient will tap into a community that is passionate about producing healthy food, encouraging biodiversity and increasing resilience through knowledge. They will:

Gain access to the best evidence-based and independent advice on how to garden sustainably

Learn all about enabling their own healthy food production

Be empowered to enhance our environment by promoting biodiversity

FOSGAs receive the best independent and evidence-based advice from SGA with plenty of ongoing ideas and inspiration, including:

  • SGA’s Four Part Sustainable Gardening 101 Video Series all about mastering the fundamentals of sustainable gardening. Sessions include:
    • Composting & Worm Farming
    • Soil Farming
    • Low Impact Pest Management
    • Water Smart Gardening
  • 15% discounts on Master Classes
  • Members Only articles
  • Discounts and special offers from SGA accredited partners
  • Quarterly FOSGA newsletter Flourish
  • Invitations to special events.

As a not-for-profit, volunteer-led organisation SGA can offer our FOSGA membership at just $30 a year – less than 60 cents a week. The key to being able to maintain such a great value membership is a strong membership base! When people like you pass on the gift of a FOSGA Membership it means we can continue to inspire and empower our community.

By purchasing a FOSGA Gift Membership, you will help:

  • Constantly improve and add value to the FOSGA program to spread the word about sustainability across Australia
  • Continue to add to our online collection of research-based articles
  • Build sustainable communities through workshops and master classes
  • Share free educational newsletters and social media content that is independent and evidence-based, and
  • Maintain and further develop SGA’s web app WiseGardening – Choices to Protect You and the Planet to help users understand the environmental and human safety impacts of different approaches to controlling garden pests, disease and weeds.

Becoming a FOSGA is about respecting the fundamental importance of nature by encouraging biodiversity, protecting our wildlife and enhancing our communities through our gardens and open spaces.

SGA’s activities help you and others be kinder to our environment and gain important knowledge to increase our resilience by growing local healthy food, building community and protecting our environment.

Give the gift that keeps on giving!

* We welcome the support of our partners – the garden centres and online suppliers listed below – for their special offers to Members and Friends of SGA. We’re sure you’ll appreciate the quality and diversity of their product ranges. They share our vision too.

 

 

 

 

 

Green Harvest

 

More About Membership of FOSGA

Friends of SGA are associate members of Sustainable Gardening Australia Inc. and are not voting members. Membership rights are not transferable. In signing up, new Friends must: 

  • Be 15 years or older 
  • Support the Purposes, Values and Rules of SGA, and 
  • Meet any requirements specified by the Board of SGA from time to time. 


No Dig Veggie Gardens

No dig garden bed

On a recent trip to my local shopping centre (one of those monolithic structures so big it has its own postcode) I was shocked to discover that the fashions of the 80’s were back!

Despite the hefty price tag and 'designer' labels on many items, I still couldn’t comprehend it. I mean, the gear we wore in the eighties wasn’t that great then... I can’t imagine what has prompted its resurgence! Either I’ve been avoiding fashion for too long (and just about anyone who knows me would agree with that), or it is true what they say – fashion and trends do go in cycles.

This got me thinking about garden trends and design styles, and the recent flurry of interest I have had in the construction of no dig gardens. Daily, my inbox is full of requests for information on no dig gardens – what are they, how do they work, why are they so good, and, most importantly, how to construct them. And, just like that dreaded eighties fashion, no dig gardens have come back into vogue.

But, despite what many people may think, they are not a new concept. No dig gardens have in fact been documented since the 1800’s, but the 'pioneer' of the no-dig gardening concept is Masanobu Fukuoka of Japan, through his excellent 1953 book entitled The One-Straw Revolution. Mr Fukuoka, we salute you!

What is No Dig Gardening?

As the name suggests, no-dig gardening is all about going up, rather than down, essentially a patch 'above ground'. Although it can be known by a number of different names, no-dig gardens are definitely NOT no-work gardens! Yes, there may be less work in setting up a no-dig patch (as opposed to the traditional 'dig down' style of garden) but it’s important to remember that all gardens, particularly edible ones, require on-going maintenance, monitoring and work. Think above-ground pool vs. in-ground pool... they all need work to keep them looking good, but it is somewhat easier to install an above ground pool.

Why we love them

There are so many things to love about no-dig vegetable gardens, so let’s start from the ground up! No-dig veggie gardens are fantastic in Australia, as a great deal of our soil is nutrient deficient, hard to work and somewhat inhospitable to our favourite herbs and vegetables. As these raised beds do not require the soil beneath them to be dug over before installation, the risk of damage to the structure of the soil is minimised (especially important on clay soils).

Construction of these types of gardens has the two-fold advantage of both protecting and improving the existing soil. You see, as the organic matter we use to fill our no dig beds (more on this later) breaks down over time, the health of the soil beneath improves, as does the structure, nutrient content, microbial and worm activity (all excellent things if you are soil!).

Why else do we love them? For those of us who are somewhat less mobile (years of nursery work and landscaping do wreak havoc on your back), no-dig gardens are an excellent way of bringing the garden up to you, rather than you going to the garden! For anyone with a 'diggy, dirt-loving dog', no-dig means you can raise the height of the bed sufficiently to prevent your pooch getting silly in the soil. The same principle applies to those rascally rabbits, and many other ground dwelling, garden-squashing backyard beasties (that includes soccer balls and wayward children!).

No-dig vegetable patches can also be a bit of a movable feast, which is perfect for renters, or those of us who move house a lot! Instead of leaving your patch behind, many no-dig systems can simply be moved with you. But the reason I love no-dig patches so much is that their size and shape is limited only by your imagination!
No dig garden bed

How to build on an existing lawn or onto soil...

1. Choose a nice, sunny spot for your veggie bed. The less wind the better, as most of our incredible edibles are not big fans of 'blowin’ in the wind' (although they do like a bit of Bob Dylan).

2. Mark out and form walls of no-dig garden. The walls should be at least 30cm high, but may be a lot higher. You can use anything including old rocks or sleepers or bricks, blocks, pavers etc. The hot tip here is to make sure your edging is sustainable – check out our 'Hot Tips' section below.

3. Line the base with at least 6mm thickness of newspaper or cardboard (not waxed) to suppress weeds; and wet thoroughly. Make sure this overlaps, otherwise those wily weeds will work their way upward! If the soil below is heavy clay, dust the surface with gypsum prior to laying the newspaper. This will help improve the drainage of the in-situ soil by improving the structure.

4. The idea is to then stack alternating layers of fine and coarse compostable materials. Start with a 6cm layer of organic compost, then a 6cm layer of pea straw, then a layer of aged cow manure, and then another 6cm of pea straw. Repeat the layers finishing with a thick compost layer.

5. Planting can be done into the top compost layer. Dig a wee hole to fit the seedlings in and plant, watering in well. Yup, they will look a bit sad and sooky initially, but your little babies will establish really well into this strong, nutrient-packed base!

6. Mulch well around your seedlings with pea straw (remembering to keep the mulch away from the stem of the plants) to a depth of about 6cm.

7. Due to the high level of compostable, organic material, you will notice that the level of the growing media in your no-dig bed will drop considerably over time. The tip here is to top this up with fresh stuff as you change your plants over each season, keeping in mind the 'lasagna layering' outlined in point 4.

You can also build a no-dig garden in a large container, simply do the same as above, but omit step 2.

If you want to whack a no dig Garden on a sealed surface...

1. Mark out the size of the beds and construct the sides. If using bricks, sleepers or other rectangular shaped materials, make sure you leave some gaps for drainage. The walls should be at least 50cm high.

2. Place a 7 – 10cm layer of coarse screenings or scoria at the base for drainage.

3. Layer the materials as listed above.

4. Plant the bed.

5. Top up layers as they rot down.
No dig garden

Hot Tips For Your No Dig

When choosing sleepers, choose the most sustainable timber available. This will significantly increase the long term viability and sustainability of your Yummy Yard.

