Planting Calendar

Yule to Imbolc - 22 June to 1 August

Time to plant asparagus, celery, parsley, broccoli, leeks, spring onions, carrots, beets, silver beet, peas, snow peas, chinese cabbages, coriander, lettuce, dill, spinach.

This a generally a good growing season at Blackhorse. It is often dry (not this year!). But because it is cool, the evaporation rates aren't so high.

Yule marks the winter solstice, so although the days are still short, they are very slowly getting longer. Plants are highly sensitive to the minute differences in daylength. The trick is called photoperiodism, and most of our food plants have it although some are more sensitive to it and stubborn about it than others. After the solstice, you can forget about planting anything where the bit you want to harvest is a winter food store. Onions planted after the winter solstice for example, tend to forget about storing food as a bulb and just bolt straight to seed. It is still too cool to plant anything like capsicum or cucumbers that needs heat to germinate. And there is still frost to come, so in the valley bottom you can't plant anything that is frost sensitive. Time to mulch in preparation for the coming dryness of spring.

Imbolc to Ostara - 1 August to 22 September

Time to plant in the shadehouse seeds of all the frost susceptible crops - beans, tomatoes, capsicum, eggplants, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, melons, basil, chilli, luffa - as well as more lettuce, celery, parsley, silver beet, carrots, spring onions, peas, leeks, coriander.

The days are getting longer and the nights shorter at a perceptible rate now. This is usually the driest part of the year, and the season of warm, dry, windy days. You can expect the last frost to come sometime early in this period. We will often even get a bit of a heatwave before the equinox, which will stress the water supplies! This is the time to make sure you are conserving water: mulch the garden heavily and plant with an eye to providing shade for leafy greens.

Ostara to Beltane - 22 September to 1 November

Time to plant beans, tomatoes, capsicum, eggplants, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, melons, basil, chilli, luffa, pumpkins, lettuces, sweet corn, sunflowers.

The days are now getting longer at an exponential rate. If you graphed it, this would be the uphill part of the curve. This is usually the season of warm windy days, wishing for rain, and wearing yellow overalls. Trees need watering, and everything needs mulch and shade. Too late for all the traditional leafy greens - if they aren't in by now they will just wilt and burn when the summer hits. If you have missed it and need to plant something leafy, try the tropical greens like Ceylon Spinach.

Beltane to Litha - 1 November to 22 December

Time to plant beans, corn cucumbers, pumpkin, zucchini, squash, capsicum, eggplant, brussels sprouts, basil luffas, sunflowers, cherry tomatoes, dill, melons, but not trees unless you can water them.

The nights retreat and the days are long and getting longer. The season of heat and storms and wind. Make sure your cucumbers and beans and tomatoes are well trellissed, and watch out the pumpkins don't take over! It will seem very strange to be planting brussels sprouts, but seed needs to go in now to get them to bearing stage by the beginning of winter. It means there will be a couple of months of protecting them from cabbage moths, but our winter is too short for them otherwise.

Litha to Lammas - 22 December to 1 February

Raise in the shadehouse artichoke suckers, beans, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, capsicum, eggplant, basil, luffas, sunflowers, cherry tomatoes, dill, melons, and natives for wet season planting.

This is a hard season for planting. There are several things going against it. Rain is unreliable and there are days so hot things frizzle in an hour. The days are long, but now getting shorter. It is hardly perceptible to humans but plants notice. Things are prone to bolt to seed, hoping to get their seeds mature before winter. Plant in the shadehouse where you can keep up the shade and water, and wait for the wet season to arrive before planting out. Gather storm tossed seaweed at the beach. Make compost.

Lammas to Mabon - 1 February to 22 March

Time to plant fruit and native trees. Time to plant out the advanced seedlings from the shadehouse, and put in seeds of lettuce, celery, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, spring onions, silver beet, parsley, chinese cabbage, nasturtium, and borage.

The days are getting shorter and the nights longer, as they approach the balance point of the equinox. This is the wet season, the season of full dams, gumboots and leeches, and mowing whenever you can. If you managed to keep everything going through the summer, now is the time you will reap the rewards. Time to harvest and bottle and pickle and preserve.

Mabon to Halloween - 22 March to 1 May

Time to plant lettuces, celery, parsley, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflowers, onions, garlic, leeks, spring onions, carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, silver beet, spinach, peas, snow peas, broad beans, chinese cabbages. And trees where the coming frost will not harm them.

The days are getting shorter now at a faster and faster rate. The days are still warm, but often wet. Don't be tempted to try for another round of the summer crops - it will be too cold for them before they get to bearing age. And in any case, most plants will be taking notice of the daylength and will not be fooled. Now is the time to plant things where the part you want to harvest is the store of food the plant has created to get through the winter.

Halloween to Yule - 1 May to 22 June

Time to plant celery, parsley, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflowers, onions, leeks, spring onions, carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, silver beet, spinach, peas, snow peas, chinese cabbages.

The days are short and getting shorter very quickly. This is the season of the first frosts, but often not until quite close to Yule. This is one of the best growing seasons in the valley.