Hi folks, welcome to Winter. Weird weather! In April we received not a scrap of rain - the first time in 30 years. My dwarf black mulberry fruited 4 times over the last 12 months instead of once in Oct/November. Odd, but I’m not complaining!
Talkback radio is rife with gardeners asking when to prune and spray fruit trees as some plants are simply not behaving as they usually do. For example, my Virginia creeper has only just started to redden its leaves this week, whereas it is normally completely devoid of its leaves by late May. Go figure. I believe climate change has a lot to answer for. Perhaps we now need to be more observant about what plants are doing rather than slavishly following a gardening calendar. (Having said that, please feel free to click on the top right sidebar to see what needs doing in winter!)
GARDEN DEVA Top 3 tips for winter. 
1. Keep sowing snow peas every 2-3 weeks for a regular and delicious harvest which avoids gluts. Either soak in hot recently boiled water for 4 hours or sow direct. Pictured is the delicious purple podded snowpea.
2. Soak teabags in water for a few days, then bury them under mulch around citrus, spring flowering pot plants and camellias/azaleas. Tea (and coffee) is also a mild insecticide.  Apply to any plants except peas and beans which tend to prefer more alkaline conditions.
3. Caterpillars can quickly decimate your plants, particularly edibles. Kale is a particular favourite. Make a habit of walking around your garden, hot drink in hand and pick them off each morning – this makes a huge dent in the population. Alternatively spray with Dipel or Success or use Horticultural Diatomaceous Earth from Ngoolark Nursery in South Fremantle or online at Gardeners Direct.
A new way to plant fruit trees in pots.
Over the past 5 years, I have been experimenting with wicking pots for my fruit trees and vegies – largely with great success. I am now intrigued with the coarse sand and clay method popularised by local tree expert, Peter Coppin.
Within two weeks of planting my ailing dwarf avocado by this method, the tree seemed to miraculously recover. One word – DRAINAGE. Avocados in particular required sharp drainage or they quickly succumb to root rots.
With Peter Coppin’s method, the secret lies in the alliance between the excellent drainage provided by the coarse sand and the moisture retention properties of the clay.  His excellent three part video series is well worth a look if you want to grow fruit in pots. I sometimes leave it 2-2.5 weeks without watering my avocado, even in warm weather, though not in the height of summer.
Coarse sand can be quite expensive if you buy it in 7L bags from the garden centre. For bulk quantities visit Richgro in Canning Vale. 
INDOOR PLANTS – the new black?
As our blocks become smaller, indoor plantscapes are becoming very popular, as is evident by the explosion of planty retail outlets popping up all over the place.
Check out the stunning new shop at Creation Landscape Supplies in North Freo; Little Leaf Co in Myaree or Stackwood in Fremantle. Florists, and many pop up shops/cafes are also increasingly becoming a rich supply of indoor plants and pots.
Buying an indoor plant is one thing, keeping it thriving is another matter.  Over-watering, insufficient light and lack of humidity are major issues with most indoor gardeners.
Plants growing inside really suffer in winter if they are near warm heaters. Heaters/open fires dry out the leaves, stressing the plant (many indoor plants are from tropical areas).
A simple tip if it’s not practical to move them is to hang a small hand sprayer full of very weak seaweed liquid on the back of the pot and give them a spray when you have the heater on. They’ll love you for it as it increases humidity and helps prevent pests. Keep plants away from cold draughts.
If it is raining and not too cold, give your indoor plants a holiday outside for a few days. The rain will revitalise them.
Should you become addicted to indoor gardening and have the space in which to grow them, invest in a lux meter. This is a gadget which gives an accurate indication of how much light is in different parts of the room/house which greatly reduces the pest potential. Adequate light is the first consideration when buying and siting your green babies. Lux meters are available from hydroponic stores and Ebay. Click  HERE to check what you can plant in medium light. 
6 easy ways to learn more about gardening.
RADIO: Sabrina Hahn is at her entertaining best on Saturday mornings from 9.10 – 10 am on 720 ABC radio.
PODCAST: Deryn Thorpe and Steve Wood have recently launched “All the Dirt" an informative weekly gardening podcast.
Download from their website or from iTunes.   
TV: Gardening Australia is an excellent show all about gardening and garden design, and has been educating gardeners for over 27 years. It goes from strength to strength and if you miss an episode, you may catch it on iView. Saturday 6.30 pm or Sunday 1pm on ABC1.
PRINT: Some favourites of mine are: Gardening Australia magazine, The Organic Gardener, Your Garden and The Diggers Club magazine (available to members only).
ONLINE: there are literally thousands of blogs, websites and podcasts sharing gardening knowledge. The Plant Hunter has wonderful gardener profiles and articles on design and plants. Garden Drum also has articles and showcases which garden related events and tours are happening around Australia.
Needless to say, Facebook has hundreds of gardening sites. Consider joining a few - they are a great connector of people and plants. WA gardeners and Jetto’s Patch are two of my favourites. A particularly useful one is ‘What plant is that?’ where members upload a photo of their unknown plant and other members will identify it for them.
Greenlife Soil are well known, for their quality soils and soil amendments but more recently, as a gardening hub around the Hills. As mentioned in the Autumn newsletter, they run workshops for most of the year, from making herbal remedies from your garden to chook keeping, pest control and grafting.
Susannah from Perth Succulent Bowls is running more of her popular DIY wok workshops. Participants learn how to create succulent masterpieces, then take them home. Her next workshop is on Sunday 23rd July in Mt Hawthorn. 
Charlie Charcoal – is a new preparation by Greenlife Soil which is a high carbon and iron soil amendment. This has been crushed and prepared in a way that it is slightly acidic (most charcoal is alkaline) and, along with clay amendment like Soil Solver or Sand Remedy, is an excellent addition to sandy soils. Much like the clays, it will assist in water and fertiliser retention as well as increasing vigour and health of your plants.
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Happy winter gardening
Cherise Haslam


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