Smart Gardening in December

  • Leafy shade from trees and vines provide so many benefits for city-dwellers and a grape vine on a north or west-facing pergola is a tried and tested strategy in our climate. These drought tolerant and beautiful vines offer delicious fruit and shade when the weather heats up, and drop their leaves to let sun through in winter.
  • Is your veggie patch getting enough water? Stick your finger in the soil to check around the root zone (about 15cm). It should feel a bit moist and cool, and some soil should stick to your finger. If it feels dry then it’s time to water! In hot weather the veggie patch usually needs watering at least twice per week, and possibly daily during heatwaves. Aim to maintain a ‘damp sponge’ around the roots of your vegetables. Perennial plants and trees are more tolerant but will appreciate a few deep waterings over summer. A thick layer of mulch will keep your soil moist and cool. Don’t forget to check your worm farm too!
  • Watering by hand takes time and if you are going away on holiday during hot weather your plants can really suffer. If you haven’t already installed drip irrigation or considered a wicking bed then now is a great time to do so. You can also stand pots in a deep saucer that can be filled with water for the pot to soak up on hot days, or make wicking pots from recycled food grade plastic buckets. Make sure your garden is sheltered from wind as this amplifies heat damage.

My Smart Garden Events and News

How do you get your veggie patch through a heatwave? Consider making a shade structure (old bed sheets work well) to protect sensitive plants during >35 degree days – it’s like sunscreen for your veggies! More great tips here and here.

Did you know we’re on Instagram?

You can follow @mysmartgarden or visit or for more seasonal tips, tricks and garden inspiration, as well as ask questions and connect with other local gardeners. Don’t forget to tag us in your photos so we can take a peek at what you’re doing in your own garden!

Workshop report back  

Thanks to our generous hosts for sharing their gardens during our open days in November! We’ll be sharing more tips and highlights from the tour on our Instagram account (@mysmartgarden or over the next few months, and there will be notes on Growing in containers from Donna’s tour available on our website shortly.

Seed saving and swap

When: Saturday 8 February 2020, 10 – 11.30 am
Where: Dwell at Ascot Vale Church of Christ, 78 St Leonards Rd, Ascot Vale

Come and listen to Kat Lavers, a passionate gardener and sustainable food systems advocate, who will take you through the process of collecting, drying and storing your seeds. Then from 11 am swap your excess seeds, fruit and vegetables in a produce swap. Feel free to bring any surplus produce, seeds, cuttings, plants, gardening magazines etc to swap and share!

This is a free event but bookings are essential at eventbrite.

Get Climate Ready

When: Thursday 27 February 2020,  6:30 – 8pm.
Where: Clocktower Centre, 750 Mt Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds.

The impacts of climate change are already being experienced with warmer average temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather events. Join us for a special climate change event to learn all about how these impacts effect our health and homes and what you can do to prepare.

Speakers from the Bureau of Meteorology, Department of Health and Renew will discuss; Climate science and the weather. The impacts of climate change on human health. Tips on making your home climate resilient. Registrations are essential at eventbrite

Local Sustainability News and Events Please note these are not My Smart Garden events/programs. Refer to events for organiser details.

Draft Bicycle Strategy 2019 – 2029!

What do you think about riding in the City of Maribyrnong now? What needs to change in the future to make it easier for you to choose your bike over any other way of getting around? Help us to understand how to best grow a healthy and safe, cycling culture. You don’t have to be an experienced rider to get involved, we want to hear from everyone. A new Bicycle Strategy has been developed to guide the next ten years of investment in cycling in Maribyrnong. The Strategy nominates major projects aimed at increasing cycling through increased physical separation and safer speeds. It seeks to address concerns raised in the community as well as ensure Maribyrnong is seen as a place where ‘people ride bikes.’ Council is now seeking community feedback on the Draft Strategy. Have your say by completing the online survey, the bicycle parking map or coming to one of the drop-in sessions by 20 December 2019

Climate Emergency Community

Climate Emergency Community Advisory Group Maribyrnong City Council are inviting local community members to join the Climate Emergency Community Advisory Group, and assist in developing the City of Maribyrnong’s Climate Emergency Plan. The Climate Emergency Plan will identify key priority areas and opportunities to prevent further contribution to climate issues, to tackle climate change, transition to zero emissions and beyond, and help restore a safe climate with urgency and speed. The Advisory Group will also provide recommendations for ways that Council and the community can work together, separately, or with others, to address the climate emergency. Nominations to join the Climate Emergency Community Advisory Group are now open until 31 December, 2019. Nominate here.

Victorian Healthy Homes Program

Eligible households in the City of Maribyrnong will receive free energy efficient upgrades as part of the Victorian Healthy Homes Program. Partnering with Sustainability Victoria, Maribyrnong City Council will assist in recruiting low income households to help improve indoor temperatures all year round and reduce household energy bills. Selected households could get a free home energy efficiency and warmth upgrade, worth up to $3,500 which will be safely installed by licensed tradespeople. The upgrades can include the installation of: draught proofing ceiling or sub-floor insulation high-efficiency heating/cooling appliances, or window coverings. To find out if you’re eligible visit Victorian Healthy Homes.

December Recommended Reading

Water and Greywater

Can’t get enough of our workshops and want to learn more? Here’s a selection of hand-picked books to help you garden smarter. Many of these are available from your local library. 

Create an Oasis with Greywater – Art Ludwig

This is an essential reference for reusing laundry and shower water in the garden. The book covers a range of systems available from very simple and low budget to high end, and steps you through how to design your own system, tips for working with plumbers as well as all the common mistakes to avoid.

Good Gardens with Less Water – Keven Handreck

A great overview of the water efficiency tips you need to keep your garden green and growing strongly through the warmer months. The key is starting with your soil, and the book has plenty of advice for turning your most precious resource into a water-holding sponge. There are also tips on choosing drought-tolerant plants, how to calculate the right amount of water, watering systems, mulches, greywater, pots and more!

Dryland Water Harvesting Vol 2 – Brad Lancaster

Fantastic manual on water design for dry climates. You’ll learn how to ‘plant the water first’ before you plant trees, by doing a water audit and then implementing strategies to harvest rainwater. Be aware that the infiltration basin technique described in the book could drown some fruit trees during a wet year on some of Melbourne’s heavy clay soils.

Upcoming Events

Ask an Expert (Part 3)

Ask an Expert (Part 3)

Climate Resilient Gardens

Climate Resilient Gardens

Edible Gardening for Small Spaces and Renters

Edible Gardening for Small Spaces and Renters

Pickles and Produce Swap Party

Pickles and Produce Swap Party

Olives to Oil – community harvest and festival

Olives to Oil – community harvest and festival