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Yippee!  It's officially Spring;

And boy, it's a busy time to be in the garden.  Early Spring is the time when you need to put in a little effort to reap the rewards all through summer.  Get busy, get things prepped and sown, and you'll be all set to enjoy some fresh produce from your own garden by Christmas (and sooner - depending on your choices!).

This newsletter, we talk a bit about just HOW to prepare your soil to get the most out of it for the coming growing season.  Plus we've got ideas on what to plant and what priority jobs there are to get done right now.

Nick BellThere's so much happening @ Green Life.  Remember we've got Nick Bell coming in THIS SATURDAY 5th September from approx. 10 - 12.30.  He'll be able to answer your gardening questions & explain the benefits of Square Foot Gardening. If you're short on space this method works really well to get a high yield.

He'll be back in store Saturday, 10th October - so if you can't make it this weekend put it in your diary for next time.  (It will be a BIG weekend @ GLSC with some shenanigans going on in store; so check out more details in next month's newsletter.)

We do get REALLY BUSY on Saturday mornings in Spring - a nice problem for a business to have; and we appreciate your patience if you need some advice and we're flat out.  We are always happy to get back to you; so feel free to email, ring or call in another time - we really do want to help!  

So hopefully we'll see you @ GLSC really soon!

~ Linda & The Team @ Green Life Soil Co

In this Newsletter

Jobs to do in the garden now
What to Plant now
Preparing your soil - Summer is coming!
New downloadable resources on our website
VIP freebie!  FREE.  (It's in the bag. ;-p)

Jobs to do in the Garden Now

  • Time to get your Spring seeds sown!  We recently received a large stock of Eden Seeds, so there's plenty of choice available right now (although stock is walking out the door every day!).  We also have our Certified Organic Seed Raising Mix available in 15L bags.  Don't get overexcited and plant everything at once!  It's a great idea to plant a few things at a time and then more in another 2 weeks or so; that way you will have new seedlings coming on all the time; so if you plant out early and lose seedlings in a cold snap (for example) you will have more ready to go almost straight away; and you can get crops producing on a successive basis, so instead of having a glut of produce at once ready for harvest; it can be spread out over time.
  • Spring/summer seedlings are starting to trickle into store now too - with more coming on stream every week.  
  • fertiliserFeed existing crops to keep them producing well.  If plants have been particularly prolific; think about keeping the best for seed saving.  Ensure you fertilise and protect these specimens from pests & disease while actively growing.  If you have multiple varieties of this plant growing, check to see whether it cross pollinates; you may need to remove other flowering plants from the vicinity to ensure you don't get natural hybrids.
  • Feed citrus, fruit trees, roses, lawns and general flowering shrubs now.  They will be putting on flushes of growth and will benefit from fertilising and possibly rock dust.
  • Prune back passionfruit by a quarter to a third and feed to encourage a flush of new growth which will flower and (hopefully) set fruit.
  • Be a weather watcher!  Spring is changeable so be aware that if we have a dry spell you will need to handwater.  If we have a cold snap you may still lose plants to frost (if you are in a frost prone area) or lose young seedlings if left outdoors. 
  • Keep on top of weeds.  They will be going to seed soon, so slash or remove them first.   Use all the lush greenery for compost - but if it has seed heads, be warned - unless your composting reaches a hot enough temperature to kill the seeds, you may be making the problem worse by spreading seed around.

What to Plant Now

Check out our downloadable guide (click here) for the full chart.  
And we have a brand new guide for when to plant Herbs (click here)!

It's an exciting time as we're a little 'in between' seasons - so you can try one last run of cool season crops and your first run of summer season crops.  Things to plant in the garden now include:
Artichokes, Asparagus, Basil, Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbage, Capsicum, Carrots, Celery, Celeriac, Chilli, Choko, Coriander, Eggplant, Ginger, Jerusalem artichoke, Kale, Leek, Lettuce, Onion, Parsley, Parsnip, Peas & Snowpeas, Potato, Pumpkin, Radish, Rockmelon, Silverbeet, Spinach, Sweet corn, Sweet potato, Tomato, Turnip, Watermelon, Zucchini

At your request, we have extended our range of seed packs available on our online shop - click here to check them out!

