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Hi There and welcome to our November/December 2012 e-newsletter! 

leaf imageWow!  Hard to believe 2012 is in its final stages!  This has been an amazing rollercoaster year for us, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support over this past year, and wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas. 

Christmas Closure: 
We will be closing at 5.00pm Sunday, 23rd of December and re-opening at 8.30am on Thursday, 3rd January 2012. 

With summer fast approaching (is it just me, or does it seem to be an early one?) there is still time to make your garden productive and protected against the increasing temperature, and we hope we have some tips here to help!  So I hope you enjoy this newsletter - don’t forget, if you have anything you would like us to focus on in future editions, drop us a line.

Cheers,

Linda

In this newsletter:

Jobs for the garden this Summer
GLSC News
Tomato Competition
Tips for Growing Tomatoes
Spring Lawn Care
SPECIAL OFFER for our newsletter readers!!
Upcoming Courses

Early Summer Gardening Jobs

By now I'm sure you're enjoying harvesting salads, a range of fresh herbs, and if you're lucky, or were organised enough to get them in early or over winter, you may even be enjoying your own home grown tomatoes!  (Ours are only just forming.)  In order to keep things going for as long as possible over our harsh summer, here are some things to consider:-

  • Mulching.  Once the weather starts to heat up, mulch is essential in our climate.  For vegie beds, we recommend pea straw or straw, as they are are light coloured and heat reflective, easy to use and apply, and break down to add valuable organic matter into the soil.  For other garden beds, look for coarse wood chip material which allows water to penetrate between the large particles and doesn't mat together.

  • Water.  Check your retic and replace or update anything not working or not working efficiently.  It is worth speaking with a retic shop or supplier and planning the best system for your needs.  In the long run it will save you time, water and your precious garden.   Consider a greywater system.  It makes such good sense to recycle water.   If you handwater your vegies, remember to be consistent with the amount of water and timing of waterings you provide to your garden.  This will mean less stress, and less problems like blossom end rot in your tomatoes and capsicums.

  • Shade.  We have discovered it is really difficult to grow over the hottest months of the year without providing shade to our vegie patch.  We have a temporary system of stringing up shadecloth over the summer which we take down for the rest of the year.  50% shadecloth is the maximum you need to use, but it makes such a difference in the survival rate and productivity of your plants.  For preference use a light coloured shadecloth (commercial nurseries use white) as it allows the full spectrum of light through.  Darker shadecloth tends to encourage straggly growth.  If you need shadecloth check with us - we are planning on stocking white shadecloth for veggie gardens soon.

  • Time to Plant!  It's not too late to be enjoying fresh salad greens for Christmas!  Lettuce, Mizuna, Endive, Chicory, etc. (especially if grown from seedlings) will be ready within a couple of weeks.  Also it's not too late to put in tomato seedlings, corn seeds, and there are year-round staples (beetroot, spring onions, silverbeet, etc.) which will get established over summer providing you keep up the water to them. 

    TOP TIP - when planting tomato seedlings, bury them deep - so that their bottom leaves are just above the surface.  The buried stem section will send out roots underground where it is in contact with the soil, which will ensure a strong, steady plant with a larger root system.

Finals Fever!

This year we have been thrilled to make it to the finals of TWO awards!  In August, we were announced as finalists in the WA Infinity Awards.  These awards are run by the Waste Management Authority arm of the DEC and are meant to recognise businesses and organisations making efforts to reduce waste and to increase recycling.  Our entry was based on our "return and refill" service we offer with our mineral tubs.

And more recently, we were announced as finalists in the 2012 WA Environment Awards - Small Business Leading by Example category, for the second year in a row!  We are excited and thrilled to receive this recognition, and thank YOU, our loyal customers for your support.

  

 

Can your tomatoes make the grade??

Last year, we ran our inaugural Tomato Taste Competition, and we are keen to do it again this year!  (Here is a picture of Damo Mansfield's winning entry - it was lovely!) 

The contest gives our customers - many of whom are fiercly proud of their gardens - (and in particular of their tomato growing prowess) a chance to show off their results!  It's all in the spirit of fun, and we hope you will be a part of it!

Judging will be in the form of a taste test, and will take place in early February.

Of course, judging will be subjective and it's all meant in the spirit of fun and encouragement, so no correspondence will be entered into with disgruntled non-winners!

