Echinacea in flower – a beautiful and useful medicinal herb

The last two weeks of January have been rather wet – some flooding in lower areas, but not as bad as last year’s Big Wet. My kale, raspberries, blueberries and echinacea have survived the rain so far, but many of my newer seedlings may not recover. I will take stock of eggplant, basil, lettuce, cucumbers and capsicum this week and probably replant again. And the bunya nuts are dropping – some have already started sprouting in the rain before they even hit the ground.

By next week I will clean out all old vegetables, many of which I have saved seeds of, especially the cabbage family. A weeding, liming, rock dusting and watering will prepare the beds for planting out and sowing direct after the full moon.

I’m hoping my eggplants recover and set fruit now the rain has stopped – I always look forward to these and lost many plants in last year’s wet. My watermelons and pumpkins need a bit more sun and dry weather to swell and ripen.

Gardening Guide (following Moon Planting)
☽ Waxing Moon – 31  January at 2:11 pm

Sow direct: bush and climbing beans, sweet corn, cucumber, spring onions, zucchini and French marigold.

Sow in trays: capsicum, leek, tomato, broccoli and cauliflower in trays.

Lightly prune: established bush roses, except species.

Full Moon – 8 February at 7:55 am

Sow direct: beetroot (pre-soak seed), carrot, parsnip, potato (Brisbane and areas south), radish, swede and turnip, dandelion, watercress, avocado, mango and pineapple.

Take cuttings of pelargonium, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme and watercress.

After watering, fertilise: mature banana trees, gerbera, also passionfruit and grapes after harvest. Treat magnesium deficiency in citrus, if necessary.

Lightly fertilise: fig, young citrus, Hawaiian hibiscus and all established roses. Apply cold, used tea-leaves to camellia.

Prune: mature passionfruit, if necessary. Remove berry-bearing foliage from female asparagus plants.

Harvest crops for storage on non-fertile days.

☾ Waning Moon – 15 February at 3:05 am

No sowing or planting this phase, but weed, dig or plough, prepare beds and prune back unwanted growth, if required.

Prepare beds for: potatoes in very warm areas. Check roses and citrus for ‘suckers’ and prune.
Mulch: top up compost and mulch around fig and macadamia.

☻ New Moon – 22 February at 8:36 am

Sow or plant out: leek, cabbage, silver beet (pre-soak seed), sweet and purple basil.
Sow: celery, lettuce and spring onions.

Grow a green manure or cover crop of mung bean, pigeon pea or japanese millet. In suitable soils, grow amaranth, millet or lablab bean.

On damp soil, apply fertiliser tea to: young grapes, asparagus seedlings and young crowns, young bananas, mango and pawpaw, melons sown in January, also cabbage, leek, silver beet and young passionfruit, if necessary.

Apply fertiliser tea to: banana trees and strawberry bed.

Snake beans are a reliable standby this month

Summer school holiday time and the weather has been glorious so far – in stark contrast to last year’s torrential rains. I keep my garden work to a minimum in January, doing any taxing work in the cool early morning hours or late afternoons. For my up-coming plantings I keep trays of new seedlings in boxes on the verandah, out of the sun and in easy reach of a watering can.

This year’s weather has been cooler and I noticed a drop in fruit-fly numbers – making for a bumper tomato harvest, but fruit-fly control is still important. Collect all affected fruit in black bin bags and place them in the sun to ‘cook’ the larvae. Another option is to place affected fruit in a rubbish bin filled with water to drown the larvae (make sure the lid is on against smells and mosquitoes). Both results can be composted afterwards. I keep a lidded bin in the vegetable garden for this purpose, weeds and comfrey leaves can also be added to this mix – a good liquid fertiliser.

Bunya Nuts, very large indigenous pine nuts - a traditional food

Snake beans, silverbeet, eggplant, cucumbers are some of the vegetables that keep producing throughout this hot month. Great ingredients for Thai curries and Asian dishes. And look out for ‘free’ Bunya nuts at the end of January, a traditional bushfood with many possible applications.

