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Hello August - and we're 2/3rds through winter - officially. I can see signs of Spring in the garden already; our Almond tree is flowering, the Irises are in bud and so is my one and only Rose bush (which is a worry because I still haven't pruned it!). Sometimes the weather confuses us all... but we muddle through! At least in Perth we've had some good rain this year, and we're thankful for that. Let's hope there's a bit more to come (and that it makes its way to the drought affected areas over east too).
Rhubarb, Asparagus & Jerusalem Artichokes have all ARRIVED and we still have stock available. It's the perfect time to get these planted so don't delay. Asparagus is 'Mary Washington' variety 2nd year crowns, and the Rhubarb is 'Ever Red' - so the lovely rich, red stems you traditionally think of as rhubarb. Yum!
At GLSC we've got a whole heap of workshops planned in the coming months - most of them are now 'live' and you can book in via our 'Events' page. There's a couple more that we're still finalising details for with presenters, so do check back in a week or two because they'll be 'live' soon too!
We're excited to advise all our friends in the Margaret River area that your local Landmark store in town now stocks our Certified Organic Premium Potting Mix - and will be expanding the range over coming weeks. So tell your friends down that way they can stock up locally (it'll leave more room in their car on their next trips to Perth instead of being weighed down with our goodies on the way home!).
We hope you enjoy this newsletter (as always your feedback & suggestions are welcome) and we'd love to see you soon @ GLSC.
Linda & the Team @
In this newsletter:
It's not too late to plant:
Potatoes. We've got a heap of certified organic seed potatoes that are sprouting and just ITCHING to get into the ground. We've got them on sale - so do call in and grab some more to plant. If you're involved with a school or community garden - talk to us and we'll cut you an even better deal; we'd love to see these all go towards feeding people rather than going to waste. Here's our growing guide on spuds.
It's an exciting time - you may wish to start off some of your Spring/Summer seeds this month. If you've got a greenhouse (or can make a makeshift one) start off some of your new season crops in punnets or trays. Just remember that many seeds require a constant soil temperature before germination can take place - so be patient. Some things will be faster than others. Starting off just a small quantity to begin with is a good idea - and then you can plant a few more in a couple of weeks. That way you're sure to "get it right" - rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, as it were.
Artichokes (both Jerusalem & Globe types), Asparagus, Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Coriander, Kale, Leek, Lettuce, Onion, Potato, Radish, Rocket, Silverbeet, Snow pea, Spring onion, Strawberries can all be grown at this time of year. For your brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, Kale) I'd be considering seedlings over seed to give you a head start and to beat the dreaded Cabbage White Butterfly.
Come and see us for a great range of heritage/non-hybrid seed, and our certified organic seed raising mix to get you started, and check out our free downloadable growing guides here.
All of the earth's surface is comprised of rock (well, discounting the oceans of course!) - much of that has been weathered and ground to become sand and soil. So if our soils are made from rock in the first place, what does adding rock dust do?
The history of rock dust goes back a while - 'modern use' is credited to a German man - Dr Julius Hensel (1833 - 1903); who was originally a miller (or so the story goes). Once, while milling grain he found stones accidentally contaminating the flour. He threw out the ground meal into his garden and to his surprise, that part of the garden produced more vigorous, healthy plants. He then set out to experiment further, and convinced of the results (and obviously convincing others) began to sell his 'stonemeal'. His claims that no additional fertilisers or manures were required to grow healthy crops gained him some enemies. Other scientists/agricultural chemists at the time promoted the theory that plants only required NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) and ignored the role of trace elements in plant and human health. Julius eventually became a Dr of medicine and was a vocal exponent of the theory "all disease is a lack of mineral substances which are essential to the functioning of the body's cells." As he travelled, he studied the soil minerals and recorded any health problems more common in the area . He published a number of books - including "Bread from Stones" in 1894.
So rock dusts have been known about for a long time - although their popularity here in Australia has certainly grown in the last few decades, and modern agricultural trials have been conducted confirming the benefits of rock dust to improve soil fertility.
Our soils in Australia are ancient - and have been weathered and leached of many of the essential nutrients required for healthy plant growth - so anything to improve our soil fertility is worth considering. Adding organic matter is great - but if composted material was grown in nutrient poor soil - the compost cannot contain nutrients or minerals that were not present in the organic matter while it was growing.
We do know that nutrient dense food crops (rich in minerals and trace elements ) are healthier both in themselves as plants as they grow, and as food for humans and animals, and taste better too. Animals grazed on mineral rich pasture are healthier, and the pasture itself is more resilient. Fruit and vegetable crops have larger yields (have a look at some of the studies that have been published online if you'd like to know more).
