Make sure you have your watering regime sorted, so that crops will receive their moisture needs through the month. Tomatoes are prone to problems if they have irregular or uneven watering – blossom end rot, where the base of the fruit blackens and becomes mis-shapen is a sign of this (imbalances in Magnesium and Calcium can also be a cause – apply potash around growing seedlings).
Some plants need watering more often than others – lettuces and strawberries, corn are shallow rooted, have high water demands and would need a drink every two or three days, or even every evening in really hot weather, whereas tomatoes can get away with a good deep drink every four days. Fruit trees can manage on a weekly deep water. ‘Deep’ watering means more than just a spray with the hose, or a watering can. You want the moisture to percolate deep into the root zone and remain there so the soil profile is not constantly wetting and drying. For fruit trees this could mean 20 or 30 litres, for tomatoes 5 to 10 litres. Lettuces may need at least a litre or two, depending on their size.
The amount and frequency of watering is highly dependant on the type of soil. For eg. sandy or sand/loam soil is free draining, has large pore spaces for air but and won’t hold or store water. Sand/Loam soils need less water, applied more frequently so the water is taken up by plants before it leaches through the root zone and deeper into the soil, perhaps even into the watertable. Clay or clay/loam soils have greater water holding capacity – their smaller pores will hold less air, more water – so you can apply more water, less often and it will stay in the root zone and not leach.
Some plants prefer overhead watering – with hose, sprinkler or watering can – and others prefer water applied at the base of the plant, directly to roots. Plants susceptible to air borne diseases are best watered at the base so that spores will not spread via water droplets and splash (eg rust or chocolate spot on broad beans). Evaporation losses can be higher from overhead watering as well.
But don’t overwater! Overwatering can be just as damaging as lack of water – if the soil pore spaces are constantly filled with water and not air, it creates an anaerobic environment. Beneficial bacteria that convert nutrients into plant available forms will be affected, as will the plant root systems, and this can lead to nutrient deficiencies, plant weakness and fungal or disease problems.
Here are the dates for gardening this month. Note that (s) means sow as seeds and (p) means plant as seedlings.
Guide for temperate areas in SE Australia for December 2012:
Leaf Days: 3-5, 12-13, 20-22, 30-31 – amaranth (s,p) basil (s,p), bok choi (s,p), chinese cabbage, cabbage (s) (s,p), chives (s,p) dill (s,p), celery (s,p), endive (s,p), kale (s), mibuna (s,p), mizuna(s,p), orach (s, p), rocket (s,p), tat soi (s,p), lettuce(s,p), mustard(s,p), salad greens (s,p), silverbeet(s,p) spinach(s,p), chives (p,s), garlic chives (p), coriander(s,p), dill (s,p), parsley(s,p), radicchio (s,p), rhubarb (s,p), clover (s)
Fruit Days: 5-7, 13-15, 20, 22-25 – amaranth (s), bush and climbing beans (s,p) capsicum (s,p) peas (s,p), strawberries (p), amaranth (s,p) chilli (s,p), corn (s,p), cucumber (s,p), eggplant (s,p), okra (s,p), mustard (s), pumpkin (s,p), rockmelon (s,p), snopeas (s,p), squash (s,p), strawberries (p), tomatoes (s,p), watermelon (s,p), zucchini (s,p)
Root Days:7-9, 15-18, 25-27 – asparagus (s,p), jerusalem artichoke (p), beetroot( s,p), carrots (s,p), celeriac (p), fennel (p), kohlrabi (p), leek (p), spring onion (s,p) salad onion (s,p), bunching onions (s,p) potatoes (s,p), parsnip (s), shallots (s,p), radish (s,p), turnip (s,p)
Flower Days: 1-3, 9-12, 18-20, 27-30 -broccoli (s,p), cauliflower (s,p), borage (s,p), globe artichoke (s,p), sunflower (s,p) marigold (s,p), nasturtium (s,p), other flowers
Other Auspicious Gardening Dates:
Moon opposite Saturn: 19 (a good time to plant, transplant, etc)
Moon Descending: 13-28
Moon Ascending: 1-13, 28-31
Full Moon/New Moon: 28/13
Nodes*: 12, 25
Apply soil food: 15-18, 20-22, 25-28
Apply foliar food: 1-3, 9-12, 28-30
Mulch: now and through summer, but remember the slaters and slugs!
Transplant seedlings, plants, cuttings: 15-18, 25-27
Graft: 9-12, 28-29
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
lunar perigee (on the left) and apogee (right) viewed from the earth