Gardening Guide (following Moon Planting)
☽ First Quarter – 1 January at 4:16 pm

Sow direct: sweet corn.
Sow or plant out: capsicum, tomato, eggplant, rockmelon, summer squash, watermelon, zucchini, French marigold and sunflower, also cucumber and leek in late January.
Sow direct: bush and climbing beans.
Lightly prune: all established bush roses, except species.

☺ Full Moon – 9 January at 5:31 pm

Sow or plant out: lemon grass and mango. Take cuttings of hyssop, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, watercress, carnation and pelargonium, dandelion, watercress, carnation and gazania.
Sow direct: beetroot (pre-soak seed), carrot, parsnip, potato and radish.
Lightly fertilise: kangaroo paw, also natives not fertilised in spring.
Prune: ceratopetalum not cut at Christmas.
Harvest crops for storage on non-fertile days.

☾ Last Quarter – 16 January at 7:09 pm

No sowing or planting this phase, but weed, dig or plough, prepare beds and prune back unwanted growth, if required.
Prepare beds for: leeks and prepare and mulch beds for: strawberries.
Mulch: top up mulch around bananas and where necessary.

☻ New Moon – 23 January at 5:40 pm

Sow or plant out: celosia, ageratum, French marigold, also leek in late January.
Sow direct: silverbeet (pre-soak seed) and sunflower.
Grow a green manure or cover crop of: adzuki bean, cowpea, lablab, mung bean, pigeon pea, Japanese millet or sorghum, amaranth and millet.
On damp soil, apply fertiliser tea to: melons sown in December, also cabbage, silverbeet and young passionfruit, if necessary.
Apply seaweed tea to: asparagus seedlings and young crowns and potato bed for February planting. Water fruit trees and vines regularly after harvest.

Bergamot & borage flowering - growing alongside basil, watermelon & cucumbers

December is a busy month for families which is good reason for you to have done your work over the spring months so you can now scale back and still have fresh things to pick each day. This summer looks like a good growing season here and I’ll put in more lettuces for fresh Christmas salads.

If you haven’t already done so in November, now is the time to mulch your garden well to avoid moisture loss during the day. It will also help to keep the weeds down which will cover any exposed soil in no time after a bit of rain.
Net mangoes and apples and bag banana bunches to protect fruit from fruit bats, possums, brush turkeys.
Bag or net tomatoes to protect from fruit fly and king parrots who just love to nibble them (plant some extra cherry tomatoes out for them to enjoy at Christmas time).

In hot weather zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant and capsicum keep producing as long as the water or rain is kept up to them. I am very proud of my Christmas harvest of Oxheart tomatoes this year. Herbs like basil, parsley, chives, thyme do well now as long as they get enough water and you will be able to provide fresh salads, antipastos and herb dressings or pesto on those hot summer days.

Seed Saving:

At the end of spring I collect seed heads from herbs like parsley, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, coriander, watercress, highland cress, carrots, dill, fennel and rocket as they complete their flowering and place them in paper or cloth bags to dry out. I also save seeds from my favourite Farmer’s market bought tomatoes as I use them, by spreading the seeds on a piece of newspaper to dry, writing the variety alongside for later identification.

Gardening Guide (following Moon Planting)

☽ Waxing Moon 2 December at 7:53pm

Sow or plant out: bush and climbing beans, sweet corn, eggplant, pumpkin, capsicum, tomato, watermelon, cauliflower, cucumber, leek, rockmelon, spring onions, summer squash, tomato, zucchini, cosmos, nasturtium, sunflower, African and French marigold.

Prune: climbing roses, ramblers and species roses after flowering. Tip prune young fig trees.

☺ Full Moon 11 December at 12:37 am

Sow direct: beetroot (pre-soak seed), carrot, parsnip and radish.

Sow or plant out: banana passionfruit, passionfruit, dandelion, lemon grass, mint, pyrethrum, watercress, banana, mango and pineapple.

Take cuttings of: hyssop, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme and watercress.

After watering, fertilise: all banana trees. Lightly fertilise: Hawaiian hibiscus.

Harvest crops for storage on non-fertile days.

☾ Waning Moon 18 December at 10:49 am

No sowing or planting this phase, but weed, dig or plough, prepare beds and prune back unwanted growth, if required.

