Summer Gardening With Cam

Greetings from the Gaia organic garden.

Summer has arrived and I thought to share a few ideas for what you might like to grow to brighten up your garden, or your balcony, and bring some health and vitality to you and your family. 

I often speak (in the classes I run here) of the range of benefits of creating even a small garden at home. To water your seedlings, run your fingers through the soil, physically dig in a section of a bed, expend energy and release tension. This can be so beneficial and the soil can act as a conduit to draw away stressful energy.

Well cared for, healthy plants will radiate vitality and create a sense of calm and good health, and to also cultivate this feeling internally will hold us in good stead. 

I’ve found that even in small houses, or apartments, it is possible to create a garden. Sometimes this might be in planter boxes on balcony’s, or utilising brick walls to grow vertically. 

Tomatoes are a great idea for summer. We are currently growing 5 heirloom varieties and there are a range of wonderful tasting old world varieties around. We have brandywine, lemon drop, scopio, red pear, and green zebra varieties this year. Aim for different coloured varieties, as this provides a beautiful aesthetic as the plants grow.

They can be planted in a pot, with a vertical stake and you can tie the stems to railings as they grow, creating a lovely green wall.  Buy a large ceramic pot, 10 litre minimum, preferably 20 litre. Bigger is better as potted plants tend to dry out a lot. I’d recommend mixing equal parts organic compost with your bag of soil mix prior to planting.  Also add a big handful of organic life, dolomite and organic blood and bone powder (or pellets).  This is the food for your soil which will provide optimum conditions for good plant growth. I’d also put a small handful of rock phosphate under each seedling. Space your plants at least 800mm apart. You may find the big pots next to each other will be adequate spacing.

Plant only one seedling per pot, and plant with the lower leaves under the soil level. Push a bamboo stake into the pot next to the seedling. You will tie the stem onto the stake as the plant grows, then tie larger stems and branches to your railing or trellis. Use soft cloth ties or old pantyhose, you can buy these in your local gardening shop. Water daily after first planting, but reduce watering as the plant starts to flower. Tasty tomatoes generally come from plants that experience a little tough love, but only after the plants are well established.

Have your secateurs handy, you’ll need them as tomatoes need a lot of pruning and maintenance. Make this part of your downtime at the end of the day, or when you’re stepping away from the office. Use it as a mindfulness exercise. Over time and with practise, the plants will kind of talk to you and tell you what they need. Sounds a bit crazy I know! You’ll notice overlapping branches that need pruning out or excessive side shoots that need to be snapped off. Long trailing stems are better pruned off at the tip once they reach the top of the trellis, otherwise the weight of the mature fruit will break the branch. Tie limbs securely where fruit is setting.

Getting lots of light and airflow is key to a healthy tomato plant. This reduces disease and doesn’t provide dark habitats for sneaky caterpillars to tunnel into the fruit.

If you are in sub-tropical to tropical areas, hang a fruit fly trap to trap male flies for monitoring, and spray once a week with natralure to kill both male and female flies. Keep a little spray bottle of dipel (organic bacterial spray) for heliothis caterpillar, and spray fruit twice a week if any holes in the fruit are noticed. If you experience whitefly, buy a bottle of organic pyrethrum to spray them with.

Happy gardening and I look forward to seeing you all back soon in our beautiful gardens. Please come and say hi and share your gardening stories and photos with me.

With food+love