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Hello again Green Lifers!  Here we are & it's December again!  It has been a very busy year for us and we'd like to THANK YOU all for your amazing support. We will be closing for a few days (mainly the public holidays) but will be re-opening between Christmas and New Year (for those of you with time off who want to get stuck into some projects!)  Check out our dates below:

CLOSED:   Thurs 24th December (Christmas Eve)
Fri 25th December (Christmas Day)
Sat 26th December (Boxing Day)
Sunday 27th December
Monday 28th December (Public Holiday)

OPEN: Tues 29th/Wed 30th/Thurs 31st

CLOSED: Friday 1st January (New Years Day)

We've been opening Wednesdays since the start of November; so (normally) we're open 7 days for your convenience.

I hope you've been enjoying Spring...  As we now "gird our loins" for summer, we need to do some prep to make sure we're ready for the heat.  

Come in and see us December 5th and have a chat to Nick Bell.  He will be available to demonstrate Square Foot Gardening techniques (perfect for small spaces and reducing water use) and offer lawn and garden care advice. He'll be in store from approx. 10.00 - 12.00, so beat the heat - come on down early and get some fantastic ideas & garden goodies for your summer garden.

December 5th is World Soil Day, so we've got a special little something for our VIP members; see below for details.

As always, we welcome your feedback on our newsletter AND our products.

If you're stuck for last minute Christmas Gifts - remember we have gift vouchers available - either in store or electronic/online. Perfect for your gardening friends & family.

Happy Gardening & have a wonderful, safe (and hopefully relaxing) Christmas!

Until next time,

Linda & The Team @ The Green Life Soil Co.

In this Newsletter:

Jobs to do in the Garden This December
What to Plant Now
Pumpkins - How to Grow Them
Insect Netting - new product!!
VIP Special Offers

Jobs to do in the Garden in December.

  • Shadecloth.  Summer really starts now and if you want your plants to thrive, you need to provide shade during the heat of the day.  Whether you go for a permanent shade structure or the quick fix of a couple of garden stakes in the ground; rig up something to protect your babies!  At GLSC we have 70% and 50% white horticultural shadecloth in stock.  3.6m wide & $18 per lineal metre.  (ie. 1m x 3.6m = $18.)    Also available white 50% 1.8m wide @ $12/m.  White shadecloth is the best for plants as it allows the full spectrum of light through for optimal growth. Green and darker colours are nicer for people; but will make plant growth leggy.
  • Water.  Ensure your plants are getting enough.  Obviously we need to be sensible about water use.  Stick to your allocated watering days for retic systems, but we are still allowed to hand water if we need to in between.  For fruit trees and ornamentals, consider re-using your greywater.  Keep a bucket in the shower recess, use the water you washed your vegies in, and collect your washing machine rinse water (or the wash water too if you use a zucchini leafphosphate free garden friendly brand of detergent).  If you are not providing your garden with enough water, fruit will drop prematurely, you will have stunted growth, and things like fresh greens and cucumbers will taste bitter.
  • Watch for diseases.  Humid weather and overhead watering can result in fungal diseases like mildew and blackspot - curcurbits (cucumbers, squash,melons, pumpkins & zucchinis - see above right) are particularly susceptible.  Organic sprays like bicarb or milk are good preventatives, best used weekly.  Other fungicidal treatments include garlic and also chamomile tea.  Remove heavily diseased leaves and bin them.  Try to allow better airflow around plants too.
  • Mulch.  Whether vegies, ornamentals or natives - you need to protect the soil and mulch to minimise evaporation after watering.  Check out our free guide or talk to us about the best mulches to use in your situation.  We currently have HEAPS of recycled tree prunings available (see picture below) - Talk to us about a deal for a truckload and SAVE money.  It's a great basic mulch to use; economical and will eventually break down to add organic matter to your soil that worms love.
  • mulch pilePruning.  Lightly tip prune and dead head roses, lavender and other spring flowering shrubs once their flush of flowers has finished.  This will keep the plants compact and tidy.
  • Worms & compost piles may need some extra attention and weekly water to keep them performing well.  Compost that dries out will not continue to break down, and worm farms that are too dry and hot are not ideal to keep worms happy & breeding up.  Keep your worm farm in the shade and check it regularly. 

What to Plant Now

Some ideas include:

Leeks (they are slow growing; get them in early!), Basil, Beans, Capsicum, Chillies, Carrot, Cucumber, Ginger, Lettuce, Onions, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radish, Rock Melon, Rocket, Rosella, Spring Onion, Sweet Corn, Sweet Potato, Tomatoes*, Squash, Zucchini, Watermelon, 

Perhaps you are already growing or harvesting some of these?  Put in a few more seeds or seedlings to stagger your harvest over a longer period.

Check out our 'When to Plant Guide' for more information on seed germination, etc.

* Remember to get your tomatoes in (if you haven't already) - our 2016 Tomato Contest will be running end of January (dates to be confirmed next newsletter) so start talking to your plants now to get them prepped for the big event.

Pumpkins!

One of the best vegies to grow over summer has to be pumpkins!  With so many interesting varieties to choose from, and fantastic flavours - why not give them a go?

