Sow seeds of summer leafy greens the week after Dec 27th

Sow seeds of summer leafy greens the week after Dec 27th

We aren’t the only ones who eat parsley! Also, green looper caterpillars, snails and slugs. Keep an eye out for these herbivores oh and the neighbors rabbit, who is very discriminating and prefers parsley to other greens.

This is generally a better time for us to grow Amaranth, Magenta Spreen, Orach, NZ Spinach, Asian greens. As long as it keeps raining and cloudy lettuce, coriander etc won’t bolt to seed. I wonder what summer will do this year?

Sow seeds for leafy greens after the dark of the moon [Thursday 26th December 2019]. Best days are

  • Friday 27th and Saturday 28th Dec, then again
  • Tuesday 31st Dec 2019, Wednesday 1st January 2020 and Thursday 2nd too [here in New Zealand].

Planting at these times gives the best chance for getting some leaves. In hot weather leafy greens have a strong tendency to bolt straight from seedling to flower and set seeds. So if planted at other times of the moon cycle, this tendency can over-ride leaf production.

This is a challenging time to grow leafy greens!

If you do plant, go for heat-lovers and know that cool-loving lettuce, spinach, coriander [cilantro] take more care and attention at this time – can you give it to them now? Especially water – I wonder if the rain will continue throughout summer?

They need constant moisture to stay tender so keep a watch on soil moisture around them [I poke a finger into the soil and feel if its moist or not]. Automatic watering systems are wonderful now.

Leafy greens are best in semi-shade now. Strong sun and dry soil are catalysts for seed production – survival is the primary directive and seed protects the plant line through hard times for the leafy phase of the plant’s life.

It’s good to sow new batches often so there are more growing leaves when previous crops are making flowers and seeds instead.

If you do sow seeds, choose from

  • Parsley – these self-seed around the garden. I help them along by leaving some plants to flower and seed, them shaking seed heads around where I want more plants to grow.
  • Lettuce – maybe I’ll spread around seed-heads from a number of summer varieties in shade, so hopefully some will do well no matter what the weather does this year – hot/dry/wet.
  • Silver-beet [including rainbow chard/ bright light beets – the ones with vibrant colored stems – so stunning to see in a garden] These are self-seeding around the garden at present.
  • Rocket [Arugula] – maybe lucky to get some leaves before they bolt to seed – in which case, the seeds will be waiting there for cooler weather. Or check out the perennial version which is stronger tasting, and has finely divided leaves. It seems to survive the heat better.
  • Asian greens – maybe mizuna.
  • New Zealand Spinach ours is self-seeding so I’ll look see if there are little, new ones growing. It’s OK cooked [use just the new leaves from the growing tips and cook in 2 changes of boiling water to draw out and minimize the oxalic acid content – in the same way that adult forms of true spinach and silver-beet also need] .
  • 20160228_081413
  • Hot-climate ‘greens’ including:
    Magenta Spreen [Chenopodium giganteum] – see Wikipedia
    for more info
    Amaranth [we like Mekong Red =  Amaranthus tricolor] – see Wikipedia
    for more info 
    Orach [Atriplex hortensis] – see Wikipedia
    for more info
    All grow more strongly in warmer weather than do lettuce or silver-beet. Most also grow far taller than lettuce. Do some research. Have a go with something different too.

Cilantro [leaf coriander] is one I have more success if I plant in cooler weather as it bolts to seed so quickly in the heat. If you plant some, maybe sow more seed over a few days?


This pik shows all stages for cilantro – bottom center are new, young leaves which are tender to eat.

Above these leaves are the 2nd gen leaves produced by a bolting stem – leaves are divided and ferny-like.

And to center-left is a little flower-head – with many tiny white flowers growing together. Insects love these sweet flower-heads so we leave them to feed the predatory insects who reduce the pest populations here. Eventually the flowers fall off and round seeds form and dry into coriander seed for use in curries etc.


Summer is a challenging time to have traditional leafy greens grow well – they much prefer cooler weather.

Grow hot-climate greens instead now.


Best wishes and enjoy the warm weather and your garden!


For more ideas about what to sow and when in NZ, have a look at



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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