  • Avoid rainforest timber (there is always a sustainable replacement) and instead use plantation grown timber.
  • Choose radially sawn timber, as this technique produces more timber per log.
  • If an option, consider recycled products. There are loads of places now selling recycled and reclaimed timber.
  • Local products require less transport, and therefore they have less impact on greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental impacts.
  • Please be aware that CCA (copper chrome arsenate) Treated timber (often marketed as Perma-Pine) is NOT recommended for garden bed construction, due to the arsenic content of the wood and possibility of copper and arsenic leaching into soil.
  • CCA Treated timber has been shown, in a number of Australian and international studies, to present a risk to consumers through the leaching of heavy metal compounds through contact with water and humic acid (found in healthy soil).
  • Since March 2006, CCA Treated timber is not permitted to be used in the construction of new garden furniture, picnic tables, exterior seating, children’s play equipment, patios, domestic decking and handrails. Although the construction of garden beds is not mentioned, SGA would recommend selecting an alternative product.

Harvesting and storing garlic

Garlic bulbs are ready to harvest in late spring or summer, from seven to eight months after they are planted. The outward signs are the green leaves, which will begin to turn brown, and the flower stems - if present - which will begin to soften, although staying green. If you are not sure, just pull back the soil around one of your bulbs, if the clove ridges are clearly defined and the bulbs are a decent size, and some of the leaves have died back, then harvest them.

Don't leave harvesting until the leaves die back completely as with onions, because by this time the bulbs will have started to split. Once the bulbs have split, they are still fine to eat, but won’t store for long. So eat these ones first.
Read more


What to do for Flooded Gardens

What to do for flooded gardens is, unfortunately, a question more people need to ask.  It seems that our climate is making extreme rainfall and subsequent flooding more likely in some parts of the country.  For gardeners this is a heart-breaking experience on top of the damage to homes and other possessions, but for those whose gardens have been flooded, some caution is needed.  We summarise here advice from research institutions specializing in agriculture, horticulture and arboriculture on how to manage flood-affected gardens.

How Floods Affect Gardens

Floods can kill plants or severely damage them by:

  • Erosion of soil so that roots are exposed. This makes trees more susceptible to uprooting in  subsequent winds.
  • Water logging, silt deposition or compaction removing oxygen from soil spaces around plant roots. This can also destroy microbial life that is essential in soil to provide nutrients for plant growth
  • Making roots more susceptible to root-rot organisms
  • Contamination from run-off from roads, farms and industry, sewage and other chemicals from transport vehicles and household products. These may include heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic and lead, pesticides and other hazardous chemicals from industry such as oils
  • Buildup in soil of decomposition products such as ethanol, carbon dioxide and methane
  • Prevention of photosynthesis by water or silt coverage of leaves
  • Removal of bark from tree or shrub trunks from impact of debris in rapidly flowing water
  • Insect infestation resulting from damage to trunks may further weaken trees and shrubs.

On the other hand, river plains that are affected by floods and properly managed after the flood are among the most fertile areas for many crops.  Here the emphasis must be on appropriate management!

General Garden Recovery from Flood

Initially do nothing!  Difficult as that may be, trying to remedy garden damage before soil has dried out sufficiently can do even more damage.

Don’t:

  1. walk or dig since these actions cause more compaction and disturbance of soil structure. Wait until water has drained and dried enough so that soil is firm enough to stand on without sinking in.
  2. prune plants whose leaves are wilting as soon as waters have subsided. You may be surprised as some slowly recover.
  3. add fertilizer since stressed plants will not take it up and subsequent rains my wash it away.

What you can do:

  1. Allow sufficient time to assess tree and shrub damage. They may lose leaves or branches may be broken, but remove only obviously dead branches.
  2. When walking on soil after flood waters have subsided, be aware of risks of standing on or touching debris such as broken glass or nails which could cause injury.
  3. Wear gloves and closed shoes which should be removed before entering any dwelling to avoid spreading contamination. And wash hands thoroughly after removing gloves
  4. If lower leaves of non-produce plants that covered in silt, try hosing it off – maybe even using a pressure hose. Although adding more water to the garden sounds peculiar, leaving silt on leaves will inhibit block sunlight, inhibiting photosynthesis which plants need to perform in order to survive.
  5. It may be useful to add fungicide since wet warm conditions after floods can stimulate fungal growth.
  6. Add commercially available soil microbes and organic matter to the soil surface. If you use fungicide, wait a week before adding microbe preparation. They will help the natural soil biota which are so necessary to breakdown organic sources of nutrients and for preventing both human and plant disease.

Can I Eat Produce from a Flooded Garden?

Since flood waters carry contamination of various sorts, including toxic chemicals and pathogenic bacteria (e.g. E. coli, Salmonella) or parasites, which affect food safety, you will, unfortunately, need to discard some produce or delay planting again.  Appropriate action depends on the type of produce and the degree of exposure to the waters.

Fruit or vegetables that have come into DIRECT contact with flood waters

These should be discarded if they have been submerged or been splashed by the waters.  Some research organisations suggest that if the produce has only been splashed, you could wait 72 hours before harvesting, then thoroughly clean and cook it before eating it.

However, some produce that has been splashed is particularly risky e.g. those with soft surfaces e.g. leafy greens, berries, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers or melons, and should not be consumed.

It is wisest to discard root crops like potatoes and carrots.  Crops like rhubarb or asparagus should be dealt with in the same way.  However, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and West Virginia University  suggest that root crops may be salvaged by cleaning first with drinking water, then bleach and rinsed again with water ( see those website for details).

Whether submerged or only splashed, no produce should be eaten raw.

No produce that has been exposed should be preserved by any method because preservation processes are not guaranteed to remove or destroy contamination.

When handling any produce from a flooded garden make sure to prevent cross-contamination by washing hands thoroughly with soap for 30 seconds between dealing with different types of fruit or vegetables.

Produce that Floodwaters Have Not Touched

There are slightly different opinions about how long you should wait to eat produce that matures after flood waters have receded and were never in direct contact with the waters.  Estimates of between 90 – 120 days are if the produce is peeled and cooked.  Make sure that it is completely intact with no cracks, holes or bruises – such produce should be discarded.

Planting Next Season’s Edibles

It is advised not to sow or plant after the flood until at least 2 months have elapsed.  For fruiting plants like tomatoes, wait 60 days, but for root crops like radishes wait at least 100 days.  During this time adding organic matter to the soil would be useful.

This might be a good time to install raised garden beds to reduce the chance of edibles being affected in subsequent floods.

References

https://extension.wvu.edu/community-business-safety/disaster-preparedness/flooding/managing-gardens-after-flooding

https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/how-manage-flood-damage-trees

https://www.purdue.edu/hla/sites/yardandgarden/after-the-flood-garden-and-landscape-plants/

https://polk.extension.wisc.edu/2020/06/30/flood-waters-entered-your-garden/

https://hmaaustralia.com.au/flood-garden-recovery/

 

 


January In Your Patch

Wondering what to do in January in your patch? What vegetables and herbs should you plant? It's the start of the New Year and whether it's time for a little rest and relaxation after a manic December, or you have a New Year's resolution to spend some quality time with your garden; it's  time to get out in your patch!  While we have been distracted with festive things, our patches have probably suffered a little and are in need of some serious loving right now. We have loads of  tips that will encourage your garden to flourish in the sunshine of Summer.

Warm Areas

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

It’s pretty hot out there at the moment, and it definitely isn’t the ideal time to be planting much. That said, you can try eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, capsicum, chillies and tomatoes; towards the end of the month.

