September 2014

spring in the garden 2014Spring! By the calendar, at any rate – the plants heralded it at least a couple of weeks earlier. Our peaches have unfurled and the buds on the nectarines are not far behind. Movement in the garden after the long cold winter. Time to get moving yourself if you want to be feasting on garden produce this summer.

It’s still too cold for planting out warm season veges in our part of the world and frost is still likely. Grow them as seeds in a warm spot so they can be transplated out in 6-8 weeks when soil is warm and days are longer. For most warm season veges (tomatoes, capsicum, zuke, cuke, melons, pumpkins etc.) the soil temperature needs to be at  least 20 degrees celcius and up to 30 degrees for them to germinate and grow.  So don’t be fooled by hardwares and nurseries selling advanced tomatoes and other seedlings this month!

Time to get another crop of greens and brassicas in, especially broccoli, before the cabbage white butterfly arrives (growing hyssop nearby can help, and we’ve put ‘decoys’ about the garden – white plastic tied to bamboo stakes to look a bit like other butterflies, we hope they’re saying ‘move on, this garden’s taken’ to the real ones).

spring in the garden 2014Feeding. Now is the time to give crops a good feed of compost, a handful of worm castings, or some dilute wormjuice, seaweed or fish emulsion ahead of the spring growth. Fruit trees, berries and perennials, as well as leafy greens and other overwintering crops will especially benefit.

If  you are using a commercial liquid feed product, read the label. Avoid products with urea in them. Many supposedly organic ones include it – check for the organic certified logos to be sure it’s urea-free.

Urea is not so good for organic gardens, or the planet. Although an organic compound (it’s in urine and animal manures) the urea in fish and seaweed (and other garden) products is synthetically manufactured. Urea is not permitted in organic systems. Unlike other organic sources of nitrogen, using urea will not build soil and create humus through bacterial activity. When applied in the presence of water, ammonia (gas) and carbon dioxide (gas) and nitrate result. The nitrate is easily leached and can contaminate ground and surface waters, will not improve soil as humus and can infact deplete what’s there if your soil is unbalanced.  This is also why you should always compost raw animal manures (especially chook poo) before using; high levels of urea can burn plants, realease gases and leach nitrates.

Peruse the new season seed catalogues and think about ordering something out of the usual. Quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, orach, or chia – all warm season growers.

Here are the dates for gardening this month. Note that (s) means sow as seeds and (p) means plant as seedlings. (eg. broadbeans can be planted as seedlings early in the month – now getting too late for seed sowing; tomatoes can be planted as seed but too early for planting seedlings).

Enjoy spring in the garden.

Guide for temperate areas in SE Australia for September 2014:

Leaf Days: 1-3, 10-12, 19-21, 28-30 – bok choi (s,p), kale (s,p), celery (s,p), endive (s,p), mibuna (s,p), mizuna(s,p), orach (s), rocket (s,p), tat soi (s,p), leek (s,p), lettuce(s,p), mustard(s,p), silverbeet(s,p) spinach(s,p), chives (p,s), garlic chives (p), coriander(s,p), dill (s,p), parsley(s,p), rhubarb (s,p), clover (s)

Fruit Days: 3-6, 12-14, 21-24 – broad beans (p) mustard(s,p), peas (s,p), strawberries (p), amaranth (s) bush beans (s), climbing beans (s), capsicum (s), chilli (s), corn (s), cucumber (s), eggplant (s), okra (s), pumpkin (s), rockmelon (s), snopeas (s,p),  squash (s), tomatoes (s), watermelon (s), zucchini (s)

Root Days: 6-8, 14-16, 24-26  – asparagus (s,p), jerusalem artichoke (s), beetroot( s,p), carrots (s), celeriac (p), fennel (p), kohlrabi (p), leek (p), spring onion (s,p) salad onion (p), potatoes (s,p), shallots (s,p), radish (s,p)

Flower Days: 1, 8-10, 16-19, 26-28  -broccoli (p), cauliflower (p), borage (s,p), globe artichoke (s,p), sunflower (s)

Other Auspicious Gardening Dates:

Moon opposite Saturn: 8 (and a perigee)  (a good time to plant, transplant, etc)

Moon Descending:  3-16

Moon Ascending: 1-3, 16-30

Full Moon/New Moon: 9/24

Nodes*: 11, 26

Perigee***: 8

Apogee***: 21

Apply soil food: 9-16

Apply foliar food: 1-3, 24-30

Mulch: anytime, but watch for frosts (thick straw mulch will intensify them) and remember the slugs!

Transplant seedlings, plants, cuttings: 6-8, 14-16, then 10-12

Graft: 1, 16-19, 26-28

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.

# Broccoli can be grown year round, apart from the hottest months. I prefer to plant through the colder months to avoid having the broccoli forming heads when the cabbage moth butterfly is active, in late spring and summer.

* Each month there are a couple of ‘node days’ when the sun and moon are in opposition. Many biodynamic gardeners choose not to plant on these days, or at least a couple of hours either side of the node.

** Perigee is the point where the moon is closest to the earth, so the influence of the moon is strongest. Apogee is the furthest point from the earth, so the opposite occurs

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