February 2018

Getting trees and food plants through the heat has been the focus right now. It’s hard to be thinking ahead to autumn and winter eating right now, but this month you need to start, else you’ll go hungry. In Newstead, the frosts can hit early in autumn (hard to believe  when it’s 38 in the shade in late summer). If you can get plants well on their way whilst the soil is warm, you’ll be that much ahead when the cold comes. It’s a bit of a balance though, between planting too early and running into the last of the heat (shrivelled seedlings) and planting too late for decent growth before things slow down (stunted plants, dormancy, slater and slug attack). The solution is to stagger your sowings, spread the risk, and the harvest. Plant every two or three weeks. Of course you’ll need to have garden areas ready, that aren’t taken up by summer crops.

And think about soil health and crop rotation when you are deciding what to plant and where. Here’s some notes on ways to keep track and what to follow with what when you are planting over the whole year.

Strawberries will still be producing for as long as there is light and warmth so make the most of them. Fruit harvest should also be on the agenda – garden hygiene is part of this so make sure you pick up any fallen, bruised, bird-pecked or insect-munched fruit to avoid carrying over problems into next season. Especially apples and pears, but the soft fleshed fruit too.

Now is the time to be pruning stone and pomefruit and a drink of compost tea or wormjuice will help them recover from fruiting and pruning. Saving seed? Pick your best plants and do it in a ‘fire’ sign, i.e. on a fruit day.

Enjoy the last breath of summer in the garden this month.

Gardening Dates for temperate areas of SE Australia:

Note that (s) means sow as seeds and (p) means plant as seedlings.

Leaf Days:8-11, 18-20, 27-28: 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: 1-3, 11-13, 20-23: 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: 3-6, 13-16, 23-25: 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: 6-8, 16-18, 25-27: 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): 26

Node Days (avoid planting if you can): 1, 15, 28

Apogee (moon furthest from earth; less lunar influence):12

Perigee (moon clostest to eath; more lunar influence):28

New Moon/Full Moon: 16/-

Moon descending: 12-26

Moon ascending: 1-12, 26-28

Apply soil fertilisers, compost, take cuttings, plant seedlings, prune: 13-16 best then other moon descending dates

Apply foliar fertilisers:  25-27 best then other moon ascending dates

Graft: 25-27

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