2 March 2018
It’s the beginning of autumn and there seems to be no end to this crazy weather – so much more humidity than usual. Many of our pumpkins suffered from the humidity and while we can slice off damaged bits and eat the good bits now, they can’t be stored. We still got a good haul of unaffected ones which can be stored, as you can see above.
The days are getting shorter and cooler now so it’s time to think about planting crops that suit the cooler conditions. From 2 to 9 March it’s a Full Moon phase when root crops grow well. At this time of the year that means beetroot, carrots, radish, turnips, swedes, kohlrabi and bulb fennel.
Autumn root crops
Preparing your garden bed well for root crops is important. They need free-draining, friable soils with added phosphorus. Phosphorus is what helps the roots to size up quickly. It can be found in animal manures, volcanic rock dust, seaweed and blood and bone. Rake over your bed to break up any big clumps in readiness for seed sowing.
There’s a large variety of shapes and colours with beetroot. We’re planting the more traditional types of Bulls Blood, Cylindra and Detroit. Beetroot is the only root crop that can be grown from seedlings (and even then it needs to be handled with care). We’ll plant our beetroot seedlings closely together for quick results, as well as sow some seed. Our plan is to harvest the seedlings early and use them as baby beets. The other root crops need to be direct sown, as they don’t like any root disturbance at all.
Next we sow baby turnips (we’ve chosen Tokyo Cross). These are different from the old turnips that were grown for animal feed. Baby turnips are sweet and crunchy and a great addition to salads.
We’re also sowing daikon seeds. These are the large white Asian radish (Radish Tokinashi) which grow deep into the soil and can be harvested over a long period.
Preparing a garden bed for planting
For the Last Quarter phase of the moon which is 10 to 17 March, we recommend preparing your garden beds for planting crops like kale, spinach and silverbeet in a couple of weeks’ time. It’s good to raise the soil height as this keeps the soil warmer and helps with drainage. The way we like to do this is trench in compost. It also increases the fertility of the soil.
Dig a trench in rows where you intend to plant (we’re making 3 in a bed this size starting with the 2 outside ones). Fill the trench with animal manure, compost, seaweed, coffee grounds and even kitchen waste. Cover and let nature to do the rest. We then apply garden lime to the surface. Lime helps to speed up the breakdown of the trenched material, sweetens the soil by increasing its alkalinity and adds much-needed calcium for the next crop of plants.
Our apple trees (the one below is Captain Kidd) are in the middle of producing and as each tree’s crop comes to an end, we’ll prune them. The Last Quarter is a good time to do this, but this year with the humidity being so high, we’ve decided to wait until the Last Quarter phase of April and hopefully things will be back to normal by then!
And remember those baby butternuts we put in – here they all ready to store or eat!
From Rob, Jan and the Team at OEG!