Winter is a wonderful time to be in the garden, not only for exercise as you turn that compost heap or make a new one from autumn’s leaf fall, but to watch and tend. Growth is slowed but you’ll still reap leafy greens and root vegetables if you get planting now – think seedlings of fennel, kale, silverbeet, spinach, coriander, broccoli, parsnip, rocket, lettuce. Broad beans and onions are the other key veges to consider sowing this month.
Keep the nutrition up to your growing veges with diluted compost tea*, worm juice or seaweed solution – a feed every fortnight or three weeks will mean plants grow on and are better able to defend against pest or fungus attack. To make compost or herb tea – put a handful or two of compost and/or chopped up herbs in a bucket of (warmed, if you have it) water and leave for a couple of days up to a week. Stir every day and when the water has changed color and the herbs/compost no longer look like their original selves, you can draw off some of the liquid, dilute to a weak tea solution (say 1:10) and apply when you water. Use the biodynamic herbs – valerian, chamomile, nettle, dandelion. Comfrey is very beneficial too. Take care to dilute – high potassium levels can burn young seedlings.
*(Note that you can buy compost teas and kits which “brew” microbes by mechanically aerating water, adding compost and a food source (eg molasses) and then diluting)
Last year we had a real slug, snail and slater problem. Will be interesting to see this winter after such a dry autumn whether we have it again, or something else! Copper tape did a really good job but it is expensive and can be a bit fiddly to use. A good all purpose garlic/chilli spray can be made by roughly chopping them up, putting in large jar of water and leaving for a couple of weeks, shaking regularly. Dilute to use and add a tiny drop of biodegradable dishwashing liquid so the spray will cling to the plant leaves. Reapply after rain. The soy sauce and oil traps also seemed to work for slaters and earwigs – a shallow container with think layer of soy sauce and then thicker – 2cm+ layer of oil. The critters go in for the salty soy and get suffocated by the oil. A nice way to go? Compost the lot once the container is full.
In winter the bones of the garden become evident and it is a good time to think about garden design, planning and plantings, readying new beds and creating plant structures and supports. Winter is pruning time for brambles (remember primocanes and floricanes) and other berries, and fruit trees (for structure) and to transplant/plant many deciduous plants. Feed citrus if you are lucky enough to grow them. An application of biodynamic tree paste after pruning is a good idea too.
Brian Keats warns of a “supermoon” on 23rd which will be the closest full moon of the year to earth and also at it’s southernmost declination. Extreme weather around this time can be expected as well as the lunar forces emphasised – big tides, sap flows, etc.
Gardening Dates for temperate areas of SE Australia:
Leaf Days: 2-4, 12-14, 21-23, 29-30: 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: 4-7, 14-17, 23-25: broad beans, mustard, peas,
Root Days: 7-9, 17-19, 25-27: Beetroot, carrots, celeriac, kohlrabi, garlic, garlic chives, leek, bunching onion, onion, radish, daikon, swede, turnip,
Flower Days: 1-3, 9-12, 19-22, 28-30: broccoli, borage, cauliflower,
Moon Opposite Saturn (considered a good date for sowing seeds, applying preps and planting, or 48hrs either side): 5
Node Days (avoid planting if you can): 6,20
Apogee (moon furthest from earth; less lunar influence):16
Perigee (moon clostest to eath; more lunar influence): 3
New Moon/Full Moon: 9/23 (and closest perigee for year on 23rd)
Moon descending: 1-9, 23-30
Moon ascending: 9-23
Apply soil fertilisers, compost: 2-4, 7-9, 23, 25-27, 29-30
Prune, apply tree paste, take cuttings, plant seedlings: 7-9, 25-27
Apply foliar fertilisers: 9-12, 13-15, 19-21, 22
Graft: 9-12, 19-21
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.