Paying attention to the skies

leggy seedlings and tiny yellow box 023

Yes, it’s just about February. I would normally say ‘already?’ but it isn’t that yet for me; we still have another hot month to get through. However, the February Notes are now posted, take them as you (or your garden) will.

Going by the old schedules, I planted seeds about ten days ago, anticipating autumn and winter eating, as one should if one likes to pick the odd Brussels sprout, or cabbage, kale and autumnal greens, etc. They are in my lean-to, out of the direct heat and light, which I thought would suit. Planted at Moon opposite Saturn, but I didn’t take into account the other lunar rhythms. Like the almost full moon, for instance. Anyway, they are very leggy. I will pay more attention to the planting calendar in February.

I’m most pleased with some of my other seed sowings though.  I had a go with some twenty-year-old native seeds (stored in a cardboard removals box for all of that time). Soaked them in boiling water and left for a day or so (some probably need smoke treatment, some scarifying or stratifying, but I just soaked them in hot water). Yellow Box – Eucalyptus melliodora  are sprouting, can you spot them?

I’m really actually seeking understorey and grasses, but I suspect I’ll have to find fresher seed, or Frances at Newstead Natives. Anyway, it’s enjoyable having a go. I’ve also tried with some seed from the lovely silver banksia in the front yard (a very large plumbing bill the result of keeping it in place) and am very hopeful.

Peaches of one of our China Flats have been fantastic. The other tree not so. Who knows why. We just appreciate what the garden gives, with a bit of attention from us now and then, and a lot more hoping.

Don’t forget our get-together to revise the past gardening year and get set for the next one. February 7th, 6-8pm, bring a plate.  The Produce Exchange kicks off for the year as well on Saturday February 6th at 10.30am til noon outside Dig Cafe.

And try sowing some seeds yourself this February.


gardeners trim and grade the garlic for selling - it'll help pay our water bill at the garden

Come and visit us at Newstead Live! to get your good tasting garlic and help us raise the funds needed to pay for our community garden water bill. We’ll be set up in Panmure Street, outside the Anglican church (in front of the garden) all day on Saturday January 23. Well, until 6pm.

Thanks to this morning’s garlickers, we have ended up with 12.4kg, of various sizes, for selling. In addition, we have kept aside another 4kg of seed garlic for next year’s sowing (the biggest and best cloves) and also some for our generous ‘sharecropper’, Helen. All up the harvest worked out at 18.2kg.

Thanks Gayle and Gary for keeping it safe and for your hospitality this morning.

This is what it looked like at harvest, back in December, thanks Sarah for pics.

And this is our seed supply for growing this year. It may look a bit scrappy, but these are the biggest bulbs of the Ananda Rose garlic, so big in fact many of them have burst their skins! Not very good for storage, but perfect for planting in Autumn.


And another word on the bugs – here’s a picture of the Rutherglen Bug damage to our China Flat peaches. Some of the crops got a spray of diluted seaweed emulsion yesterday arvo – good as a tonic for stressed plants – looks like the rhubarb needs a couple of doses, thanks to the grasshoppers/locusts …


Happy 2016, Garlic, Bugs, Heat, Hope

heat and the garden

Happy 2016!

I’m hoping this year sees more rain. The garden is managing, thanks to the waterers, composters, mulchers.

dunnolly purple garlicOur garlic is curing nicely under Gayle and Gary’s house. We’ll be selling it on the Saturday of Newstead Live, in a fortnight’s time. Before then we need to clean it up, top and tail and grade it. Are you available from 9am on either Friday 15th, Saturday 16th or Sunday 17th January? Please nominate which day/s suit. It will be a morning job, to avoid the heat.

We also need a roster for selling it on Saturday 23rd: two people for each 2-hourly shift (venue will most likely be opposite the garden in Panmure Street as per previous years) starting at 8am, with last shift 4-6pm. Bring a hat, sunscreen, water and a chair. It’s a gentle, enjoyable time sitting in the shade, having a chat with people and listening to music from the nearby venue… If we don’t sell all the garlic on the Saturday, we may set up again for a few hours on the Sunday…

There’ll also be garlic to share amongst members, pick yours up from the stall at Newstead Live!.

Back to the garden, and you may have noticed the peaches covered with a small greyish bug – Rutherglen Bug. See this info from the NSW Dept Ag below (note they advise chemical rather than biological control) It seems they are a local problem this year. They tend to appear in a dry summer – tick – in plague proportions – tick – but aren’t considered a big problem, though they are a sap sucker and will be feeding on our juicy fruit. Rain, or spraying them off the tree, might help.

rutheglen bug_1


Despite mulching and protection, a few crops have really been blasted by the heat – namely the berries (probably optimistic trying to grow them in Newstead without more mollycoddling). Ah well, maybe next year. Please remember to check the watering roster in the igloo and tick off what you’ve watered and when. We need to keep the water up to the fruit-laden trees, especially stone fruit in the middle of the individual plots.

Finally, another new year gift – Brian Keats has introduced a moon planting App:

Thanks to the generosity of Ben and Naomi Gould ( who
gave me the 2015 app BioGarden I now have a new app and it has just been released.
‘Planting Rhythms & Wine Days’ is a 2016 simple Biodynamic Calendar and
moon-planting guide, showing moon phases, the days to undertake different
gardening activities and for the wine drinkers – days that some people consider
to be the better days for appreciating a wine’s aroma and bouquet. The app is
simple to use and easy to reference.

It is based on 2 of the moon’s rhythms; the movement through the sidereal zodiac
and the moon’s movement between the northern and southern hemispheres. The
journeying between the hemispheres is reflected in the app as a fortnightly
movement upwards to a peak and then a fortnightly movement downwards to another
peak. When the moon moves towards the hemisphere that you are in, its path
ascends higher in the sky each day when compared to your horizon. The moon path
gets lower to your horizon daily for 2 weeks when moving away from your hemisphere.

The app adjusts automatically to your timezone and hemisphere with the following
exceptions: Full Moon (F), New Moon (N), Peak North (PN) and Peak South (PS) are set for Universal Time at Greenwich (UT).

The iOS version for iPhones can be obtained from iTunes App Store:

The Android version can be obtained from Google Play Store:

If you decide to purchase the app, and think it has merits, please give it a review! Please note that the app is not a substitute for my detailed hardcopy calendars available from my website

Regards, Brian Keats

’tis the season …

happy xmas, the season for cherries

… to enjoy the fruits of your plantings, in between watering and shade protection duties …

And, yes, Christmas. I hope that you find some time (and shade) in the garden over the christmas break and into the new year. And here’s hoping for the best gift a gardener can get – rain.

If you do venture out to your patch, the January Notes for 2016 are now posted and will give some tips on how to keep your garden cool, what jobs you should be thinking about this month (especially if you want to be grazing from your garden in autumn) and the most effective time to carry them out.

Brian Keats predicts that we’ll be in the El Nino phase until 2022 (!) – primarily due to Jupiter’s influence. He’s also introduced some new features into his astro-calendar, including the solar pentads (and been guided by our own Geoff Park’s Natural Newstead blog). Go to the January Notes to read more, including where to get copies of Brian’s calendars and other well considered resources.

If you are visiting our town for the Newstead Live! weekend in January (22-25), look out for our excellent garlic. We’ll be selling it under a shady tree, within earshot of some music. Sales help contribute to paying our annual water bill. Important, this year especially.

Have a relaxing, peaceful and re-energising festive season.

happy xmas, the season for cherries

happy xmas, the season for cherries