Already end of January

Maybe you’re back from holidays, discovering a jungle at your doorstep. Or maybe you’ve been here, watering and tending your edibles and start having tomatos ripening. Personnally, I’ve been here but rather enjoying not doing very much in the garden and preferring to sit with a book in the shade! Now, things are getting a little out of hand and I spent yesterday tying up tomatos and pulling out the dying peas, harvesting zuccinis and carrots and beans… This morning, I gave it all a big good foliar feed.


Whatever your situation, here’s my run down on what’s to be done in the next two weeks.

The moon is new now (again! last post was also on the new moon…) and the first quarter is on Tuesday. So the next few days are still good for sowing fast germinating seeds. If you’ve growing your own brassica over winter, now is a good time to sow cabbages, caulis, broccoli, kale and cavolo nero. Get some bloomsdale spinach and chard and/or silverbeet in the ground too, along with radish and lettuce. My “tree lettuce” is doing amazingly well over summer when all the others go to seed. Now the summer solstice has passed and they don’t bolt so readily, so it’s time to sow them again.

Keep up watering and make sure you water in a way that doesn’t create erosion or compaction, whichever watering system you use. If you only have a standard hose, it’s better to use a watering can with a spreading nozzle than to use the hose, as the drops impact is so hard on the soil that it doesn’t penetrate well.

If you feel you need to weed, make sure the soil is covered afterwards: either leave the weeds on the soil surface*, or cover with mulch**. You can of course put a green crop*** in if you aren’t going to use the space for vegetables within a couple of months – phacelia, buckwheat, oats and mustard all work well this time of year and you can leave them over winter. Only thing is you’ll have to water them more than if you just put on a mulch. Mustard will also work as a catch crop for shield bugs so they don’t go on your tomatos!

From Tuesday 27th, you can start pricking out your tiny seedlings into bigger trays, and plant out the ones that are big enough. If you buy seedlings in the shop, go for organically certified ones which will have a healthy relationship with the soil bacteria and fungi. I like to think this is as important for the plant as our gut flora is for our own digestion and health!

Sunday 1st February is a perfect day for foliar feeding, two days before fullmoon, unless it is raining! I use Vegetative Foliar from Environmental Fertilisers for everything that’s already fruiting and also for the seedlings, and for plants that are close to setting flowers or alrady flowering, I use Reproductive fFoliar (same company). These are available at Commonsense Organics. Otherwise, use any good quality organic foliar fertiliser, or make your own from comfrey, seaweed and/or manure.

Now to Tuesday 27th:

  • Harvest onions and garlic
  • Prepare beds for your winter garden
  • Sow any late crops (or for the greenhouse) of bush beans, courgettes and basil
  • Sow peas, rocket and corinader in the shade, where they’ll get sun in winter
  • Sow seeds in trays for your winter garden: beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, endive, kale, lettuce, radish, silverbeet
  • Sow seeds in to the soil: carrot, daikon, spinach, swedes, turnips

Tuesday 27th to Wednesday 4th:

  • Prick out your little seedlings to bigger pots
  • Plant out any raised or bought seedlings for your winter garden and late crops of zuccini, bush beans, cucumber and basil, lettuces etc.
  • Foliar feed Sunday 1st February

Upcoming workshops:

* weeds on the soil surface?!? Yes, not a problem at all unless they are so called noxious weeds. These will regrow fron the tiniest fragment, the most common of these (in Wellington gardens) are convolvulus, wandering willie, some grasses and banana passionfruit. If you put these in a solid plastic bag or bucket with water in the bottom and a tight fitting lid, they should die and you can use the remains in the compost heap about 6 months later. Make sure the plants are entirely under water, you may need to weigh them down with a stone! When you empty the bag/bucket, make sure they are thoroughly rotten. It stinks, but it’s better than sending them to the landfill.

** A mulch is any fluffy organic matter which will keep the harsh sun rays and the violent raindrops off the soil surface. Could be anything from compost through grass clippings, shredded wood or cocoabean husks, depending on what’s easily available to you.

*** Green crops or green manures are any type of plant that will germinate quiclkly and cover the bare soil, while enriching it with the root exudates. Most common ones are available in bags at any garden centre and also at Commonsense Organics. You can also order from King’s Seeds or Koanga Institute. I often let the weeds do this job for me as long as they’re not noxious: saves time, money and my back! Chickweed is a common weed that does this well and is edible on top of it.

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