  • Lettuce can be grown at the tail end of January, but consider popping them under a shade cloth tent.
  • Try Lemongrass if you haven’t already. Its woody nature helps prevent too much damage from the heat. Though wait until things cool down for any other herbs.
  • Still time to pop in some asparagus, just find a cooler spot in the patch.
  • It’s not too late for watermelon, rockmelon and pineapple. Mangos can go in this time of year also.
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea or low environmental impact liquid fertiliser is perfect. Throughout the growing period diluted worm teas can be added to your garden every couple of weeks. This will help keep up the growth and fruiting capabilities of your plants. Apply to the soil early in the morning, in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.
  • Pretty up the patch with these flowering fancies: marigolds and sunflowers. Popping these in around your veggies will give some colour and interest to the patch, and act as beneficial insect attractors!
  • Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. At this time of year, try millet, lablab, or cow pea. This will improve your soil incredibly. For a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort!
  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial! Our fact sheet Irrigation In An Arid Nation has loads more info on smart water habits.
  • If you haven’t done already, look into drip irrigation. This will put the water where it is needed as well as reducing the risk of powdery mildew when the leaves get wet.
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important if you are heading off this holidays. A hot summer tip is to mulch after watering the patch to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems… especially young seedlings. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • On non-gardening days, why not head out to the shed, and construct 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 (like eggplant, capsicum and others) as the heat becomes more intense. Think of it as slip, slop, slap for plants! Pop these around where required, especially on high UV days, windy days, and during your holidays.
  • Protect your pot plants while you are away this summer. Mulch the top of the pots, sit them in a saucer of water (or the bathtub if it gets enough light) and you’ll be set!  Or even run dripper lines to them from your main irrigation pipes.

Cool to Cold Areas

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

  • It’s cool inside (hopefully) and pretty warm outside, but there is still a lot of things you can pop in the patch at this time of year. Tasty herbs that are ready to roll include basil, parsley, watercress, sage and dill. You could give mint a go as well, but be careful to contain it in a pot, otherwise it can take over! As tempting as it is to plant coriander, that screams summer. It will not do well this time of year and will head straight to seed.
  • Tasty vegetables to plant this month: spring onions, leeks, lettuces and zucchini!
  • Add some colour and movement to the patch, and pop in some of these little pretties: stock, verbena and ageratum.
  • Time to pop in some sunflower seeds. Find a sunny spot where you would like to see some happy sunflowers later in the year and plant the seeds to double the depth of the seed. Cover lightly with dirt and be patient, they’ll be popping their heads up in no time!
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important if you are heading off this holidays. A hot summer tip is to mulch after watering the patch, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems… especially young seedlings. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • Green manure crops, including millet and mung beans are good to go now. Improve that weary veggie patch, and get ready for next seasons heavy feeding plants! Check out the Crop Rotation article on the SGA website for a bit of information why and how Green Manure crops can help
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea or low environmental impact liquid fertiliser is perfect, especially for the seedlings planted in at the tail end of last year. Throughout the growing period diluted worm teas can be added to your garden every couple of weeks. This will help keep up the growth and fruiting capabilities of your plants .Apply to the soil early in the morning, in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.
  • On non-gardening days, why not head out to the shed, and construct 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 (like eggplant, capsicum and others) as the heat becomes more intense. Think of it as slip, slop, slap for plants! Pop these around where required, especially on high UV days, windy days, and during your holidays.
  • Weeding is an awesome job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders, and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding!
  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning, and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial! Our fact sheet Irrigation In An Arid Nation has loads more info on smart water habits.

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)

  • It is pretty warm in this part of the world, but there are a couple of things you could pop in to the patch this January. Why not try leek, sweet corn, beans, cucumber, spring onions and zucchini.
  • Still too hot for most herbs, but lemongrass will take the heat if planted out now.
  • Time to pop in some sunflower seeds. Find a sunny spot where you would like to see some happy sunflowers later in the year and plant the seeds to double the depth of the seed. Cover lightly with dirt and wait. They’ll be popping their heads up in no time!
  • Why not try some lovely flowering stuff in your patch as well, like: nasturtium, verbena, petunias and marigolds. These guys are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your patch, they look attractive and fresh as well.
  • Consider a green manure crop to add some life and nutrients to an overworked patch. At this time of year try cow pea, mung bean, soy bean and millet. This will improve your soil incredibly. For a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort! Check out the Crop Rotation article on the SGA website for a bit of information why and how Green Manure crops can help
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important if you are heading off this holidays. A hot summer tip is to mulch after watering the patch, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems… especially young seedlings. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea or low environmental impact liquid fertiliser is perfect, especially for the seedlings planted at the tail end of last year. Throughout the growing period diluted worm teas can be added to your garden every couple of weeks. This will help keep up the growth and fruiting capabilities of your plants .Apply to the soil early in the morning, and in the  morning, in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.
  • On non-gardening days, why not head out to the shed, and construct 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 (like eggplant, capsicum and others) as the heat becomes more intense. Think of it as slip, slop, slap for plants! Pop these around where required, especially on high UV days, windy days, and during your holidays.
  • Weeding is an awesome job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders, and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding!
  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning, and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice, deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial! Our fact sheet Irrigation In An Arid Nation has loads more info on smart water habits.

Of course, this is just a rough guide, and many of you will find your situation varies from the above listing, due to microclimates created in your garden, location in relation to your nearest major city, extremes of weather (quite possible at this time of year) and garden type.

But the one thing that remains the same for all zones and regions is this: start out the year as you mean to go on, and give your patch some much needed love!

Have a think about what you want to get out of it. Make a list ( if you don’t already have one). Due to the heat this may be the time where you sit back and plan what you want to achieve so that when the weather does cool somewhat, you’ll be full steam ahead.

Otherwise be smart about the time you spend in the garden, avoid the heat and direct sun and remember to hydrate. Early mornings and evenings can be a blissful time to spend in your garden.

Information sources:
Bagnall, Lyn, Easy organic gardening and moon planting, published by Scribe Publications, VIC.
McFarlane, Annette, Organic Vegetable Gardening, published by ABC Books, Sydney, NSW.


February In Your Patch

Because it is warmer than summers 10 years ago, you might need to change what you normally do your garden.  Maybe in February in your patch some of  your summer crop is having a little bit of a last hoorah, you may find the tomatoes, eggplant and capsicum and still chugging along.  In any case, it’s time to start thinking about preparing your garden for autumn planting. This month's guide has loads of tips and ideas of what to do NOW that will ensure your patch is ready to go. Wait until the heat of the day is off and then spend some lovely time in the garden.

Weeding

Weeding is a great job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders, and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding!

 Mulching

Top up the mulch on your vegetable patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds.  This is especially important if you are heading away or caught up in the bustle of back to school.  A hot summer tip is to mulch after watering the patch, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems, especially young seedlings. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch (this means different things in different areas), one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.

 Planning
Time to think about what wonders you will whack into your patch come April. Preparing beds and plots now means that when autumn planting time rolls around, your garden will be ready and waiting. Removing spent plants, clearing areas of weeds and topping up organic matter is an excellent February job. A nail rake, some good organic compost and lovely sustainable mulch is the perfect recipe for productive patches of the future.

 

 Shade for your plants
On non-gardening days, why not head out to the shed, and construct 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 (like eggplant, capsicum and others) as the heat becomes more intense. Pop these around where required, especially on high UV days, windy days, and during your holidays.

Watering
Water smarter at this time of year and always first thing in the morning. A nice, deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial than frequent, short watering.

 Green Manure
Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. At this time of year try lablab, cow pea, mung bean, soy bean and millet. This will improve your soil incredibly, and, for a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort!

 Warm Areas

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

  • Give leeks, capsicum, chillies, cabbage, silverbeet, lettuce, sweet corn, cauliflower, broccoli and tomatoes a go towards the end of the month.
  • It’s too hot for most herbs, but you could try some lemongrass. Wait until the end of the month to plant some basil varieties, including our old favourite sweet basil, and the always-stunning purple basil.
  • Want a super summer smoothie… for years to come? Then plant some banana, pineapple and mangos!
  • Pretty up the patch with some marigolds and sunflowers. Planting these around your veggies will give some colour and interest to the patch, and act as beneficial insect attractors.
  • The recent heat in the warm areas may have caused a bit of grief to many plants in the garden, with some foliage looking less than fancy. Don’t be too tempted to tidy these guys just yet – cruddy looking leaves will protect the new, young, sensitive shoots underneath from a serious case of sunburn. Wait until the evenings cool down in about a month or so to get your Edward Scissorhands to your scorched shrubs.

