January and February can be challenging months for gardeners. The effects of sunlight during the two hottest months of the year can be more severe in our lovely, pollution-free Manning Valley than it is in metropolitan areas. Rainfall can also be well below average in January and mulched garden beds will help to preserve water. Young plants will also benefit from some light shade during the hottest part of the day until they are well-established. Pieces of shadecloth or old lightweight curtains as tent-flies over beds are sufficient to give them relief.
Save juice and soft drink bottles, cut off the base of each bottle, remove the lid, and bury them neck downwards into soil near plants that suffer from water fluctuations. The bottles will allow you to water mulched garden beds quickly. This method also saves water as the irrigation goes directly to the root area without any wastage.
For gardeners who have time to spend in the garden at this time of year, the following gardening advice for January and February is suitable for most areas of the Manning Valley. Further advice on individual plants and tips on how to address gardening problems can be found on my blog, aussieorganicgardening.com.
For gardeners who do not use moon planting: sow or plant out any of the following list at any time this month, although you may find germination rates are poor when the Moon is in Last Quarter phase.
During Last Quarter phase: [No sowing from all day on 2nd to 10th January or between all day on 1st and morning of 9th February.] A good phase for removing weeds that can be hosts for garden pests and for general garden maintenance.
Before Full Moon: [from all day on 11th to 16th and all day on 18th to 23rd January. From all afternoon on 10th to all day on 14th and from all day on 16th to 4:20 pm on 22nd February.] In January and February, bush beans, cabbage, suitable lettuce, silver beet (pre-soak seed) and sweet corn can be sown directly into garden beds. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, leek, spring onions, ageratum, stock and verbena can be sown in punnets or planted out.
In January, there is still time to sow cucumber, rockmelon, summer squash, watermelon, zucchini, nasturtium and sunflower directly into beds in frost-free areas, and French marigold and petunia can be planted out.
In late February, bulb fennel, radicchio, cornflower, dianthus, Iceland poppy, nemesia, nigella and statice can be sown in punnets or planted out. Sweet basil can also be sown in frost-free areas.
Full Moon phase: [from all day on 25th to 31st January and from all day on 23rd to 29th February.] During Full Moon phase in January and February, beetroot (pre-soak seed), carrot, parsnip and radish can be sown directly into beds, and lemon grass and watercress can be sown or planted out. Mango and pineapple can also be sown or planted out in frost-free areas. Divide bearded iris and take cuttings of lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, thyme, watercress, carnation and pelargonium.
In January, also sow or plant out gazania and sow potato tubers in late January. Take cuttings of sage.
In February, swede turnip, and turnip can be sown directly into beds, also potato tubers in frost-free areas. Mint and watercress can be sown or planted out. Avocado trees can be planted in late February in frost-free areas.
Wishing all of you a happy, healthy 2016.