A week to grow below-ground crops after 23rd December

A week to grow below-ground crops after 23rd December

Happy festive season everyone!


If you can squeeze in sowing root crops – and want to – there’s just 1 ‘best’ day this month. If you can keep soil moist, the best day to sow root crops is:

  • Monday 24th December 2018.

after the full moon on Sunday 23rd December 2018. [Here in New Zealand]

Here in Auckland, New Zealand, the outside ground is warm and germination will be fast. Keeping ground moist for tiny seedlings is the issue at this time of year. We wait until autumn to sow seed rather than have to sort out automatic irrigation at this time of year [or hand-hose frequently each day!]

Also, frequent hot days can be enough to send tiny seedlings to bypass forming a root and make seeds instead.


Some root crops can be transplanted, for example we’ve had success doing so with beetroot. Many others bolt straight to seed without forming nice big roots.

With carrots, we have had success when sown directly into the open ground of warm soil with constant moisture as they dislike root disturbance being transplanted [they are very likely to bolt straight to seed and make no root for us to eat]. Some people say they have had success transplanting seedlings.

The tiny seeds need to be planted close to the surface and kept moist.  Hot sun dries them out quickly – and they die fast.

One strategy I’ve heard when sowing carrots in hotter weather was to take 2 weeks off work, put a deck chair and sun umbrella by the carrot patch, take the hose and a drink, and sit there gently spraying the carrot patch often until they sprout and grow big enough to fend for themselves.

carrot-growing in hot times

Urban myth?

Or cover the seed with a plank of wood or hessian bags or similar. Check often and remove cover when they sprout. We find seed beds need covering with bird netting as blackbirds create chaos digging for worms, or the local cats think its a spot for them.


Why do carrots so often make odd-shaped roots?  When the ground is

  • hard,
  • clay,
  • rocky,
  • too rich with compost/manures/fertilizer.

The delicate seedlings are programmed to send roots downwards. As they grow down, when tiny roots contact hard spots [like rocks], they go round and grow more options [= forked roots]. They also avoid anything too rich in nutrients for the rootlets to process.


PS Seeds like ‘real’ water – preferably rain. Otherwise the nearest is tank water of stored rain. Then maybe bore water, last treated water from a mains supply.

One older gardener we knew would place all sorts of containers outside to catch the rain to water her seedlings. She used all sorts from teapots on – she also grew great veg!

We focus more on caring for crops already growing.

Best wishes for your garden at this time


For more ideas about what to sow and when in NZ, have a look at  http://gardenate.com



For more about planting by the  moon phases,

If you like experiments about when to plant for best results, a great one is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row.

This way you can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas – and if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds, I might even get some results to share!

Here’s a post I wrote about planting by the moon phases if you like more information and reflections on it.

Moon planting guides remind me to plant SOMETHING, plan a little, and help me have a continuous supply!



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