Autumn is a pleasant time of year to be out in the garden – and there is plenty to do before winter sets in. Spring-flowering bulbs are planted in autumn. Most of these garden favourites originated in Europe and need a period of chilling for good growth. However, our autumn temperatures are equivalent to summer temperatures in Great Britain. To get bulbs to perform at their best, purchase them in March and store them in the vegetable crisper for planting in April. Prepare their planting area early. Plant bulbs into damp soil while the bulbs are still cold (mornings are best while soil is also cool) and cover the planted area with wilted grass clippings. After watering, also fertilise and mulch any bulbs that have been left in soil during the year.
Dead-head roses with short stems until winter so that they don’t waste a lot of energy producing rosehips and to leave as much foliage as possible for them to produce carbohydrates for next year’s growth,
Tidy up camellia plants and, during March, apply cold, used tea leaves around the base of camellia plants. Black and green tea leaves contain trace elements that camellias need to form flowers and prevent ‘balling’ (when flowers fail to open).
The following gardening advice for March and April 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.
Last Quarter phase: [No sowing between March 2nd and 9th inclusive]. Prepare a planting area for spring bulbs with some mature compost and a small amount of complete fertiliser mixed through the topsoil, as uncomposted manures can cause them to rot. Bulbs should then not require extra fertiliser during the growing season. A good phase for removing weeds that are hosts to garden pests.
Before the Full Moon: [from all day on March 10th to 3:00 pm on 15th and from 3:00 pm on 16th to 10:00 am on 23rd]. Bulb fennel, cabbage, headed and open Chinese cabbage, grain crops, lettuce, mizuna, radicchio, rocket, tatsoi and coriander can be sown directly into beds. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, leek, silver beet (pre-soak seed), spring onion and parsley can be sown or transplanted.
Ageratum, aurora daisy, calendula, chamomile, cornflower, dianthus, nemesia, nigella, pansy and viola, Iceland poppy, snapdragon, statice and stock can be sown or planted out. In frost-free areas, celery and chickpea can also be sown, and peas and sweet peas can be sown directly into beds in the second half of March.
In spare beds, a green manure crop of red or strawberry clover, faba (broad) bean, field pea, barley, cereal rye, oats, triticale or wheat can be sown to improve soil for spring planting.
Full Moon phase: [from 10:00 am on March 24th to 1:15 pm on 31st]. Beetroot (pre-soak seed), carrot, radish, swede turnip and turnip can be sown directly into beds, early season onion, globe artichoke, lemon balm, marjoram, rosemary, thyme and watercress can be sown or transplanted. Globe artichoke suckers, strawberries, avocado, citrus, olive, carnation, gerbera crowns, irises, and ornamental evergreen trees, shrubs and vines can be planted. In frost-free areas, parsnip, mango and oregano can also be sown or planted, and lawn seed can be sown or turf laid.
Last Quarter phase: [No sowing between 1:15 pm on March 31st and all day on April 7th.] A good phase for weeding, preparing beds and general garden maintenance.
Before Full Moon: [from 9:25 am on April 7th to all day on 13th and from all day on April 15th to all day on 21st]. Broccoli, bulb fennel, cabbage, headed and open Chinese cabbage, lettuce, mizuna, radicchio, rocket, spinach, tatsoi and coriander can be sown directly into beds. Leek, spring onions, and parsley can be sown or planted out. Ageratum, aurora daisy, calendula, chamomile, cornflower, dianthus, nemesia, nigella, pansy and viola, Iceland poppy, snapdragon and statice can be sown or planted out, and stock planted out.
Broad beans, peas and sweet peas can be sown in frost-free areas.
Full Moon phase: [from all day on April 23rd to all day on 29th]. Radish and turnip can be sown directly into beds, and early season onion can be sown or planted out. Anemone and ranunculi corms, beardless iris, bulbs and lilies, carnation, freesias, globe artichoke suckers, strawberries and lemon grass can be planted. In frost-free areas, lavender, rosemary and thyme can be planted. Divide chives, bearded iris, shasta daisy and herbaceous perennials.
Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting (Scribe Publications 2006, 2009 and 2012)