Summer is Coming!  Get your Garden Ready (for the days are bright and full of terrors†) 

It seems so easy to grow things in early Spring!  Plants love the daylight hours and the warm sun; yet we still get a bit of rain and cooler temperatures - it seems that with little intervention things just grow.  Ahh!  If only it could always be this easy!  Here in Perth we know we only have a limited window before temperatures climb into the 30's and plants start to stress.  

The secret to keeping things humming along - as long as possible - is proper soil preparation.  It is what you do NOW that will show results in the next 3 months.  
The four crucial elements of success are:

1. Build the Soil

Before planting your lovely spring seedlings, feed the soil!  It's the organic gardener's mantra to 'feed the soil and not the plants' - because having a healthy soil biology of all the creatures you can't see (bacteria, algae, fungi, nematodes - etc.) means that nutrients will be available to your plants to help them grow.  Plus all the micro invertebrates are food for the macro invertebrates - so it's a food chain (or more accurately a food web) and believe it or not humans are up the top of that chain, so we need to pay attention to getting the balance right.

Ideally, dig through organic matter, ensure the soil is nice and damp, and leave for a couple of weeks if possible to let things (that you can't see) kick off.  However, if you're pressed for time, it is OK to plant into freshly improved soil, as long as you haven't used fresh manure.  Things may take a little longer to get going but you will ultimately still reap the benefit.  Moisture is the key - if your soil is dry, nothing will be happening.

soil memeWe suggest digging in things like:

Compost - either your own, or a good blend brought in (we sell Certified Organic mushroom compost & garden compost)
Aged Manure - whatever you can get your hands on!  Chicken, horse, cow, sheep, alpaca. rabbit, pig - just as long as it's not fresh.  (we sell aged blended sheep & cow manure)
Cocopeat or coir peat - expensive to use in large quantities but good if you have a small area or are planting into containers.  Long lasting and good water holding ability.  (We use it in our potting mix and Square Foot Gardening mix and sell it on its own)
Vegetable or General Concentrate - these are our blends which contain manure AND compost - plus lots more special ingredients; so the work is done for you & you're ready to get gardening sooner!   

Depending on what you use, you can add a handful of blood & bone per square metre too.  But apart from incorporating these soil improvers, there isn't the need to be heavy handed with fertilisers at all.  Let nature do the work for you.  Wait until crops are producing and then an occasional feed with a liquid fertiliser should be enough for all but the hungriest crops.

2. Add Minerals and Trace Elements

Perth's sandy soils are notoriously depleted.  If you're growing food crops especially - you will want to ensure that all the minerals you need to be healthy are contained in what you're going to eat.  When you're improving your soil, add:

Rock Dust* - a natural way to supply trace elements.  Slow acting but long lasting and low leaching.  (Pictured right.)
Trace elements - sometimes available in a soluble form, these need to be applied more regularly as they tend to wash through soils quickly.

Plants only require a very small amount of trace elements - feeding too much and too often is simply wasteful.  Do follow instructions on labelling and don't over apply.  

Depending on whether you have any pH imbalances in your soil, when adding organic matter it is fine to add things like lime, gypsum, zeolite, biochar, etc.  Talk to us about this if you think your garden has particular issues.
* Rock Dust is added into our soil mixes, including our Vegetable Concentrate and General Concentrate.

3. Add Clay & Minerals for Water Holding

If you have Perth's typical, gutless sands -we can't stress this enough.  ADD CLAY.  There are a number of clay products on the market and in some forums debate is quite heated as to which is best.  In our opinion (and we've tried a range of them) ALL CLAYS WORK TO HOLD MOISTURE IN YOUR SOIL.  It's a question of preference, and how you use them that is the issue.

