Tag Archives: trees

It’s a cool late spring late afternoon. I walk into the garden, foraging for dinner produce, not quite sure what I’ll cook yet. I’m looking for a few herbs here and there, some salad leaves, a couple of chillies and whatever else catches my eye that might form dinner. It’s an organic garden. Completely natural. Only fresh healthy produce grown here. That’s such a good feeling, knowing that only wholesome, safe food comes from my garden everyday. But there’s another, perhaps equally important side to urban farming. The home economics.

If you are someone who grows their own food, even a little of it regularly, you’ll know it’s a saving. Every item grown, if even it’s just a pot of herbs, ultimately saves you money. Each produce grown is produce not purchased. That saves money, time and other resources. Now do the maths. If you grow only a little and it saves you some time and money, then growing more must save you more time and money. But … here’s where many people’s thought processes kick in with obstacle thinking: ‘But that means I have to spend more time in the garden’, ‘How much will it cost me to set up a garden and grow more food?’ and ‘It’s a lot of work gardening. Won’t it cost me for water and fertiliser?’

Some common sense answers to the rescue! Yes, you’ll spend a little more time in the garden, especially initially to set it up in order to get a yield. But how can more time in the garden ever be a bad thing? You get more fresh air, exercise and it’s so good for the mind and body. And what about the yield? All that fresh produce, straight from soil to plate!

There may also be some initial costs to set up your garden to grow more food, but they can be minor costs with the right knowledge and resources, much of which you may already have handy in your home and garden. As with anything in life, there has to be some give and take, there has to be some initial and ongoing investment, but gardening and growing food is not expensive, certainly not for what you get in return. Once you set up a ‘closed system’, it will cost you very little.

During summer, when the weather gets very hot and dry, I hear many people say they just give up on their gardens until the weather gets cooler again. I think that’s very sad, not only because it signifies a lack of knowledge (and perhaps willingness to seek the right knowledge), but also because you are letting your garden go backwards, and allowing an ecosystem to suffer or die. There are many options and techniques, from permaculture, for example, that will help you set up your garden to cope with and provide a good yield in extremes of weather. Gardening is not always easier, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or impossible, and there are skills and knowledge that make it easier than many people believe.

Permaculture and urban farming are all about sustainability, which means learning how to sustain your gardens and keep producing food consistently throughout the year, even through extremes of weather and other challenges. These paths also offer solid, time tested and proven methods for helping us ‘get off the grid’ – use more or only renewable energy, store water and other energies, grow and produce most of our own food, which all ultimately saves us money and other resources.

I would like to encourage and challenge everyone reading this and who follows me to choose to step up their food production. I can support you in increasing your food production without spending much or anything to do so, without increasing household costs, using local, cheap or free resources, with a fresh way of seeing your garden and your world. I can support you in making the transition from where you’re at now to a more solid investment in your garden for a greater yield – to save money, time and improve health and wellbeing.

For the same time, or even less, that it takes you to go shopping at the supermarket, you can put into your garden for a greater, healthier, fresher, organic yield. I will share skills, knowledge, strategies and much more with you to help you achieve this, if this is what you choose, if you accept my challenge. I promise richer, greater return on your initial investment of time and energy.

What can you do? I would love your support for my events and workshops. Your attendance makes my community work and business possible. This is a mutually sustainable agreement. I look forward to us supporting each other, watching your gardens grow and hearing about how you’ve saved money … and ultimately, how much more you’re enjoying your garden and nature. Thank you.

Whether you believe in climate change and global warming or not, it seems like we're in for another very dry hot summer, with temps this hot, this early on in Spring concerning many experienced gardeners.

It only takes a couple of such hot days to heat stress your garden without the proper pre and post care of your soil, plants, trees and life. If you know a certain day coming up will be extremely hot, or a hotter week is in store, a little prep and care goes a long way to protecting your gardens.

Here's a few easy things you can do to help:

1. Thicker mulching on your garden beds in the hotter months prevents and minimises water evaporation and heat stress. Lighter mulching in colder months allows the soil and life to receive more warmth.

2. The day before really hot days, water your gardens more deeply. A good deeper soaking water, within reason, makes a big difference. And then on the really hot days, get up extra early and give your gardens a light watering to prep them for the day. This requires some common sense, though, as too much water is just as bad as too little, and some plants require more or less water.

3. At the end of extremely hot days, give your garden another watering, to refresh your plants and trees and cool the soil. This is especially important on hot windy days. Wind will dry plants out very fast and can 'burn' foliage.

4. If you can only water once a day, a good soaking water in the mornings is best, especially to prevent unwanted mould, pests and diseases that attack wet humid plants at night. Also try to 'ground water' - water your soil and base of plants, rather than overhead watering. I do this in the mornings, and then if I water lightly again in the afternoons of really hot days, I lightly water overhead to cool plants.

5. Place a few sticks or stakes throughout your garden beds, at least 50cm high, and on the mornings of really hot days, drop some shadecloth or old porous sheets or curtains over the sticks. This will prevent and minimise sun stress on your plants and evaporation, especially younger plants and leafy veggies and herbs. Do not lay cloth or sheets directly on your plants. Make sure some air space is between the garden bed and the shading material. I've collected lots of rolls and offcuts of shadecloth from kerbsde pickups over recent years, which I use for this purpose ... and it's cost me nothing. I also use old lacy curtains for shade on really hot days.

6. Remember that your plants and trees (and animals) are just like us humans. They get dehydrated and will suffer, or even die, without adequate water and shade on very hot days. Heat stress and lack of water can take many plants and trees beyond the point of recovery. There are also countless beneficial microorganisms and small animals, birds, insects, lizards and frogs in your garden, all doing a great job. Regular watering and providing small 'watering holes' for them is essential for their survival.

Simply place some old dishes and bowls from your kitchen (or an op shop) around your garden beds, under more shady plants and keep topped up with water. Dig them in to ground level. Place some bird baths and waterers around your gardens also in shady spots for birds and insects.

If you're new to gardening, effective watering takes a little time to master, but isn't rocket science and becomes intuitive fairly fast. Get to know your garden and everything in it. While more time-consuming, I personally prefer hand watering with a hose, as it develops a more intimate relationship with each garden bed, each section of plants and their water needs, and even individual plants and trees. It also gives me an opportunity to check garden progress, see what needs harvesting, what might be thriving or struggling, and generally unwind while dreaming a little of edible things to come.

The main thing to remember is, we are now heading into the warmer months, Spring and Summer, and from all indications, a long hot dry summer. So it makes sense to prep your gardens well now - your soil, mulching, plant choices, shade plants and trees, get shadecloth ready, make shading trellises around your garden with shady plants growing on them, especially overhead and on western sides of gardens. A little smart prep will go a long way to ensuring you continue to grow strong healthy plants and food throughout the hotter months.

Happy gardening!