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Sustainable Gardening Tips for October

Welcome to the sustainable gardening tips for October newsletter. Changing climate conditions and weather patterns are making it challenging for many gardeners. Hot, dry weather with no rain for long periods creates tough conditions for many plants. However, microclimates can be a great ‘tool’ to achieve greater success. You’ll discover five benefits of creating microclimates in your garden so you can match the right plant to the right place.

This month’s plant profile is the healing spice Ginger. Plus I share tips on choosing, growing and eating tomatoes, broccoli and kale to maximise the health benefits. There are plenty of practical seasonal gardening tips as always. Dig in!

Sustainable Gardening Tips for October

Sustainable Gardening Tips OctoberSustainable Gardening Tips October

“In our society, growing food yourself has become the most radical of acts. It is truly the only effective protest, one that can-and will-overturn the corporate powers that be. By the process of directly working in harmony with nature, we do the one thing most essential to change the world – we change ourselves!” — Jules Dervaes Jr. (1947-2016)

5 Ways to Create Beneficial Microclimates

Microclimates are one of the biggest factors affecting success in growing healthy plants. Every garden is totally unique. By playing ‘detective’ we can discover clues in different garden zones. This helps us to fully understand the opportunities and challenges. My latest article digs deeper into what kinds of microclimates might be in your garden. Plus I share how to use them to your advantage. Here’s a brief peek.

1. Use plants to create a living windbreak.
2. Create shade with climbers and mitigate damaging wind.
3. Utilise cloches to protect seedlings.
4. Protect plants from heat, storm, wind and sun damage with shade cloth.
5. Use shade to water less often. Learn more

Healthier Vegetables: Did you know?

Choosing the right variety of some vegetables and eating them raw or as microgreens can make a huge difference to the health benefits. Dig into these tips.


  • Cherry tomatoes are higher in lycopene than large red tomatoes. Generally the darker the colour and smaller the size, the more nutritious the tomato. Studies show Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, helps protect cells from damage.Free radical damage is one of the main causes of diseases such as heart disease, premature aging, cancer and cataracts.
  • A tomato-rich diet is associated with a diverse range of health benefits. These include anticancer properties; reducing the risk of cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, and bowel diseases; and improving skin health, exercise recovery, and immune response.


  • Eating raw broccoli provides up to 20 times more sulforaphane (beneficial phytochemical) than cooked broccoli. There is growing evidence that sulforaphane is found to be effective in preventing and treating various cancers such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, skin, urinary bladder and oral cancers.6 This compound is naturally present in broccoli sprouts and microgreens, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and garden cress. Try raw broccoli florets in this delicious salad recipe.
  • Broccoli microgreens contain 10-100 x the anticancer compounds than mature broccoli. Consider the space, water, time and resources required to grow broccoli to harvest mature heads! Doesn’t it make sense to grow this vegetable as baby leaf microgreens?
Sustainable Gardening Tips October: 5 Easy Ways to Eat Broccoli Raw for all the nutritional benefits

Sustainable Gardening Tips October: 5 Easy Ways to Eat Broccoli Raw for all the nutritional benefits

5 Easy Ways to Eat Broccoli Raw for all the nutritional benefits


    • Kale is the most bitter and beneficial of all the crucifers (cabbage family). It contains compounds that help slow and prevent cancer growth. All varieties contain cancer-fighting, heart-protective glucosinolates. Red-leafed varieties are higher in antioxidants than green kale.
  • Kale is most nutritious eaten raw. Try chopping finely and add to salads or coleslaw or sow seeds and eat raw as microgreens7.
  • Best eaten fresh from the garden or use within a few days. If cooking, try steaming briefly, saute until just wilted or roast torn leaves as chips.

What to Plant Now in Subtropical SE QLD

October is warmer and drier than average. Heatwaves, storms and unpredictable weather are typical for this time of year! I try to be prepared for just about anything as the growing gets tough. I’ve put together practical suggestions for this month. Download your October Gardening Tips PDF for planting ideas, tasks to do in the garden plus issues to watch out for. These articles may also help your garden survive a tough few months ahead.

