Two days before the new moon is an excellent time to sow seeds. Lucky for us, this month it is this Saturday 20th in the afternoon, so you may actually have time to put some in the soil. Sow seeds of dwarf beans straight into the soil after soaking 8 hours in rainwater. Get a good stringless variety to eat boiled and then fried in butter and garlic – yum!
Also sow another lot of basil, coriander, lettuce, carrot and beetroot in trays to prick out in a couple of weeks and plant out when thy’re big enough to resist slug and bird attacks. If you don’t have parsley growing yet, you can broadcast the seeds straight onto the soil and rake them in. And radishes can go in anytime, straight in your garden bed.
You can also use the weekend to plant some seedlings: leeks will fatten up beautifully if you get them in now. I pop them a bit all over the place* as I don’t have much room at the moment, plus a row or two between the carrots as leeks keep the carrot fly at bay. Zuccini and capsicums can still go in if you have a spot with good sun in autumn and you don’t get frost too early.
I have one zuccini plant for early, that I raised under a cloche and which is just starting to set fruit. I’m putting in another one now to try and beat the mildew which killed the early ones I had last year. That way, I can pull the early one out if it gets attacked and still get the crop from the second one. Hopefully, this will keep the zuc’s coming in a regular flow into autumn instead of a big glut in january-february.
If you’ve been onto it and have bean seedlings, plant them out. Apart from this, there will be little to no planting for me over the next moth, just enjoying the lush growth and abundant harvests. I’ll think about my winter garden, and when I’ll sow what to plant where – if you’d like to discover an easy way to get your rotations right and avoid soil depletion, come to Gardening in TIme & Space, Wednesday 14th January at 1pm or Friday 30th January at 4.30.
Edible Oasis Maintenance
I keep an eye on the growth of my heavy feeders: corn, sunflowers, eggplant, tomato, zucchini and capsicum all benefit hugely from regular liquid feeds, weekly or bi-weekly. The time spent foliar-feeding them is also a great observation opportunity: Is there any sign of aphids, slug damage, any mold or rust growing on them? If there is, take immediate action. Of course, strong plants are less susceptible to disease, but if it hits, support them early and they may yield just as well anyway. And next year, give them a better start. This is what I use:
- Fungal disease**: raw milk sprayed on the leaves.
- Aphids***: neem oil, well diluted as per the instructions on the bottle, sprayed after sunset and hosed off in the morning. Follow this with a seaweed spray to create a new bio-film on the leaf surface and provide micronutrients to reinforce the cell walls.
- Slugs and snails: a plank laid out in a spot where the slugs like to be so they choose it for their hide-out, and then pick them off in the morning – or look under your mulch and pick them there. If you have chooks, give them the treats! If you don’t, squish them under your gumboot and hose into the compost pile… gross but effective. Alternatively, a line of diatomaceous earth around the base of young seedlings will protect them, but it doesn’t reduce the slug/snail population.
- If you grow runner beans, remember to hose the flowers, or mist them with a spray bottle, as the flowers only set fruit when wet.
- If you’ve got cabbages growing over summer, be super-assiduous plucking the caterpillars off. Or treat them weekly with Bt spray or cover with tight netting, old transparent curtains are great. I simply plant mine out in february and cover them until the butterflies have stopped being such a pain.
Remember, the better your soil, the stronger your plants, and the less pest and disease problems you’ll have. And the tastier, more nutrient dense your produce!
This week in my 20m2 plot I’ve been harvesting garlic, carrots, lettuce, chard, peas, beans, raspberries, redcurrants, strawberries, coriander, basil, parsley, sage, oregano, thyme, cape gooseberries, and possibly other things that I didn’t think of. If you want support in creating your own edible oasis, sign up for the “Grow More Veges” series of 6 workshops, or contact me for a garden consultation and/or permaculture design.
* not close to peas or beans though, as these live in symbiosis with certain soil bacteria and leeks are a bit antibacterial
** orange, white or gray powdery blotches on the leaves
*** little sap-sucking insects that like plants with too much nitrogen