GARDEN DEVA WINTER NEWSLETTER 2018
Hi folks, welcome to winter. When the sun comes out and the rain takes a breather, it’s a relief to be able to potter in the garden, knowing that whatever you plant needs little watering and will most likely thrive, particularly if it’s an edible like kale, silverbeet, rocket or lettuce. And it's a great excuse to finally use the firepit!
The only watering we usually need to concern ourselves with is the oft forgotten plants which live under the eaves plants in the rain shadow. Keep a full watering can nearby for these or use your cold hot water bottle water. Check pots or soil are not moist before watering.
I have a sneaking suspicion that our plants don’t have a clue it is winter. Climate change has put paid to any normalcy in the garden. I have blueberries and mulberries in full fruit and putting out more. Basil is cranking and my gardenia is putting out flower buds. Instead of being leafless, my Spicezee nectaplum is in full foliage. If your stone fruit are also in leaf, it is time to pluck every single leaf off and spray with a copper spray, thus forcing it into dormancy. Without dormancy and winter chill, it will likely not put out flowers, therefore fruit. I say likely because climate change has not only confused the plants, but also the expert gardeners. Who knows what is going to happen weather-wise in the near or distant future?
If you are serious about being a good gardener, why not keep a gardener’s diary? Even though half the year is already behind us, it’s never too late to start one. A diary is the ideal tool to record ideas, how your garden copes with unseasonal weather events, pest recipes, pest issues – what why and when? - names of seeds/plants you grew, what worked and what didn’t etc…believe me – you will not remember! It’s also the place to stick garden tags of unusual plants. I’ve been keeping one for more than a decade and have found it to be an invaluable reference resource with information specific to my garden.
As all gardeners know, plants are intelligent. Here’s why: Natural Smarts
Here is a surprisingly palatable drink made from a very old German recipe which can be made and stored for months in the fridge. A sip of this alkaline brew each morning in warm water did wonderfully therapeutic things to my immune system last year. I only wish I had remembered to drink this potion again before I went to Canberra last week and came back with a cold! http://www.healthjunction.com.au/articles/lemon-garlic-elixir/
PS Don’t drink this if taking blood thinners. See your health practitioner or doctor if in doubt.
NANNUP GARDEN AND FLOWER SHOW AUGUST 16-19TH
What a perfect excuse for a long weekend trek down South! At the Nannup GFS, not only will garden lovers be able to visit some stunning gardens, but the wonderfully inspiring Costa Georgiadis, from Gardening Australia will be making an appearance. There will also be talks and tours by Sabrina Hahn, cooking demos by top chefs, Q & A’s by All the Dirt podcast’s Derryn Thorpe and Steve Wood and more. Can’t wait! www.nannupgardens.org.au
KOMBUCHA – FAD OR FABULOUS FREE FERMENTED DRINK?
Kombucha is a beverage made by fermenting tea with a starter bacteria/yeast culture, called a SCOBY. It is popular for its reputed benefits to the gut but I love it because it is so simple to make at home and utterly delicious, much like a healthy soft drink. Flavoured with homegrown fruit; DIY kombucha is becoming a big hit with edible gardeners. Nectarine, pear and ginger, strawberry; mango; passionfruit and orange; mandarin or just plain ginger – think healthy ginger ale - they are all delicious. PS if you are partial to vodka, try ginger kombucha and a squeeze of lime – yum!
If you are interested in having a go yourself, get a starter ‘SCOBY’ culture, from a friend or try community and food FACEBOOK sites or Gumtree. Please note - Kombucha doesn’t agree with everyone. If interested, check out www.kombuchakamp.com
Love sweet peas but couldn’t be bothered planting them in April/May? A tasty great alternative is to plant the Snow pea varieties purple podded pea or the hand sized Giant Yukomo. They have gorgeous sweet pea like flowers and delicious either massive or purple snow peas.
TREES IN THE GARDEN
Now’s the time to have a good look at the trees in your garden. Are your evergreens blocking the winter light entering your home? Is their canopy making the garden cold, damp and gloomy? If so, consider either relocating them (now is a good time if they are not tropical or too large); or doing some selective thinning, ie pruning out whole branches, to let in light.
Evergreens should be planted at the south and west sides of the garden. Although sometimes impractical, if possible, use shrubs, climbers and deciduous trees to screen ugly views or fences.
Deciduous trees are best on the north and east sides of the garden but should also be placed wherever you need shade, habitat or screening, anywhere in the garden. Their mulch this time of year is an added bonus.
Let’s get over our fear of planting trees. Do your research, get some good local advice and get planting!
VERGING ON INNOVATIVE
Bouquets to the City of Bayswater for their groundbreaking, rule book snubbing new verge policies. May all the councils in Australia have the commonsense to stop blithely following rules set by insurance companies and have the courage to follow suit. Yeah! Council ditches rulebook.
TOP 5 CITRUS TIPS
1. Citrus roots don’t actively uptake nutrients in winter, so if your tree looks deficient, you may need to foliage spray it. Trace elements and magnesium deficiencies are the usual culprits but if unsure, take a leaf to a (non-hardware store) garden centre and ask a horticulturist.
2. While enjoying the bounty of lemon and limes in winter, consider squirrelling away some juice in ice cubes in the freezer, for the lean times in January and February.
3. Eureka and Meyer are the favoured lemon varieties in Perth but did you know that lemonade (orange x lemon) and Lisbon lemons are also excellent trees to grow?
4. Short of space? Simply espalier, grow dwarf citrus in pots or plant two varieties in the same hole. Two in one works a treat. Leave 30cm minimum space between each tree to allow for trunk growth.
5. Prune Eureka lemons in August to encourage 12 months of fruiting. PS Never hard prune any tree when flowering or fruiting or in summer. The stress will most likely make it shed all its flowers, fruit and leaves.
DID YOU KNOW that
it takes 4-6 weeks for iron chelates to do their job greening up those pale yellow leaves? So, be patient, particularly in the cold weather when it’s sleepy time for many plants.
Check out these cute solar fountain pumps for small water features and birdbaths. I couldn’t resist and just ordered one online. www.smartsolarfountain.com or eBay.
That’s all for this season. Rug up and get out there!