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Wow, welcome to summer!  Let's hope it is a kind one to our gardens!

In this newsletter, we've got some great Christmas gift ideas for you and more exciting news and developments @ GLSC.

While we're talking about Christmas Giving:-

Christmas Food Drop Point

This year, we have set up as a drop point for non-perishable food for the Salvo's Christmas appeal.  Please bring packets/cans of non-perishable food (within date code please) and leave them at GLSC for collection by the Salvos.  A little bit will go a long way to help make someone's Christmas a little bit brighter, if they're going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment. 

B1G1 project

b1g1 logoGLSC is excited to say we are now members of B1G1 (Buy 1 Give 1).  This is a worldwide foundation set up specifically for small businesses to combine resources and donate to projects all around the world, by regular giving and/or linking sales to donations.  At Green Life, we want to be a positive influence on the world, so have decided that we will link online sales of our most popular bagged products to a B1G1 donation scheme.  And to make it a bit more fun, we are involving our team.  Every month, one of our team will be able to choose from one of the many worthwhile B1G1 projects to direct the donation towards.  We will show on our website the progress of the giving scheme as it progresses.  So THANK YOU to you - our customers - for helping make this happen, and for the impact you are having on the world.  (If you happen to own a small business, I'd encourage you to look into B1G1, too.)

Christmas Closure

We will be closing for our Christmas break from 5.00pm Tuesday, 23rd December and re-opening 8.30am Friday, 2nd January.

The cut-off date for delivery of online orders to be received for pre-Christmas delivery is 8.30am Thursday, 18th December.  (Any online orders received after that date/time may not be delivered until the week commencing 5th January.)

We'd like to take this opportunity to wish YOU and yours a happy and safe Christmas.  Thank you for your custom over the year and we look forward to being of service to you throughout 2015.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year ~ from the Team @ The Green Life Soil Co

Experts in Store THIS WEEKEND - Come and get some free gardening advice!

Saturday, 13th December from about 10am - 12.30pm Nick Bell will be IN STORE to help you with your Square Foot Garden & Lawn queries. 

Also on 13th December from about 11am Leesa Caldwell (from The Greenhouse Organic - pictured right) will be IN STORE to help you with info and advice regarding growing herbs.  Come on down and have a chat to our experts!  It's FREE (but maybe consider a non-perishable food item for the Salvos box? - thanks!)

In this newsletter:

Jobs to do in the garden this summer
What to plant now
Lawn care - get green grass this summer!
Growing plants to attract good bugs
Tomato contest 2015
VIP & Members specials

Jobs to do in the garden

  • Mulch - if you haven't already!  Trim/remove weeds, add a wetting agent (we recommend our Sand Remedy), and mulch.  This will have the double benefit of having your garden looking good for the silly season; and assisting your plants to survive the hot weather to come.
  • Succession planting - by now, many of you will have your first crops sown.  It's time now to perhaps put in a few more seeds or healthy seedlings to extend your harvest with later maturing plants.  Ensure you give them the TLC they may require during any heatwaves.
  • Shadecloth - We've found the best way to produce healthy crops over summer (and have far less stressed plants) is to use shadecloth.  White is the best colour to use, as it doesn't interfere with the colour spectrum of light (which in turn affects plant growth), and 50 - 75% is probably necessary, depending on your garden.  We've found the 30% (recommended by some horticulturalists) as not sufficient in our home garden; but every environment and microclimate is different.  We have 70% white shadecloth in stock at $18.00 per linear metre (3.6m wide).
  • Insect netting - If you are fighting bugs, consider some insect exlusion netting over your vunerable plants.  We sell packs of 2mm net 5m x 2.87m for $12.50 each.  This netting has the added benefit of supplying about 20% of shade protection.
  • Ensure your worm farm is in the shade and regularly add some water if it seems dry.  Worms are happiest in an environment that is 75% water, so make it a habit to regularly put through a bucket of water and collect the leachate from your worm farm to use on the garden.
  • Got chooks?  Make sure they have some shade in the heat of the day and access to cool drinking water.  If flies are an issue, use some of those natural fly traps (they work really well but do stink a bit!), and DE to use in the litter to help break the breeding cycle.
  • Retic - make sure sprinklers, taps and timers are working well, and if not, consider getting some professional help to ensure you have the most efficient watering system that you can afford.  Water is your garden's lifeline, and providing it is used judiciously, it can provide you with a green refuge in summer to reduce your home's dependency on airconditioning.  Food crops efficiently grown at home have been shown to use up to 5 times less water than conventional market garden production - so unless you have a water guzzling INEFFICIENT garden - you're not part of the water usage problem here in Perth.

