February 2016

Don’t let the last day of January (cool, wet) fool you into thinking that summer could be waning, (even though I’m writing this with my down-filled jacket on!). We still have the – traditionally – hottest month of the year to get through. So, don’t put away that shade cloth yet, and if your fruit trees aren’t outgrowing their nets, it won’t harm them to leave the netting on til later in the month when you prune (see below) and will also save you some time.

I’ve just planted another crop of saladstuff as well as carrots and the autumn/winter veges – all as seeds. Seed growth stock tends to be tougher and tastier than the shop bought seedlings, in my opinion. Even better if you can direct sow into the soil – but it’s still too hot to do that for the autumn/winter veges – better off to start them somewhere cooler and more protected. It’s the opposite thinking to starting off your warm season plants. By the time the soil temperature has cooled, your seedlings will be advanced enough to plant and grow on in more ideal conditions.

A top up of mulch and a feed or two of diluted seaweed solution and/or fish and/or wormjuice will provide a tonic for your plants after a challenging few weeks of heat and wind. It’s a bit like an electrolyte drink for plants, only better!

This month is the time to prune apples and pears 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. Some summer pruning of stonefruits can be done now, but wait until spring to do any major/structural pruning of (esp young) stonefruit – peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, etc. More info on summer pruning and espaliering here.

If done well, you can look forward to this next season:

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, 11-13, 20-22, 29:  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, 130-15, 22-24: 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: 7-9, 14-16, 24-27: 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, 9-11, 17-20, 27-29: 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): 17

Node Days (avoid planting if you can): 11, 24

Apogee (moon furthest from earth; less lunar influence): 27

Perigee (moon clostest to eath; more lunar influence): 11

New Moon/Full Moon: 9/23

Moon descending: 5-18

Moon ascending: 1-5, 18-29

Apply soil fertilisers, compost, take cuttings, plant seedlings, prune: 6-9 then next best 15-17, 11-13 and other moon descending dates

Apply foliar fertilisers: 18-20 then next best 27-29,1-2 and other moon ascending dates

Graft:18-20

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

lunar perigee (on the left) and apogee (right) viewed from the earth