February 2017

It’s hard to be thinking about planting food for autumn and winter right now, but this month you need to start, else you’ll be hungry later. In Newstead, frost can hit early in autumn (also hard to believe right now) and slow growth right down. Just as the early bird gets the worm (or the rainbow bee-eater, the bee) so too you will get your greens, if you start whilst the soil is still warm. But be careful – it’s a bit of a balance between planting too early and hitting the last of the heat (shrivelled seedlings) and too late to get good growth before things slow down (stunted plants, dormancy, slater and slug attack). The answer? Stagger your sowings to spread the risk, and your pickings. Sow every two or three weeks from now through autumn.

Of course you’ll need to have garden areas ready, that aren’t taken up by summer crops, and be aware of your crop rotations. It’s a good time to put in a summer green manure in those overworked bits of the garden – a good mix is something like millet, buckwheat, mung beans or navy beans (or any type of dried bean) and some mustard or canola for a bit of a soil cleanse. You should get a bit of growth from it before digging it in later in autumn. Make sure you use organic or biodynamic seed (a handy place to get bulk seed for green manuring is your local organic wholefoods shop, much cheaper than buying from nurseries or by the seed packet).

Having space is a challenge this season as things are very late – due to the cool spring and relatively milder summer; tomatoes are very late this year, for instance. Feeding the soil with compost and keeping the mulch up are also important this month.

Now is the time to be pruning stone and pomefruit and a drink of compost tea or wormjuice will help them recover from fruiting and pruning. Fruit trees will benefit from a summer prune, even as you harvest. I think in many cases it is better than a winter prune; trees can recover more quickly. Prune on a day when the moon is descending and waning, to minimise sap loss. Prune out any dead wood, weak branches or crossing limbs. The seasonal conditions will mean that trees will have grown profusely, but this is not neccessarily good for the tree’s structure and integrity in the long term. Encourage horizontal, not vertical growth. There’s lots more on summer pruning on the website, and in the Crop Care pages.

Enjoy the last of summer’s embrace.

Gardening Dates for temperate areas of SE Australia:

Note that (s) means sow as seeds and (p) means plant as seedlings.

Leaf Days:1-3, 9-11, 18-21, 28  : Bok choi (s,p), brussel sprouts (s,p later in month), cabbage (s,p), kale (s), celery (s,p), chickory (s,p), endive (s,p), mibuna (s,p), mizuna (s,p), orach (s,p), rocket (s), tat soi (s,p), lettuce (s,p), mustard (s), pak choi (s,p), silverbeet (s,p), chard (s,p), spinach (s), borage (s,p), chives (s,p), garlic chives (s,p), coriander s,p, dill (s,p), parsley (s,p), rhubarb (p), clover (s)

Fruit Days: 3-5, 11-13, 21-23: broad beans (s later in month), peas – snopeas, sugarsnap peas (seed only, and probably still a bit early yet .. later in the month)

Root Days: 5-7, 12-16, 22-26: beetroot (s,p), carrots (s), celeriac (s,p), fennel (s,p), kohlrabi (s), leek (s,p), bunching onion (s,p), parsnip (s), radish (s), dailon radish (s), spring onion (s,p), shallot S, turnip (s)

Flower Days:7-9, 16-18, 26-28  : broccoli (s,p), cauliflower (s), nasturtium (s,p), sweet pea (s), love-in-a mist (s), poppies (s),

Moon Opposite Saturn (considered a good date for sowing seeds, applying preps and planting, or 48hrs either side): 7

Node Days (avoid planting if you can): 12, 26

Apogee (moon furthest from earth; less lunar influence): 19

Perigee (moon clostest to eath; more lunar influence): 6

New Moon/Full Moon: 27 – and solar eclipse at 00.58/11 – and lunar eclispse at 10.32

Moon descending: 1- 8, 22-28

Moon ascending: 8-22

Apply soil fertilisers, compost, take cuttings, plant seedlings, prune: 22-26 best then next best 28, 5-8 and other moon descending dates

Apply foliar fertilisers: 8-11 best then 16-18 next best and other moon ascending dates

Graft: 7-9

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


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