Pumpkins grow over spring & summer, and are harvested in autumn, when the vines begin to die off.  If stored correctly, some varieties will keep for a long time, meaning you can enjoy home grown pumpkin for months.

Pumpkins are easy to grow from seed; which you can grow directly in the ground, or start off in trays for transplanting later.

For direct sowing, improve the soil with compost/manure (or our vegie concentrate is ideal!) and mound up about 20cms high x 30cms across.  Place 4 - 5 seeds around the mound, about 10cms apart.  (You can remove any weak seedlings, and allow the strongest 2-3 to trail out in opposite directions.)

Or you can start off seeds in punnets or trays, and transplant carefully once the first set of true leaves have formed.  Plants grown from seed will take 3 - 4 months until maturity/harvest of crops.

Pumpkins do trail out over the ground and take up a fair amount of room; although smaller, bushier varieties are available if this is a problem (look for these if you have to grow them in pots due to limited space).  They are great vines for planting on the edge of the garden bed; allowing them to billow out over lawns or pathways.  

In a couple of months, the vines will start to produce flowers.  Male flowers are usually taller, and are often produced first.  Female flowers are slightly different, and have a tiny fruit at their base (pictured right).  If fertilised, the fruit will continue to swell and grow.  Otherwise, the fruit will wither and fall off shortly after the petals do.  If you have all male flowers produced, or all female flowers - don't panic.  Sometimes this happens!  The plant will get it right eventually and start producing both at once.  If you have lots of bees around you shouldn't have any problems with pollination.  If in doubt, you can hand pollinate the female flowers by removing a fresh, intact male flower and pulling the petals back.  Carefully rub pollen from the centre of the flower into the the stigma in the centre of the female flower.  This is often best done early in the day.  High temperatures can affect fruit set & pollination.

Pumpkin leaves will wilt in the full sun but will recover once conditions cool down.  They are very tough, and provided they receive adequate watering will cope with summer temperatures.  Mulch well & try to water at regular intervals - particularly once fruit has formed; as irregular periods between watering can result in the fruit splitting from sudden moisture availability.  Fruit can be sunburnt when developing, so carefully cover with surrounding pumpkin leaves if possible.  Just keep an eye underneath developing fruit to see that beetles or slaters haven't attacked from below - it may be an idea to lift the developing fruit up onto something just to keep it out of direct contact with the ground.

Once the plant has set the amount of fruit it can viably support, it will stop producing flowers.  If you are wanting to grow larger pumpkins, reducing the amount of fruit on the vine will mean the plant will concentrate its energy into those that remain attached.

Fruit are ready to pick once the vine attached to the fruit starts to wither.  Tapping lightly on pumpkin should produce a hollow sound, and the pumpkin should look ripe.  Cut off leaving about about 10cms of stem attached to the fruit, and leave the pumpkins in a warm, airy spot to dry out for about a month, turning them every week or so.  This allows the skin to dry out and 'toughen' - keeping the flesh inside protected and safely stored for a long while.

Ensure you don't allow damp, or rodents to get to your pumpkins when stored. Use any damaged fruit first; as they won't keep if the skin is wounded.

Pumpkins will cross-pollinate with other varieties, so it is best to either grow only one kind, or to hand pollinate (and close up the female flower afterwards) if you wish to save your own seed for next year.  Seed saving is easily done - remove seed from mature, ripe fruit, and allow to dry out on a paper towel before storing in a cool, dry, dark spot.  Make sure you label seeds with the variety and date for easy reference.

Some great varieties to grow are the Butternut Watham, Jap, Jarrahdale (developed right here in WA), Turk's Turban (in my opinion not the best tasting, but VERY pretty!) Triamble, and the little ones like Jack Be Little or Golden Nugget (pictured above right) which make great 'individual servings' of roast vegies, or are great for stuffing.

Pumpkins are susceptible to powdery mildew on their leaves in humid conditions.  Avoid watering the leaves if possible - water the ground where the vine is growing from.  Treat with one part normal milk to 9 parts water and spray the leaves (top & bottom) once a week.  Dispose of any badly infected leaves in the bin.  Good air circulation helps alleviate the problem.

So have a go at growing pumpkins now to enjoy rich, warm pumpkin soup & fluffy pumpkin scones in winter ~ They will taste even more amazing as they were organically grown at home.  Yum!

New Product - Insect Netting by the Metre!  (& VIP special deals!)

Yippee!!!!!  We now sell Insect Netting (6m wide) by the metre for $6.75.  Keep the bugs off your vegies, and provide approx. 10% shade at the same time! 

As a SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY OFFER to our VIP's - the netting is available in store & on line for an introductory price of $5.75.   (VIP's - make sure you select the product from the Members page to receive the special price.)

Other VIP special deals, valid until Christmas (or while stocks last) are now available on our website - sign up as a VIP member (it's free!) and get access to special deals.

Also - seeing as it is World Soil Day on December 5th, use the code WORLDSOIL at checkout to receive $10 off any online order - VALID 5.12.15 only

In store??  Pick up a FREE bag of any of our soil mixes with any purchase over $50.  (You must ask for the VIP offer and provide your name to staff.)  Valid 5.12.15 only & while stocks last.

We hope to see you @ GLSC soon!  Until then - Happy Gardening! (and all the very best for Christmas and a Happy New Year!) 











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