What to Plant Now

At this time of year the question is more 'what CAN'T you plant now'...  Warm temperatures make germination a breeze, however you must be prepared to give lots of extra TLC to things that are heat sensitive or more prone to pest attack (eg. brassicas).  Consider shadecloth and/or insect netting if you wish to grow healthy crops of kale over summer, for example.

Things to grow at this time of year include:  asparagus (seeds), beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, carrots, celery, chilli, choko, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, kale, leeks, lettuce, potatoes, pumpkins, radish, rocket, rockmelon, rhubarb, silverbeet, snake beans, sweetcorn, sweet potato, tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini/squash.  See our When to Plant free PDF download for more information.

November / December 2014 Lawn Care Tips - from Professor Lawn

Nick BellPrepare your lawn now to make sure it is strong and healthy without excessive growth (all summer long, and compliant with Water Corporation Regulations) by close mowing, fertilising with Shades of Green Lawn Fertiliser Blend, and the application of Zeolite.

Cut the lawn close (hard mow) with three successive cuts down to a height of 10mm.
First cut, set the mower to cut at a height of 30mm.
Next cut, lower the mower to cut the lawn at a height of 20mm.
Third and final cut set the mower to cut at a height of 10mm and double mow by cutting up and down the same swathe. Then remove all clipping and debris.

Fertilise the lawn with Shades of Green Lawn Fertiliser Blend at the rate of 50 grams per square metre. Then spread Castle Mountain FM15/30 grade Zeolite at the rate of 200 grams per square metre and water the materials into the soil with sprinklers or hose-end rose spray or adjustable nozzle.

The hard mowing will remove excessive thatch and smooth and firm the surface of the lawn. The Shades of Green Lawn fertiliser will supply the correct balance of nutrients, trace elements and humates. Zeolite will reduce run off and promote controlled infiltration of nutrients and water through the root zone.

A good lawn should compliment but not dominate the home garden, and so make space for a highly productive Square Metre Garden (follow the link for more details).

Happy gardening ~ Nick Bell, Horticulturist.

Remember - if you need lawn advice (new or existing lawns), Nick is available to do consultancy at your home!  please contact Nick directly on 0413940 259 for more information.

Beneficial Insects - The Good Guys in Your Garden

artichoke flowerOne of the great things about having an organic garden (where you don't use 'icides') is you can have nature give you a helping hand in controlling some of your insect pests.  It's all a question of balance - if you have aphids or caterpillars in plague proportions, then waiting for the good bugs to save your whole garden will be fruitless.  But it isn't just pest control - insects are a vital part in the process of pollination of vegetables, fruit and herbs.   One of the main reason fruit and vegetable crops are less productive than they could be is poor pollination.  With pressure on the bee population (with a number of common 'icides' proven to be harmful to them) keeping flowering plants in your garden and in pots around your fruit trees makes good sense.

Flowering plants are also enjoyable to have dotted around from a purely aesthetic point of view - so if you're a vegetable purist; maybe it's time to put a little bit of colour in your garden!  I have read an article referring to a US study suggesting 10 times more beneficial insects visit a flower filled garden.  These include insects like ladybirds, beetles, hoverflies, lacewings, parasitic and predatory wasps, bees, praying mantis - as well as spiders, lizards, frogs and birds. Here are some useful plants to help encourage some of the good guys in your garden:-

Coriander  -  Many of us are tearing our hair out in summer that coriander wants to bolt to seed.  Well, if it does disappoint you in the leaf picking area, then at least you know that the flowers it produces are highly attractive to a range of beneficial insects.  Dill and Parsley are two other culinary herbs that - when in flower - are well loved by insects.

