The Garden in December – Gardening Tips and What to Plant- by Max Lindegger
Max Lindegger of Ecological Solutions has kindly agreed for Permaculture Noosa to post his newsletters on our site:
The seedlings we expect to have this Thursday 14th December at Crystal Waters between 2 and 4pm and at the Witta Market on Saturday 16th December are :-
Beans-bush and climbing
Cucumber- Lebanese, Suyo Long
Chilli – Jalapeño, Cayene,
Bell, Bergs small red Capsicum (red bell)
Egg Plant (long)
Kale ( green curly)
Squash- Golden Scallopini
Tomato – Roma, Tropic
Also a variety of potted herbs, flowers and trees and the much loved worm castings are back!
Look forward to seeing you soon.
Cheers Pat and John
December – Hot, Humid, Storms
December is a month when you need to adjust your actions according to the weather. Expect some losses if we get a lot of wet and humid weather. It is not your fault- you actually have every reason to blame the elements this time. The forecast is for warm to hot weather and there will be some heavy rain – this is the start of our wet season..
The rains came early this year. Our tanks and dams are full – great to see. We would have liked to see a little more sun at the end of Spring into Summer but the clouds and rain kept the temperatures close to average.
Have a look around your garden and note which vegetables are doing well: Spring Onions, some herbs, Wild Rocket… Lettuce in the shade is doing OK. The Asian Green have taken a beating from some insect.
Here at Crystal Waters we had a dry spell which was followed by good rain.
Please, please don’t plant seedlings in the middle of a hot day. Indeed it is best to plant them later in the day and protect them for a few days. Anything which provides some shade during the middle of the day and keeps the heat away will help.
I prefer to plant seedlings rather small . Lettuce, the Asian Vegetables, Coriander and Basil is less prone to bolt if they are planted while small. On the other hand some people prefer slightly larger seedlings. A well- developed root system is more important than a large top.
Plant seedlings as soon as possible after you buy them. Seedlings should never have flower buds or be yellowing. Both are signs that the seedlings are past their best and should have been planted earlier. If you grow your own seedlings from seed make sure that they NEVER dry out and never stop growing. Stunted seedlings ( yellow, to tall and spindly) are very likely not going to grow well. If you grow them under shade cloth only use 50% white ( not green or black) shade cloth or the seedlings will suffer from shock when they hit the real world. Seedlings should be kept in full sun for about a week or longer before we plant them.
The humidity can give the Zucchinis and Squash a hard time. Don’t be disappointed if the leaves go mouldy – it happens to most of our cucurbits. There are sprays around but most of the organic ones I know off are preventative. Plant these vegetables in a place where they will get a bit of a breeze and don’t give them any overhead watering. Most of the vegetables with hairy leaves prefer water only onto the roots. Watering in the morning rather than evening also reduces humidity. Most will recover and produce if the conditions don’t stay unfavourable for too long. The dry weather in Spring has of course been great for all the Cucurbits. ” Golden Scaloppini” – they are excellent eating small but still really good a little larger
I find that the Lettuces too are easier to grow if the weather is not to wet and not too hot, if you have enough rain.
If we have some very hot days some vegetables like Cucumbers can get affected by sunburn. Extra Nitrogen to grow more and bigger leaves will protect the fruit. A misting of a Liquid fertilizer ( or tonic) in the morning will also help. Do not fertilise when the weather is very hot. Plants simply can’t take the nutrients up.
Pat and John sell a number of varieties of Cucumbers. There is a reason for this: The “normal” green Cucumber is a good performer under most conditions but it seems to be out of favour. The skin can be a little tough if they are left too long and some may find the flavour not the top. The Lebanese produces a smaller Cucumber with a smooth skin and excellent flavour. It seems to be your favourite. It will take a little longer to get into production. Suyo Long is a very large Cucumber and is ribbed. An excellent performer and very mildew resistant in wet weather. It’s popularity is growing. Give it a try.
