I was out all day yesterday and today I have to go to work, but it’s the leafy planting break of the year and I’m determined not to miss it!
It’s one of the things I like about the lunar planting calendar, that it pushes me to rescue my gardening from the “things that can be put off for a week or so” pile. If I can get out to the shadehouse today, even for half an hour, I can get the first round of seeds in. It means I am planting things that are right for the season, rather than playing catch up trying to get things in when it is really too late for them. And it means I have the start of a staggered planting that that keeps us in a Goldilocks-good supply of varied greens all year. And that, in turn means I’m tempted to cook with what is fresh and green and gorgeous out of the garden and the packaged and frozen supermarket shortcuts are no competition. And that in turn means I eat healthy. A little routine that has such a big ripple effect!
Mizuna has been my canary plant. Up till now the Mizuna out in the garden has been one-leaf-for-me, two-leaves-for-the-chooks, but this week, all of a sudden, the cabbage moths and web moths have disappeared. It is past the equinox and the days are shortening noticeably now, so it’s now safe to plant the bolters. The weather has cooled off so much in just the last couple of weeks that we are stocking up on firewood and feeling more and more like eating stews and casseroles.
So this morning, before work, I had a lovely half hour in the shadehouse planting seed of lettuce, parsley, celery, dill, coriander, rocket, aragula, raddichio, sorrel, endive, kale, cabbage, bok choi, cauliflowers, broccoli, spinach, silver beet, and leeks – just a few of each – I want to make sure I leave room for subsequent rounds.
Over the next couple of days, I will also get around to potting on the seedlings I planted last month. They are all now at the two leaf stage – two permanent leaves as well as the cotyledon baby leaves – and ready to go into their own private pots with a mix of compost and creek sand. By next month, they’ll be 15 cm or more tall and ready to plant out as advanced seedlings.
Remember way back in the leafy planting days of midsummer I posted about planting seed of brussels sprouts? That was just under three months ago now, and the seedlings are now over 20 cm tall. I love brussels sprouts but this far north, it is tricky to get a long enough growing season for them. By late August the cabbage moths will move in again and it will be all over for them. I have to plant seed in midsummer to get them bearing by June so I get a few months of harvesting to make it all worthwhile. And that means I have to have them growing through the peak of the cabbage moth season. I solve it by holding them in the shadehouse, feeding them regularly with seaweed brew and compost tea, as long as possible.
This year it has all just come together nicely – these seedlings are just starting to really want to go out into the garden and the cabbage moths have packed up for the season. I shall plant them out over the next couple of days, well surrounded by dill to give them a bit of extra protection, and with luck by June I’ll be posting the recipe for Brussels Sprouts Soup, which is surprisingly good and something to look forward to.