February 2023 View Online

Dear Fellow Gardener

Welcome to the 100th newsletter from Sophie’s Patch, and the second for 2023. Where does the time go? We are already well into the second month of the year, and lots has been happening.

Sophie Thomson.

Tomato heart
I have to love how prolific cherry tomatoes are, the perfect fruit for Valentine's Day! 

In This Newsletter

Around The Patch 

The season has been delightful with relatively few really hot days, although when they do come, I like the plants, am a bit soft and woozy and seem to feel it more than normal. We have also had some summer rain which is not common here in our Mediterranean-like climate. The nights have been cool too, and even if it is a hot day, there is often an amazing morning fog which burns off as the sun appears. 
The vegie garden has continued to keep us well fed with plenty for ourselves and ample to share with family and friends. There have been bumper harvests of leeks, onions, bok choy, lettuce, zucchini, parsley and basil. 
Pumpkins are forming on the vines, but I am still using up pumpkins harvested last autumn so I simply let them grow to maturity and when the vines die off, that’s when I pick them and then store them in our cellar. 

Vertical Vegies

The vertical vegies have at last taken off with the winners this year being the tromboncino which are loaded with small fruits from 20-60cm long and have now reached the top of the arch. While they can be eaten when young, I don’t feel the need as I have plenty of normal zucchini growing. To me the real value of tromboncino is when you let them mature and go a butternut colour, they can store for up to 12 months so that means you can enjoy a warm season, summer-autumn crop in the cold seasons of winter and spring. 
The New Guinea beans have grown to the top of the weld mesh walls but are yet to start fruiting. The pumpkins growing up our giant pumpkin frame are heading to the top and the Caigua growing over the bike wheel arch is looking lush and gorgeous. 


There are also the huge crops of the most amazing tomatoes…………. but due to the cold season they are still green. Good job I love green tomato cake in case the season comes in cold and they don’t all ripen. The great thing about this cake, apart from tasting great and being easy to make, is that it freezes really well.  Check out the recipe at


The rest of the garden looks pretty with flowers attracting bees, butterflies and birds. I often recount the nicest thing which a visitor to Sophie’s Patch has ever said to me and it was that my garden is “like being in a Disney movie”. It took me a while to get it but it is surreal when you have clouds of butterflies dance around you. If you want to learn about how to attract butterflies to your garden read 

Citrus Success

While the workshops were focused on deciduous fruit trees, there were a number of questions raised about planting subtropical fruit trees like citrus and avocados. The main difference is that while deciduous fruit trees are best planted when they are bare rooted in winter, these subtropical evergreens should ONLY ever be planted into warm soil of at least 16 degrees. In Adelaide this means the planting window is from late October through to the end of February, and in the Hills it could even be from November onwards. Protecting young trees from wind, sun and frost is very important and here at Sophie’s Patch we used shade cloth guards for the first three years.

To find out how to plant citrus and also how to make these shade cloth guards watch this segment filmed with Australia’s citrus guru Ian Tolley when we planted our citrus grove in and if you are interested in growing citrus in pots watch 
Click here to read more about Citrus...

Out & About

Home Events

It’s been a busy time here with four summer fruit tree pruning workshops with Wez Redden and Chris Day. They were all sold out and as always attendees went home with lots of information and the confidence to manage their own trees. There were several people asking about citrus and sub tropical fruit trees which has prompted me to write the citrus post for this newsletter.
We also had a group of travellers on a Botanica Garden Tours event on the QE2 come for a garden visit to the garden. I usually don’t take group bookings for summer as it can be too hot and the garden looks stressed, but remarkably the weather was mild on the day and the tour and lunch on our back deck went well. 

In the Community

I have been busy with garden consulting for home gardens, speaking at gardening events and more -  including the chance to speak about a favourite topic of mine.  Last Saturday I spoke about Habitat Gardening at the Burton Community Hub and it was a full house with people enthusiastic about attracting birds, bees, butterflies and garden guardians to their gardens.  

