Shop online safe & secure, 24/7 SHOP NOW

Hi There and welcome to our September 2013 e-newsletter! leaf image

Don't the seasons roll around quickly?  Here we are again - Spring is here!

It's a fantastic time of year to be in the garden.  I hope you enjoy this newsletter.  As always, your feedback is welcome.

Don't forget to send in your garden pics to be part of our quarterly draw for a trailer load of goodies.

Photos can be uploaded to our Facebook page (don't forget to 'Like' us to be part of the FB family!) or e-mailed directly to [email protected]

Don't forget to let me know if there is anything you would like to see in future newsletters - and I hope you enjoy this one!

Cheers,
Linda

PS.  Keep your eyes out for "Homegrown" Magazine at your news stand now.  This is a new, quarterly sustainable living magazine and yours truly has been asked to be a regular contributor!  :-D  Click here for a sneak peak.

Homegrown MagIn this newsletter:

Jobs for the garden late winter/early spring
What to plant now
Cabbage Butterfly and Cabbage Moth
Chooks in the City
Lawn Care in Spring
Square Foot Gardening - what is it?
Online Shop - Now with FREE delivery
Kids Colouring In Contest
Garden Goodies
- exclusive offer for our newsletter readers!!

 

Early Spring in the Garden

This is a very busy time in the garden - lots to do before summer & lots to grow and enjoy!  -

  • Keep on top of winter weeds.  Whippersnip before flowering to ensure the seeds do't spread.  (See our fact sheet on weeds.)
  • It's time now to plant asparagus and rhubarb crowns, and strawberry plants.
  • Watch for snails and slugs, and mildew as damper conditions start.  Also keep an eye out for white cabbage moth caterpillars, scale and aphids.  Control numbers before populations get out of hand.  (See our natural pest and disease control fact sheet.)
  • It's time to feed plants - they will be putting on Spring growth so it's time to feed up the soil.  Incorporate aged compost and well rotted manure, together with rock dust to provide minerals. 

What to plant now

This is a really exciting time if you love to grow your own vegies!

There is still time to enjoy another crop of spinach, kale, celery, lettuce, asian greens, onions, potatoes, snowpeas, beetroot, silverbeet, carrots, etc. 

It's time for asparagus and rhubarb crowns, too.  We have stock of rhubarb now available (sorrry asparagus sold out but we can tell you where you CAN get some!).  Both are perennial plants well deserving of a spot in your garden.  Asparagus ideally do need a bit of room, but rhubarb can be kept in a pot quite happily.

Your spring/summer vegies like tomatoes, capsicum, chilli, cucumbers, eggplant, beans can all be started off if you choose to propagate from seed.  It's best to do early plantings in trays so you can control their environment (ie. make temporary greenhouse shelters, or move around to get more sunlight and warmth, etc) if required.

We recently received an order of over 600 packs of Eden Seeds, so there's bound to be something you would like to grow this year available!  (Yes, even corn seed!)

We are receiving new seedling stock every week; with all stock being seasonally suitable to plant.  (Each week as the season progresses, more varieties will be coming in.)

Remember to bookmark our 'When to Sow' guide for an easy to follow, month by month planting chart.

 

Cabbage White Butterfly and Cabbage Moth

Cabbage White Butterfly, Pieris rapae, is a common pest in our gardens at this time of year.  The adult white female is seen fluttering around your vegies, looking for a place to lay her eggs (usually on the underside of leaves).  The eggs hatch into green caterpillars, which grow rapidly as they munch their way through your maturing brassicas.  They pupate either under outer leaves, or often in a sheltered spot nearby (eg. a fence, or garden edging).  Their life cycle takes about a month.  Adults can be found drinking nectar from flowers - they are attracted to yellow and blue flowers in particular.

These butterflies are originally from Europe but are now common throughout most of the world; being first reported in Australia in the 1930's. 

The caterpillars are often found on the underside of leaves, along the leaf veins.  Green and plump, growing to up to 3cms long.  The are extremely well camouflaged - often the best hint of where to find them is the large black droppings, known as "frass" giving away their position. 