 Cool to Cold Areas

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

  • It is still fairly warm around these parts, but there are a number of incredible edibles ready to go in now. Try lettuce, spinach, leek, silverbeet, and some Asian greens towards the tail end of the month. Broccoli, leeks and spring onions could be worth a shot when the nights get cooler.
  • Add some colour and movement to the patch, and pop in some of these little pretties: stock, dianthus, viola, pansy, verbena and ageratum.
  • Give most herbs a miss just now, but, if you’re really keen, get rolling with parsley and watercress.
  • Garlic is good to go once the weather cools a touch.
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds. A hot summer tip is to mulch after watering the patch, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems….especially young seedlings. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea or low environmental impact liquid fertiliser is perfect, especially for the seedlings shoved in at the tail end of last year. Apply to the soil early in the morning, and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.

 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)

  • It’s still pretty warm outside, but there are some tasty treats you can plant out this month. Try silverbeet, leeks, spring onions, Brussels sprouts, bush beans, broccoli, cauliflower and celery… but wait until the end of the month.
  • Lettuce is lovely at the end of February, but, because the days are still quite hot, consider popping the seedlings under some shade cloth, or a more established plant to protect its sensitive foliage form the sun.  Even try growing in partial shade.
  • Still too hot for most herbs but lemongrass will take the heat if planted out now. Basil is happy to go in now as well, so why not mix it up and try some purple, Thai and lemon basils, as well as our old favourite, sweet basil.
  • Why not try some lovely flowering stuff in your patch as well, like nasturtium, verbena, petunias and marigolds. These guys are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your patch, and they look great as well.
  • Want to save some money? Avocados are relatively expensive at the moment, but in a few years time that won’t worry you. Towards the tail end of February try planting an avocado.

Of course, this is just a rough guide, and many of you will find your situation varies from the above listing, due to microclimates created in your garden, location in relation to your nearest major city, extremes of weather and garden type.

One thing that remains the same for all zones and regions is this: start out the year as you mean to go on, and give your patch some much-needed love. So, grab a cool beverage, slip, slop slap and spend some time under your favourite tree, admiring your patch!

Information sources:

Bagnall, Lyn, Easy organic gardening and moon planting, published by Scribe Publications, VIC.
McFarlane, Annette, Organic Vegetable Gardening, published by ABC Books, Sydney, NSW.

Photos:
Elaine Shallue - Basil and Zucchini


March In Your Patch

March is the month named after Mars, the Roman God of War.  So March in your patch is an excellent time to wage war on it. Be it ripping out the weeds, mulching up a storm, or popping in a plethora of plants, March is the ultimate time to launch a full scale (but well planned) attack on you patch! So, all you weekend warriors … March into action!

Warm Areas

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

  • Okay, it’s still pretty warm out there, but you could certainly consider popping in the following incredible edibles, especially towards the tail end of the month. Consider cabbage, Asian greens, rocket, silverbeet, cauliflower, beans, peas, spring onions, leeks, radish or cucumber.
  • Whack some lettuce in but consider popping them under a shade cloth tent if the days are still quite warm.
  • Hop into the herb patch with coriander (try a slow bolting variety if it’s still very warm), sweet basil, lemon grass and oregano.
  • Feeling fruity? Go Carmen Miranda with some strawberries, watermelon, citrus, rockmelon, pineapple and passionfruit!
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea, or any low environmental impact liquid fertiliser, is perfect for giving them a kick start as they establish. Apply to the soil early in the morning and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.
  • ‘Ave a go with an avocado!
  • Begin to prepare your potato beds now….you’ll be glad you did come April!
  • Pretty up the patch with these flowering fancies- marigolds, sunflowers and pansies, cornflowers, violas, snapdragons, stock, verbena and lavender (non-invasive varieties of course!). Popping these in around your veggies will give some colour and interest to the patch, and act as beneficial insect attractors!
  • Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. At this time of year, try millet, oats, lupins or field peas. This will improve your soil incredibly, and, as a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort!
  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning, and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice, deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial!
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important for weed suppression at this time of year. A hot tip is to mulch after watering the patch, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems….especially young seedlings. Choose a sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • Weeding is an important job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders, and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding!

Cool to Cold Areas

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

  • Yup… it’s a touch warm, but there is still a whole heap of things you can pop in the patch at this time of year. Tasty herbs in the ‘burbs that are ready to roll include coriander and basil. You could give mint and lemon balm a go as well, but be careful to contain them, otherwise they can take over!
  • Whack these tasty wonders into your Yummy Yard this month: Chinese cabbage, spinach, tatsoi, rocket, silverbeet, broccoli, leeks and lettuces!
  • Add some colour and movement to the patch, and pop in some of these little pretties- dianthus, cornflower, pansy, viola, echinacea, stock, verbena and lupins. Having these around your veggies will give some interest to the patch, and act as beneficial insect attractors!
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important for weed suppression at this time of year. A hot tip is to mulch after watering the patch, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems… especially young seedlings. Choose a low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • Green manure crops, including oats, wheat, faba beans and field peas are good to go now… improve that dormant veggie patch, and get ready for next seasons heavy feeding plants!
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea, or any low environmental impact liquid fertiliser, is perfect for the seedlings you’ve just popped in. Apply to the soil early in the morning, and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.
  • Weeding is an awesome job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders, and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding!
  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning, and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice, deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial!

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)

  • It is still a little warm in this part of the world, but there are a heap of things you could pop in to the patch this March. Why not try cabbage, Asian greens, lettuce, rocket, tatsoi, silverbeet, spring onions, spinach, carrots,
  • It’s time to get happy with herbs, so try some parsley, basil, coriander (try a slow bolting variety if it’s still pretty warm), rosemary, marjoram and thyme. You could give mint and lemon balm a go as well, but be careful to contain them as they can take over!
  • Why not try some lovely flowering stuff in your patch as well, like: cornflower, calendula, dianthus, pansies, viola, snapdragons, stock, nasturtium, verbena and marigolds. These guys are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your patch, and I reckon they look tops as well.
  • Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. At this time of year try faba bean, field pea, oats and wheat. This will improve your soil incredibly, and, for a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort!
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important for weed suppression at this time of year. A hot tip is to mulch after watering the patch, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems….especially young seedlings. Choose a low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea or low environmental impact liquid fertiliser is perfect, especially for the seedlings shoved in this month. Apply to the soil early in the morning, and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.
  • Weeding is an awesome job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders, and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding!
  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning, and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice, deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial!
  • Of course, this is just a rough guide, and many of you will find your situation varies from the above listing, due to microclimates created in your garden, location in relation to your nearest major city, extremes of weather (Mother Nature does like to keep us on our toes) and garden type.

But the one thing that remains the same for all zones and regions is this: start out the year as you mean to go on, and give your patch some much needed love! So, grab a cool beverage, slip, slop slap, and spend some time under your favourite tree, admiring your patch!

 

Information sources:
Bagnall, Lyn, Easy organic gardening and moon planting, published by Scribe Publications, VIC.
McFarlane, Annette, Organic Vegetable Gardening, published by ABC Books, Sydney, NSW.


April In Your Patch

The perfect month for chocolate lovers and practical jokers alike, April is also a top time to get into the patch! There is a little bit of rain around, the weather is cooling down, and shed loads of stuff is ready to plant! So, don’t be a bunny, get into gardening this April! Hop to it!

Warm Areas

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

  • It’s time to love your leafy greens! Whack in the following this month: Asian greens, lettuce, mizuna, cabbage, silverbeet, rocket and spinach!
  • Keep the bunnies happy and pop in some carrots during April. Check out the Yummy Yards info sheet on carrots for all the tips!
  • Hop into the herb patch with coriander (try a slow bolting variety if it’s still warm), parsley, lemon grass, chamomile and oregano.
  • Stick in some spuds… home grown is easy, and incredibly rewarding. The potato page is here!
  • Go veggie crazy with artichoke, beetroot, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, tomatoes, chilli, garlic and radish.
  • If you are in the tropical north (anywhere north of Rocky) you could try some cucumber, pumpkin, sweet corn, squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and zucchinis.
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea, or any low environmental impact liquid fertiliser, is perfect for giving them a kick start as they establish. Apply to the soil early in the morning and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.
  • Pretty up the patch with these flowering fancies – marigolds, sunflowers and pansies, cornflowers, violas, snapdragons, stock, verbena and lavender (non-invasive varieties of course!). Popping these in around your veggies will give some colour and interest to the patch, and act as beneficial insect attractors!
  • Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. At this time of year, try millet, oats, lupins or field peas. This will improve your soil incredibly, and, as a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort!
  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning, and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice, deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial! Always check soil moisture before watering at this time of year… don’t waste your precious drinking water if Mother Nature has already done all the hard work for you!
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important for weed suppression at this time of year. A hot tip is to mulch after watering the patch, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems… especially young seedlings. Choose a sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • Weeding is an awesome job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders, and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding!