Mulch: pineapple with well-rotted manure.

☻ New Moon 25 December at 4:08 am

Sow or plant out: More basil and parsley.
Sow direct: cabbage, lettuce, silver beet (pre-soak seed), leek, spring onions, cosmos, nasturtium and sunflower.

Grow a green manure or cover crop of adzuki bean, cowpea, lablab, mung bean, pigeon pea, soybean, Japanese millet, sorghum, amaranth or millet. I often use mixed bird seeds or a soup mix to grow for my chickens.

On damp soil, apply fertiliser tea (made from comfrey or manure soaked in water, diluted 1:10) to: asparagus seedlings and crowns, young grapes, young avocado, mango and pawpaw, melons sown in November, also cabbage, celery, leek, young rhubarb, silver beet and young passionfruit.

Apply seaweed tea to: pawpaw, Hawaiian hibiscus and potato bed for January planting. Apply at half-strength to kiwifruit and young pawpaw.

So far this month I have turned my surplus of cabbages into fermented sauerkraut. (This is my excuse for being a week late with my posting.)

This may be the busiest time in the garden, harvesting spring crops, seeds for saving and getting prepared for summer. All the hot season crops are going in now, the zucchini are thriving already, finished spring crops are pulled out and fed to the chickens. The other important task is to feed everything and to mulch now before the weather heats up and the rains start – this will protect the soil and nutrients. Hopefully we won’t have a repeat of last year’s torrential downpours. To prevent losing my crop of carrots this year I decided to plant them in a deep planter box filled with organic soil.

Many herbs and vegetables are flowering now and setting seeds which I will save for next year. So far I have collected broccoli, kale, daikon, marigold, echinacea, purple cauliflower, beans, snowpeas and broad beans. 

Nigella - Love-in-the-mist

Nigella – Love-in-the-mist

Gardening Guide (following Moon Planting)

☽ Waxing Moon 3 November at 2:39 am

Sow direct: eggplant and sweet corn.

Sow or plant out: capsicum, tomato, watermelon, bush and climbing beans, rockmelon, spring onions, summer squash, zucchini, African and French marigold and verbena.

Sow direct: pumpkin, cosmos, nasturtium and sunflower.

Prune: climbing roses, ramblers and species roses after flowering.

☺ Full Moon 11 November at 6:17 am

Sow direct: radish and sweet potato.

Chamomile

Chamomile

Sow or plant out: passionfruit, pawpaw, dandelion, lemon grass, banana, pineapple, beetroot (pre-soak seed), carrot, pyrethrum, watercress, banana passionfruit, pelargonium, bromeliad, gerbera and frangipani.

Take cuttings of rosemary, thyme and watercress.

Harvest crops for storage on non-fertile days.

☾ Waning Moon 19 November at 1:10 am

No sowing or planting this phase, but weed, dig or plough, prepare beds and prune back unwanted growth, if required. Check roses and citrus for ‘suckers’.

Prepare beds for: a late crop of potatoes.

Dill

Dill

☻ New Moon 25 November at 4:11 pm

Sow or plant out: sweet and purple basil, parsley, spring onions, African and French marigold and verbena.

Sow direct: cabbage, lettuce, silver beet (pre-soak seed), NZ spinach (pre-soak seed), cosmos, nasturtium and sunflower.

Grow a green manure or cover crop of adzuki bean, cowpea, lablab, pigeon pea, soybean or millet. ln suitable soils, grow amaranth, mung bean, Japanese millet, or sorghum.

On damp soil, apply fertiliser tea to: young rhubarb, melons sown in October. Also to cabbage, lettuce and silver beet and young passionfruit, if necessary.

Apply seaweed tea to: young grapes, citrus. Apply at half-strength to kiwifruit.

It’s been hot and windy these last few days and I’m waiting for a change in the weather and hopefully some rain to plant out the summer vegetables. In the meantime my purple cauliflowers and sugarloaf cabbages are ready to pick. Broccoli and Tuscan kale are flowering (I’m planning to save seeds) and need a replanting.

