The winter solstice, the day of the year with the least number of daylight hours, will be on Sunday, June 21, and will give us 10 hours, 10 minutes and 18 seconds of daylight.
The winter solstice is not the day with the latest sunrise and earliest sunset, however, as the earliest sunset at Armidale will be on 11 June, when the sun will set at 4:59pm and the latest sunrise is around June 30, at 6:51am.
(It's to do with scientific stuff like the Earth moving around the Sun in an ellipse, not a circle, and because the Earth is off-centre on its axis).
Astronomic facts aside, make the most of the longer evenings by planning any changes you want to make in the garden and browsing the online catalogues for your summer and autumn bulb purchases.
Winter solstice veggie patch
Many follow the adage of planting onions on the shortest day, the winter solstice, and harvesting on the longest day, (the summer solstice - 2 December 2020).
There are two types of onions - short day onions which develop bulbs as the day length increases, and long day, which form bulbs as the days become longer and need between 14 and 16 daylight hours.
If you haven't got to planting your onions before June, don't panic - you can wait until after 21 June and plant later varieties, such as 'Creamgold', which form bulbs as the days become longer.
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Its important to choose the right variety at the right time of year as otherwise your onion plants may bolt to seed.
Keep on with successive Bok Choi or Pak Choy, spring onion, shallot, garlic, radish and broccoli plantings.
Also continue successive winter lettuce plantings.
The main lettuce types are crisphead (eg Iceberg), Cos (Romaine), butterhead and loose leaf.
Cos lettuce has an elongated head, dark green, long, narrow, crisp, stiff leaves and a coarse texture.
Butterheads have a loose heart, soft leaves, are green to dark green in colour and include mignonettes, oakleaf and butter varieties.
Loose leaf lettuces come in a great variety of sizes, shapes and colours such as coral, babyleaf and salad mixes.
Spray peach and nectarine trees with a copper spray at leaf fall to control leaf curl disease.
Earth up winter brassicas to give them better anchorage in strong winds.
Brussels Sprouts are particularly prone to being blown over. Remove yellowing leaves regularly as these encourage fungal diseases. Keep checking the brassicas for caterpillars.
Dig up parsnips from the ground only after the first frosts, when they will be sweeter.
The next meeting of the Armidale Garden Club is likely to be on Thursday 25 June, at 7:00 pm in the Uniting Church Youth Club Hall.