Gardening for mind , body and spirit in 2020

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”

 Audrey Hepburn

Gardening is therapeutic on so many levels –  Mind, Body and Soul.  Just being around nature can improve your mood, making you feel more at peace, and the act of digging, planting, and watering can help take your mind off the stresses of daily life and get the body moving. 

Plant three rows of peas:

Peace of mind | Peace of heart | Peace of soul

Plant four  rows of squash:

Squash indifference | Squash selfishness | Squash hate | Squash grumbling

Plant  three rows of lettuce:

Lettuce be kind | Lettuce love one another | Lettuce be patient

No garden is without Turnips

Turnips for meetings | Turnips for service | Turnips to help one another 

and of course Thyme

Thyme for each other | Thyme for family | Thyme for friends

Water freely with patience and cultivate with love.

                                                                          (Author unknown- there are a few variation but this is ours)

Gardening is not guaranteed to solve all the world’s problems or soothe all your pain. But there is something healing about it that could change your perspective and increase your joy. We know it does for us.

Once the weather and, more importantly, the soil warms up, (if it is too cold to sit bare bum on, it’s too cold for your seedlings) it is time to get your Spring seeds and seedlings into the ground.  You can start your seeds off in seed trays in a warm spot on the window ledge, or on top of the hot water system;  just do not forget to keep them moist.

Here in southern Victoria, September is the time to plant   it’s time to plant in September, artichoke, beans, capsicum, celery, chinese cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, melons, okra, onion, potato (tubers), silver beet, spring onion, squash, sweet corn, and tomatoes in all their delicious varieties.

The following companion planting tips will help make your vegie garden both beautiful and balanced.

Plant decoys to distract insects from your crops. e.g. Calendula will attract slugs and snails, instead of eating your vegies.

Include plants to attract beneficial insects with smell, texture, and colour. e.g. beneficial insects love bergamot and borage.

Also plant to repel pests. Some plants produce oils that disguise the plants that pests are looking for e.g. thyme, lavender, and scented geranium. Others produce a scent or taste that is so unpleasant it drives insects away e.g. tansy and wormwood.

Also grow plants that contain natural toxins that can be used to make sprays or washes – like fennel, chamomile, or pyrethrum – no need for toxic bought chemicals.

One of the oldest examples of companion gardening is The Three Sisters planting combination.

It was practised by Native Americans thousands of years ago and is still used today by many gardeners.

The three plants used in this ancient gardening system are beans, corn, and squash (any trailing member from the Cucurbit family will work- pumpkin, melons, cucumber etc). The principle behind this combination is that the beans will use the corn as a support to climb up and in turn, as they are in the legume family, they will fix nitrogen from the soil and make it more available to the other plants. The rambling squash vines provide a living mulch and help shade the roots of the corn and the beans, preventing them from drying out in the heat of Summer.  As most of the Cucurbit family have spiny stems, they also prevent pests climbing up to eat the corn and beans.

We love this as it is so simple and easy to do and you get to live with a beautiful relationship of plants that live in harmony together helping to make you feel at peace.

You need an area of well-prepared garden bed that is no smaller than 3 metres square, and in a full sun position.

All of the seeds are sown directly into the ground in late Spring- early Summer.

First sow the corn and squash.

 Sow the corn in blocks of at least 4×4  about 15-20cm apart to ensure good pollination rates.

 Interplant the blocks of corn with squash plants, planting the squash seeds about 10 centimetres apart. 

Once the seeds have germinated, thin the squash seeds so there are about 2 plants for every 4 corn plants. 

Then, 3-4 weeks later, or once the corn plants are around 10 centimetres high it is time to plant the bean seeds. Plant 2 or 3 bean seeds at the base of each corn plant.

You will need to make sure you weed between the plants while they are still young. But once the plants are established you need to do little else except water on warm or windy days. And then enjoy the harvest.

Look out for seed suppliers in your area who are producing their seeds as locally as possible. That way, the seeds are more likely to be adapted to your local climate, giving you a better chance of success.  Two of our favourites are The Diggers Club https://www.diggers.com.au  and Birdland Seeds https://birdlandseeds.com/  Both have a great range of heirloom and organic seeds.

“I like gardening —

it’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself.” 

     Alice Sebold
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