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Hello!  How's your winter garden coming along?

As I'm writing this, we've got some  nice rain happening - seems we've been waiting a long time for it; and let's hope it will continue for a while longer.  

It's a great time to be planning and preparing for your Spring planting.  Time to dig in manures & compost (or our vegie concentrate) and leave it for a couple of weeks to really settle in before transplant your seedlings.

But you've still time to get seedlings off to a flying start, too!  Check out our 'When to Plant Guide' for a list of ideas.

This newsletter, we catch up with Nick Bell and follow up on a consultation he did recently.  

Nick will be in store again Saturday morning, 5th September so don't miss this opportunity to come in and get some free gardening advice and tips on how to get the best from your garden this Spring.  And if you're a VIP member we'll have a special deal available in store on the day, too!  Watch your in-box for details in your reminder email.

We've also got a little story on using Herbs from your garden to make Herbal Teas.  Spring's changeable weather often brings on the sniffles, so why not try some home remedies to help with some relief?

As always, we'd love your feedback and to find out how your garden is going with our products.  Feel free to send red cabbagein pictures anytime!  (Below is one from our garden - we have been enjoying sweet, homegrown cabbages!)

Happy gardening!

Until next time

Linda & the Team @ The Green Life Soil Co

IN THIS NEWSLETTER

Jobs to do in the garden now
What to Plant Guide
Herbal Teas to make at home
Lawn Consultancy Case Study
Nick Bell's 'Square Metre Gardening' workshops & Vegepod

JOBS TO DO IN THE GARDEN NOW

  • Plant out Rhubarb and Asparagus crowns and Jerusalem Artichoke tubers.  GLSC has recently received our stock of these; the Rhubarb are the real red-stalked variety.  Both of these plants will produce for many years, so make a great addition to your garden.  Fact sheets on growing Rhubarb and Asparagus & Jerusalem Artichokes are available here - it's wise to know how much space you're going to need so think ahead.  Plant into prepared beds - use our vegie concentrate incorporated into your sandy soil.  While you're digging the hole for planting, soak the tuber/crowns in a seaweed and water mix to hydrate the plant material and get it off to a flying start!  Once planted, use the liquid to help water in.
  • If you haven't already done so, it's time to get pruning.  Some deciduous trees are already starting to flower.  Get into your fruit trees (including citrus, after harvesting) and roses and give them a good haircut.  The aim is to remove and thin branches crossing over, to allow more light and better airflow, and keep plants at a manageable height for picking.  Remove any diseased branches and give the trees a good feed with some rock dust, manure, compost or our general concentrate.  If your citrus trees have been suffering from scale, treat with a pest oil.
  • If you're wanting new fruit trees; now is the best time to get them in the ground.  Nurseries have good stocks of trees available.  Plant them into improved soil (our general mix or general concentrate are recommended).  Leave it much longer and they will struggle to establish before the weather warms up.  Planting now gives them a chance to settle in and get a head start.  They will need a little extra attention over their first summer but should cope better with transplant shock while temperatures aren't hot.
  • Feed your garden!  This is the time when your existing crops are producing and growing strongly.  Use pelletised chicken manure (Multigrow), our blood & bone, or a liquid like fish hydrolysate for fast uptake of nutrients.  Feed and water in the morning to avoid too much moisture remaining on the leaves, which can promote fungal diseases.
  • Give your compost attention - there's plenty of leaves and weeds around to use, and nature is providing some moisture; add some manure, give it a good turn once every week (preferably) or two, and watch things kick along!  It will be ready to use late spring and will be perfect to add to your soil before mulching.
  • Keep an eye out for aphids and act before they spread.  Aphids will often attack plants in the shade.  You can blast them with a jet from the hose, or use a home-made soap or garlic spray a few times a week to get their numbers in check.  Here are some 'do it yourself' pest treatment recipe ideas.
  • Keep winter weeds under control.  Act NOW to remove them before they set seed in the spring and you'll have less weeding to do next year!  (Well, at least that's the theory).  Many pests and disease can transfer from weeds to your garden plants, so it is definitely worth keeping your vegie and favourite plants weed free.  Add weeds to your compost pile or make a weed tea and return their nutrients to your soil in Spring.  Click here for instructions on making Weed Tea.

WHAT TO PLANT IN AUGUST

Our seedling range at Green Life is a little "in between" seasons right now - although we still do receive fresh stock every week.  Summer crops are still a couple of weeks away, but Leesa assures me they have germinated and are growing well under her care.

