What a Spring! The community garden is leafy and lush, with enough broadbeans coming on to feed a small island nation, let alone Newstead, the renovated strawberry runners are starting to fruit (they like that bed!) and the espalier pears showing every sign of a first, very good (may need thinning) crop, fingers crossed. Only downer is the leaf curl on the stonefruit, but you can’t have it all. And the mozzies.
It also makes a huge difference going into summer knowing the soil is full of moisture and there’s plenty on tap. It has me optimistic about sowing watermelon and rockmelon seeds and even contemplating corn. I would never think of growing these crops in past seasons because they are just so demanding of water and nutrients; I couldn’t justify the garden space. But perhaps this year … though will the season be long enough, one asks…
Mulch, mulch, mulch – critical to conserve moisture, reflect fierce sunlight and insulate the soil and it will improve soil structure over time. Don’t leave any bare soil exposed (unless you are germinating small seeds) over summer. But wait til the soil really does get warm or you’ll inhibit germination (see below). Later this month for mulching unless it really does heat up quickly..
Apart from mulching and weeding, time to plant summer veges, and it’s not too late if you haven’t started seed yet – the rule of thumb (folklore?) in gardening for warm season crops is that if you can’t put your bare buttocks on the soil, it’s not warm enough (though I’ve not tried it yet!) These seeds need at least 20 degrees C soil temp to germinate.
Think about protection for tender seedlings if you are planting them out. After raising from seeds in the igloo I give my seedlings a couple of nights outside to ‘harden them up’ before planting. On the first night, I place them under a tree or verandah so they can gradually acclimatise, then a night in the garden under/near some other plants.
Put up supports before or as you plant climbing beans, tomatoes, etc. Add compost at planting as well and water in with diluted seaweed and/or worm juice to minimise the shock of planting. Even though we’ve had rain, the seasonal change is usually abrupt in our part of the world, so be prepared for watering.
And harvesting. The more you pick your leafys and peas, beans, etc the more they’ll grow and give you more. Same with asparagus – harvest gently with a sharp knife just below the surface but take care not to cut or damage the other yet to emerge spears. If you’ve planted 6 month or 12 month old crowns you’ll have to wait until they are at least 2 years old before you pick those, to allow the crowns to develop enough long term reserves to keep going for the next decade or two. So let those ‘feather up’ and die back. Perhaps that’s another reason ours haven’t thrived the past few seasons.
Brian Keats is warning of a big weather event this month as the planets square up. A triple aspect. Jupiter with Pluto, Venus with Pluto and Venus with Jupiter, all on the 25th November. He says they seem to have a correlation with extreme weather events (think Cyclone Tracey) so be prepared, hatches and battens even.
Here are the auspicious dates for gardening this month. Enjoy the longer evenings in the garden, communing with your veges and flowers. Note that (s) means sow as seeds and (p) means plant as seedlings. Beware that frosts can still occur in Newstead through November.
Don’t forget the Produce exchange on the 5th, and need I mention the Festival of Gardens?!
Guide for temperate areas in SE Australia for November 2016:
Leaf Days: 1-5, 11-13, 19-21, 28-30 – amaranth (s,p) basil (s,p), bok choi (s,p), chinese cabbage (s,p), chives (s,p) dill (s,p), celery (s,p), endive (s,p), mibuna (s,p), mizuna(s,p), orach (s, p), rocket (s,p), tat soi (s,p), lettuce(s,p), mustard(s,p), salad greens (s,p), silverbeet(s,p) spinach(s,p), chives (p,s), garlic chives (p), coriander(s,p), dill (s,p), parsley(s,p), radicchio (s,p), rhubarb (s,p), clover (s)
Fruit Days: 4-6, 13-15, 21-23 – bush and climbing beans (s,p) capsicum (s,p) peas (s,p), strawberries (p), amaranth (s,p) chilli (s,p), corn (s,p), cucumber (s,p), eggplant (s,p), okra (s,p), pumpkin (s,p), rockmelon (s,p), snopeas (s,p), squash (s,p), strawberries (p), tomatoes (s,p), watermelon (s,p), zucchini (s,p)
Root Days: 6-8, 15-17, 23-26 – asparagus (s,p), jerusalem artichoke (p), beetroot( s,p), carrots (s,p), celeriac (p), fennel (p), kohlrabi (p), leek (p), spring onion (s,p) salad onion (s,p), bunching onions (s,p) potatoes (s,p), parsnip (s), shallots (s,p), radish (s,p), turnip (s,p)
Flower Days: 1, 8-11, 17-19, 26-28 -broccoli (s,p), cauliflower (s,p), borage (s,p), globe artichoke (s,p), sunflower (s,p) marigold (s,p), nasturtium (s,p), other flowers
Other Auspicious Gardening Dates:
Moon opposite Saturn: 16 (a good time to plant, transplant, etc)
Moon Descending: 4-18
Moon Ascending: 1-4, 18-30
Full Moon/New Moon: 14 (and perigee, very close)/29
Nodes*: 9, 22
Apply soil food: 4-18 (best 14-18)
Apply foliar food: 1-4, 18-30 (best 1-4)
Mulch: anytime, but watch for frosts (thick straw mulch will intensify them) and remember the slugs!
Transplant seedlings, plants, cuttings: 15-17
Dates are a guide for these particular crops. For more info see Planting Notes. 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
lunar perigee (on the left) and apogee (right) viewed from the earth