Plants with a higher range of minerals & trace elements available to them also are less prone to pest and disease attack - obviously that has huge benefits in broadacre farming and for the home gardener.
What is Rock Dust?
Whether you call it rock dust or stone meal - it is in effect ground up/powdered/crushed/milled rock. And there are many different sources of rock in the world that contain a whole range of different elements. (Pictured right - these minerals are sourced from crushed rock - Diatomaceous Earth, Zeolite, Rock Phosphate, Dolomite, Gypsum.)
Limestone for example is usually rich in magnesium and calcium, while granite and basalt is often higher in iron, boron, manganese, copper, zinc, etc. Historically we know that volcanic soils tend to be very rich in minerals - look at many places around the world where there's volcanic activity and you'll often find very fertile agricultural regions. Lava flows bring up minerals from deep within the earth - but then again even volcanic rocks vary in their elemental content.
A good quality rock dust will help improve your soil's structure. It can promote microbial activity, water retention and water holding capacity. Both microbes and moisture are required to make the minerals in rock dust plant available, so it's a constant cycle of improving the soil and feeding your plants.
Rock dust is 'slow release' - it will take a little while for the microbes to make nutrients available; but it is also very stable and long lasting. It doesn't tend to leach and the benefits will continue for some time after application. In fact, you only need to apply it about once a year to general garden beds (possibly more in your vegie garden where you're producing fast growing crops to eat), and in small doses (a good handful/100-200gms per square metre) - so it works out very economical, too.
Rock dust can't burn your plants - but if you use it excessively, it may raise your soil's pH. It is easy to use - simply sprinkle it over your garden (use it under mulch), or dig it in when incorporating other soil improvers. (Top tip - using rock dust on the surface of your indoor pot plants has been proven to prevent fungus gnats!)
Add rock dust to your compost pile and worm farms - the composting process and temperature will get things going so when you use the end product in your garden you'll see results much faster. Worms pass it through their gut so your castings will be extra-amazing!
There are many types of rock dust now commercially available. Some are blended which often means you'll get a broader range of nutrients in them. Others are enhanced with kelp, etc. These are good quality products but this is reflected in the price. Some are complete fertlisers - but if you're using other products in your garden - you may not need all the added extras. It depends on your approach & personal preference.
GLSC uses and sells "Rocky Rock Dust". This is a locally sourced crushed basalt rock dust that comes from a specific deposit near Bunbury. There is nothing else added - and it contains a good range of useful minerals & trace elements. (We believe it represents great bang for your buck!) We have had the product tested and Certified Organic.
Another quality of this rock dust is it's 'paramagnetism'. Now this might be a bit "woo-woo" for some of you - paramagnetism is a measurable magnetic quality of rock which has been shown to improve seed germination and plant health. One theory is that the microbes are attracted by this magnetic quality and thus benefit soil health with their increased activity. (Studies from around the world found that the healthiest soils with best plant growth and highest crop yields have high paramagnetic values while poor soils with lots of disease and insect pressure have low values.)
So if you've never tried using rock dust - why not give it a go this Spring and see what the results are? It's not just for edibles - your ornamental garden and flowering plants would also benefit. (Plus we've got a great deal for our VIP's this month!)
You can download a translated copy of "Bread from Stones" online - and I just have to share the introduction to the book here with you - written in 1893, the sentiment is timeless and resonates with the Permaculture ethics of 'Earth Care - People Care - Fair Share' ~ don't you think?
"What will fertilizing with stone dust accomplish?
Congratulations to Wally from Midland who has been working on a huge project. Basically, he has converted his back yard to growing food - and has been at work for some time building beds (over 100m2 so far) and bringing in the soil. I think you'll agree it looks pretty amazing!
THANKS for sending in the photos Wally. You've won a $50 voucher to use here @ GLSC this Spring.
If you'd like to win a voucher remember to send us in your photos via email (or our Facebook page - tagged 'photo competition'). It's that easy! A winner is drawn at random every month.
So next time the sun's out - pick up your phone and get snapping! Tell us in a few words what you're growing; and what GLSC products you're using. It really is inspiring to see all you Green Lifers at work.
This month, to our VIP members - we're giving you the opportunity to get your hands on Certified Organic Rocky Rock Dust at special prices.
Available in store & online until 31st August 2018.
Please support the local & independent businesses who support us. You'll find great advice and friendly service close to home!
This month we're excited to welcome Landmark Margaret River to the list of Green Life stockists - their good looking team is pictured here!!!
(Please note - the range of products available will vary from store to store so it's always best to check with them for what you're looking for. If it's something they don't usually carry they would most likely be happy to add it to their next order.)
Beaufort Garden World - Inglewood 9271 0585
THANK YOU for reading & enjoy your garden this August.