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Hello and welcome to February!  

Kids are back to school, and the year seems to be settling into a routine of sorts (for me, at least!) We've had some unusual weather throughout January, with rain every week it seems.  This humid weather can present a challenge in our gardens with fungal diseases, etc. - I hope your garden has enjoyed the water and is otherwise unscathed!

As mentioned in our last newsletter, we will be running lots of workshops this year (now we have additional space in the big shed - pictured here); and the very first of these is SATURDAY, 13th February. Many of you expressed an interest in learning propagation techniques; so we have arranged for Leesa Caldwell (from The Greenhouse Organic) to present our first workshop on this topic.  See article below for full details on the workshop - we hope to see you there!

We also have some exciting plans this year to set up some trial/display gardens and turf plots under the guidance of Nick Bell.  The aim of these is to really show the most efficient way to prepare your soil to get the best results, and to save water.  Watch out for more news as this develops.

We hope you enjoy this newsletter - as always; your feedback & suggestions are welcome!

Happy Gardening from Linda and The Team @ The Green Life Soil Co

In this newsletter

Tomato Contest...  Winners!
Jobs to do in the garden now
What to plant now
Lawn care in Autumn
Propagation Workshop
VIP special offer

Tomato Contest 2016

We have been running our Tomato Contest for a few years now; and each year it is getting bigger and better!  Thanks to everyone who entered (and to those who helped spread the word, too!) 

It is always a tough job to evaluate the pro's of each uniquely gorgeous tomato, and of course 'best' flavour/taste is a subjective choice.   But we had to select a winner; so we're pleased to announce the results:

Best Tomato (and winner of the $300 voucher):  Livy & Lachlan Bowden with their 'Tigerella' Tomatoes  (bottom left of photo)
Runner up:  Donna Willsher with her 'Paul Robeson' black tomato (centre/top)
Biggest Tomato:  Nathalie Driver - with her entry just sliding in under 300gms  (top left)
Prettiest Tomato:  Ben McMillan with his oh-so pretty 'Tommie Toe' Tomatoes  (bottom right)
Ugliest Tomato:  Amber Cordingley with a weird & wonderful 'Black Krim' - also 3rd place for best tasting (top right)
Our Junior Gardener Encouragement Award goes to May Tupling

Congratulations to everybody.  We'll have a follow up story on the winner/s next newsletter; so remember to check your in-boxes in March for some top Tomato tips so you can be in the running next year!!

Jobs to do in the Garden now

  • Watch for powdery mildew following humid weather & rain.  Remove badly affected leaves and bin them.  Try a preventative spray to stop spread - see our recipes for simple treatments to make at home here.  
  • Tidy up the garden - trim or remove spent summer plants and add disease-free matter to your compost bin.
  • Record where you had your summer plants (if you haven't already) and jot down notes of results - how did things go?  What do you want to repeat, or do differently next year?  In six month's time it may be difficult to remember details.
  • Check your seed stock for Autumn growing vegies - what do you want to try this year?  What do you need to order?  Look at some catalogs for inspiration!
  • Vegies that are still producing, and your summer flowering annuals, will all benefit from a light liquid feed to keep them producing and looking good.  Deadhead/lightly trim your flowering plants to rejuvenate them for another flush of flowers.
  • When garden beds are done; dig through aged compost & manure (watering well while you do it) and a handful of rock dust in preparation for Autumn planting.  Mulch beds to protect the surface (straw and pea straw work well) - this can be raked off when planting out if you want to make seed sowing easier, and to discourage slaters.
  • Come to our propagation workshop!!  Autumn is a great time to take cuttings from many perennial plants, so come along and learn the skills to do it over the next month or so.  Click here to book.
  • February is still very hot (temperatures are set to soar this weekend); so remember to take care of yourself!  Take advantage of cool temperatures in the morning to work in the garden and harvest produce.  Slip, slop, slap for you (and your tender plants).

What to Plant Now

Check out our When to Plant Guide for ideas; and tips for propagation of common vegies.  We also have a chart for When to Plant Herbs in Perth - Both are FREE downloads from our website.  Click here to check them out!

Ideas for what to plant now include:  Basil, Beans, Beetroot, Capsicum (ours are pictured right), Carrots, Celery, Chilli, Eggplant, Leek, Lettuce, Rocket, Rosella, Silverbeet, Sweet potato,  If you're feeling confident, you can try for one last crop of summer vegies like:  Corn, Cucumber, Melon, Pumpkin, Squash, Tomato.  Your success will depend upon how the weather goes over the next few months (remember most of these crops will be 120 days to mature).  If you have the right microclimate (a warm spot and lots of sun) - you may be successful.
Winter vegies like cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale are at the other end of the spectrum.  You may like to begin growing from seed in a protected spot, or in seedling trays; but ensure they are protected from too much heat and soil is kept moist.  Sometimes the best thing is to sow a small quantity of seed, then another small quantity every 2-3 weeks; that way you are bound to catch the right window, and any losses aren't going to be too devastating.

Unfortunately there's no 'right or wrong' time - it depends so much on individual circumstances that there can never be a definitive guide.  But that's the fun of gardening I guess ~ the rewards will be there when things DO work out just right!

How to revitalise your lawn & prepare it for Autumn - by Nick Bell

Two thirds of the way into this summer many lawns in all suburbs of Perth are revealing their need for more efficient watering and integrated fertilising and mowing management. Where irrigated three times a week with 10mm of water from bores all Warm-Season lawns are green and uniformly covered. Where irrigated just twice a week with 10mm of water from scheme water, many lawns (especially soft leaf Buffalo) are suffering unless the root zone has been improved with a combination of fully mature compost, clay, and other additives.

