This week has been a cold awakening; our first frosts for the year! Late, in late May, so it has meant that summer veggies like zuchinni and capsicum, eggplants, have kept producing through the past month. Growth has slowed, but with some warm, sunny days bookended by the cold nights and mornings, leafy greens are revelling in the conditions (as are the weeds!).
It’ll be a rush to dig up your summer crop residues, add compost, some rock dust, lime or dolomite, compost, worm castings (if you have them) and dig through your soil, then plant (taking care with crop rotation and plant types) if you want to give seeds and seedlings time to put on a growth spurt before winter really hits. Strong early growth is vital if plants are to hold the upper hand over bugs and slugs through the next couple of months as everything (except the slaters, slugs and snails) slows. Fennel, kale, silverbeet, spinach, coriander, broccoli, parsnip, rocket, lettuce, broad beans and onions are key veges to consider sowing this month.
Remove mulches that will harbour pests over winter (and also intensify frosts). Copper tape works for repelling slugs and snails – tape it around a plant pot that has had its base cut out. Soy sauce traps work for slaters and earwigs – a shallow container with think layer of soy sauce and then thicker – 2cm+ layer of oil. The critters go in for the salty soy and get suffocated by the oil. Compost the lot once the container is full.
Compost. My favourite noun, and verb. With the late autumn break we are only now seeing a bit of a green “flush” – maybe even enough to mow. Collect your clippings, autumn leaves, crop residues and any other green material you can. Manure (preferably cow, but sheep or goat is good too) and straw or hay (which will be hard to source after last year’s drought; try recycling your garden bed mulch back into the compost heap) will form the basis for your heap. Add water and BD compost preps. A more detailed recipe can be found elsewhere on this site (just enter “compost” into the search bar!”.
This month you can also have a go at pruning berries (remember that autumn raspberries are cut right back and summer fruiting types are pruned like brambles – remove last years fruiting canes only) and grapes. Also any big cuts that need to be done to fruit trees, bigger than the secateurs can handle. Planting natives and deciduous trees. Feed citrus if you are lucky enough to grow them. An application of biodynamic tree paste after pruning is a good idea too.
Keep the nutrition up to your growing veges with diluted compost tea, worm juice or seaweed solution – a feed every fortnight or three weeks will mean plants grow on and are better able to defend against pest or fungus attack. To make compost or herb tea – put a handful or two of compost and/or chopped up herbs in a bucket of (warmed, if you have it) water and leave for a couple of days up to a week. Stir every day and when the water has changed color and the herbs/compost no longer look like their original selves, you can draw off some of the liquid, dilute to a weak tea solution (say 1:10) and apply when you water. Use the biodynamic herbs – valerian, chamomile, nettle, dandelion. Comfrey is very beneficial too. Take care to dilute – high potassium levels can burn young seedlings.
And don’t forget an application of BD500 (perhaps followed up by BD501 the next morning) if conditions are right – in the cosmos and also weather-wise; damp, overcast, drizzly or if rain is imminent.
Brian Keats predicts a cold snap around the full moon on the 21st. Enjoy winter’s embrace.
Gardening Dates for temperate areas of SE Australia:
Leaf Days: 1-2, 8-10, 18-20, 27-29: bok choi, cabbage, kale, celery, coriander, endive, mibuna, mizuna, orach, rocket, tat soi, leek, lettuce, mustard, silverbeet, chard, spinach, chives, garlic chives, dill, parsley
Fruit Days: 2-4, 10-13, 20-22, 29-30: broad beans, mustard, peas,
Root Days: 4-6, 13-15, 22-25, : Beetroot, carrots, celeriac, kohlrabi, garlic, garlic chives, leek, bunching onion, onion, radish, daikon, swede, turnip,
Flower Days: 6-8, 15-18, 25-27: broccoli, borage, cauliflower,
Moon Opposite Saturn (considered a good date for sowing seeds, applying preps and planting, or 48hrs either side): 5
Node Days (avoid planting if you can): 12,26
Apogee (moon furthest from earth; less lunar influence):15
Perigee (moon clostest to eath; more lunar influence): 3
New Moon/Full Moon: 5/20
Moon descending: 1-7, 21-30
Moon ascending: 7-21
Apply soil fertilisers, compost: 1-7, 21-30
Prune, apply tree paste, take cuttings, plant seedlings: 4-6, 22-25 then next best 1-2, 27-29
Apply foliar fertilisers: 7-21
Dates are a guide for these particular crops. 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.