Cool to Cold Areas

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

  • There is still a whole heap of things you can pop in the patch at this time of year. Tasty herbs in the ‘burbs that are ready to roll include our old favourite, coriander. You could give mint and lemon balm a go as well, but be careful to contain it, otherwise it can take over!
  • Try these tasty wonders into your Yummy Yard this month: Chinese cabbage, most Asian Greens, spinach, rocket, broccoli, spring onions, asparagus, celery, endive, squash, onions, silverbeet, leeks and lettuce. Don’t be a bunny, remember to plant some carrots during April!
  • Set aside a bit of space and pop in an artichoke! These are gorgeous additions to the patch, look amazing, and taste pretty good too!
  • Add some colour and movement to the patch, and pop in some of these little pretties- dianthus, cornflower, pansy, viola, Echinacea, stock, verbena and lupins. Having these around your veggies will give some interest to the patch, and act as beneficial insect attractors!
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important for weed suppression at this time of year. A hot tip is to mulch after watering the patch, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems… especially young seedlings. Choose a low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • Green manure crops, including oats, wheat, fava beans and field peas are good to go now… improve that dormant veggie patch, and get ready for next seasons heavy feeding plants!
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea, or any low environmental impact liquid fertiliser, is perfect for the seedlings you’ve just popped in. Apply to the soil early in the morning, and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.
  • Weeding is an awesome job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders, and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding!
  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning, and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice, deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial! Always check soil moisture before watering at this time of year… don’t waste your precious drinking water if Mother Nature has already done all the hard work for you!

 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)

  • Top time to plant in this part of the world, especially now that is has cooled down a bit! Why not try cabbage, Asian greens, lettuce, rocket, tatsoi, spring onions, spinach, carrots, celery, cauliflower, broad beans, leek, onions, radish, turnips and swedes.
  • It’s time to get happy with herbs, so try some parsley, basil, coriander (try a slow bolting variety if it’s still pretty warm), rosemary, marjoram and thyme. You could give mint and lemon balm a go as well, but be careful to contain them as they can take over!
  • Why not try some lovely flowering stuff in your patch as well, like: cornflower, calendula, dianthus, pansies, viola, snapdragons, stock, nasturtium, verbena and marigolds. These guys are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your patch, and I reckon they look tops as well.
  • Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. At this time of year try fava bean, field pea, oats and wheat. This will improve your soil incredibly, and, for a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort!
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important for weed suppression at this time of year. A hot tip is to mulch after watering the patch, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems… especially young seedlings. Choose a low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea or low environmental impact liquid fertiliser is perfect, especially for the seedlings shoved in this month. Apply to the soil early in the morning, and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.
  • Weeding is an awesome job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders, and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding!
  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning, and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice, deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial! Always check soil moisture before watering at this time of year… don’t waste your precious drinking water if Mother Nature has already done all the hard work for you!

Of course, this is just a rough guide, and many of you will find your situation varies from the above listing, due to microclimates created in your garden, location in relation to your nearest major city, extremes of weather (Mother Nature does like to keep us on our toes) and garden type.

April is often a time that we overindulge, and often end up regretting it! Same deal with our Yummy Yards… don’t overfeed and over-fertilise at this time of year, while your plants may look as though they’re enjoying the extra food, you are probably doing more harm than good.


May In Your Patch

While the southern parts of Australia have donned winter pyjamas and flannelette sheets, the northern states are still revelling in warm, and mostly sunny autumn days. Regardless of the conditions in your little patch of paradise, there is still loads to do in May in your patch. Get set for those produce plants that need the cooler weather to grow.

May sees a lot of Australia experience the first damaging affects of frost, so why not spend cold or rainy days in the shed making some nice little frost covers from shade cloth offcuts? A couple of old garden stakes, some nails and a bit of (not too) hard yakka will see these covers ready to go when the temperature plummets. Your seedlings will thank you for it!

Cool to Cold Areas

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

  • It’s almost time for bare rooted fruit trees, so start preparing beds now;
    • Lots of lovely rich organic matter, a bit of moisture and some mulch will see the soil absolutely gorgeous by the time your trees are ready to go in!
    • Have a think about what tree varieties you are after, you may need to do some research into the best supplier. Especially if you are after an heirloom or unusual variety.
  • Give Brassicas a blast this month, and pop the following into your patch:
    • broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Plant some sage with these guys as a great, caterpillar and moth-repelling companion!
  • By putting in peas and broad beans now, you are giving them the winter to extend their roots deep. This means that when the weather does start getting warmer and the frosts disappear you are ahead of the game.  Radish, Swedes, turnips and spinach will also crop well if planted now. Don’t forget spring onions either this month.
  • Set aside a bit of space and pop in an artichoke! These are gorgeous additions to the patch, look amazing and taste pretty good too!
  • Add some colour and movement to the patch and pop in some pretties;
    •  dianthus, cornflower, pansy, viola, verbena and lupins. Having these around your veggies will give some interest to the patch, and act as beneficial insect attractors!
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important for weed suppression at this time of year. Mulch to a depth of about 7cm after watering the patch. Keep mulch clear of plant stem, especially young seedlings. Choose a low environmental impact, locally sourced mulch that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • Green manure crops, including oats, wheat, faba beans and field peas are good to go now… improve that dormant veggie patch, and get ready for next seasons heavy feeding plants!
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea, or any low environmental impact liquid fertiliser is perfect for the seedlings you’ve just popped in. Apply to the soil early in the morning and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.
  • Weeds run rampant this time of year.  Cut down the competition between your produce plants and these space invaders. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding!   Try making a weed tea to feed your winter crops.
  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning, and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice, deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial! Always check soil moisture before watering at this time of year….don’t waste your precious drinking water if Mother Nature has already done all the hard work for you!
  • Cold days mean a bit of shed time… why not build yourself a nice blackboard for the shed, to keep track of what has been planted in your patch where and when? This makes crop rotation a load easier, and allows you to keep track of feeding times and dates, what worked, what didn’t and what’s happening in the veggie garden.

Temperate Areas

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)

  • Still some good planting time left in this part of the world, so pop in some Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Peas and broad beans can also go in, as well as radish, turnips, swedes and spinach.
  • It’s time to get happy with herbs, so try some chamomile and lemon grass. You could give mint and lemon balm a go as well, but be careful to contain them as they can take over!
  • Why not try some lovely flowering stuff in your patch as well, like: cornflower, calendula, dianthus, pansies, viola, snapdragons, stock, ageratum and marigolds. These guys are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your patch, and the flowers look good as well.
  • Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. At this time of year try faba bean, field pea, oats and wheat. This will improve your soil incredibly, and, for a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort!
  • Bare rooted fruit tree time is almost upon us, so start preparing beds for these guys now.
    • Lots of lovely rich organic matter, a bit of moisture and some mulch will see the soil absolutely gorgeous by the time your trees are ready to go in!
    • Have a think about what tree varieties you are after, you may need to do some research into the best supplier. Especially if you are after a heirloom or unusual variety.
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important for weed suppression at this time of year. Mulch to a depth of about 7cm after watering the patch. Keep mulch clear of plant stems… especially young seedlings. Choose a low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea or low environmental impact liquid fertiliser is perfect, especially for the seedlings shoved in this month. Apply to the soil early in the morning, and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.
  • Weeding is an awesome job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders, and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding!
  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning, and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice, deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial! Always check soil moisture before watering at this time of year….don’t waste your precious drinking water if Mother Nature has already done all the hard work for you!

