Winter – WA

Plant:

  • Winter is the time to plant West Australian natives such as Geraldton wax. These will produce spectacular flowers come late July and August, perfect as cut flowers to brighten up the house. They thrive in WA’s sandy soils. Other Australian native plants such as Grevilleas, Eucalyptus, Casurinas, Callistemons, Banksias and Hakeas are great planted now, as they have time to establish strong root systems over winter and be extremely waterwise by the time summer rolls around.
  • Establish cottage garden plants now while the rain is plenty and they will reward you with a stunning display come spring and summer. Varieties include lavender, perennial marigold, foxglove, forget-me-not, Japanese anemone, poppy and carnation.
  • Plant your spring-flowering bulbs now, such as tulips, hyacinth, ranunculus, anemones, daffodils and freesias. For something a little different, keep an eye out for more unusual bulbs such as flame lilies, South African blood lilies, sacred lilies of the Incas and red spider lilies.
  • In the vegie patch, plant brassicas such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower seedlings. Root vegetables such as turnips, swedes, beetroot and carrots can be planted as seed.
  • Potatoes will also grow well in the cooler months. Buy certified virus-free seed potatoes and plant them under bails of straw and wet it down well. The potatoes will grow through the straw as it rots, producing a bumper crop by the end of the year.

Do:

  • Bare-rooted deciduous trees are perfect (and affordable) for planting now. Browse your local garden centre for some beautiful ornamental trees, ideal for planting in a north-westerly aspect to provide shade in summer but let in warming sunlight in winter.
  • Collect fallen leaves from your deciduous trees and use them as mulch in garden beds needing a little more organic matter. A thin layer of chicken manure over the top will speed up decomposition into an effective garden humus.
  • Feed flowers and vegetable seedlings with composted cow manure now to keep them growing well throughout winter.
  • Slater populations start rising at this time of year, which may lead the hungry critters to your vegetable seedlings. The easiest and safest way to reduce numbers is by setting traps; place squeezed orange halves in a dry place to lure them in, then simply pick them up in the morning and dispose of them in the rubbish bin.
  • Another pest to watch out for is ants – inside. They will be seeking somewhere dry to set up a nest, and that may well be in your house. Lay a line of talcum powder across any ant trails you find heading towards the house and they will quickly turn and head in a different direction.

Taste:

  • Apples are still available from autumn, but nashi pears are at their peak. Nashi’s are an Asian variety that look and taste like a cross between an apple and a pear. They are delicious eaten fresh, added as a sweet crunch to salads, or cooked into a sauce or compote.
  • Winter is the time for greens, with nutritious kale and spinach at the fore. These can both be eaten fresh, added to soups and casseroles, lightly steamed or try sautéing them with some bacon and onion for a delicious side dish. This recipe for honeyed greens is perfect as a side to hearty winter dishes or a quick, light meal in itself.
Kale

Kale

HONEYED GREENS

  • 6 C assorted green vegetables (such as zucchini, leek, celery, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green beans and green capsicum)

Dressing

  • 2 T honey
  • 2 T vinegar
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1 t reduced-salt soy sauce
  • 1 t ginger, finely chopped

Slice vegetables to the same size for even cooking and steam for 6-8 minutes (or microwave on high for 3-4 minutes) so they are still crisp but tender. Place dressing ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat until the honey dissolves, or heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Drain the vegetables and toss through the dressing. Serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of Delish – From Garden to Table, available here.

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