Winter is here, this last week.
While root veges like carrots, beets and parsnips revel in the cold and will taste sweeter than ever, that is if if you planted them much earlier, most other plants from now on in will be simply holding out for longer days and sunshine.
However, onions can be planted now, as well as perennial plants such as fruit trees, vines and brambles. Move your perennials towards the end of the month and into the next. Make those big pruning cuts, if you need to.
Winter in the garden is good, once you layer up and get a bit active. The exercise as you turn that compost heap, or make a new one from autumn’s collected leaf fall and crop residues, manures and other resources. But also a good time to stop for a bit, look at the garden’s bones, plan for the next season, and the ones after. Appreciate the garden bared. It is a good time to think about garden design, planning and plantings, readying new beds and creating plant structures and supports.
Growth is slowed, but you’ll still reap some leafy greens and root vegetables if you get planting now – fennel, kale, silverbeet, spinach, coriander, broccoli, parsnip, rocket, lettuce. Broad beans and onions are the other key veges to consider sowing this month.
Also time for the first of several biodynamic applications of horn manure (BD500) and compost preps or manure concentrate. You may wish to follow with a balancing spray of horn silica (BD501) the next morning, though I have never taken this approach, figuring the winter months are best for the soil based applications.
Keep the nutrition up to your slow 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.
Our garden does have a bit of a slug, snail and slater problem. Copper tape has done a good job but it is expensive and can be a bit fiddly to use. A good all purpose garlic/chilli spray can be made by roughly chopping them up, putting in large jar of water and leaving for a couple of weeks, shaking regularly. Dilute to use and add a tiny drop of biodegradable dishwashing liquid so the spray will cling to the plant leaves. Reapply after rain. The soy sauce and oil traps also seemed to 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. A nice way to go? Compost the lot once the container is full. Eggshells around plants too – some are drying in the igloo from our compost day.
Brian Keats has a fair bit to say about the winter sky, as well. This month the dark skies reveal much, especially around the miky way. There’s also plenty of planetary activity. A close perigee around the 24th- plus moon opp Saturn, moon descending – will emphasise the lunar forces (big tides, sap flows, etc.); and a very good gardening date.
Enjoy the winter contraction.
Gardening Dates for temperate areas of SE Australia:
Leaf Days: 7-10, 17-19, 25-28: 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: 1-3, 10-12, 19-22, 28-30: broad beans, mustard, peas,
Root Days: 3-5, 12-15, 22-24, 30: Beetroot, carrots, celeriac, kohlrabi, garlic, garlic chives, leek, bunching onion, onion, radish, daikon, swede, turnip,
Flower Days: 5-7, 15-17, 24-26: broccoli, borage, cauliflower,
Moon Opposite Saturn (considered a good date for sowing seeds, applying preps and planting, or 48hrs either side): 23
Node Days (avoid planting if you can): 15, 28
Apogee (moon furthest from earth; less lunar influence):9
Perigee (moon clostest to eath; more lunar influence): 23
New Moon/Full Moon:24/9
Moon descending: 11-25
Moon ascending: 1-11, 25-30
Apply soil fertilisers, compost: 12-15, 22-24 best then 16-21
Prune, apply tree paste, take cuttings, plant seedlings: 12-15, 22-24
Apply foliar fertilisers:1-9, 25-30
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.