Warm Areas

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

  • Time to plant some winter wonders – think about some leeks, beetroot, celery, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, turnips, onions, kale, kohl rabi, spinach and silverbeet.
  • Give peas a chance this May; they are a top addition to any patch. Just keep them away from onions and garlic.
  • Herb it up with lemon grass, spring onions, chamomile, thyme, mint, rosemary and lemon balm. Why not try the lemon balm in a pot around the outdoor area? It will stop it spreading, and keep away mozzies!
  • Stick in some potatoes, home grown is easy, and incredibly rewarding. The potato page is here! Don’t forget about sweet potatoes, they are great fun to grow as well!
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea, or any low environmental impact liquid fertiliser, is perfect for giving them a kick start as they establish. Apply to the soil early in the morning and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet. Don’t forget to give the fruit trees a bit of a feed as well (particularly paw paw).
  • Pretty up the patch with these flowering fancies- marigolds, lupins, pansies, cornflowers, violas, snapdragons, stock, verbena and lavender (non-invasive varieties of course!). Popping these in around your veggies will give some colour and interest to the patch, and act as beneficial insect attractors!
  • Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. At this time of year, try millet, oats, lupins or field peas. This will improve your soil incredibly, and, as a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort!
  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning, and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice, deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial! Always check soil moisture before watering at this time of year… don’t waste your precious drinking water if Mother Nature has already done all the hard work for you!
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important for weed suppression at this time of year. Mulch to a depth of about 7cm after watering the patch. Keep mulch clear of plant stems… especially young seedlings. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • Weeding is an awesome job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders, and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding!

Of course, this is just a rough guide, and many of you will find your situation varies from the above due to microclimates created in your garden, location in relation to your nearest major city, extremes of weather (Mother Nature does like to keep us on our toes) and garden type.

 


June in Your Patch

Ok, it’s official, winter is upon us. And while it may seem easier to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book, it is the perfect time to get amongst it in the patch! There is a sense of hibernation for a lot of us but wherever you are in this nation it’s time to don the boots and get to it.

Warm Areas

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

  • Time to plant some winter crops – think about some leeks, rocket, beetroot, celery, lettuce (oak leaf), broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, onions, kale, kohl rabi, spinach and silverbeet.

  • Pop in some coriander and chamomile… perfect for warming winter curries and cups of tea!

  • Stick in some spuds, home grown is easy, and incredibly rewarding.  Don’t forget about sweet potatoes, they are great fun to grow as well!

  • There are a load of fruity favourites ready to go in, including kiwifruits and figs! Remember that kiwi fruits need to cross pollinate, so ensure you pick up one of each sex so that they can cross pollinate.

  • Nuts such as pistachio or pecan can also be planted. Beautiful trees in their own right, these nuts are number one in the garden!

  • A seaweed tea, or any low environmental impact liquid fertiliser is perfect for giving plants a kick start as they establish. Apply to the soil early in the morning and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet. Don’t forget to give the fruit trees a bit of a feed as well (particularly paw paw).

  • Much needed at this time of year is colour.  Marigolds, lupins, pansies, violas, phlox, verbena and lavender (non-invasive varieties of course!). Popping these in around your veggies will give some colour and interest to the patch, and act as beneficial insect attractors!

  • Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. At this time of year, try millet, oats, lupins or field peas. This will improve your soil incredibly, and, as a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort!

  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning, and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice, deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial! Always check soil moisture before watering at this time of year….don’t waste your precious drinking water if Mother Nature has already done all the hard work for you!

  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important for weed suppression at this time of year. A hot tip is to mulch after watering, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems, especially young seedlings. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down. Also look for one that has done the lest amount of travel to get to you.

  • Weeding is still needed at this time of year. Most plant growth has slowed down though so it will not have to happen as often. But it also means that it is also a time of year to try and remove as many competitors as possible before the weather starts warming up again.

Cool to Cold Areas

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

  • You should start seeing bare rooted fruit and deciduous trees starting to appear in your local nursery. This is the cheapest and easiest way to purchase. The stress is less for the tree as it is dormant.  Pick trees with a nice shape, and don’t forget to prune them back before you plant them out (best thing to do is ask the local nursery to do it for you). Remember to make sure you have the correct pollinators to ensure a good crop. Some stone fruit trees will not fruit until they have been in the ground for a few years. So be patient.

  • Give Brassica’s a place in your patch, pop in the following: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Plant some sage with these guys as a great, caterpillar and moth-repelling companion!

  • For plants that will settle in over winter, so that when spring comes along, they will go gang busters are: peas, beans, radish, Swedes, turnips and spinach. Oh, and some spring onions would go a treat this month as well.

  • Set aside a bit of space and pop in an artichoke! These are gorgeous additions to the patch, look amazing, and taste pretty good too!

  • Plant some rhubarb crowns. Set aside some space in the patch.

  • Add some colour and movement to the patch, and pop in some of these little pretties- dianthus, cornflower, pansy, viola, verbena and lupins. Having these around your veggies will give some interest to the patch, and act as beneficial insect attractors!

  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important for weed suppression at this time of year. A hot tip is to mulch after watering the patch, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems, especially young seedlings. Choose low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down. Also look for one that has done the lest amount of travel to get to you.

  • Green manure crops, including oats, wheat, faba beans and field peas are good to go now. Improve that nutrient deficient veggie patch, and get ready for next seasons heavy feeding plants!

  • A seaweed tea, or any low environmental impact liquid fertiliser are perfect for the seedlings you’ve just popped in. Apply to the soil early in the morning, and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.

  • Weeding is still needed at this time of year. Most plant growth has slowed down, so it will not have to happen as often. But it also means that it is also a time of year to try and remove as many competitors as possible before the weather starts warming up again.

  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning, and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice, deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial! Always check soil moisture before watering, don’t waste your precious drinking water if Mother Nature has already done all the hard work for you!

  • Cold days mean a bit of shed time… why not build yourself a nice blackboard for the shed, to keep track of what has been planted in your patch where and when? This makes crop rotation a load easier, and allows you to keep track of feeding times and dates, what worked, what didn’t and what’s happening in the veggie garden.

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)

  • Great time to plant in the temperate zones, so pop in some Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Peas and beans can also go in, as well as radish, turnips, Swedes and spinach.

  • It’s time to get happy with herbs, so try some chamomile and lemon grass. You could give mint and lemon balm a go as well, but be careful to contain them as they can take over.

  • Why not try some lovely flowering stuff in your patch as well, like: cornflower, calendula, dianthus, pansies, viola, snapdragons, stock, ageratum and marigolds. These guys are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your patch, and I reckon they look tops as well.

  • You should start seeing bare rooted fruit and deciduous trees starting to appear in your local nursery. This is the cheapest and easiest way to purchase. The stress is less for the tree as it is dormant.  Pick trees with a nice shape, and don’t forget to prune them back before you plant them out (best thing to do is ask the local nursery to do it for you). Remember to make sure you have the correct pollinators to ensure a good crop. Some stone fruit trees will not fruit until they have been in the ground for a few years. So be patient.

  • Consider a green manure crop to add some nutrients back into your patch, especially before planting heavy feeders in spring. At this time of year try faba bean, field pea, oats and wheat. This will improve your soil incredibly, and, for a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort!

  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important for weed suppression at this time of year. A hot tip is to mulch after watering the patch, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems, especially young seedlings. Choose low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.

  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea or low environmental impact liquid fertiliser is perfect, especially for the seedlings planted this month. Apply to the soil early in the morning, and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.

  • Weeding is still needed at this time of year. Most plant growth has slowed down, so it will not have to happen as often. But it also means that it is also a time of year to try and remove as many competitors as possible before the weather starts warming up again.

  • Water smarter at this time of year. Water first thing in the morning, and instead of quickie irrigation, a nice, deep drink a couple of times a week is far more beneficial! Always check soil moisture before watering, don’t waste your precious drinking water if Mother Nature has already done all the hard work for you!

Of course, this is just a rough guide, and many of you will find your situation varies from the above listing, due to microclimates created in your garden, location in relation to your nearest major city, extremes of weather (Mother Nature does like to keep us on our toes) and garden type.