Did you know that the Cabbage Moth is an altogether different pest of your brassicas?

Yes - great news.  There are LOTS of beasties after your brassicas!

cabbage mothThe Cabbage MOTH, Plutella xylostella, is much smaller - only about a centimetre long, and is a rather non-descript greyish/brown colour.  It is active at dusk - (being a moth) not during the day.  As you would expect, their caterpillars are much smaller - only growing to about 12mm, and if disturbed often drop from leaves attached to a silken thread.  They pupate in cocoons they build under leaves. 

Caterpillars of both moth & butterfly will start off in the outer leaves, and work their way towards the heart of the plant.  Keeping an eye on your crops, and picking caterpillars off by hand is easier to do when the little beasties are on the outside leaves. 

If you have chooks, feed the caterpillars to them - they will thank you for it!

Fortunately, the caterpillars do have natural predators (like wasps) - so where possible avoid broad spectrum pesticides which will wipe out everything - good and bad - in your garden.

Small birds also play a part in insect control; so encourage them with some native shrubs around your yard.

Other methods of control include:

For butterflies - attacking them with a tennis raquet.  A good way to practise your hand/eye co-ordination and get some exercise!  A squirty bottle with water and soap will work to bring them down (they can't fly with wet wings) and they can be squished.

hanging tagsIt is also thought that females are not keen on laying eggs where lots of other butterflies already have - so make a simple mobile from bits of white plastic (I've used bread bag tags here hung from fishing line on an old wire coathanger).  This tricks them into going somewhere else!

Another method is to invert eggshell halves over sticks around your brassicas...  They look a little like cabbage butterfly, too.

Netting is a very effective way to keep both moths & butterflies (and most other pests) off your crops.  Use some stakes to put the netting over, and weigh it down on the ground with rocks or stones.  Old net curtains from the op shop work well, or you can buy specialised insect netting.  Just remember though if you are looking to save seed you will need to allow a pollinator inside to get to work!

Garlic sprays are helpful against chewing insects like caterpillars, but require frequent applications to be effective.  DE is worth considering, but can also harm beneficial insects.

The other option is Dipel - a product containing a bacteria ONLY effective against caterpillars.  You mix the powder with water, and spray on your plants.  It is safe for humans, mammals and beneficial insects.  Once ingested, the bacteria will kill the caterpillar in 3-5 days.

Another caterpillar often seen around in winter are the black 'fuzzy-wuzzy' caterpillars.  These are NOT spitfires (which solely feed on eucalypts and are found in clusters) but the larvae of the small, native 'Tiger Moth'.  So where possible - try not to decimate these characters.  Allow a sacrificial plant to feed them if you can!

 
Chooks in the City

chooks in the city logoIn an exciting first for Perth, a friend of mine is developing a business to allow people to experiment with having a couple of chooks in their back yard.  A rental/'try before you buy' option that comes with a chook house, two point of lay chickens, feed & support to allow you to see whether chooks will fit your lifestyle.  If you've never had chickens before, and don't know what is involved in keeping them - this could be a terrific option for you! 

If you're interested, or know someone who is - contact Hannah on 0433 899 970 for more details.   Available to schools, daycare centres, aged homes, etc. with an option for on-going maintenance to take care of cleaning, etc.

 

And speaking about chooks - GLSC now has Biodynamic Chook Feed available on our online shop!  20kg bag is $39.50.  Definitely no GMO. 

          

Lawn Care in Spring

Lawn is sometimes seen as not being environmentally friendly.  While the image of a water guzzling lawn in certainly not a good thing, a certain amount of practical lawn adds appeal to your home and can have some suprising other benefits.

lawn pictureDid you know that on a hot summer day natural turf is 50oC cooler than artificial turf, 30oC cooler than ashphalt and 15oC cooler than bare earth?  And that the front lawns of eight houses have the cooling effect of 70 tons of air conditionioning?  (The average home has an a/c of 3-4 ton capacity)*  So having some green around your home certainly has it's benefits!  Natural turf will last a lifetime if correctly looked after - artificial turn requires replacing every 7-10 years and - made from plastic - is an oil based product and not biodegradable.

