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mudmapWelcome to Summer - and boy, is it here with a BANG!  It's a tough season to garden in Perth - hopefully the preparation you've done in recent months will help your garden survive AND thrive until Autumn.  The Noongyar calendar has the period December/January as Birak - 'first summer', or the season of the young.  It's the time of year with hot and dry easterly winds in the day, and cooler sea breezes in the late afternoon.  This is the season where reptiles emerge, and the land was managed with small fires to flush out kangaroos and possums, etc. for hunting.  When the Christmas tree was in blossom, it was time to move to the coast.  

Well Green Lifers - OUR BIG MOVE is getting closer!!!  Things at the new site (166 Wilson Road, Middle Swan - right next door to Tass1 Trees) are moving along; internal fitout is being done and signage being installed.  Then there's phone and security systems, bays to be constructed - etc. etc.  It really is a BIG deal for us (having been at Farrall Road for the last 19 years!) - and there's still many, many ducks to line up.  The plan is that we'll be closed for an extended period over Christmas/New Year while we're moving & re-open for 2020 from the new premises.

Christmas Trading Hours:

Last day of trading: Monday, 23rd December - closing 4pm

Opening at our NEW ADDRESS (166 Wilson Road)  Wednesday, 8th January - from 8.30am

Our phone number will remain unchanged. 

While we won't be open to the public for normal trading between these dates, we CAN still organise bulk soil deliveries with a little notice.  We will be checking phone messages (assuming the technology is on our side as we switch phone systems) and emails - so please leave us a message/send an email and we'll get in touch with you if you do require a delivery.  (Please don't expect an immediate response to enquiries of a general nature.)

We're Waterwise!

And in other news, Green Life is now an endorsed Waterwise garden centre!  Well, ok, we're technically NOT a "normal" garden centre; but let me explain...  Jess & Jacob (pictured here with Paul & I) completed their Waterwise training earlier this year.  Matthew Lunn (Executive Officer from the Nursery & Garden Industry of WA) visited us last week to present our certificate and new signage which recognises our team's commitment to helping you have a great garden - using water in the most efficient way possible.  We can help you with the basics of good soil preparation and mulch, and concepts of hyrozoning and efficient retic - and we can pass on contacts of reputable suppliers and technicians to help you with the more specialised aspects of garden and retic design.  Pictured below L-R - Jess (back FINALLY after breaking her leg back in August!), Linda, Paul & Jacob.

So THANK YOU for sticking with us in 2019 and we look forward to seeing you at our BRAND NEW place in 2020.  We'll be having a big opening event once we settle in - so do keep an eye out for details.

waterwise crewMerry Christmas & all the best for a wonderful new year for you and your family from all of us here @ Green Life Soil Co.

In this newsletter

Jobs for the December garden
What to plant now
Home Gardening in a Heatwave
VIP special offer
Photo competition winner
Retail stockist update

moon planting calendarMoon Planting 2020 Calendars HAVE BEEN ORDERED and are due to arrive any day.  Keep an eye on Facebook for the announcement when they turn up. Pictured here is a (bad) photo of the sample calendar received - the stock arrives rolled (not folded).  
Calendars make excellent gifts - so why not pick up a couple; one for you & one for a friend!

Jobs to do in the garden NOW 

mulchNot many of us have much time to devote to the garden in the lead up to Christmas.  Hopefully the hard work you've done in the last couple of months will be paying off now and you can enjoy your garden with a minimum of maintenance.  Here's a couple of reminders, just in case:-

  • Mulch!  If you haven't already mulched your garden, don't delay.  Use a good quality soil wetter (Like Eco-wet) on hydrophobic soils, and get your mulch down.  If you've laid mulch in Spring, check to see how it's working & whether there's areas that need topping up.  (Vegie gardens in particular that have been mulched with straw or pea straw may need a top up as the straw breaks down fairly quickly.)
  • Dead head and feed your roses and other spring flowering plants like lavender that have finished to tidy them up and encourage another flush.
  • indoor plantsGet your garden & outdoor area ready for Christmas!  Tidy up pot plants in patio areas (indoor ones too!) repotting them (just one size up if need be) with fresh soil for an instant pick-me-up.  Treat hanging baskets and pots with a soil wetter if they're drying out too quickly, or move them if possible to a more protected spot.  Grab some potted colour of summer loving flowers like petunias, portulaca and vincas to brighten up your entertaining area.
  • You have left your run too late to pot up herbs and have them growing & settling into a new planter, if you're wanting to give a living gift. So consider a DIY version - a herb or two, a nice pot, and some potting mix.   If you've left it REALLY too late - there's always a gift voucher!
  • Get your seeds started for succession plantings of lettuce, beans, and another crop of corn.  It's not too late to plant pumpkins, melons, zucchini etc. from seed if you get cracking.

