Here’s to a happy new year of gardening adventures.
Thanks to Brian Keats for providing his constant and informative astro-calendars each year. I use his calendar to guide my gardening and to produce these planting dates. See his website for more info and to order yours. His calendars contain a wealth of info on natural phenomena according to the seasons.
Early mornings and long evenings of summer are the best times to garden – even though conditions have been quite benign so far. You will have mulched well around plants and established a regular, consistent watering (and harvesting) regime, so January’s the time to sit back with a book in the shade, right?
Well, if you want to eat from the garden right through late summer, into autumn and winter, you will still need to do some planting and sowing. Late summer is good for putting in seeds for winter eating – parsnips, carrots, leeks, caulis, cabbages, brussels, so start sowing these seeds towards the end of the month. Keep planting herbs and leafy saladstuff in January if you have a sheltered spot in the garden and water to keep them going through autumn. A temporary shadecloth shelter (or other protection) will help protect more sensitive plants on days of high UV and/or high winds. Planting under taller crops like corn or sunflower can also help.
Remember to keep an eye on the plants you have selected to save seed from – rule of thumb is your ‘best’ (perhaps earliest? most pest tolerant? largest? most mouth-watering? longest cropping? hardiest? latest yielding?) plants for your situation and location. Always tempting to pick the best straight for the plate, but try to look to the longer term benefits. Remember that crops for seed will need to be fully ripened before harvesting (longer than for eating) and often need further maturing or treatment.
More info on seed saving can be found in this earlier post and a very useful reference on all things seed saving is Michel and Jude Fanton’s Seed Savers Guide. Don’t be put off by the idea of saving seed – it’s easy once you get a feel for it and know your crops.
If your garden is well established, you’ll find many plants are self seeding in the garden – lettuce, calendula, borage, poppies, are some of ours, as well as silverbeet – that you rarely have to sow. We also have a lot of mongrel mustard-ey, rocket-ish, broccoli-looking plants, which generally are a waste of space and not good eating. This is because brassicas (broccoli, mustard, rocket, cabbage, chinese greens, etc) are very promiscuous and will cross pollinate with anything else from that family. The self-pollinators (lettuce, tomatoes, beans, peas) rarely have that problem; they will breed/produce ‘true to their type’. Curcurbits are another issue too – hand pollination is often used to ensure your seeds will be the pumpkin you expect/want to grow. There’s a lot more to seed saving (and self seeding) than just letting a plant flower, fruit and set seed – and it’s important in a community garden setting to be aware of your neighbours crops and what else is growing in the garden. Leave a plant go to seed if you’re sure it will add to the value of the garden, and not create a problem, in the future.
Summer pruning of fruit trees, once you’ve harvested, can be done this month. Prune brambles – loganberries, boysenberries, blackberries, etc) that have finished fruiting – cut the spent canes at the base and tie up next season’s fruiting canes (these will be the newer, vigorous ones that didn’t bear flowers or fruit). Raspberries should still be producing and autumn varieties will have another luscious crop to come.
Here are the dates for gardening this month. Note that (s) means sow as seeds and (p) means plant as seedlings. For more info on these planting notes and dates, refer to the gardening notes home page.
Guide for temperate areas in SE Australia for January 2013:
Leaf Days: 4-6, 13-15, 22-24, 31 – amaranth (s,p) basil (s,p), bok choi (s,p), brussel sprouts (s), 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: 6-8,15-17, 24-27 – amaranth (s,p), bush and climbing beans (s,p) capsicum (p), strawberries (p), chilli (p), corn (p), cucumber (p), eggplant (p), okra (p), mustard (s), pumpkin (p), rockmelon (p), snopeas (s,p), squash (p), tomatoes (p), watermelon (p), zucchini (p)
Root Days: 1-2, 8-11, 17-19, 27-29 – 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: 2-4, 11-13, 19-22, 29-31 -broccoli (s), cauliflower (s), 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: 10 (a good time to plant, transplant, etc and the 24 hours either side)
Moon Descending: 1-12, 26-31
Moon Ascending: 12-26
Full Moon/New Moon: 12/28
Nodes*: 3, 15, 30
Apply soil food: 26-28, 29-31 next best 1-2, 8-11, other moon descending dates
Apply foliar food: 11-12 next best 13, 19-22, other moon ascending dates
Mulch: now and through summer, but remember the slaters and slugs!
Transplant seedlings, plants, cuttings: 27-29, 1-2
Graft: 11-12, 19-21
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