Summer arrived back in October so we’ve had plenty of time to get our watering roster sorted! If you haven’t yet sorted yours, or started to think about how you’re going to manage the garden through what is forecast to be a long, hot summer, then it would pay to do so now.
Mulching and weeding is the order of the month. Try to cover up any bare soil and insulate it from heat with very thick layers of straw or hay (at least a ‘biscuit’ width, around 5-10cm). Prevent plants you don’t want or need to be growing over the summer, that means weeds!, from taking moisture from the ones that will feed you.
It’s also time to get the nets on the fruit trees. This year we’ll probably need to top it with shade cloth, or at least forgo the netting altogether for shadecloth protection on our apples and raspberries. The row of heritage apples got sunburnt last year, and even the quinces on the western side of the garden got burnt. Good thing most of our structures are already up.
Think about a drought policy for the garden, given the likelihood is a run of dry seasons. Which plants are your most valuable of the perennials and will manage though a few dry years? Which of your plants is it best to let go now? (eg. annuals and sensitive water or less heat tolerant ones). In the community garden the communal beds growing annuals may get a rest/fallow – saving our energy as much as our water is pretty important.
And on the subject of water, see this earlier post for some tips about summer watering.
If you do have good supplies of water to serve you through the summer and some spots to grow plants where they won’t be blasted by hot northerlies and intense sun, then beans, capsicums, eggplant, pumpkins, zukes, cukes, corn and tomatoes can all go in this month. Look for some shady spots under taller growing plants (sunflowers, corn, amaranth, climbing beans, etc) to grow a crop of leafy salad veggies – lettuces, chicory, raddicio, rocket, etc – so they won’t bolt to seed too quickly and will be protected from the elements.
If harvesting garlic this month, try to do it on a “root” day, descending and waning moon for better keeping qualities. We’ve just stopped watering our crop as it has finally started to produce scapes and flower heads.
Don’t forget our last Produce Exchange for the year, on Saturday 5th. Take time out in the garden to escape the mad flurry of the festive season this month and enjoy the fruits of your labours.
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 2015:
Leaf Days: 1-2, 9-12, 18-21, 27-29 – 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: 2-4, 12-14, 21-23, 29-31 – 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: 4-7, 14-16, 23-25 – 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: 7-9, 16-18, 25-27 -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: 18 (a good time to plant, transplant, etc and in the 24hrs either side of it)
Moon Descending: 12-25
Moon Ascending: 1-12, 25-31
Full Moon/New Moon: 25/11
Nodes*: 5, 19
Apply soil food: 12-25
Apply foliar food: 1-12, 25-31
Mulch: now and through summer, but remember the slaters and slugs!
Transplant seedlings, plants, cuttings: 14-16,23-25 best then 12, 18-21
Graft: 25-27 best then 27-29, 7-9
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 lunar ‘node days’. Many biodynamic gardeners choose not to plant on these days, or at least a couple of hours either side of the node, as the effect is similar to that of an eclipse. Nodes occur when the moon or planets cross the sun’s path. The lunar nodes occur when the moon, earth and sun are on the same plane.
** 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