So if you have just the right amount of lawn and look after it, there are certainly environmental benefits.  Spring is the perfect time to give your lawn a little TLC and get it in the best shape possible to survive the coming summer months.

Top dress with a fine layer of compost, or our specially made top dress mix, and water in well.  Our top dress mix contains important minerals like Zeolite, Bentonite and Rock Dust which provides trace elements and helps to build healthy soil biology.

The advantage of using a compost based product is it works to improve the soil structure rather than simply supplying nutrients in a quick release, soluable form.  By improving soil structure you encourage deeper root growth which helps your lawn be more drought tolerant.

Maintain strong healthy turf by spraying with liquid fertiliser that contains seaweed, fish, organic compounds and amino acids at four week intervals from October to March.  You can make your own compost tea, or look for one of several brands of these low analysis fertilisers commercially available.  Always follow the instructions and never use at a greater dilution rate than advised.

Encouraging strong growth also out competes weeds, which should be monitored and removed regularly.   Either remove by hand or use a low toxicity treatment (there are now several on the market) rather than a glysophate product.

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.

Modern hand push reel mowers that cut all types of lawns superbly and are easy to operate in confined spaces are now available.  Easy to use and practical - save money and fuel, no noise to upset the neighbours, and you get some excercise!

Clippings are mostly water, decompose rapidly, re-cycle nutrients that stimulate microbial activity and increase the organic content of the soil.  Normally we'd recommend you leave them on the grass, but if you MUST remove them, use them to make some good compost!  They are a useful resource in the garden.

And lastly - think about how much lawn you really NEED.  They are lovely to have for relaxing and entertaining, and provide a great play area for kids and pets - but if it is a larger area than you need, consider turning some of it into a low maintenence garden area.  Or even a vegie patch....  (Now, there's an idea!!!)

( *  Source of data:  Turf Australia)  Thanks also to Nick Bell for Turf Information.

 
Square Foot Gardening

What is it?

square foot garden bedMel Bartholomew is the ‘founder’ of Square Foot Garden – a concept that he launched in 1981.  He has published books and made TV shows in the US of the method.  Square Foot Gardening (SFG) has now become popular around the world, for a number of reasons.

SFG is basically an intensive, shallow, raised bed system.  Growing in a mixture high in nutrients and organic matter.  A small system obviously doesn’t take up much room in a small yard, and watering can be efficient and overall water use reduced – another benefit.

The ideal SFG is a square bed 4ft x 4ft (1.2m x 1.2m) divided up into a grid with 16 smaller squares within.  The concept is to devote one ‘square’ to a particular type of plant.  How many plants you put into that ‘square’ depends on the ultimate size of the plant.  Larger plants (ie. Tomato, basil) you would only plant one in the centre of a square.  Smaller plants, (ie. Strawberry, lettuce) – 4 per square.  Even smaller plants (ie. Spinach) maybe 9 per square, and smaller again (ie. Radish, onion) maybe 16 per square.

The idea is to have the grid clearly visible and dividing the larger bed.  Because the overall size of the larger bed is only 1.2m, it is easily reached from all sides, so you don’t need to step onto the bed or compact the soil.  Tending and harvesting is not difficult.  Smaller beds are also easier to work with if you need to provide shadecloth or frost protection; depending on the seasons.

Because many crops are grown close together, the benefits of companion planting come into play – pests can get confused with the range of plants on offer!

What are the details of a SFG?

It is recommended that the grid box be laid on top of existing soil or lawn with weed mat underneath, and filled with ‘Mel’s mix’ – his researched blend of 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 vermiculite.  Our  own experimentation has shown our Certified Organic Potting Mix to work well also.  (note – we don’t use peat moss due to it being unsustainably sourced – but our potting mix contains bioactive cocopeat; which serves a very similar purpose.) 

The depth of soil is only required to be about 20cms – so there are also savings over a conventional garden bed as less soil is required.  Because the mix is a highly fertile and water holding mix, a depth of 20cms (usually considered too shallow) will work.  However, for crops like potatoes or carrots, a topper box to sit on top of the original square to provide additional depth is certainly recommended.