We will have taste rankings, and if the entries warrant it, special awards to things like "the biggest tomato", "the smallest tomato", "the most interestingly shaped tomato" - or any other category we think applies to a tomato worthy of special mention!

So we hope you will give it a go - there will be prizes of gardening products, vouchers, bragging rights, and a certificate to show your grandchildren, neighbours, co-workers, mother-in-law, etc.  Not to mention the fame of being featured in our next newsletter, and possibly the local newspaper (if it's a slow news week). 

Entry is open to individuals, families, community groups, etc, and any type of tomato variety.  We embrace all types of Solanum lycopersicum, or even Lycopersicon lycopersicum or  Lycopersicon esculentum (depending on which site you Google). 

What you need to do to enter & and other vague rules...

1.  Grow some tasty tomatoes!  It sounds obvious, but we HIGHLY recommend using our soil for the best results!  Please grow them ORGANICALLY - keep the "icides" away - we're trusting you with this one!

2.  Bring your tomato into our store by 4.00pm on Sunday, 3rd February 2013, which is the closing time for the competition.  When you bring in your entry, we will take your details, and each tomato will be given a number so that judging will be completely anonymous.

3.  Once the judge(s) have completed their taste test, we will trace back and notify the grower/s, and arrange presentation of prizes/certificates.  With their permission, we would like to follow up on winners gardening stories, and (if they're willing to share) get their top tips for tasty tomatoes to publish in a future newsletter!

4.  Entry will be by gold coin donation.  The Green Life Soil Co will match the total raised dollar-for-dollar, and donate all proceeds to charity.  Which Charity?  Last year we asked the overall winner to choose - Damo chose Canteen.  Of course, it will need to be a registered charity.

5.  We reserve the right to make changes to these rules as we go along if we think up improvements. 

If you've never grown tomatoes before, this could be a great time to start! 

 

Growing Tomatoes

Here are some links to information regarding growing them - including Damo Mansfield's top tips - he's our 2012 winner!   We have compiled a new Fact Sheet - click here to view.

Don't forget we are often adding new fact sheets to our website - bookmark the "Gardening Fact Sheets" page and come back often to check out what's new.

 

Get Your Lawn Ready for Summer

Great debate continues on whether or not in ths day and age of reduced water use, lawns have a place in our homes.  The question to ask is - why do you want a lawn?  A lawn suits our traditional view of what 'suits' a house, and adds value and street appeal.  It can provide a practical area for children, pets and entertaining.  And studies have been shown that lawns provide a cooling effect around our homes, reducing the need for airconditioner use.

So properly managed, suitable areas of lawn are not necessarily an environmental evil.  The trick is - as always - balance.  With some maintanence at the right time of year, they can be a relatively easy care area, and survive on minimum water over summer.

In Perth, Nick Bell is recognised by many in the horticultural industry to be a leading expert on lawn, and the care and management of turf in the most environmentally friendly fashion.  We are fortunate enough, with his permission, to share his tips for Spring lawn care (to prepare for summer) here with you:-

SPRING TURF CARE

Spring is a wonderful bounteous season when everything in the garden is eager to grow. Soil is becoming warmer, the nights are losing their chill, and the earth is bursting with energy. It is the time of the year to harness Mother Nature’s energy to help rejuvenate your lawn and prepare it for the approaching summer. Now is the time of the year to re-evaluate your lawn and make changes so that it will compliment and not dominate the home garden landscape.

Reduce the size of the lawn by reclaiming areas for herb and vegetable plots, and water efficient native plant feature gardens. Remove the lawn from narrow areas at the side of the house and other places where there is too much shade for strong healthy turf. Prepare the newly proportioned lawn for summer with the following renovation program.

RENOVATION

Mow to a height of 20mm and remove the clipping.

Replace nutrients leached from the root zone by winter rains by evenly spreading an organic based granulated fertiliser that contains the correct balance of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium plus a blend of rock dusts, zeolite and humates at the rate of 50g per square metres.