 The efficiency of watering systems needs to be checked by placing Catch Cups between sprinklers to determine the volume of water collected during the run-time of each sprinkler station.

Catch cups (graduated measuring containers) are a valuable tool in testing how efficiently a sprinkler system is operating. Calculate the run time required to deliver a standard drink by testing how efficiently the sprinklers are operating. Spread catch cups randomly around the watering zone. Make sure they are at least 1 metre from the closest sprinkler. Note how long it takes the sprinklers to fill the catch cups to the depth required. For example, on a sandy soil a standard drink is 10mm of precipitation so the average depth of water in each catch cup needs to be 10mm. If there is a larger variation in the depth of water captured by the various catch cups then the sprinkler system is not applying the water evenly and should be checked for design or maintenance faults. Once the faults have been corrected run the test again to determine how long to run the sprinklers to deliver the standard drink.

The following Catch Cup DIY Test will enable people to determine the amount of water applied with sprinklers.

1. Place straight sides coffee mugs midway between sprinklers.
2. Run irrigation system for 10 minutes and use a ruler to measure and record the water in mm collected in each mug.
3. Divide the total amount of mm collected by the number of catch cups (mugs).
4. Repair or if necessary replace broken or malfunctioning nozzles or sprinklers.
5. Adjust the run time on each station to ensure that an average of 10mm of water is collected on each of the allocated watering days.

When lawns are suffering from heat stress they draw moisture from the leaf, the turf loses turgidity, the colour turns blue/brown, foot prints are left when the lawn is walked on, and the grass blades are scorched. In most cases however the lawn is not dead and will recover from stolons and rhizomes after adequate watering. 
Professional advice can be obtained from Water Corporation endorsed, Irrigation Australia accredited Water Wise Irrigation experts. See:
http://www.watercorporation.com.au/save-water/search-for-waterwise-services

Have your lawn cut to a height of 12-20mm with a sharp, correctly set mower and catch or sweep up and dispose of clippings. The edges should be cut and the surrounds of sprinklers, valve boxes, letter boxes and other obstructions should be trimmed.

Nourish the lawn with Eco-Growth Eco-Vital, and improve moisture penetration and retention in the root zone with Eco-Wet sprayed evenly over the lawn with a re-use RTU Hose-end sprayer.
Application Rate 450ml Eco-Vital and 300ml Eco-Wet plus 1.25L water in 2L RTU Hose-end sprayer. The hose-end sprayer will siphon the solution from the bottle and mix it with water from the hose.  (As shown above.)

Eco-Vital is a premium natural seaweed and fish fertiliser that will nourish the lawn without promoting excessive leaf growth. Eco-Wet not only breaks water repellence instantly but it holds in water and fertiliser like a sponge releasing water when it is needed.

Spread a 5mm layer of Green Life ‘Lawn Top Dress’ to increase the organic content of your lawn, Slow feed the correct balance of nutrients right up to the end of May, and smooth and firm the surface to facilitate a uniform cutting height that will improve the quality and appearance of the lawn.

Photos show Green Life Soil Co top dress mix being applied.  (Available in bulk or in 25L bags.)  For more info on our soils, click here.  We are happy to provide more information, or a quote.

The most common problem that I encounter on lawns during summer is insufficient or inadequate watering so if you fix the watering system, the rest is comparatively easy. Mowing is not just the removal of surplus growth but the means of fine turf production. Conditioning rather than fertilising with the combination of Eco-Vital and Eco-Wet and watering it through the turf with a Hose-End Sprayer will feed the roots and stimulate microbial activity that will activate the root zone.

In another Newsletter I will tell you how to ‘Redesign your lawn so that it will enhance but not dominate the home garden landscape, and can be maintained strong and healthy with minimal water, fertiliser and mowing’.  

To contact Nick regarding a personalised consultation, written report and a detailed action plan for YOUR lawn, see details here.  

Propagation workshop - 13th February @ GLSC  **  NEW DATE ADDED - 20TH FEB **

Many Green Lifers expressed an interest in learning more about propagation - so our very first workshop is delving into this topic!

It will be run by Leesa Caldwell from The Greenhouse Organic.  For those of you who don't know Leesa, she is the lady who grows all of our Certified Organic vegetable seedlings for us.  She also grows a range of herbs, and is studying Western Herbalism (herbs, and their medicinal uses, is a particular area of interest to her).  Leesa has extensive experience in growing vegetables, herbs, microgreens and edible flowers for both wholesale and retail markets, and will cover tips and tricks for seed germination, taking cuttings, division, etc. 

The workshop will be held in the big shed @ GLSC between 2.00pm - 4.00/4.30pm approx.  on Saturday, 13th February.

It will be a hands-on class; so you'll have the ability to try some techniques and take your goodies home with you.

The workshop cost is $20 per person, which covers all materials, notes, etc.  Afternoon tea will be provided.

Bookings are essential, so click here to reserve your place.  Payment can be taken over the phone by credit card or by online bank transfer.

VIP special offer

So it's very nearly time to get planting again!  How exciting!  Autumn in the garden is a SUPER productive time, so to make sure you're prepared, we've got a great special offer for you...  This February, spend over $75 @ GLSC and receive a FREE bag of our Certified Organic Seed Raising Mix and Two FREE packets of heritage seeds (from available stock).  That's $21.50 worth of value to help YOU grow a better garden.

Remember - you must ASK for the VIP deal in store.  On line customers - add your request in the delivery instructions/comments section of your online order.

Offer valid until 29th February 2016 and one per customer.

Until next time - Happy Gardening!











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