Make the most of the warm days and not so cool nights and get your veges in, especially the leafy greens which will feed you right through winter if planted now and into May. It’s also a great time for planting herbs and perennials, shrubs and trees, and for striking cuttings of herbs and many other edible plants. And plant your garlic now if you haven’t already.
More importantly, give your garden beds a bit of TLC before you plant again. By now the zukes and other summer veges will be on their last leaves, beset by powdery mildew, slowly dying off. Amazingly, many are still trying to flower and set fruit – a survival strategy as long as conditions allow – but the likelihood of ripe, great tasting results are slim. Days are shortening, nights cooling. Frosts will hit. Unless you’re saving for seed, best to pull them out. You can compost the residues or even finely chop/mulch and dig back the residues straight into the soil. Be sure to put any plant residues you suspect have disease problems in the compost. A handful of lime will help the breakdown and ‘sweeten’ the soil. Add compost or organic soil conditioner/fertiliser, rock dust, dig it all through and you’ll be ready to plant the next crop.
Take care to rotate your plantings and follow with different crop types and families, eg. fruit (tomatoes – solonacae) followed by root (carrot – umbelliferae) followed by flower (broccoli – brassicae), etc. And make sure at least one rotation is a green manure crop that you dig back into the ground without eating. If you have a small garden and can’t manage to set aside some for a green manure it’s important to ensure you constantly feed your soil – add compost everytime you plant and regularly during the season, incorporate mulches after they have broken down, use worm castings and juice. Harvesting veges means you are harvesting soil nutrients; they need to be replaced. We can’t expect our soils to constantly provide – natural nutrient cycles are so much slower than our human demand!
Gardening Dates for temperate areas of SE Australia:
Leaf Days: 1-3, 9-11, 18-21, 28-30: amaranth, bok choi, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, celery, coriander, endive, mibuna, mizuna, orach, rocket, tat soi, lettuce, mustard, silverbeet, chard, spinach, chives, garlic chives, coriander, dill, parsley
Fruit Days: 3-5, 10-13, 21-23: broad beans, mustard, peas, snopeas, peas
Root Days: 5-7, 13-16, 23-26 : beetroot, carrots, celeriac, fennel, garlic, garlic chives, bunching onion, kohlrabi, leek, parsnip, radish, daikon radish, swede, turnip
Flower Days: 1, 7-9, 16-18, 26-28: broccoli, borage, cauliflower, all flowers (poppies, lupins, calendula, etc)
Moon Opposite Saturn (considered a good date for sowing seeds, applying preps and planting, or 48hrs either side): 17
Node Days (avoid planting if you can):10,24
Apogee (moon furthest from earth; less lunar influence):22
Perigee (moon clostest to eath; more lunar influence): 8
New Moon/Full Moon: 21/7
Moon descending: 11-25
Moon ascending: 1-11, 25-30
Apply soil fertilisers, compost: 11- 22
Prune, take cuttings, plant seedlings: 13-16, 23-26
Apply foliar fertilisers: 1-7, 25-30
Graft: 1, 7-9, 26-28
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.