Rain = growth. And weeds. Weeding will be a task for this month, even though growth is slowed, especially if you are growing garlic and other crops which don’t compete well with other plants. Especially garlic, because over winter garlic bulbs set their cloves – growing conditions (moisture, competition, etc) will determine the number. In spring, plants will use their photosythetic energies to fill the cloves. So to grow great garlic, you need to maximise the potential in both winter (clove number) and spring (clove size). It’s always easiest to tackle weeds when they are small; at the two or four leaf stage and before they have started to claim space, nutrients and moisture from the growing crop. Use a sharp tool, or a gas weeder (good in winter with small weeds at 2-leaf stage). With all that good green stuff, it’s a great time to turn it into compost, along with the late drop of autumn leaves.
Life may be stirring above ground, but down below the soil is still very cold. Seeds will take some time to germinate and seedlings will be slow to ‘take’, but don’t give up on them, despite slugs and snails. Physical protection (we use pot plants with the bases cut out, or yoghurt containers, or other receptacles – copper tape around them adds another level of protection) can deter the slimy pests.
Once finally through and safe, direct-sown seeds seem much hardier than transplanted seedlings. Now is the time to start thinking about spring seeds – sown in warmer spots, undercover, or inside on a windowsill – to take advantage of the longer days, post frost. I’m always too late with mine, so am thinking late July and into August maybe the time to start some seeds as a first planting. Allow 6 to 8 weeks before they’re ready to put out into the garden (and be sure to allow for frosts). There’s more information on mitigating frost effects in an earlier post. We haven’t had that many this winter; rain and wet soil have helped minimise their occurrence.
Other jobs in the garden include strawberry care – pruning second year runners or planting new season ones, ditto your berry canes and also grapes. Watch your stonefruit for buds as it’ll be time for the first curly leaf spray sometime this month. Codling moth traps (sticky bands or cardboard collars) on trunks of apples and pears, if you haven’t done this in autumn. Plant deciduous trees and natives. Another BD spray this month won’t go astray either.
And planting? More broad beans, onions of all types, leafy greens, perhaps some peas if you’re sure they won’t be flowering when there’s still frosts about, and not too late to improve soil or create new garden beds with an initial green manure, using cereals (wheat, oats, barley, spelt) and legumes (peas, broadies, lentils, chickpeas, fava beans) and a scattering of mustard seeds.
Brian Keats suspects the first week in July will be a cold one, so rug up and enjoy the garden.
Gardening Dates for temperate areas of SE Australia:
Leaf Days: 5-7, 15-17, 24-27: bok choi, cabbage, kale, celery, coriander, endive, mibuna, mizuna, orach, rocket, tat soi, leek, lettuce, mustard, silverbeet, chard, spinach, chives, garlic chives, dill, parsley
Fruit Days:1, 7-10, 17-20, 26-28: broad beans, mustard, peas,
Root Days:1-3, 10-12, 20-22, 28-30: Beetroot, carrots, celeriac, kohlrabi, garlic, garlic chives, leek, bunching onion, onion, radish, daikon, swede, turnip,
Flower Days: 3-5, 12-15, 22-24, 30-31: broccoli, borage, cauliflower,
Moon Opposite Saturn (considered a good date for sowing seeds, applying preps and planting, or 48hrs either side): 2
Node Days (avoid planting if you can): 9, 23
Apogee (moon furthest from earth; less lunar influence): 13
Perigee (moon clostest to eath; more lunar influence): 1, 27
New Moon/Full Moon: 4/20
Moon descending: 1-4, 18-31,
Moon ascending: 4-18
Apply soil fertilisers, compost:1-4, 18-31
Prune, apply tree paste, take cuttings, plant seedlings: 1-3, 20-22, 28-30
Apply foliar fertilisers: 4-18
Graft: 4-5, 12-15
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.