It’s generally this time of year when I wish I had been keeping climate, growing and seasonal records. I’ve talked about this before, but … Anyway, a quick look back at the growing notes is a useful exercise (they’ve been posted since 2009/10) for general monthly trends. Be good to add notes about rainfall, temperature and humidity as well.
On the humidity front, this summer has seen a fair bit of it – making hot days feel hotter and affecting crops in storage (eg. garlic) and in the ground (eg. our marjoram in the central arbour, the loganberry). Plants – or people – down here aren’t that well adapted to northern Australian conditions! BD501 (horn silica) may help the cause, but you don’t want to be using it at this time of year, especially if it’s dry, so BD508 (equisitum) might be a better bet. Apart from that, keep the compost, seaweed and mulch up. Water in the cool of the morning or evening and try to water the roots/at ground level rather than overhead misting or spraying.
We have probably been lulled into a false sense of security with the cool end to January – but just as kids go back to school – furnace-like February could just be round the corner. It’s felt quite autumnal to me of late; early apples (Gravenstein) ripening and even grapes taking shape. Hurry up, tomatoes and pumpkins!
On the planting front, you could chance another bean sowing if they are in a part-shaded or sheltered spot. Now is the time to sow more saladstuff, as well as another crop of carrots and get your autumn/winter veges started – all as seeds. Think about some tomato and capsicum seedlings for the igloo or hothouse, to see if they will produce through to winter. A good time to put in a summer green manure in those overworked bits of the garden – a good mix is something like millet, buckwheat, mung beans or navy beans (or any type of dried bean) and some mustard or canola for a bit of a soil cleanse. You should get a bit of growth from it before digging it in later in autumn. Make sure you use organic or biodynamic seed (a handy place to get bulk seed for green manuring is your local organic wholefoods shop, much cheaper than buying from nurseries or by the seed packet). The garlic plot is looking promising after this treatment. Hold your mouse over the image to see what it is!
And it’s summer pruning time. Prune apples and pears (once you’ve picked the fruit!) to encourage fruit bearing next year. But if you have young trees, hold off until winter – winter pruning is all about structure and developing a healthy, strong framework. After 3 or 4 years of winter pruning, trees should have established a strong, efficient structure. Then it is all about summer pruning to encourage lateral budding. Prune stonefruits now, but wait until spring to do any major pruning of (esp young) stonefruit – peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, etc.
Brian Keats warns of “Weather” around the new moon/perigee on the 19th and planetary movements towards the end of the month. He’s also suggesting ‘an intense and extended late summer’.
Here are the dates for gardening this month. Note that (s) means sow as seeds and (p) means plant as seedlings.
Gardening Dates for temperate areas of SE Australia:
Leaf Days: 2-5, 12-14, 21-23, 25-26: Bok choi (s,p), brussel sprouts (s,p later in month), cabbage (s,p), kale (s), celery (s,p), chickory (s,p), endive (s,p), mibuna (s,p), mizuna (s,p), orach (s,p), rocket (s), tat soi (s,p), lettuce (s,p), mustard (s), pak choi (s,p), silverbeet (s,p), chard (s,p), spinach (s), borage (s,p), chives (s,p), garlic chives (s,p), coriander s,p, dill (s,p), parsley (s,p), rhubarb (p), clover (s)
Fruit Days: 5-7, 14-17, 23-24: broad beans (s later in month), peas – snopeas, sugarsnap peas (seed only, and probably still a bit early yet .. later in the month)
Root Days: 7-10, 17-19, 25-27: beetroot (s,p), carrots (s), celeriac (s,p), fennel (s,p), kohlrabi (s), leek (s,p), bunching onion (s,p), parsnip (s), radish (s), dailon radish (s), spring onion (s,p), shallot S, turnip (s)
Flower Days: 1-2, 10-12, 19-21, 27-28: broccoli (s,p), cauliflower (s), nasturtium (s,p), sweet pea (s), love-in-a mist (s), poppies (s),
Moon Opposite Saturn (considered a good date for sowing seeds, applying preps and planting, or 48hrs either side): 19*
Node Days (avoid planting if you can): 9,22
Apogee (moon furthest from earth; less lunar influence): 6
Perigee (moon clostest to eath; more lunar influence): 19 will be second closest for the year (*also moon opp saturn and new moon)
New Moon/Full Moon: 19*/4
Moon descending: 15-27
Moon ascending: 1-15, 27-28
Apply soil fertilisers, compost, take cuttings, plant seedlings, prune: 17-19 then next best 25-27, 21-23, and other moon descending dates
Apply foliar fertilisers: 1-2, 27-28 then next best 10-12 and other moon ascending dates
Graft: 1-2, 27-28
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