The Garden in January – 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:
Rain…then hot and too dry,
We had pretty regular rain during the latter part of Spring and into December. As I had been away for some time and then busy with bees and cows the garden had to live with too much neglect.
A few lessons learned. We planted Sunflowers – I planted seeds directly and watered them in and Trudi grew the seed into seedlings and planted these out. Very few of my seeds survived – indeed I could watch birds digging them up. On the other hand Trudi’s seedling grown Sunflowers are a delight. With no further watering , just rain, they have grown to two metres high and are fantastic. The honey bees like them for pollen but the surprise is that each flower has multiple native bees. We don’t own a native beehive but obviously the population here at Crystal Waters is very healthy.
I also planted Climbing Beans ( from seed) and Cucumbers ( also from seed) and both were doing very well with no attention.
I planted Cucumbers close to the Sunflowers and as expected the Sunflowers are providing an ideal trellis for the Cucumbers and Beans.
The bees loved the flowering Brush Box and we have plenty of really lovely honey available. It has been on the shelves at the Maleny IGA for a while again.
The garden is looking pretty neglected but there are Cucumbers,Tomatoes, Lettuce, Parsley, Beans, Pak Choy, Rosella and Tatsoi all doing well. We planted about 200 plus Rosellas and while they are a little slow we are looking forward to a great crop.
Very few damaging insects yet and there are still only few snails.
Here is some advice sent to me about Mildew from Sharon:
I just wanted to share that last year my mother in law advised a mix of half milk and half water sprayed onto the leaves of my mildew zucc’s and squash. It was quite good and seemed to help them recover quiet quickly and stop the mildew from coming back quite as quickly. I found that a good spray every second day was enough to keep it under control!
Not sure why or how this works, but seemed to help, so just wanted to share this! J
Grasshoppers can be a nuisance. On cool mornings they are easy to catch. They can spread diseases and this is often more of a problem then the actual damage they do.
We have lots of Tomatoes coming up everywhere where we spread compost. Tomato seed seems to survive very well in relatively hot compost. They will produce edible, trouble free fruit but there can be simply to many. Pull them out while they are young. You will quickly recognise them by the Tomatoy smell. Rather pleasant!
Beans, all of them, are doing very well. If you plant Climbing Beans you will notice that they are much slower in getting to the productive stage. The positive is that they will be producing considerably longer then the Bush varieties. For Climbing Beans it is an advantage to dig or loosen the soil fork deep and add about 50 mm of compost around the plant. It will improve the yield. Also pick all Beans regularly for maximum production. Beans are best when enjoyed young. I grow a number of varieties which are not strictly stringless ( I believe that they often are tastier) but they need to be regularly picked. Climbing Beans will climb higher then you are likely able to reach. I have a trellis 2 m high and the Beans would love to go at least another 50 cm higher.
Coriander will bolt easily during Summer but is great as an attractant for beneficial insects anyway. Plant seed direct or transplant as fairly small plants.
Keep up with the Nitrogen part of the fertilizer input during spells of wet as N is the most mobile element and easily washed out. I have found that weekly applications of a complete fertilizer is well worth the money. So far it has kept the Cucumbers in lots of leaf ( and fruit). I use my own mix but “Organic Xtra” or a regular application of any composted animal manure or compost will do the trick. Add extra Sulphate of Potash ( a small handful per plant) to Tomatoes, Capsicum and Eggplants.
Mulch thickly as this will stop any erosion. Mulch also keeps soil moisture more moderate during hot weather but the mulch can increase snail numbers in our warm and moist summers.
Garden beds you are not using during the summer should be very heavily mulched. The moist and warm conditions will help this mulch to break down. It is all food for worms. They in turn will make sure that the soil will be friable and fertile when the time comes to do the autumn planting. It will pay to plan ahead.
If you have been putting together some compost piles you will find that they are working wonderfully at this time of the year, even if you don’t turn them. Remember to cover them during hot and during wet times or they will get soggy and soggy ( or overly dry) piles do not compost well. I have been collecting a lot of cow manure for the compost. A combination of cow manure and Bladdey Grass ( weeds are also Ok but may carry seed) make a wonderful compost in time for the autumn planting.
If you have planted any of the Basils you will be enjoying wonderful smells around the garden. The Sweet Basil needs to be cut back regularly ( followed by some fertilizer) to stop it from flowering and getting woody. The Greek Basil can be left alone. It will last for months and some people prefer it for Pesto.
It is important that you plant small numbers of the same plant very regularly. For example if you plant Cucumbers by seed or seedling every 3 to four weeks you will have a long and continuous harvest rather then an oversupply followed by a shortage. Also to get the best crops possible you need to keep the moisture even and fertilize regularly. Plants should never be allowed to dry out but then they should never be waterlogged either. Not surprising, one of the biggest mistakes gardeners make is to water large seeds ( like Corn, Beans , Peas) to much before they emerge and the seeds will rot in the ground.
Small seeds need extra attention. Carrots for example need to be watered maybe twice a day until they emerge to make sure that the seed never dries out.
It is not too late to plant Sunflowers. Green Harvest sells “Evening Sun”- spectacular for cut flower but any unhulled seed will be OK. I usually spread some into the pastures as I like the bright dots in the sea of green. Sunflowers display the characteristic of “heliotropism”- the leaves and flowers follow the sun. Good introduction for children to botany. ( not to be confused with Phototropism which is a general response to light)
What to plant in January: Carrots, Radishes, Lettuce, Capsicum, Tomatoes ( best Roma and Cherry) , Cucumber, Basil Greek and Sweet, Rosella, Squash, Zucchinis, Rocket, Coriander, Red Onions, Pak Choy and Tatsoi, Parsley, Herbs, Sweet Corn, Beans – all types, Beetroot, Celery, Chicory, Silver Beet.
This is the last month to plant many of the Summer veg like Sweet Corn, Rosella, Squash….
Add some colour to your garden with Petunias and Marigold.
For smell add Thyme and Oregano ( as well as the Basil)
Probably too late for Water Melon and Rock Melon.
No markets for us in January – indeed we will be away in February too. Pat and John will be at the Witta market in February.
Wishing all a great time in the garden and a productive and pest free 2018
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.