Easter Open Garden at Sophie’s Patch

Saturday April 8th, Sunday April 9th and Monday, April 10th

Preparations are in full swing for Easter Open Garden at Sophie’s Patch on Saturday April 8th, Sunday April 9th and Monday, April 10th inclusive
Me with my New Guinea Beans from Autumn 2022.  
 Autumn in the Adelaide Hills is a wonderful time to visit, and previous visitors have combined seeing Sophie’s Patch with the delights of Adelaide city, beaches, gardens, the Adelaide Hills, Barossa, and McLaren Vale wine regions, as well joining up with family and friends.
There’s always lots to see and learn…. the nurseries, societies and organisations will be here in force:
  • Hillside Herbs and Succulents
  • Tupelo Grove Nursery
  • Bickleigh Vale Organic Farm
  • Beekeepers' Society of SA
  • Butterfly Conservation Society SA
  • Recreate from Mount Pleasant

There will be free kids’ activities, Saturday – Kate Hubmayer – Nature Crowns, Sunday – Recreate, and Monday – Kristen Messenger - Bugs N Slugs.

Stay tuned to our website link for further details as they get finalised. 


We will have sweet tasting boxes available with pumpkin cake, chocolate beetroot cake and roasted plum slice (Gluten free options available). The savoury food choices are still being sorted. 

The event no longer requires tickets so simply turn up and pay at the gate. 

Sophie’s Patch Special Events

SA Autumn Garden Festival - Two Special Sophie's Patch Events

I'm offering two satellite Sophie’s Patch Workshops on Saturday 18th March as part of SA Autumn Garden Festival weekend in Clare.  They are Grow Your Own – vegies for beginners -  from 10am till 1pm; and a Succulent Art Workshop with Lorraine Thompson from Hillside Herbs and Succulents from 2 - 4pm.  You can choose to attend one or make a day of it and come to both.

Grow Your Own – vegies for beginners - Saturday 18th March from 10am till 1pm

Tickets for Grow Your Own - vegies for beginners
The timing of this workshops is designed so that you can start setting up your new vegie patch and be ready to plant cool season crops in autumn. This beginner’s workshop is for everyone who wants to develop their own productive vegie patch or yummy yard and needs a combination of information and inspiration to get them started. I will cover the basics including the why and where of setting up your vegie garden and then go into the essential details such as soil, compost, irrigation, seasonal planting, seeds vs seedlings and much, much more. I will also cover how to bring in the good bugs to help manage the bad and deal with problems within the garden.   This workshop includes delicious morning tea or coffee.
So, if you are dreaming of eating your own, home grown, organic, delicious, vine ripened tomatoes, as well as every other wonderful vegie, this is a great workshop to attend. 

Succulent Art Workshop

Make your own succulent birdcage with Lorraine Thompson from Hillside Herbs and Succulents – Saturday 18th March - 2-4pm
Succulent Art Tickets
Instead of buying a bird cage, we are going to make one, then create a lovely mixed succulent bowl to place inside.

All materials to create the birdcage will be provided, as well as the bowl, succulents, and soil, with Lorraine guiding you through the process. You will enjoy a delicious afternoon tea and coffee.

Succulent Art Workshop at Sophie’s Patch – Succulent Picture Frame at Sophie’s Patch. 

Join my friend and colleague Lorraine Thompson from Hillside Herbs and Succulents, and me, for this hands-on workshop where you will make your own succulent picture frame …… with the frame, succulents and everything else you need provided.
When? 28th or 29th April 2022 from 9.30 - 12.30

Where? Sophie's Patch Springs Road Mount Barker

Cost? $139 +bf

Succulent Picture Frame Tickets
Lorraine and I will guide you through the process, demonstrate how to make other succulent art projects like kokedamas and succulent birdcages, and cover the basics of how to get the best out of succulents and dealing with pest and disease problems.
For more information or to book tickets visit

Coming Up

I can be seen at different garden talks over the coming months. On Saturday 18th February I am speaking at the Chilli Festival in Willunga 
and the following day, Sunday 19th, you will catch me at Joe’s Connected Garden open garden  

On the 4th March you will find me speaking at the Native Bee Workshop at Clayton Bay.

Talkback Gardening every Sunday on ABC Adelaide

Join me each Sunday for an hour of gardening talkback on ABC Adelaide with Peter Goers at 11am (ACST). Peter and I always have a lot of fun and laughs………… and even manage to answer a few gardening questions. So, tune in via ABC Radio 891 or log in via 
Happy gardening!



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