The people who ran the business before we took it over in 2001 for many years promoted bentonite as a soil amendment for Perth.  Adding clay is not new.  People have been doing it for decades here because it works.  For over 14 years, we have been making Sand Remedy based on their recipe but in subsequent years improving it by adding Rock Dust* and getting the product Certified Organic.  Click here for more info on Sand Remedy.

Whatever kind of clay you use, follow the recommended application rates (they vary widely depending on products and who you speak to - we're happy to give further advice on this).  Over application can cause problems.  If unsure - use less, and add more if you need to.   

Clay works to bond with the sand particles to create a loam and help hold water.  Soils which contain clay will still dry out (if allowed to) but they will be easier to re-wet due to their structure.  Remember though that clay will hold up to 30 times it's own weight in water - so re-wetting will take A LOT of water and a bit of time; but it can certainly be done.  

Clay on its own doesn't supply nutrients or improve soil quality - it won't feed your soil.  Add fertilisers and organic matter at the same time for maximum benefit.

Biochar and Spongelite are two other minerals which greatly help with water holding capacity in the soil.  However, these tend to be more expensive than bentonite or kaolinite clay.  (We stock both biochar and spongelite if you are interested in trialling them.  Many people like to use them in potting mixes.)

Zeolite is a mineral we add to Sand Remedy that helps with nutrient retention rather than water retention, but is still very useful in our sandy soils.

4. Mulch

While your soil is still holding moisture from late winter/early spring rain is the ideal time to mulch.  Leave it too long and the top few inches of soil will already be dry and possibly water repellent.  Ensure your soil is moist then add a good layer of mulch on top.  Depending on what you are growing, there are a range of mulches to suit your budget and requirements.  We have a brand new mulch guide available to download (click here) & we're always happy to give advice.

Only word of caution here is if you are planting young seedlings into a mulched bed, you may have issues with slaters that are attracted to decaying mulch.  Either remove mulch temporarily (until the seedling is more established), or make a protective collar (old cut down plastic containers work well), use traps (we've got this covered in our sustainable gardening tips; click here) or treatments (eg. DE or Multiguard pellets) - or just be prepared to re-plant decimated crops (which is less expensive if you have raised your own from seed).

So if you follow these four pillars of advice for your garden now - your house motto can be that of the Tyrell's ~ "Growing Strong" † for months to come.

[† with apologies to 'Game of Thrones' lovers]

New Downloadable Resources Online - check them out!

screenshotWe have been busy @ GLSC working on a range of new downloadable resources which are freely available on our website.  We have a number of checklists (great reminders for those essentials!), What to Plant Guides (a BRAND NEW one for Herbs) and our latest e-book "Top 12 Edible Plants for Spring & Summer" - designed especially for those new to gardening and not sure exactly what to grow and how to start.  

Please feel free to check them out (click here) and let your friends know about them.  

We'd love to know what you think!  We have plans to roll out more over the coming months.  And if you have ideas on other guides you'd like to see, please drop us a line.  We always love your feedback & suggestions.

VIP freebie!

bagsOur customers are loyal AND lovely!!!  Thank you to those of you that gave us feedback in our recent online survey.  We will analyse the data collected and take your suggestions on board where we can.

As a way to show you Green Lifers we appreciate your business - we've got a freebie for you!!!

Come into our store anytime on the weekend of 5th & 6th September and receive a FREE bag.  The deal is 'Buy 5 and get 1 Free' (the same or lesser value).  

IE.  Buy 5 premium bags and get 1 premium (or budget) bag free.  Buy 5 budget bags and get 1 budget bag free.

Offer available in store only ~ while stocks last.  

Not a VIP member?  SIGN UP here.  It's free and will take just a second.  It gives you access to our Members Only section of our website; where you will find regularly discounted items for online shopping and extra monthly gardening tips.

And remember to keep in touch regularly via our Facebook page

So until next time - HAPPY GARDENING! 

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