Since ‘Blaze’ the Rhode Island Red rooster arrived, I’ve been letting the chickens free range most days and had to build first a provisional, then a permanent fence around the vegetable patch. My first lot of winter vegetables are in the ground and more seedlings are on their way. This month I’ll also cut back the asparagus growth, feed and mulch the patch and plant some herbs around the edge, until the green asparagus shoots reappear in spring. The asparagus was the first planting I placed when I moved here eight years ago because the crowns have to gain strength for a few years before they produce decent shoots for harvesting. Now they return each year with little attention apart from a good feed once a year.
The strawberries need some preparation this month too. I have to replant runners from last years plants. As last year, I’ll plant them in soil mulched with paper and straw and the two red raspberry vines in the centre will continue to use the vertical space at the same time (and contain the running raspberry roots to stop them from invading the garden).
Apart from this, this month will see more cabbages, cauliflowers and lettuces go in. The intermittent rain keeps moistening the ground and the Snow Peas and Sweet Peas went in today as seeds and seedlings to turn the lovely new fence into a green trellis.
For the newly planted brassicas I find a little greenhouse-cover stops the snails and bandicoots from taking advantage too early and also keeps the little plants warm and moist.
Gardening Guide (following Moon Planting)
☻ New Moon 4 April at 12:33 am
Sow direct: cabbage, headed and open Chinese cabbages, grain crops, lettuce, mizuna, radicchio, rocket, silver beet (pre-soak seed), spinach, tatsoi, coriander and nasturtium.
Sow or plant out: celery, leek, spring onions, parsley, calendula, cornflower, pansy and viola, Iceland poppy, snapdragon, statice, verbena, bulb fennel, chamomile, annual lupins, stock and sweet pea.
Grow a green manure or cover crop of strawberry clover, cereal rye, Japanese millet, oats or triticale. In suitable soils, grow fenugreek, vetch, amaranth or buckwheat, grow chickpea, faba bean, field pea, white clover or wheat.
On damp soil, apply fertiliser tea to: young mango and pawpaw, also cabbage, celery, leek, lettuce and silver beet, if necessary. Apply at half-strength fortnightly to spinach, until thinned.
Apply seaweed tea to: mango, lemon grass. Apply at half-strength to strawberries planted in March.
☽ Waxing Moon 11 April at 10:06 pm
Sow direct: fast-maturing broccoli, grain crops, peas, snow peas and nasturtium.
Sow or plant out: leek, spring onions, chamomile, ageratum, aurora daisy, calendula, cornflower, nemesia, pansy and viola, Iceland poppy, snapdragon, statice and verbena, broad beans, chamomile, annual lupins, nigella, stock and sweet pea.
☺ Full Moon 18 April at 12:45 pm
Sow direct: carrot, radish, swede.
Sow or plant out: yarrow.
Plant: lemon grass, strawberries, pineapple, carnation, gerbera, frangipani and evergreen trees, shrubs and vines.
Divide chives, pyrethrum, gazania, shasta daisy and take cuttings of rosemary and thyme, early-season onion, turnip, garlic, olive, lavender, lemon balm, mint, rosemary, thyme, watercress, globe artichoke suckers, beardless iris, camellia, herbaceous perennials and potted roses.
Lightly fertllise: globe artichoke, also Hawaiian hibiscus and mature pawpaw in the north.
Prune: cut back globe artichoke. Remove unwanted suckers. Cut back herbaceous perennials as they die down, and divide, if necessary. Tidy up pelargonium except for scented leaf, if necessary.
Harvest crops for storage on non-fertile days.
☾ Waning Moon 25 April at 12:48 pm
No sowing or planting this phase, but weed, dig or plough, prepare beds and prune back unwanted growth, if required.
Prepare beds for: asparagus and deciduous planting.
Mulch: globe artichoke and herbaceous perennial bed with compost and/or manure after aerating.