It's still early; so there's plenty of time to get your own seeds started over the next month or two.  I have a large Eden Seeds order on the way - watch our Facebook page for an announcement when they arrive in stock.

Plan out what you're interested in growing this year - there's time to look into Companion Planting and Crop Rotation (click in the links for more info).

See our 'When to Plant Guide' for more information; but some ideas to plant now are: Artichokes, Asparagus, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Coriander, Fennel, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Lettuce, Onion, Peas/Snow peas, Potato, Radish, Rhubarb, Silverbeet, Spinach, Spring Onions, Strawberries, Turnips.

If you are really, really keen to get summer seeds started (I wouldn't suggest planting too many - do a repeat planting in another 3-4 weeks) use seedling trays and keep indoors or in a hothouse to ensure there is enough warmth for germination.  It is always a gamble choosing WHEN to plant, but if you're only starting off with a few seeds it's a fun thing to try and won't break the bank.  Summer crops to consider would be Tomato, Basil, Cucumber, Pumpkin, Zucchini, Corn, Melons - etc.  Bear in mind things will be very slow to grow until the days become longer, and soil temperatures are warmer.  If you're not successful, you've plenty of time to have another go.

HERB TEAS TO EASE SPRING SNIFFLES

teaMany of us like to collect and grow herbs, and we're used to nipping out the back door to grab a handful of parsley or coriander to add to a meal.  But many of our common herbs have been used for centuries as home remedies too.  Seeing as Spring is often a time when someone in the house gets the sniffles, here are some common herbs you may like to try as teas to soothe the symptoms.  

To make herb teas, it is usually the soft parts of the plant (flowers, tips, leaves) that are used.  Pick the fresh herbs and crush or tear leaves by hand (to help release the oils) and place in a teapot, or a tea infuser.  Poor boiling water over the leaves and leave to steep - for at least 5 minutes and possibly up to 30, although you may wish to wrap the teapot to keep it warm.  Sometimes it comes down to personal taste - how intense the flavour becomes. Strain before drinking.

Combinations of herbs can give interesting flavours - try a few and find out what you like!  It is best to drink the teas without milk, but you can certainly sweeten with honey or sugar to improve the taste.  My tea (pictured here) was a blend of Lemon Verbena, Rose Hips, Thyme & Honey - see below right.

Some great herbs to try include:

mintMint

Peppermint is often the most highly recommended, but try any culinary variety you have growing.  Mint is soothing for tummy and digestion issues, but the fresh scent helps clear stuffy noses, too.  If you don't like to drink the tea, use a bowl of mint and a little steaming water as a vapor/inhalation  bath to help clear congestion. 

Rose Hips

Yes, the 'fruit' that forms after a rose flowers is useful!  Roses are members of the Citrus family, and the 'fruit' (called rose hips) are used in jams and teas.  Crush the fruit (flat side of a knife against a board) and strain well, as it does contain tiny seeds.  Use freshly picked.  Said to contain good amounts of Vitamin C.

Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena

Lovely lemony flavour; Lemon Balm is soothing and has slight sedative qualities.  Good before bedtime.
Lemon Verbena is unrelated, but leaves also give a lovely lemon flavour, and teamed with honey, makes a soothing and fragrant tea.

Sage

One of the classics for the first signs of a cold; helps with nasal congestion.  Leaves are antiseptic and contain antioxidants.  Make a tea, and keep it in a thermos to drink in small amounts quite a few times over the course of the day to get the benefit.

Thyme

Another popular herb used for colds and respiratory complaints.  Thyme is an expectorant so is especially useful for coughs.  Drink small amounts regularly for best results.

tea herbsPicture right shows Lemon Verbena, Rose Hips, Thyme (clockwise from left).

Some additional
herbs/remedies to add to any tea you make to aid in relief of symptoms include:

  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Lemon Juice
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom

It is fine to use dried or powdered herbs if you don't have fresh ones available.  Of course, see your Doctor and always check what is safe for you if you are taking medication, pregnant, or have other existing serious health issues.

NICK BELL - LAWN CONSULTANCY & CASE STUDY

Having trouble with your lawn?  Don't know what to do to get it looking great and keep it looking good over summer?  Nick Bell will visit your home, and for $125 inspect your lawn and provide a detailed written report, pH analysis and personalised care guide. Here's an example of one of his recent case studies.