Information sources:
Bagnall, Lyn, Easy organic gardening and moon planting, published by Scribe Publications, VIC.
McFarlane, Annette, Organic Vegetable Gardening, published by ABC Books, Sydney, NSW.


July In Your Patch

When you look outside this time of year the last thing you feel like doing is standing out in the cold, wet and windy weather, especially if you live in the cooler areas. Don’t let this put you off. There is so much to do in the garden and a lot more to do in the garden shed. Get off the couch and put on the thermals, the beanie, a coat and your gumboots and warm yourself up with some winter garden love.

Of course, the following is just a rough guide, and many of you will find your situation varies from the above listing due to microclimates created in your garden, location in relation to your nearest major city, extremes of weather and garden type. But the one thing that remains the same for all zones and regions is this: improve your soil by adding organic matter, mulch and no matter the season, we can all garden more sustainably all year round.

Tool Time
Why not head out to the shed, and sharpen, clean, oil and maintain your garden tools. Sounds tedious, but it’s really rewarding, and will save you cash in the long run. Practicing tool hygiene will prevent the spread of disease.

Mulch your beds
Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down. If in the southern states try to avoid Sugar Cane as it would have a high carbon footprint due to transport.

Green Manure
Green manure crops are good to go now... improve that dormant veggie patch. In cooler to temperate areas you can use crops like like faba beans or field peas and for warmer areas try mung beans. Remember to chop and drop them before they flower.

Pruning & Weeding
Pruning and weeding is a great job to do at this time of year. Deciduous fruit trees love a big old haircut now, except your apricot!

Cool to Cold Areas

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

It’s bare root season! Get your deciduous fruit trees in now, including apples, pears, plums, peaches and nectarines. Deciduous exotic trees can also be planted now.

There’s still a bit happening in the veggie patch, especially if you love your brassicas, you could try spinach, carrots, sweet peas, broad beans, coriander and peas.

Temperate Areas

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

There’s not too much happening in the veggie patch, but you could try lettuce, celery, broad beans, Jerusalem artichokes (put them in a pot or they can take over), potato, garlic, radish and spinach.

Many ornamental and fruit trees are ready to plant now, so try figs, pistachios, bare-rooted roses and vines (non-invasive of course)

Warm Areas

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

Plant out some tasty winter treats, like Chinese cabbage, rocket, silverbeet, mizuna and tatsoi.

In warmer areas pop in beans, sweet corn, leek, pumpkins, tomato and watermelon.

You can also plant some some coriander, chamomile and nasturtiums in the herb patch.

Many ornamental and fruit trees are keen to get in the ground now. Try figs, pistachios, bare-rooted roses and vines (non-invasive of course)


August In Your Patch

Days are getting longer, but not yet much warmer.  Plants sense the changes in day length so, in temperate regions they are waking up, but further north the dramatic changes of the south do not occur.  In southern Australia, cool, clear nights, frosty mornings and plenty of rain can only mean one thing, it is August and the beginning of bud burst.   Regardless of where you live, here are some top gardening tips for your place in the month of August.

Warm Areas

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

Stick these into your veggie patch: rocket, silverbeet, spring onions, Chinese cabbage, mizuna, lettuce, parsley, zucchini, pumpkin, leeks and parsnip.

Why not try some lovely flowering plants in your patch as well, like: nasturtium, petunias, marigolds (French) and celosia. These are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your patch. If planning on putting in some tomatoes next month, prepare a bed now (your toms will thank you for it). Do this by popping in some organic compost, pelletised chook poo, a wee bit of water, and applying a straw mulch. This bed will be awesome come September… and you will have the greatest tomatoes in the street!

Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. At this time of year, try wheat, lablab or chickpea. Just like the tomato bed above, this will improve your soil incredibly, and, for a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort!

Pruning and weeding is a must job to do at this time of year.

Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.

Cool to Cold Areas

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

It’s your very last chance to put bare rooted trees in! Race down to the nursery now, and grab some fruit trees, including apples, pears, plums, peaches, and nectarines. Deciduous exotic trees can be planted in now also.

There’s a bit happening in the veggie patch, so you could try spinach, broad beans, Jerusalem artichokes (put them in a pot or they can take over!!), potatoes, peas, onions, parsley, cabbage, broccoli, rocket, silverbeet, cauliflower, lettuce, leek, Asian greens, radish, beetroot and parsnip.

Pruning and weeding is a top job to do at this time of year. Deciduous fruit trees love a big old haircut now, except your apricot!

Get spraying! To prevent peach leaf curl (which also effects Nectarines)

Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.

Green manure crops (like faba beans or field peas) are good to go now…..improve that dormant veggie patch!

On really cold days, why not head out to the shed, and sharpen, clean, oil and maintain your garden tools. Sounds tedious, but it’s really rewarding, and will save you cash and plant illness in the long run.

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)

It’s time to get planting! There is some great plants you can put in now, once the frosts have gone. Try beetroot, lettuce, parsnip, peas, radish, celery (in a milk carton), leek, lettuce, onions, mizuna, mitsuba, seed potatoes, rocket, silverbeet, and spinach.

Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.

If planning on putting in some tomatoes next month, prepare a bed now (your toms will thank you for it). Do this by popping in some organic compost, pelletised chook poo, a wee bit of water, and applying a straw mulch. This bed will be awesome come September… and you will have the greatest tomatoes in the street!

Pruning and weeding is a top job to do at this time of year. Deciduous fruit trees love a big old haircut now, except your apricot!

Green manure crops (like clover, barley, wheat or field peas) are good to go now… improve that dormant veggie patch!

On really cold days, why not head out to the shed, and sharpen, clean, oil and maintain your garden tools. Sounds tedious, but it’s really rewarding, and will save you cash and plant illness in the long run.

Of course, this is just a rough guide, and many of you will find your situation varies from the above listing due to microclimates created in your garden, location in relation to your nearest major city, extremes of weather (Mother Nature does like to keep us on our toes) and garden type. But the one thing that remains the same for all zones and regions is this: no matter the season, we can all garden more sustainably all year round

Happy gardening, see you next month!


September In Your Patch

September is fantastic for gardeners! So much to plant in most regions of the country.  In southern parts, the chill is almost gone from the mornings, and the afternoons are getting longer. Blossoms are bursting and you can smell spring in the air wherever you go. If you have been hibernating through winter now is the time to get out and into it.  Read on for some fabulous September gardening advice for your area.

Improve Your Soil
Prepare your Yummy Yard for spring planting by improving your soil. Lightly dig over the soil popping in plenty of organic matter including top-notch compost and well rotted manure. Don't forget to mulch the beds with a straw mulch. This bed will be awesome come planting time... and you will have the greatest Yummy Yard in the street!

Try some colour
Why not try some lovely colour in your patch as well like nasturtium, snapdragons, phlox, petunias, marigolds (French) and celosia. They are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your patch, and they look fantastic as well. Now is the time to plant some sunflower seeds. Find a sunny spot where you would like to see some happy sunflowers later in the year and plant the seeds to double the depth of the seed. Cover lightly with dirt and wait... they'll be popping their heads up in no time!

Citrus Gall Wasp
Check your citrus trees for gall wasp and remove affected sections by pruning well below the gall. Don't compost this or put it in the green waste bin.  It's a good idea to cut through the gall to expose the larvae to air - which they hate - before putting it in a bag and popping in the rubbish bin.  Or you could soak the galls in water for a week or two - or burn them (if your local Council permits).

Other things you can do are to hang sticky yellow traps on the tree in mid-August as they attract and trap the emerging adults, but make sure you take the traps down by November as they also kill beneficial insects.

Do not use a fertiliser that is high in nitrogen, as this promotes soft growth which provides ideal conditions for the wasp.  Use a balanced fertiliser or compost.

A biological form of control - introducing wasps that prey on citrus gall wasp - is used in orchards and home gardens. Megastigmus brevivalvus and Megastigmus trisulcus are natural enemies of citrus gall wasp. They lay their eggs inside the eggs of the citrus gall wasp and when their eggs hatch they destroy the host.