I’ve started vegetable seeds in trays which will be ready to plant later this month. Most of my flowers have started to self-seed, but I will sprinkle some more seeds out straight on the soil as well. I prefer a naturalised garden which provides colour with little extra work.

Currently I am still harvesting my winter and spring crops, lettuces, cauliflowers, cabbages, kale, asparagus and all sorts of berries: Yellow raspberries, strawberries, black mulberries, white Shantoot mulberries, and the blueberries are swelling too.

Gardening Guide (following Moon Planting)

☽ Waxing Moon 4 October at 1:16 pm

Sow direct: bush and climbing beans, grain crops, sweet corn, popcorn, cosmos, everlasting daisy, nasturtium and sunflower.

Sow or plant out: capsicum, cucumber, eggplant, leek, pumpkin, rockmelon, rosella, spring onions, summer squash, tomato, watermelon, zucchini, chamomile, ageratum, celosia, dianthus, livingstone daisy, African and French marigold, petunia, phlox, snapdragon and verbena.

Prune: mature passionfruit, climbing roses, ramblers and species roses, after flowering. Hawaiian hibiscus when old leaves yellow. Dead-head roses regularly through the growing season.

☺ Full Moon 12 October at 12:07 pm

Sow direct: beetroot (pre-soak seed), carrot, radish and sweet potato.

Sow or plant out: asparagus seed, banana passionfruit, passionfruit, pawpaw, catnip, chives, dandelion, hyssop, lemon balm, lemon grass, marjoram, meadowsweet, mint, oregano, pyrethrum, rosemary, rue, sage, Virginia scullcap, thyme, watercress, yarrow and dahlia seed.

Plant: banana, blueberry, citrus, cherry guava, tropical guava, macadamia, mango, lavender, pyrethrum French tarragon, bromeliad, chrysanthemum gazania, gerbera, pelargonium, Shasta daisy dahlia tubers and frangipani. Divide chives and gerbera. Repot pot plants, if necessary, until December. In cooler areas, also sow or plant out herbaceous perennials, olive, potted roses and evergreen trees, shrubs and vines.

After watering, fertilise: mature passionfruit and herbaceous perennials after aerating bed.

Lightly fertilise: young citrus, fig, cherry guava, palms, French tarragon, marjoram, oregano, mint, Hawaiian hibiscus, carnations and marguerites, also natives after flowering, except for kangaroo paw. Apply a very small amount to wisteria.

Harvest crops for storage on non-fertile days.

☾ Waning Moon 20 October at 1:31 pm

No sowing or planting this phase, but weed, dig or plough, prepare beds and prune back unwanted growth, if required.

Mulch: banana, passionfruit and Hawaiian hibiscus with compost and well-rotted manure, also asparagus after harvest. Lightly mulch rhododendrons and azaleas with well-rotted manure. Mulch as required to keep organic fertiliser damp and protect garden from heat or dry conditions. Lift spring bulbs as soon as foliage dies back.

☻ New Moon 27 October at 5:57 am

Sow direct: open Chinese cabbage, grain crops, rocket, silver beet (pre-soak seed), NZ spinach (pre-soak seed), tatsoi, dill, cosmos, everlasting daisy, nasturtium and sunflower.

Sow or plant out: cabbage, leek, lettuce, silver beet (pre-soak seed), spring onions, sweet and purple basil, chamomile, parsley, ageratum, celosia, dianthus, livingstone daisy, African and French marigold petunia, phlox, snapdragon and verbena. Grow a green manure or cover crop of red or white clover, pigeon pea, soybean. millet or Japanese millet, also sorghum late in month In suitable soils, grow alfalfa, amaranth or buckwheat.

On damp soil, apply fertiliser tea to: young grapes, young rhubarb, young mango, young pawpaw, all bananas, melons sown in September, asparagus seedlings and young crowns, also cabbage, celery, leek, lettuce and silver beet and young passionfruit, if necessary.

Apply seaweed tea to: young grapes, mature pawpaw, bulbs after flowering, all passionfruit after rain. Also to strawberries in cooler areas. Apply at half strength to kiwifruit and young pawpaw.

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