September 2012

Spring! By the calendar, at any rate. Here on the Bellarine, the fruit trees have been blossoming since about the third week in August. But it is actually the cold period that is more important for fruit set in many fruit trees (and other temperate plants), not the warmth. They need a certain amount of “chill hours”, usually at below 7 degrees celcius – it’s also called the vernalisation period – to trigger flowering. Winter wheats, onions and walnuts are some other crops that have this chill requirement. Plants evolved this trait so they wouldn’t be tricked into flowering in autumn or winter when the likelihood of fruit set (and plant survival) was poor.

fruit trees in blossom, algiers 1892 – charles condor

It pays to be aware of the seasonal growing conditions in your garden and to match the growing demands of your crops if you really want to eat well from the garden.

Apricots (shorter chill requirement) are a rarity in Newstead because they flower earliest of all the stonefruit and that usually always coincide with our frosts. Maybe every one in ten years you’ll get a great harvest, but is it worth the wait and the garden space? Walnuts are another one which have a long chill requirement, so no use trying to grow them where winters are mild and short, if you want decent yields.

Still on the temperature theme, it is too cold for planting out pumpkins and capsicums and other warm season veges in our part of the world and jack frost is still about. Grow them as seeds in a warm spot so they can be transplated out in 6-8 weeks when soil is warm and days are longer. For most warm season veges (tomatoes, capsicum, zuke, cuke, melons, pumpkins etc.) the soil temperature needs to be at  least 20 degrees celcius and up to 30 degrees for them to germinate and grow.  So don’t be fooled by hardwares and nurseries selling advanced tomatoes and other seedlings this month! Better still, come along to Seedy Sunday at the Garden on Sep 23rd and sow your own.

Here are the dates for gardening this month. Note that (s) means sow as seeds and (p) means plant as seedlings. (eg. broadbeans can be planted as seedlings early in the month – now getting too late for seed sowing; tomatoes can be planted as seed but too early for planting seedlings))

Guide for temperate areas in SE Australia for September 2011:

Leaf Days: 2-4, 12-14, 20-22, 29-30 – bok choi (s,p), kale (s,p), celery (s,p), endive (s,p), mibuna (s,p), mizuna(s,p), orach (s), rocket (s,p), tat soi (s,p), leek (s,p), lettuce(s,p), mustard(s,p), silverbeet(s,p) spinach(s,p), chives (p,s), garlic chives (p), coriander(s,p), dill (s,p), parsley(s,p), rhubarb (s,p), clover (s)

Fruit Days: 4-7, 14-16, 22-25 – broad beans (p) mustard(s,p), peas (s,p), strawberries (p), amaranth (s) bush beans (s), climbing beans (s), capsicum (s), chilli (s), corn (s), cucumber (s), eggplant (s), okra (s), pumpkin (s), rockmelon (s), snopeas (s,p),  squash (s), tomatoes (s), watermelon (s), zucchini (s)

Root Days: 7-9, 16-18, 25-27 – asparagus (s,p), jerusalem artichoke (s), beetroot( s,p), carrots (s), celeriac (p), fennel (p), kohlrabi (p), leek (p), spring onion (s,p) salad onion (p), potatoes (s,p), shallots (s,p), radish (s,p)

Flower Days: 1-2, 9-12, 18-20, 27-29 -broccoli (p), cauliflower (p), borage (s,p), globe artichoke (s,p), sunflower (s)

Other Auspicious Gardening Dates:

Moon opposite Saturn: 28 (a good time to plant, transplant, etc)

Moon Descending:  1-9, 22-30

Moon Ascending: 9-22

Full Moon/New Moon: 30/16

Nodes*: 7,20

Perigee***: 19

Apogee***: 7

Apply soil food: 1-9

Apply foliar food: 17-22

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

Transplant seedlings, plants, cuttings: 2-4, 7-9, 25-27, 29-30

Graft: 18-20

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

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