2 Feb 2011

Garden Notes: February

Here is the next set of my Garden notes...plus a look at the moon's influence - for the other sets of notes click 'Label below and scroll down.

February notes

Dig in green manures

Dig in manure on fine days or if soil is frozen store in heaps where needed

Plant onion sets, shallots & Jerusalem artichokes - the latter make a great 2 metre high wind break.

Set up seed potatoes to sprout in trays in a cool, light, frost free place - chitting takes about 6 weeks. Don't forget Stroud Potato Day this Saturday.

Sow early flowers & vegetables in a heated propagator - try 2 or 3 tomato seeds & grow on in the warm then later use side-shoots as cuttings to produce more plants - they’ll take about 2 weeks to root

Weed as necessary to prevent weeds seeding

At the end of the month start sowings under cover or in warmed soil - especially peas (to miss pea moth) & broad beans (to reduce black-fly attack).

Sowing the beans in a square will enable you to inter-plant later with sweet corn

Compost brassicas as soon as harvested to prevent any pests moving to spring planted cabbages.

Start looking for slugs, snails & other vermin like big bud mite infection on blackcurrants (pick off & burn any swollen buds)

Cover soil with polythene & cloches to keep soil dry & warm it up for an early start to the season

Prune late-flowering shrubs like buddleia & cut late-flowering clematis back to 15 centimetres of the ground

Last chance to plant garlic; a clove by each rose will banish greenfly

Moon's influence?

The moons influence on tidal flows and weather patterns is indisputable. Folklore in many ancient societies from the Celts in Britain to the Maories in New Zealand recognised it also influenced plant growth. The Roman historian Pliny (A.D.23) wrote much on the subject, like that grain increases in bulk when the moon was waxing. The birth of modern science led to such beliefs in the moons influence on plants being dismissed - that is until recently.

Studies now confirm that there are statistically significant differences in crop yields according to which days in the lunar cycle the crops are sown; some days being better for root crops rather than say leafy salad vegetables. Interestingly modern studies have also shown that water-absorbtion varies according to different lunar phases, suggesting that some of Plinys work may be valid.

Bio-Dynamic farmers have been practicing lunar planting for years noting higher yields and improved quality. However my fumblings with a lunar calender in the past produced no obvious advantages - but then go and see a real biodynamic garden or farm and the health of crops cannot be denied!

If you are interested, try lunar planting guides by either Nick Kollerstrom or Maria Thun. There are strong opinions about which guides are best. All advise an organic approach, but often contradict when it comes to other recommendations. More research is needed.

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