February 2011

So far the summer has been relatively cool. Here’s hoping that we don’t get caught short by an early frost. As it is, some crops will probably struggle to ripen and fully mature before autumn hits.

Even though it is still saladstuffs and summer veges on the dinner table, you would do well to start contemplating the sorts of veges you want to be eating through the cooler months – now is the time to start planting those seeds. So caulis, cabbages, brussels and the like, even broccoli. But still too early for spinach; it’ll bolt to seed. 

The constant challenge for every gardener, even the best, is to have a constant, ongoing food supply, without gluts and famines. We are losing this skill, as nurseries take plant propogation out of our hands and people are loathe to take the extra time needed to grow from seed (always a better result, in my opinion).

Think about saving your best plants for seed, not dinner. That way you will have locally adapted plants and a sense of food security. More on seed saving later, but the best time to harvest for seed is in a ‘fire’ sign, i.e. a fruit/seed day.

Fruit trees will also 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.

Gardening Dates for temperate areas of SE Australia:

Leaf Days: 6-9; 16-18; 24-26: amaranth, basil, bok choi, brussel sprouts,  cabbage, kale, celery, endive, mibuna, mizuna, orach, rocket, tat soi, lettuce, mustard, silverbeet, chard, spinach, chives, garlic chives, coriander, dill, parsley,

Fruit Days: 1; 9-11; 18-20; 26-28: amaranth, beans, mustard, peas, snopeas,

Root Days: 1-4; 11-14; 20-22; : beetroot, carrots, celeriac, fennel, bunching onion, kohlrabi, leek, parsnip, radish, daikon radish, swede, turnip

Flower Days: 4-6; 14-16; 22-24: broccoli, borage, cauliflower, all flowers

Moon Opposite Saturn (considered a good date for sowing seeds, applying preps and planting, or 48hrs either side): 8

Node Days (avoid planting if you can): 14, 27

Apogee (moon furthest from earth; less lunar influence):7

Perigee (moon clostest to eath; more lunar influence): 20

New Moon/Full Moon: 3/18

Moon descending:  1-13; 26-28

Moon ascending: 13-26

Apply soil fertilisers, compost, take cuttings, plant seedlings: 1-3; 26; 4; 11-14

Prune, harvest for storage: 1-3; 11- 13

Apply foliar fertilisers: 14-18; 22-24

Graft: 14-16

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.

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