This month’s moon calendar, and edible crops to sow and tend now
Robert Guyton’s guide to planting and sowing in harmony with the lunar cycle.
The weather in August is wintery.
But spring is only just over the horizon so you need to start thinking about the summer crops you plan to grow this year, particularly if you want to grow unusual varieties, you will need to start from seed. You can sow tomato, chilli and peppers now in trays. Obviously you’ll need to keep these heat-lovers in your house or inside a heated greenhouse for weeks, but they should be a good size by the time you shift them into your garden. Outside, you can sow broad beans, and provided your soil is not frozen solid, radishes and carrots, and you can start lettuces, spinach, silverbeet and brassicas in trays. You can also plant bare-root fruit trees, asparagus crowns, lettuces and salad greens (keep them in pots in very cold places), rhubarb crowns and Jerusalem artichokes.
It’s your last chance to get garlic in.
Still have garlic or shallots to get into the ground? If you live in the South Island, put down this magazine and do it now! They need a period of winter chill to form bulbs so if you plant it when the weather has started to warm up, then all you’ll get is leaves. But in the North Island, I’d say it’s too late, sorry, unless you can find a cell packs of pre-planted garlic cloves in your garden centre.
Get vege beds ready for planting.
Use what’s known as a false seedbed technique to get on top of weeds before they get established. There are lots of ways to do it and many involve working the soil to bring deep down weed seeds to the surface to germinate and then hand hoeing them out while they are small. But as you know working wet soil will lead to compaction and heartbreak, so if your soil is wet do as I do, and just add any necessary soil amendments (such as fertiliser or compost) and rake the surface smooth, then use plastic row covers (I have polythene over half hoops) over the bare soil. The warmth causes a flush of weeds to germinate, and when they are about as tall as your thumb, use a small sharp hoe to slice them down just below the soil line (be careful not to go too deep, or you’ll risk bringing more buried weed seeds to the surface and destroying your soil structure). If you can repeat this process twice, or even three times, you will greatly reduce the time you need to spend weeding this year.
Plant more strawberries for summer.