At harvest time, in SFG, the crop is removed – often cut at the base to allow roots to decompose within the mix – and a fresh seed or seedling planted in the same spot,, with a trowel full of new soil. 

Within the system, planting guides and recommendations for things like crop rotation have been published, so it makes it easy for a new gardener to have relative success and avoid pitfalls of overcrowding.

Spreading plants like pumpkins and cucumbers are grown vertically, using a trellis system – again saving space.

square foot diagramThese are the 10 basics of Square Foot Gardening – taken directly from www.squarefootgardening.org

  1. LAYOUT – Arrange your garden in squares, not rows. Lay it out in 4′x4′ planting areas.
  2. BOXES - Build boxes to hold a new soil mix above ground.
  3. AISLES – Space boxes 3′ apart to form walking aisles.
  4. MEL’S MIX – Fill boxes with Mel’s special soil mix: 1/3 blended compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 coarse vermiculite.
  5. GRID – Make a permanent square foot grid for the top of each box. A MUST!
  6. CARE – NEVER WALK ON YOUR GROWING SOIL. Tend your garden from the aisles.
  7. SELECT - Plant a different flower, vegetable, or herb crop in each square foot, using 1, 4, 9, or 16 plants per square foot.
  8. PLANT – Conserve seeds. Plant only a pinch (2 or 3 seeds) per hole. Place transplants in a slight saucer-shaped depression.
  9. WATER - Water by hand from a bucket of sun-warmed water.
  10. HARVEST – When you finish harvesting a square foot, add compost and replant it with a new and different crop.

At GLSC we are soon to be setting up a display SFG, at a special workshop/presentation by qualified SFG instructor and horticulturalist Nick Bell.

We will be selling kits for SFG made from eWood – a 100% recycled, food grade product made from recycled computer and car plastic parts – a complete ‘close the loop’ Australian product .

 

ONLINE SHOP NEWS

victory garden girlYou wanted it - you got it!!!  Green Life Soil Co online shop has brought back FREE delivery!  Now, all orders over $200 are delivered FREE.  And orders between $100 - $200 are only $15.  AND (if that wasn't enough) we have introduced a loyalty program which means if you buy from us regularly you will always receive FREE delivery for any order over $100. 

Visit our online shop today!!!

 

Colouring in Competition

mason and sashaIn the recent July school holidays, we ran a colouring in competition for kids promoted via our Facebook page.  (Don't forget to 'like' us on FB to stay in touch!)

We got some lovely entries, and were happy to award 10 prizes of kids' mini-garden packs (a vegie grow bag, our certified organic potting mix, and a punnet of seedlings or a packet of seeds.) 

Here are two of our winners - Sasha and Mason - thanks to Mum for sending in the photo.

It's great to see the future generation of gardeners coming along!

 

 

GARDEN GOODIES - an exclusive offer for our newsletter readers!

dirt imageIf you are looking to top up your garden beds for Spring, or are building a new bed completely - you will be needing some soil and/or soil improver to get the best results from your garden.

So for a limited time we are giving you a discounted rate on soils - either for bulk delivery or picked up from our yard.

Mention the newsletter offer to receive the BULK rate for your soil, concentrate or bulk product (manure, compost, mulch).  So even if you only need half a trailer load, you can buy it for the same price normally given for over 5 cubic metres.

Offer is valid once per household up until close of business Sunday, 22nd September.  If booking a bulk delivery - please ask for it at the time of ordering.

 

So until next time – have a great time this Spring in the garden!  Have fun, and Let’s get dirty!

(Don't forget - we'd love your feedback on this newsletter!  Please contact us with your comments!) 

Thanks,
Linda

 

Want to stay in touch between newsletters?  'Like' us on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest to keep informed & entertained.  Or follow our blog:
http://www.greenlifesoil.com/_blog/The_Stoney_Patch

NASAA Organic Certified ProductsNASAA Organic Certified Products