Increase the organic content of sandy soil and stimulate microbial activity by top dressing with a product containing 95% fully matured compost plus 5% Zeolite volcanic rock crystals at the rate of 30 litres per 10 square metres. Rub the compost well into the turf with the back of a rake or lawn-levelling tool. In organic soils or where the lawn has developed a layer of thatch between the surface of the turf and soil, top dress with Zeolite, Bentonite Clay, Spongolite or a combination of all three amendments at the rate of 300g per square metre. In situations where the surface of the lawn has shallow depressions and high spots that prevent mowing at a uniform height, they should be top dressed with lawn dressing sand at the rate of 10mm per square metre. Use a wheelbarrow to transport the material and dump about one third of each load one to one and a half metres apart. Spread the material with a shovel or the back of a rake, allow the wind and sun to dry it, and then rub the material into the turf so that the blades of the grass poke through.

MAINTENANCE

Buffalo and Zoysia lawns are best maintained at a height of 20-25mm, and Couch; Kikuyu, Velvetene and Queensland Blue should be kept at a height of 10 to 15mm. No more than one third of the foliage should ever be removed when the lawns are mowed, so they need to be cut whenever necessary to maintain the specified heights.

Sharp correctly set cylinder and rotary mowers are essential to prevent tearing the blades of grass that encourage penetration by insect pest and fungal disease spores.

Clippings are mostly water, decompose rapidly, re-cycle nutrients that stimulate microbial activity and increase the organic content of the soil. Modern hand push reel mowers that are wider than most rotary and domestic motor driven mowers, and cut all types of lawns superbly and are easy to operate in confined spaces are now available. These mowers are heavy enough to cut through the grass and not ride over it, yet light enough to lift up steps and into difficult to reach areas of the garden and are a welcome back-to-the future addition to the range of domestic lawn mowers.

WATERING

When the root zones of al types of warm season grasses have been improved in accordance with my recommendations, they will in most cases be adequately watered under existing Water Corporation Regulations. It is a good idea to have watering systems audited by ‘Water Wise’ accredited irrigation specialists and to have done what ever is needed to ensure that they work reliably and efficiently.

GENERAL

This environmentally responsible integrated lawn care program for the period September to December if implemented will maintain strong healthy sustainable lawns and will enable lawn lovers to be their own greenkeeper.  If preferred non-routine tasks such as the supply and spreading of Compost and lawn dressing sand can be done by specialised lawn care service providers.

A good lawn compliments the landscape, enhances the character of the house, provides a safe resilient playing surface for children, and transforms a dwelling into a home. Its benefits to the homeowner far exceed any cost and the contribution that suburban lawns make to the environment is incalculable.

Nick Bell Advanced Dip: Horticulture –Turf
Lawn and Turf Specialist.

Remember - If you are after our special Lawn Top Dress Mix, compost, or any of the minerals Nick has mentioned here (Zeolite, Bentonite, Spongolite, Rock Dust - etc), come and see us, as we have all of these - and more in stock.

 

Special Offer for Newsletter Readers

2013calendarOur 2013 Moon Planting Calendars are now in stock.  These make a great gift for garders - even to yourself!  One of my friends says "Every home should have one of these behind the dunny door"...

Our normal price for these is $10.  However, for YOU, our newsletter readers, we are offering you 20% off - so the calendars are only $8.00 each, for the month of December only.  (Limit of one per customer.)

Stocks are limited, so be quick!

To receive the discounted price, please ASK us at the shop (this special is not advertised anywhere), or use the code MOON at checkout on our on-line shop.

Don't forget!  We have Gift Vouchers available for Christmas gifts, too!

 

What's On Around Town

There are many fantastic workshops being offered in Perth - and in some country areas too.  Many of these are FREE.  We try to post details of these via our Facebook page - so why not 'Like' us today to make sure you're in the loop.

Here are some great things happening that we know about:-

'Practical Steps to Look After Your Fruit and Help Prevent the Spread of Fruit Fly' - presented by the Dept of Ag and Food.  5th December (Forrestfield) and 6th December (Lesmurdie).  Click here for more details.

 'Beyond Gardens' - the team of experts who present these workshops received a WA Environment Award for their program recently.  Sponsored by the Water Corp, they offer practical advice for gardeners and run regular country workshops, too.  Click here to see their website.

'Great Gardens' also offer fun and educational workshops around the state.  A lot of these focus on gardening, but they also have some great info on sustainable living to reduce your whole ecological footprint by some simple home improvements and lifestyle changes.  Click here to visit their website.

 

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Visit The Green Life Soil Co store, or online shop for a range of quality garden products and organic garden supplies.

 

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