Download our FREE when to plant guide -  click here

new leafHello 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.

new signHappy gardening!

Linda & the Team @
The Green Life Soil Co

In this newsletter:

Jobs to do in the Garden in August
What to plant now
Stonemeal - something to get your teeth into!
Photo contest winner
VIP special offer
Retail stockist info

Jobs to do in the Garden

  • Get your Jerusalem artichokes, Rhubarb and Asparagus in the ground!  And your bare rooted trees.  They'll be emerging from winter dormancy very soon - so now's the time to plant them in your garden.  Improve the soil with your compost (or our General Concentrate) and get planting.  This one (pictured right) is grown from a crown we planted from last year's batch.  
  • Pruning Roses.  In Perth, end of July is recommended to do this - but there's still time if you haven't done it yet.  Mulch them before they start to shoot back to life & it's too prickly to get in and around the bushes.
  • Improve your soil for Spring!  NOW is the time to use your lovely compost and worm castings (or visit us and stock up on some), turn in your green manure crops and prepare the soil to get it ready for planting as the weather warms up.  
  • orangeFeed your citrus trees at the end of Winter.  You can use a good general fertiliser (like Growsafe), or top up around the tree with some aged manure/compost or blood & bone.  Make sure you throw in a little potash and rock dust which will assist with fruit quality and plant health generally.  As the weather warms up and day length increases, the plants will be actively growing once more so now's the best time to give them a feed.
  • Tidy up your garden.  Prunings, weeds etc. can be thrown in the compost heap.  Throw in a handful of blood & bone or your chook poo (if you're lucky enough to have hens) and leave it to break down to lovely compost.  Even if you don't actively manage it - your pile should get enough moisture before summer to make sure it's well broken down to use in Autumn.
  • Lift and divide perennials.  It's not too late to dig up your clumping herbaceous perennial plants and divide them - that way you get more plants to use in your garden or to give to friends!  Daylilies, iris, sedum, chives, mint, yarrow  are just a few that come to mind.  It's a good opportunity to open up crowded areas of your garden (which will let in more light and help with airflow) and tidy up the garden at the same time.
  • Watch for garden pests - snails, slugs and scale are three common ones.  (tip - use the 'search' box here on our website to find articles in our newsletter archive to give you great tips on managing these pests.)

What to Plant Now

seed potatoes

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.

Summer crops like Tomatoes, Eggplant, Cucumber, Zucchini can be started soon; although (depending where you are) it will be a while yet before you can plant out in the garden. If things grow well in punnets you can always pot up to larger pots in between planting in the garden. Jackie French says in her excellent book "Backyard Self Sufficiency" - "When the soil is warm enough to sit on bare-bummed" - plant out your summer vegies.

seeds emergingArtichokes (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.

Stonemeal (rock dust) - Something to get your teeth into!

rock dust close upAll 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?

sample jarsWhether 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.

indoor plant using rock dustRock 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.

rocky packagingGLSC 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?

It will:
1) Turn stones into bread and make barren regions fruitful.
2) Feed the hungry.
3) Cause healthy cereals and provender to be harvested and thus prevent epidemics among men and diseases among animals.
4) Make agriculture again profitable and save great sums of money which are now expended for fertlisers that in part are injurious and in part useless.
5) Turn the unemployed to country life by revealing the inexhaustible nutritive forces which, hitherto unrecognised, are stored up in the rocks, the air and the water.

This it will accomplish.

May this little book be intelligible enough that men, who seem on the point of becoming beasts of prey, may cease their war of all-against-all and instead of hunting for gold, racing for fame or wasting productive forces in useless labors, choose the better part: The peaceable emulation in the discovery and directions of the natural forces for evolving nutritive products and the peaceable enjoyment of the fruits which the earth is able to provide in abundance for all.
May man use the divine heritage of reason to attain true happiness by discovering the sources whose all earthly blessings flow and thus put an end to self-seeking and greed, to the increasing difficulties of making a living, the anxieties for the daily bread, to distress and crime – such is the aim of this little work, and in this may God aid us." 

Photo Competition Winner

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.


VIP Special Offer

rocky Rock dustThis month, to our VIP members - we're giving you the opportunity to get your hands on Certified Organic Rocky Rock Dust at special prices. 
(Now you've read all about the benefits of using it - why wouldn't you give it a try?)

  • 5kg tub (normally RRP $18) $15.00
  • 15kg bag (normal RRP $28) $22.00

Available in store & online until 31st August 2018.

Note:  to purchase ONLINE at the discounted price you must log in to the VIP members' section of our website.

Retail Stockists

landmarkPlease 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
Dunn + Walton - Doubleview 92427711
Garden Elegance - Subiaco 9381 2197
Guildford Town Garden Centre - Guildford 9279 8645
Nibali Stockfeed - Hamilton Hill 9433 2211
Stanbee Stockfeeds - Barragup 9581 2390
Waldecks Bentley - Bentley 9458 5944
Waldecks Melville - Melville 9330 6970
Waldecks Kingsley - 9309 5088
Waldecks Stirling - 9254 6730
Wandilla Nursery - Wattle Grove 9453 9779
Zanthorrea Nursery - Maida Vale 9454 6260

Geraldton - Succulent Kiss 0488 374 444
Margaret River - Landmark 9758 7677

THANK YOU for reading & enjoy your garden this August.

NASAA Organic Certified ProductsNASAA Organic Certified Products