If you can, try to time planting in harmony with the moon phases. Working with Nature’s timing can improve seed germination, help cuttings take root when propagating plants, and encourage healthy plant growth and establishment. The new moon phase each month is the best time to optimise the quick uptake of liquid nutrients. The new moon phase starts 17th October. This helps plants access nutrition and get off to a good start. Working with moon phases and a Moon Calendar has distinct benefits. It helps me stay organised! I plan forward for the best times to take specific actions in my garden and reap the rewards. The natural cycles of energy and water that ebb and flow each month are there for us to tap into. Learn more here.

The Vegetables Growing Guide is a reference chart to help you grow 68 of the most popular vegetables in Australia and New Zealand climate zones. It includes information on companion planting, making compost, soil and moon planting. 

What to Plant Now in Other Locations

Click here for what to plant and when. Or visit (USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa)

Container Garden Worm Farm

I’m excited to now offer a new product, the portable Composta container garden and worm farm. I love this product so much, I have three! The Composta planter is perfect for small gardens, renters, apartments and patios. You simply recycle your kitchen scraps to feed composting worms. No smell or mess. The worms turn your food waste inside the hidden internal worm farm into nutrient-rich black humus to feed the plants you are growing. Any excess liquid leachate can be used to water your soil. Free shipping in Australia. Check out the Composta, Composting worms and bonus Potting Mix Guide offer.


GINGER (Zingiber officinale) is a self-pollinating perennial. It’s best known for its spicy fragrant rhizome and health benefits. Plant in spring or when the soil is warm. Like turmeric, October is an ideal month in my subtropical climate for planting. Ginger prefers well-drained soil in a wind-protected, partially sunny spot or under the filtered canopy of a tree. I find it grows well in almost full shade! In hot climates, a location with gentle morning sun and shade for the rest of the day is ideal. Or even under shade cloth. Ginger is prone to sunburn in hot dry weather. However, in a cool climate, plant in full sun!

Ginger is grown from a rhizome that develops roots underground and shoots from buds or ‘eyes’. Start with a large healthy organic piece of mature dry ginger. Look for little raised bumps where the buds will shoot from. Plant it just under the surface of moist, compost-rich soil. Or in nutrient-rich potting mix in a large deep container (35L or 9 gal). Cover with a layer of mulch. Feed with compost or slow-release nutrients over the growing cycle (8-10 months). Maintain consistent moisture.

Ginger Zingiber officinale spiceGinger Zingiber officinale spice

This warming herb has many medicinal3 uses due to its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. I grate it into curries, soups and stir fries along with turmeric. Not only for flavour but also the health benefits. I also use it in herb teas almost daily. Ginger has been used for centuries to relieve indigestion, nausea and vomiting, and combat bacterial and fungal infections. Studies show it is effective in helping prevent many cancers by targeting cancer cells.1,4 Ginger is used to enhance effectiveness while mitigating the side effects of chemotherapy treatments2. Ginger has also been found to cleanse and strengthen the liver and kidneys, our body’s detoxing organs. There’s SO much more to this wonderful herb. This is just a taste of the benefits and uses! [See references] Ginger is a valuable herb and medicinal plant and deserves a place in every home pharmacy garden.

3 Tips for Using Ginger

  1. Peel it with a spoon. Use the edge to scrape away the ginger skin without taking the ginger with it!
  2. Save the peelings. Dry or freeze and use to make ginger tea.
  3. Freeze leftover ginger. Don’t waste that unused knob! Grate peeled ginger and freeze in ice cubes for small portions. Ready to use next time you are time poor or haven’t got it handy. You can also freeze unpeeled ginger in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Fresh ginger tea is a delicious way to enjoy the health benefits of medicinal compounds in ginger

Fresh ginger tea is a delicious way to enjoy the health benefits of medicinal compounds in ginger

Fresh ginger tea with a squeeze of lemon and honey is a delicious way to enjoy the health benefits of medicinal compounds in ginger

Grow Herbs for Health

Check out my Guide to Using Kitchen Herbs for Health and How Can I Use Herbs in My Daily Life? for more how to grow tips, culinary and medicinal uses.

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