Borage  -  Related to comfrey,  this is a hairy-leafed annual which grows to about 1m x 1m and is covered with bluey-purple edible star shaped flowers.  The leaves are also edible; and can be finely chopped and added to salads and stews.  Both leaves and flowers can be used for herbal tea.  Borage likes reasonably fertile soil witih regular watering, and does best in a part sun position.  It can grow in full sun but it tend to droop when thirsty and leaves will be smaller.  The blue flowers are very attractive to bees.

Alyssum (or Sweet Alice)  -    This groundcover is usually grown as an annual, and is easily found as a flowering plant available in punnets in most nurseries.  The tiny  flowers are borne in clusters, and Alyssum flowers prolifically if given a bit of regular water and TLC.  It can handle being trimmed back to keep it compact.  The flowers attract bees and hoverflies.

Salvia  -  This is a huge family which contains the edible herb Sage as one of its members.  Many are grown purely for their flowers, which come in a range of colours and are often grown as part of a cottage garden scheme.  Their tall flower spikes are attractive to bees and small nectar eating birds.

Grevillea  -  If you only have space in your garden for one or two flowering plants - my choice would be Grevillea of some kind.  There are many, many species to choose from (groundcovers to trees, and everything in between); but all tend to have flowers that are really attractive to nectar eating birds.  Many of these birds are also insectivorous - so you can see the benefits of having these guys regularly visit your garden!

Some of your vegetables, if allowed to go to flower, are also good insect attractors eg;  Carrots, brassicas, globe artichokes (pictured at the top of this article).  Other useful flowers and herbs are:  Marigold, Basil (we have found sacred basil is one the bees really love!), Clover, Lucerne, Rosemary, Cosmos, Statice, Heliotrope, Lavender, Zinnias, Queen Anne's Lace (pictured right), Bishop's Flower.

Remember it's all about the food chain.  Encouraging insects will encourage other carnivorous insects and creatures that eat insects (including the ones that are a nuisance and chomping on your prized plants).  Provide water and habitat for fauna in your garden (see our fact sheet on encouraging wildlife) and you will have a more vibrant, productive slice of nature in your back yard.

Tomato Contest - So Just HOW GOOD are YOUR home grown tomatoes?

Theo taste testWho doesn't LOVE home grown tomatoes?  The pinnacle of home grown veg; (yes, technically a fruit) is the source of pride for many gardeners when they get a bumper crop; and pain and angst when it's not such a great year. 

To celebrate all things tomato - It's on again - The Green Life Soil Co Tomato Contest - bigger and better in 2015!  Theo Kalogeracos from Little Caesars Pizzerias has once again kindly agreed to judge the tomato entries we receive.

Prizes will range from gardening goodies to pizza vouchers - plus there's the all important certificate with your name on it, together with all the associated bragging rights!

The 'rules' (such as they are) can be found on this link:  Tomato Contest 2015  Entry is by gold coin donation which goes to the winner's registered charity of choice.

Tomatoes must be delivered to The Green Life Soil Co by 4.00pm on Saturday, 31st January to be eligible.  Spread the word, and go give your tomato plants some love & encouragement.  We hope you will be a part of it!

VIP Members Specials

Remember to check our on-line Red Hot Members Only Specials - we have a number of products currently on sale leading up to Christmas, (sign in here!) including:

2015 Moon Planting Calendars
Compost Cannons
Laminated Aracauria Growing Guides
Kids tools & gardening gloves kit
Vegie bags/potting mix pack of 5 'instant garden' kit
Propagation boxes
Square Metre Gardening Books

All available while stocks last!!!  Remember all on-line orders must be received before 8.30am Thursday, 18th December for pre-Christmas delivery to be assured.

The exception is our electronic gift vouchers - extra PERFECT for last minute, these are delivered direct to the recipient's email address and you can add your own personal message.
***  Save 10% off electronic gift vouchers - use the discount code "Christmas" at checkout and a 10% discount will be automatically applied.  Discount code valid until 5.00pm Christmas Day.*** 

Until next time - Have a Very Merry Christmas, and Happy Gardening!




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