July 2017

It’s weird again, this winter. July now,  and all we’ve heard this past June is the sound of lawn mowers. In June. And no rain, but cold in amongst it. Very confusing, for gardens and gardeners alike.

Planting notes posted here are still being conservative. However in the community garden, I’ve seen perennial cabbages and broccoli, and many other plants not doing as they are expected of this time of year. Mice foraging for the sown broad bean seeds.

Except for frost in the garden; it’s  always expected this time of year. But frost is also a very welcome gardener. It cleanses and purifies the garden of most (hopefully!) pests and diseases. It finishes off crops and really gets us noticing the season has changed; that we need to both protect and act ahead, if we want to keep eating from our gardens. So, love the frost! It is beautiful too, but better if you are watching it from a warm spot.

A run of frosty mornings is normal for this time of year, especially with clear night skies and little rain on the radar. Most winter crops are adapted to these sort of conditions, but it’s still a strain on plant growth to have that cycle of freezing, thawing and bright sun (or cloud and chill) over and over. Some plants thrive on the cold – it’s said that parsnips, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are sweeter and tastier for the freeze, or perhaps they just taste that way because of the effort in growing and picking them!

Raspberries, and other brambles can be planted through July, along with grapes, fruit trees, strawberries. Continue to plant onions, carrots and green leafys. But if you haven’t got your winter veges well underway, best to start preparing the soil for spring things.

It is a good time to prune young apple and pear trees (or make those large cuts on advanced trees) and other deciduous plants. Try an application of BD tree paste afterwards, or at the least, a spray of BD500 on their trunks. July is also the time to think about treating leaf curl in stone fruit – two applications are needed, at budding and as the buds swell and color pink (but before they open). We’ve had good  results with Peter Cundall’s home made solution in the past.  Clean up around your apple and pear trees and think about the codling moth lifecycle – banding trees with cardboard or sticky paste – while you’re at it. Grafting time too, as you will appreciate.

Garlic will benefit from a foliar feed of worm/seaweed/fish solution, as will most plants now. Plant or lift rhubarb crowns, strawberries, artichokes. Plant fruit trees. Turn your compost if you are making bays for quick turnaround. And weeding will be an ongoing garden task from now, right through to the end of the year. Enjoy the soft light and stillness of winter in the garden.

What to Plant, When: Guide for temperate areas in SE Australia

Leaf Days: 5-7, 15-17, 23-25: Cabbage, bok choi, kale, celery, endive, mibuna, mizuna, orach, rocket, tat soi, leek, lettuce, mustard, silverbeet, chard, spinach, chives, garlic chives, coriander, dill, parsley

Fruit Days: 7-10, 17-19, 25-27: Broad beans, mustard, peas,

Root Days: 1-2, 10-12, 19-21, 27-30: Beetroot, carrots, celeriac, kohlrabi, garlic, leek, bunching onion, onion, radish, daikon, turnip,

Flower Days: 2-5, 12-15, 21-23, 30-31: Broccoli, cauliflower, borage, sweet peas

Other auspicious gardening dates:

Moon Descending: 9-22

Moon Ascending: 1-9, 22-31

Moon Opposite Saturn: 21

Full Moon/New Moon: 9/23

Nodes*: 12, 25

Perigee***: 22

Apogee***: 8

Apply soil food:10-22

Apply foliar food:24-31

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

Transplant seedlings, plants, cuttings: 10-12, 19-22 best then 15-17

Graft:30-31 best then 24-25

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.