Almost spring … well the wattles are flowering, the sun is setting later … and it’s wishful thinking and still bitterly cold! But a good time to start sorting out your seed collection, perusing new catalogues and thinking to warmer season crops. Even if you have the opportunity to start seeds off early in a cloche, hothouse or polyhouse, think about whether the frosts will still be around in 4 – 8 weeks, when your seedlings will be ready to plant out and whether the soil temperatures will be adequate for plants to grow on without pause or pest attack. Timing is everything in gardening.
I sort and store my seeds according to the lunar planting calendar and their type – root, fruit, flower, leaf. As well as their growing seasons – warm (spring/summer) and cool (autumn/winter). There will be some overlap, but it’s a good rule of thumb and makes sowing straightforward. I also store them in a tin, away from light and insects. To keep them dry and stable, I throw in packets of dessicant – the little packets you get in vitamin bottles or cartons of miso paste. A scattering of diatomaceous earth can help with insect control as well.
Some good catalogues with organic seed can be found on-line: phoenix, select organic, the lost seed company, new gippsland seeds, greenpatch, green harvest, diggers club, fairbanks, kings, or your local seedsavers network. More on seed sowing in September.
It’s also the time for leaf curl control on stonefruit trees. Peaches and nectarines, apricots, etc. should all be in bud and that’s when you apply the first lot of burgundy spray. The second when the buds turn pink and swell, just before the leaves unfurl, is usually 2 or 3 weeks later. It’s easy enough to make your own brew. Elemental sulphur is allowed in organic systems, although use of copper is monitored. The recipe is to add 100g of builders lime (calcium carbonate) in 5 L water and in another bucket 100g of copper sulphate in 5L of water. Gently add lime mix to the sulpher mix and stir til dissolved (take care not to splash in eyes, wear gloves) Apply to the entire tree, taking special care to cover buds, but not to knock them off! Better still, you can use a spray bottle or applicator. Copper sulphate is available from rural/garden supplies and some pet stores.
Hopefully we won’t need to do our trees again next year – we’ll be pruning the trees really well in spring, to increase airflow and minimise weak growth, planting a top-up crop of ‘good bug mix’ to attract predator insects, and cleaning up any leaves/fruit that fall after harvest and into autumn.
Finally, a spray of BD won’t go astray this month, consider a feed of seaweed, worm juice or fish emulsion for your growing crops. Enjoy August in the garden.
Gardening Dates for temperate areas of SE Australia:
Leaf Days: 5-8, 15-18, 24-26: bok choi, cabbage, kale, celery, coriander, endive, mibuna, mizuna, orach, rocket, tat soi, leek, lettuce, mustard, silverbeet, chard, spinach, chives, garlic chives, dill, parsley
Fruit Days: 1, 8-10, 18-20, 26-28: broad beans, mustard, peas,
Root Days: 1-3, 10-13, 20-22, 28-30: Beetroot, carrots, celeriac, kohlrabi, garlic, garlic chives, leek, bunching onion, onion, radish, daikon, swede, turnip,
Flower Days: 3-5, 13-15, 22-24, 30-31: broccoli, borage, cauliflower,
Moon Opposite Saturn (considered a good date for sowing seeds, applying preps and planting, or 48hrs either side): 4, 31
Node Days (avoid planting if you can): 11, 24
Apogee (moon furthest from earth; less lunar influence):10
Perigee (moon clostest to eath; more lunar influence): 24
New Moon/Full Moon: 18/2
Moon descending: 1-12, 26-31
Moon ascending: 12-26
Apply soil fertilisers, compost: 2-12
Prune, apply tree paste, take cuttings, plant seedlings: 1-3, (5-8), 10-12, 28-30
Apply foliar fertilisers: 18-26
Graft: 13-15, 22-24
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.