I generally plant a few of each every few weeks and we don’t run out of Cucumbers and have a choice to pick from. The photo ( Green Harvest) is the Suyo Long. You will find that they taste the same if they have a bend. Bending is a response to the tip touching something – anything – and turning away. If the fruit is hanging freely you will get lovely straight fruit.
Carrots should be growing well if you can keep up the water. Plant too many seeds into the row and pick and eat the small thinning as a snack. Great while you water the garden! If it looks like we are getting a number of showery days in a row go and plant some more. Cover the bed with Hessian bags for a few days and make absolutely sure the seeds never dry out. At the first sign of germination remove the cover and keep up the watering. You may find yourself two times a day in the garden – except if we get these showers.
If it all looks too difficult and you maybe away for a few weeks over the Christmas break – water and then mulch the beds heavily. Maybe plant some Pumpkins and let it all compost down while you wait for Autumn.
Making compost is easy this time of the year and there is simply never enough. The availability of green material is the only limit. Compost is just about the perfect solution to all our gardening problems. Not only is it a very safe fertilizer but will also increase the water holding capacity of your soil ( less water required) and yet assist good drainage, moderate pH and minimizes erosion. Now is the time! Get out early in the morning and collect the organic matter. Compost is the main ingredient in our potting mix and we will never have too much.
Beans can get damaged by a number of insects in Summer. The worst is the Bean Fly. It has a habit of drilling holes into the stem – just above ground level. Covering the plants with soil will help. Snake Beans are probably the easiest to grow but if you don’t like them that much you can still plant the normal Beans. Climbing Beans will be more productive and easier to grow now then the Green or Butter Bush Beans but these can still succeed if you choose the correct cultivars.
You can grow beans easily by simply pushing each seed about 40mm ( I find deeper planting works better for me rather than the relative shallow planting recommended on most packets) into compost. Water well at planting but hold water back ( except if very dry) until the beans have germinated or they will rot in the ground.
It is worthwhile to prepare a bed at least fork deep for climbers for top production.
It is best to pick Capsicum while they are still green to minimize fruit fly attack.
Try some different varieties of Cucumbers like the “Apple” types ( Green Harvest sells one called “Lemon”) or “Suyo Long”- ( see above) a Chinese long type which is very heat tolerant.
Green Harvest also sells seeds of Angled Lufa which is very similar to Zucchini but much more disease resistant and a good choice for the humid time of the year.
Some Asian Vegetables can be grown through summer. I find that Tatsoi, Kailan, Cho Som and Pak Choy are the best choice this time of the year. They will grow very fast. Expect some losses to grubs and snails. They also handle the heat pretty well. If not kept moist and fertilised they will bolt.
Parsley can die in a day during summer. Don’t water even if it looks rather dry. Waterlogged Parsley will not survive in Summer.
It is too warm now for Lettuce seed to germinate without some help. Put the seeds in your fridge for a few days and plant after. Concentrate on non-hearting types. Lettuce grown during the summer will always be on the bitter side .
As most of you would be aware we use 50% White shade cloth on most of our upper garden. Not only does it help with shade but the mesh is useful during heavy rain to turn heavy droplets into mist. Excellent as wind protection and hail protection too. If we would start a garden again I would install movable shade protection for the whole garden.
I’m not a big fan of Okra. If you grow them you need to pick them very young or they are hardly edible ( me thinks!)
This will be the last News sheet for the year . Trudi and I wish you a peaceful and relaxing Christmas and all the best for 2018.
We will be at the Witta Christmas Market ( Dec 16) with honey, beeswax candles. Candles make a wonderful Christmas present!
We also have small blocks of 100% Beeswax – ideal f0r Wraps
There is no market in January and Trudi and I will be away for the February market.
Our honey is also available at IGA in Maleny .
What to plant in December:
some planting lists will recommend planting Broccoli and cabbages as well as English Spinach this time of the year. This is for experts. Wait a few months and your success rate will be much higher.
I get often asked what the ideal pH was for various vegetables. I have included a list below. In my experience I have found that if you have a soil high in organic matter the pH is less of an issue. Still, for best results it is worthwhile to aim for a level close to the remanded.