A run of frosty mornings is normal for this time of year, especially with clear night skies and little rain on the radar. Most winter crops are adapted to these sort of conditions, but it’s still a strain on plant growth to have that cycle of freezing, thawing and bright sun (or cloud and chill) over and over. Some plants thrive on the cold – it’s said that parsnips, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are sweeter and tastier for the freeze, or perhaps they just taste that way because of the effort in growing and picking them!
No much point sowing anything this time of year, unless you’re trying onions – and better to plant them as spindly seedlings than seeds, or perhaps some greens or root veges in a more sheltered spot. We’ve just passed the shortest day, but still better to wait till late July or early August to plant, when the days are noticeably lengthening – at least more light should offset the cold! Still plenty of frosts ahead to kill young shoots – so too early for spuds yet. But a good time to tidy up your seed collection and start looking at nursery catalogues in anticipation.
It is a good time to prune young apple and pear trees and other deciduous plants. Try an application of BD tree paste afterwards, or at the least, a spray of BD500 on their trunks. July is also the time to think about treating leaf curl in stone fruit – two applications are needed, at budding and as the buds swell and color pink (but before they open). We had a great result last year with a home made solution – and a great crop of fruit in summer. Clean up around your apple and pear trees and think about the codling moth lifecycle – banding trees with cardboard or sticky paste – while you’re at it.
Garlic will benefit from a foliar feed of worm/seaweed/fish solution, as will most plants now. Plant or lift rhubarb crowns, strawberries, artichokes. Plant fruit trees. Turn your compost if you are making bays for quick turnaround. And weeding will be an ongoing garden task from now, right through to the end of the year. Enjoy the soft light and stillness of winter in the garden.
Gardening Dates for temperate areas of SE Australia:
Leaf Days: 1, 8-11, 18-20, 26-29: 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: 1-4, 11-14, 20-22, 29-31: broad beans, mustard, peas,
Root Days: 4-6, 14-16, 22-24, 31: Beetroot, carrots, celeriac, kohlrabi, garlic, garlic chives, leek, bunching onion, onion, radish, daikon, swede, turnip,
Flower Days: 6-9, 16-19, 24-26: broccoli, borage, cauliflower,
Moon Opposite Saturn (considered a good date for sowing seeds, applying preps and planting, or 48hrs either side): 2, 30
Node Days (avoid planting if you can): 3, 18, 30
Apogee (moon furthest from earth; less lunar influence):7
Perigee (moon clostest to eath; more lunar influence): 22
New Moon/Full Moon: 7,23
Moon descending: 1-6, 20-31
Moon ascending: 6-20
Apply soil fertilisers, compost: 1-6, 23-31
Prune, apply tree paste, take cuttings, plant seedlings: 4-6, 22-24, 31 then 1, 26-29
Apply foliar fertilisers: 9-20
Graft: 9, 16-18
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.