Padbury - Lawn Renovation Case History

The owners of this Palmetto Soft Leaf Buffalo consulted me about the unsightly bare patches that were spreading through their Lawn.
I inspected the lawn in my capacity as green Life Soil Company Lawn Consultant and sent the following report:-

lawn before“Your 50m2 Palmetto Soft Leaf Buffalo Lawn is soft and spongy in some sections and uneven water penetration is responsible for the patches in the surface. The 30cm core that I collected from the middle of the lawn had excessive fibrous root growth, and soil analyses indicated an acid 5.5pH. The pH needs to be corrected and the calcium and magnesium levels boosted with the spray application of Eco-flo dolomite. The spongy top growth of the lawn needs to be reduced by gradually reducing its height with a sharp rotary mower. The acid soil is affecting the natural break up of accumulated thatch and your reel mower is riding over the turf rather than cutting into it. The following lawn care program if implemented will greatly improve the appearance and quality of the turf and create a favourable environment for it to sustain strong healthy growth.
(Picture right shows show the circular brown and sparse patches that were spreading rapidly through the lawn.)

LAWN RENOVATION

Ensure that all sprinklers evenly apply a 10mm depth of water on your 2 scheduled watering days.
Rotary mow the lawn with the blades set high about setting-6, then lower to setting-4 and mow again, then finally set the height at setting-2 and mow up and down the same swathe and remove all clippings and debris.
Spray the lawn with 125ml Eco-flo dolomite through a hose-end sprayer that I will lend you.
Top dress the lawn with 0.5 cubic metres (500L) of Green Life Soil Company ‘Lawn Top Dress’ (loan trailers are available free). Transport the material over the lawn with a wheel barrow placing 1/3 of each load at 2m intervals, and then spread the dressing evenly over the lawn with the back of a rake or screed. Allow the wind and sun to dry the material and then rub it into the turf soil interface with the back of a rake or screed.
.
When this work has been done. Water the lawns 2 days a week on your allocated days until the end of May unless there is significant rain.
Mow at a height of 20 mm with your sharp correctly set cylinder mower whenever the lawn attains a height of 30mm.
(Photo above right shows vigorous regrowth within 1 week of amending the soil pH and top dressing with Green Life Lawn Top Dress.)

lawn afterSUMMARY

The lawn has made a complete recovery, is strong and healthy and has a smooth, firm easy to mow surface that compliments the landscape and enhances the home environment. I will call and inspect the lawn again in early September and will prescribe a summer lawn care program that will maintain it in top condition with minimum maintenance.
(Photo right shows strong and healthy, unblemished Palmetto Soft Leaf Buffalo Lawn 4 weeks after treatment.)


MEET THE EXPERT

vegepod smallNick also does regular in-house sessions @ The Green Life Soil Co, where he teaches the Square Foot Gardening system and can answer your gardening queries.  His next session is Saturday, 5th September (approx 10.30 - 12).

Nick usually tends and plants in our display Vegepod gardens, and has this to say:

"Vegepod Raised Garden Beds, with their self-watering overhead, and inbuilt underground wicking system, ensure that the watering requirements of vegetable and herbs from the time of seeding or planting is guaranteed until the crop is ready for picking. 

The fold back cover provides greenhouse cover in winter to prolonging the growing season, shade cloth protection of lettuce and salad plants during summer, and an exclusion zone that prevents Cabbage White Butterfly from laying their eggs, and the intrusion of other insects pests and animals. 

By adding grids to the square metre size Vegepod the popular 'Square Metre Gardening System' is raised to the next level - greatly increasing maximum production of home grown vegetable and herbs in small spaces. 

Selected herbs can be grown in the small 1m x .5m Vegepod that can be strategically placed close to kitchens. The large 2m x 1m Vegepod can be divided with grids to provide 18 mini gardens that can each grow 3 crops a year and by following Green Life Soil Company crop rotation recommendations will produce a continuous supply of healthy and nutritious home grown produce. 

square metre gardening bookOur Square Metre Vegepod Workshops have been well attended and we will welcome feed-back from participants. Mel Bartholomew, the founder of Square Metre Gardening, in his beautifully illustrated new book written for Australia, brilliantly explains how to grow more in small spaces. Vegepods filled with Green Life Mel’s Mix Soil (SFG Mix) that never needs to be replaced are ideal for minimum care Square Metre Gardening and a great way to enhance the joy of gardening."

Happy Gardening 
Nick Bell.

(& until next time - from the rest of us too!  ~ The Team @ The Green Life Soil Co)

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