Megastigus brevivalvus is sold to home gardeners in some states, but it is only available for a two-week window around October/November. If you are able to get some of the parasitic wasps, they must be released soon after the citrus gall wasps have emerged.

This is your absolute last chance to do something about gall wasp before they hatch out and take over the world, so don't put action off!

Mulch Now!
Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds. Choose a sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.

Look after your tools
On really cold days, why not head out to the shed and sharpen, clean, oil and maintain your garden tools. Sounds tedious, but it's really rewarding, and will save you cash and plant illness in the long run.

Indoor Plants
Now is a great time to re-pot your Indoor Plants. Give them a bit of a feed with a seaweed tonic afterwards to keep them happy.

Below you will find more information that is specific to different regions and climates in Australia.

Warm Areas

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

  • Spring into it! There is so much ready to go, so why not plant some rocket, silverbeet, spring onions, Chinese cabbage, mizuna, lettuce, tatsoi, zucchini, pumpkin, leeks, capsicum, cucumber, eggplant, tomatoes and watermelon.
  • In the herb patch, pop in some parsley, sweet basil, chamomile, dill, coriander, marjoram, oregano, catnip and thyme. Also try mint, but keep it in a pot, as it has a tendency to take over.
  • Feeling fruity? It's time to plant passionfruit, paw paw, avocados, banana, citrus and macadamias. If your tastes are a little more exotic, try putting in a guava... they're tough plants and the fruit is sensational!
  • Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. At this time of year, try millet, lablab, amaranth or mung bean. This will improve your soil incredibly and you'll find it well worth the effort! Green manure crops like faba beans, barley, lupin, wheat or field peas are also good to go now.

Cool to Cold Areas

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

  • There's a bit happening in the veggie patch so you could try leeks, onions, parsley, parsnips, cauliflower, peas, radish, silverbeet, lettuce, swedes and turnips. Don't you just love the start of spring?
  • Don't get over excited... it's too early for tomatoes just yet!
  • In the herb patch pop in some chamomile, dill, coriander, echinacea, catnip and thyme. Also try lemon balm but keep it in a pot, as it has a tendency to take over! Plant these after the frost risk has passed.
  • Green manure crops like faba beans, barley, lupin, wheat or field peas are good to go now... improve that dormant veggie patch!

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)

  • Leap into springtime gardening, especially in your veggie patch! Try celery, silverbeet, lettuces, leeks, spring onions, climbing beans, cucumber, sweet corn, tomato, carrot, Jeruslaum artichokes and radishes. Wait until the frosts have finished.
  • Get into herbs in the 'burbs with parsley, chives, catnip, sage, oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram.
  • Feeling fruity? It's time to plant blueberries, passionfruit, paw paw, avocados, banana, citrus trees, olives (non-weedy varieties). If your tastes are a little more exotic, try putting in a guava... they're tough plants and the fruit is sensational!
  • Green manure crops like chick pea and barley are good to go now... improve that dormant veggie patch!

Of course, this is just a rough guide, and many of you will find your situation varies from the above due to microclimates created in your garden, location in relation to your nearest major city, extremes of weather and garden type.

Happy springtime gardening, see you next month!

Information source:
Bagnall, Lyn, Easy organic gardening and moon planting, published by Scribe Publications, VIC.

Photos:

Peach Blossom - Tracey Martin
Garde in Girl - Elaine Shallue

 


October In Your Patch

With the weather warming up nicely, there’s no better place to be than the backyard. October is a huge month in the patch. With so many varieties to plant, you’ll be struggling to get it all done. So, welcome to October, a fine time to be in any sort of garden. Remember to use all your senses in the garden. Watch for pest issues, feel for soil moisture, smell your soil, and... most importantly... taste the fruits (or vegetables) of your labours. Let’s get into it...

Weeding
Weeding is a great job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders, and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding. While the kids are on school holidays, why not give them a "buck a bucket" for each bucket of weeds they remove? It gets them out in the sun, having fun and learning about nature.

Tomatoes
It’s time to plant everyone’s favourite – tomatoes. By now your soil should be good and ready, so head to the local garden centre, pick a few varieties, and get going. This is the moment we have all be waiting for. Don’t forget their mates Basil and French Marigolds. They are great companions, and no tomato patch is complete without them.

Sunflowers
Now is the time to plant some sunflower seeds. Find a sunny spot where you would like to see some happy sunflowers later in the year, and plant the seeds to double the depth of the seed. Cover lightly with dirt and wait... they’ll be popping their heads up in no time!

Remember to mulch

Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds. Choose a sustainable, low environmental impact mulch that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.

Tools
On non gardening days head out to the shed, and sharpen, clean, oil and maintain your garden tools. It’s really rewarding and will save you money and plant problems in the long run.

Green Manure
Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked garden. At this time of year, try clover, pigeon pea or soybean. This will improve your soil incredibly and you'll find it well worth the effort. Young wheat is great too, it is used to make wheat grass... an incredibly vile tasting but very beneficial health tonic. Green manure crops, including clover, barley, millet and wheat are good to go now to improve that dormant veggie patch and get ready for next season’s heavy feeding plants.

Warm Areas

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

Why not give these a try: capsicum, spring onions, cucumber, pumpkins, squash, zucchini, rosella, sweet corn, eggplant and watermelon.

For some super herbs try basil (both sweet and purple), parsley, sage, pyrethrum, lemongrass, oregano, rue and marjoram. Mint is ready to go, but you might want to keep it in a nice sized pot to prevent a serious mint invasion.

Feeling fruity? There is still time to plant passionfruit, paw paw, avocados, banana, citrus, and macadamias. If your tastes are a little more exotic try putting in a guava.

Why not try some flowering plants as well. Try nasturtium, dianthus, Livingstone daisies, verbena, snapdragons, petunias, chrysanthemums, Shasta daisies, marigolds (French) or celosia. These are all great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your garden.

Cool to Cold Areas

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

Get planting these tasty treats: cabbage, celery, leeks, lettuce, silverbeet, spring onions, Brussels sprouts, capsicums, chillies, eggplants, and beetroot. For big patches, why not try a globe artichoke? Tough and tasty... what a combo.

Go crazy with climbing beans. Why not build a trellis or archway in your patch, and grow these green machines over the top. It looks awesome, doesn’t take up much space, and makes it easier to pick the beans.

In the herb patch, try some parsley, calendula, chamomile, marigolds, oregano, pyrethrum, rue, sage, rosemary, thyme, and Echinacea. Also try lemon balm and mint, but keep them in a pot, as they have a tendency to take over.

Why not try some aurora and Livingstone daisies, pansies, violas, snapdragons, verbena, marigolds, cornflowers, petunias and phlox. These guys are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your garden.

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)

Try artichoke, beetroots, cabbage, capsicum, carrots, chillies, eggplants, French beans, kohl rabi, leeks, lettuce, parsnip, potatoes, sweet corn and watermelon!

For some herbs try basil (both sweet and purple), parsley, sage, pyrethrum, lemongrass, oregano, rue and marjoram. Mint is ready to go, but you might want to keep it in a nice sized pot, just to prevent serious mint invasion!

Why not try some nasturtium, dianthus, Livingstone daisies, verbena, snapdragons, petunias, chrysanthemums, Shasta daisies, marigolds (French) and celosia. These guys are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your patch.

Of course, this is just a rough guide, and many of you will find your situation varies from the above listing, due to microclimates created in your garden, location in relation to your nearest major city, extremes of weather and garden type. But the one thing that remains the same for all zones and regions is this: sustainable gardening doesn’t mean no maintenance gardening… so spend some time, pull some weeds, and enjoy your patch of paradise!

Happy October gardeners, see you next month!

Information sources:
Bagnall, Lyn, Easy organic gardening and moon planting, published by Scribe Publications, VIC.
McFarlane, Annette, Organic Vegetable Gardening, published by ABC Books, Sydney, NSW.

Pictures
Tomato pic: Mary Trigger (SGA)
Sunflower pic: Elaine Shallue (SGA)
Pomegranate pic: Elaine Shallue (SGA)


November In Your Patch

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 in November in your patch. 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 Shallue (SGA)