After the Spring Celebration a couple of weeks back, we’re now in a period that was celebrated by my ancestors as the first day of summer… even though neither in Sweden nor here it feels very summery at this point! It’s definitely clear that the seasons have turned and, apart a few southerly storms, it’s only going to get better.
Traditionally, this is the time for planting out the garden and dream of great healthy yields. To invite all the good energies / spirits / blessings (or whatever you want to call them) people used to light two new fires, by friction, and walk in between them. They also led the cattle between the fires to make the dairy ferment better! Often, all the old bones from winter were burned in these fires, and the ashes (with all that precious calcium) spread on the gardens. We can simulate this by making biochar and bonechar – we ran an internal workshop on biochar at workerBe oasis last weekend and are planning a public one for you – stay tuned!
Another tradition of this season was to visit a holy tree or well. I like to think of this as an invitation to connect with the wild nature surrounding us, maybe by a walk up a little stream in the forest. Feeling the energies of spring and summer growth that are present in the rising sap and sticking bare feet in the rushing water is such a pleasant way to welcome the warmer season! And if we don’t have the opportunity for a nature walk, maybe a few green branches by the entrance door, decorated with ribbons? Yellow flowers are abundant at this time and symbolise the light and warmth coming – maybe some broom branches?
To do this week (new moon Sunday 30th)
- Check your brassicas are doing all right, give them extra seaweed liquid to strengthen their natural resistance to sucking insects and caterpillars
- After the rain we had Wednesday, everything will grow crazy this week! But warm days alternate with cold, and Monday night will be quite cold by the looks of it. If you’ve planted out any heatlovers (chilli, tomato, aubergine…) continue to protect them overnight with a plastic cloche or microklima cloth.
- Enjoy the growth burst! Find a nice spot to sit down and observe the garden. So much is going on now!
- Continue to pamper your seedlings so you can plant them out in the first half of November.
- Keep on top of weeds by weekly hoeing.
- Sow seeds for flowers and companions: sunflowers, cosmos, gaillardia, alyssum…
Prepp for next week
- By the end of this week, put the pots or trays of seedlings outside during the days to start hardening them off. Then progressively put them out for longer and longer periods. Before planting, leave them just next to where you will plant them for a good 24 hours. Slow hardening off means the plants are much less stressed and will cope with the planting out much better, leading to less slug/snail attacks and healthier plants.
- Make sure you’ve got all the liquid fertilisers you need, gather materials to start new ones if you need. Best time to liquid feed is before and after full moon, that’s in about 2 weeks time.
- Book a workshop 🙂 Next Wednesday, we’re working out plans for gardens to make the most of both the time and space we have. I’ll go through, step by step, how to plan a new vege garden, and how to adapt what you have to make it more efficient and abundant: Garden in Time & Space.
As you might have noticed, I didn’t post this week. I’ve been down with that awful virus that’s been going around all winter here, while trying to do all that needs doing to get WorkerBe Oasis in the ground, so writing my weekly blog kinda fell of to the wayside… It is very very exciting to gain access to the site behind the hospital in Newtown this week, and all the potential I can sense both in the land and in the group forming.
Now is the time to get involved in this project! We have been selected by the Funding Network to present at their crowdfunding event 17th September, and we’d love you to come! The event is open for all potential donors interested in supporting Wellington charities.
September is also Bee Aware Month, with beekeepers from around the region being more present in public. Take the opportunity to talk to them when you see them and if you want to get the perfect seed mix to feed bees, buy it from the Beekeepeers association, supporting their work.
Briefly, here’s what’s being done in my Oasis this week:
- watering my seedlings and seeds in the hothouse daily
- collecting seaweed for liquid fertiliser and compost
- admiring the peach flowers
- mulching the fruit bushes
- sowing bee-friendly flowers
- weeding as/if neccessary
- clearing beds that held winter crops so I can compost, fertilise, prepp and plant out the new seedlings
Feel free to get in touch to be part of WorkerBe Oasis: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good news: There are now vouchers available for Edible Oasis workshops! One for $12, or the Grow More Veges series of 6 workshops for $60 – saves you $12.
The workshop dates are set for January and I’m excited by the number of people telling me this is exactly what they’ve been looking for. Posters are printed – if you know a place where there should be one, let me know. Even better: if you want to give me a hand putting them up around town you’ll be rewarded with one of the brand new vouchers!
Gardening tasks for next week: the moon is waning and the last quarter starts on Monday. It’s a time when energy starts to turn downwards, so root growth is strong. This means plants transplanted at this time will root well. Apart from getting your last summer seedlings in the ground, the only thing left before midsummer celebrations is to tidy up and ensure everything is well mulched to keep the moisture in. I keep track of how much it rains by jotting down millimeters and dates on my wall calendar, that way I know when I’ve got to water again.
If you’re growing herbs or medicinal flowers, harvest them on a sunny late morning, when there isn’t any dew left on them. Depending on what properties the particular plant has, you may want to harvest at a certain moon phase as well. St John’s wort is traditionnally harvested mid day on the full moon closest to midsummer solstice, for example.
If you’ve got fruit trees, check if you need to thin the fruit to get the rest to ripen, or support any branches to avoid damage. Feed the trees with seaweed or, even better, Environmental Fertilisers’ “Reproductive Foliar” (available at Commonsense Organics).
I’ve just made a stupidly long to-do-list. There’s everything from “throw away the old dead pot-plants” to “mulch the citrus trees”. This inspires me to share my prioritising with you – maybe make your coming weekend (or week) in the garden just a little bit easier!
Ok, so what absolutely can’t wait? Nothing can wait, you say? No, a lot of the work around the garden can actually be done later. For me, the things that cannot wait just now are:
- Transplant vegetable and flower seedlings as soon as they’re big enough
- Protect fruits (I’ve got raspberries, red currants and strawberries ripening now) from birds
- Mulch as much as I can after watering everything
Things that can still wait, but not for too long:
- Mow the lawn: if it grows too high it’s annoying and it becomes patchy and uncomfortable to lie on, but the longer I wait the more material there is for the new compost pile, and I like to time the lawn-mowing with the compost making so the grass is fresh.
- Weed the said berries: as I don’t have enough proper mulch, the weeds act as a decent living mulch, protecting superficial roots – I just need to cut them before they seed.
- Liquid fertilising: I try to do this once a week on a not-too-windy day, but it’s ok to go a couple of weeks or even months without – just remember that once you’ve filled up your spray can with the brew, you need to use it all and clean the equipment before you put it away.
And stuff that, “sure, I’d like them to be done, but not today” are:
- Weed in front of the house (I’ll do that while having a glass in the sun with a friend)
- Transplant ornamental plants that are in the wrong place (when they’re really cramped and I also have the new spot ready… or never)
- Pull out the enormous wild fennel plants (as long as keep them from seeding, they’re not dangerous, really)
Happy weekend in your garden!
P.S. The next few workshop dates are to the right – please send an email to email@example.com for registration.