This year we seem to be having a ‘normal’ autumn – whatever that may be – a wet autumn break with some decent soft, constant, rain, also frosts, chilly mornings and evenings bookended by lovely, still, warm, sunny days. You’ll surely be noticing the shortening daylength as well. It’s a real seasonal, autumnal change.
With the frosts, unless you have microclimates in the garden (north facing, protected areas, sheltering walls or plants, natural protecting landforms and frost havens) or structures to extend the season, or quick fixes like sheets and bubble wrap (see Julia!) then the season is over for tomatoes, pumpkins, zukes and other warm season crops. But there’s always jerusalem artichokes to harvest!
You’ll be cleaning up crop wastes after all that carnage and it’s also important to be aware of hygiene in the garden at the end of the summer peak. Clean up any mould or mildew affected plants, dropped fruit or unharvested crops and make sure you aren’t creating harbours for any sort of pestilence. We’ve had a build up of slaters and harlequin bugs in particular, along with cabbage moths, so it’s important to halt the life cycle of these pesky critters before new seedlings are planted and also for when the warmth comes again (eg. think loganberries and boysens next year). This is more important in a community garden where we can’t always be in the garden every day to monitor and control, also if one plot is affected, then everyone’s will be.
So, May is for garlic, peas, broadies if you haven’t got them in (you can plant again in late winter/early spring) and brassicas. Onions from now on through winter. Refer to the particular crop types for lunar planting, eg. broccoli is a ‘flower’, chinese cabbage is a ‘leaf’, onion is a ‘root’ and peas are a ‘seed’. A green manure crop to rejunevenate hard working beds is also paramount.
We’ve just made compost and autumn is the perfect time for it. All those spent crops, for a start. It’s also the time to feed compost to your fruit trees, berries, and garden beds. If your autumn fruiting berries have finished producing, prune them back to ground level (in the right lunar phase). And apply a spray of horn manure (BD500), ditto.
Gardening Dates for temperate areas of SE Australia:
Leaf Days: 5-8, 15-17, 23-25 : bok choi, cabbage, kale, coriander, endive, mibuna, mizuna, orach, rocket, tat soi, lettuce, mustard, silverbeet, chard, spinach, chives, garlic chives, dill, parsley
Fruit Days:4, 8-10, 17-19, 25-28 : broad beans, mustard, peas,
Root Days: 1-3, 10-13, 19-21, 28-30 : beetroot, carrots, celeriac, garlic, garlic chives, bunching onion, kohlrabi, leek, onion, parsnip, radish, daikon radish, swede, turnip
Flower Days: 3-5, 13-15, 21-23, 30-31 : broccoli, borage, cauliflower,
Moon Opposite Saturn (considered a good date for sowing seeds, applying preps and planting, or 48hrs either side): 22
Node Days (avoid planting if you can): 13, 26
Apogee (moon furthest from earth; less lunar influence): 6
Perigee (moon clostest to eath; more lunar influence): 18
New Moon/Full Moon: 29/15
Moon descending: 1-3, 17-30
Moon ascending: 3-17, 30-31
Apply soil fertilisers, spread BD500, compost, prune, take cuttings, plant seedlings: 17, 19-21, 27-30, 23-25
Apply foliar fertilisers, spread BD501, graft: 3-5, 13-15, 30-31
Dates are a guide for these particular crops. Timing will vary from region to region (particularly with climate change) and even within a garden’s own microclimates. Of course, rainfall, weather conditions and your own schedule will influence when you garden.