The table below lists which vegetables and herbs can be planted this month in North East Melbourne. In addition, for each vegetable/herb, it shows: how it should be planted (direct, seed trays, etc); how far apart to plant it; its lifecycle (annual, perennial, etc); its moon phase planting quarter (for those doing moon phase planting) and its crop rotation group (for those doing crop rotation). It is an extract from our North East Melbourne veggie & herb planting guide.
|Plant||Moon phase |
|Broad beans||2nd||sow direct||15cm||legumes||annual|
|Lettuce||1st||sow direct or|
in seed trays
|20cm||anywhere||annual or biennial|
|Mustard greens||1st||sow direct||30cm||brassicas||annual|
|Onion||3rd||in seed trays||10cm||roots||biennial grown
Moon phase planting
Lots of people (including, by anecdote, many farmers) practice moon-phase planting whereby different types of veggie are planted at different times in the moon’s 28-day cycle.
The basic idea/assumption/rationale/sophistry is that one wants to root crops to grow downwards, and thus when the upward pull of the moon is lessening, and thus when the moon is waning. By contrast, one wants leafy and fruity crops to grow upwards, and thus when the upward pull of the moon is increasing, and thus when the moon is waxing. This gives the following phasing:
- 1st quarter: leafy – plant crops where one eats the leaves/foliage.
- 2nd quarter: fruits – plant crops where one eats the fruit.
- 3rd quarter: roots – plant root crops.
- 4th quarter: have a rest!
As fruity things, cucurbits (cucumbers, etc) and solanums (tomatoes, etc) are heavy feeders. Brassicas (cabbages, etc) are medium feeders. As rooty things, alliums (onions, etc) and umbellifers (carrots, etc) are light feeders. Legumes (beans, etc) are non-feeders (they can fix their own nitrogen). Many leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, silverbeet, etc) don’t have much impact on the soil and can thus be planted anywhere. So, one sensible crop rotation would be:
- Legumes (beans, peas etc).
- Brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, etc).
- Alliums (onions, leeks, etc).
- Cucurbits (cucumber, pumpkin, etc).
- Umbellifers (carrots etc).
- Solanums (tomatoes, potatoes, etc).
This is a 6-year crop rotation. To make it shorter, you have to do one or more of three things:
- Combine some things: so, for example, combine alliums and umbellifers as ‘roots’.
- Omit some things: so, for example, never plant brassicas.
- Plant a cool season crop (e.g. brassicas) followed by a warm season crop (e.g. solanums or cucurbits) into a single bed over the course of a year.
You also have to decide whether the annual rotation should be in Spring or in Autumn.
For a comprehensive discussion of crop rotation, read Angelo Eliades’ article.