What to Plant NOW

Check out our FREE when to plant guides on our website - but here's a quick reminder list:

Basil, Beans (snake beans highly recommended for summer), Beetroot, Capsicum, Chilli, Carrots, Chokos, Cucumber, Eggplant, Ginger, Leeks, Lettuce, Melons, Okra, Parsnips, Radish, Rosella, Silverbeet, Spring Onions, Squash, Strawberries, Sweet corn, Sweet potato, Tomatoes, Zucchini.

ceylon spinachIf you're mourning the loss of your English Spinach over the summer, why not give Malabar Spinach (also called Ceylon Spinach - pictured right) a go?  This is a climbing plant that loves the heat - provided it gets regular water it will do very well.  At the end of its season, it will readily self seed and chances are next year it will come up on its own.  Definitely worthwhile growing, you can eat leaves raw or cooked (young leaves and growing tips are ideal for salads), and the ripe berries are also edible (if you don't want to save the seed!).  They do need a frame or trellis to grow up on, but they're not crazy rampant and you can always keep them trimmed.  This year I'm experimenting growing mine with tall sunflowers,to see whether they'll work as a support - I'll keep you posted!  We have seeds and seedlings available at Green Life if you'd like to give it a try this year.  If you've got a really bright spot indoors, I've read they can be grown as an edible, short lived vine inside - not something I've tried myself but if it works for you, let me know (and I can pass on your experience).

If growing softer greens like lettuce - remember to keep them well watered (it's almost impossible to over water lettuce).  Wicking beds or self watering pots are a good choice as once roots are established, they can access water as required.  Just remember to make sure they're watered top down for a few weeks to ensure they're getting enough moisture until their roots are deep enough.

Introducing the Soil Doctors

soil doctor kitIn November, Paul & I attended the launch of the Soil Doctors - a local Perth business that offers soil testing and reporting to help you work out what nutrients may be lacking in your garden.  The Soil Doctors will analyse your soil sample with their equipment, and using customised software, will present you with an easy to interpret written report and help you understand what may need to be done to overcome deficiencies (or excesses).

Their portable Portable X-Ray Flouresence (PXRF) testing equipment can even be brought to your property for multiple site tests, and can also test for heavy metal contamination.

In the Autumn, Bronnie Kemp (the scientist behind Soil Doctors) will present a soil workshop at Green Life; but in the meantime, if you're interested you can book a one on one consultation - just let us know.

Normally, a Soil Doctors nutritional test is $189 per sample.  As an introductory special for Green Life customers, if you get in before the end of the year, it will cost you $126.  Just bring in a small sample (no more than 500gms) and we can organise it for you.

A soil test is always a snapshot in time - but it can be a very worthwhile exercise to get a basic understanding of your garden, and your gardening practises; particularly if you have an area of your garden that perplexes you and is not responding the way you think it should.  Sometimes throwing more manure or fertiliser at the soil isn't the answer - and can be detrimental.  A soil test will give you valuable clues to what your plants need, and with the right advice, you can save time and money in your garden.

Check out their website for more information:  https://www.soildoctors.com.au/

Home Gardening in a Heatwave

With such a hot start to summer (and a heatwave imminent) - we're all wondering HOW our gardens are going to get through the summer.  Here are some of our favourite tips to help your garden cope:-

lawnIn our September newsletter, we published turf expert Nick Bell's '6 Season lawn care calendar' - based on the ancient wisdom of the Noongyar people. His suggestion for lawn care at this time of year is to improve moisture retention and soil re wetting ability with liquid application of Eco-Wet Wetting agent through a 2L RTU hose-end sprayer.  (Both available @ GLSC.) Helping your lawn absorb moisture is the key to making sure your limited summer watering is the most effective it can be. Don't cut your lawn too short - it will only put it under stress. A longer lawn will help cool the roots which in turn protect the soil and make your watering more efficient.

Spend an hour testing your retic - grab some catch cups from a good retic store (or check out online tips to make your own) and measure what your sprinklers are delivering to your garden.  You'll need to make sure you test all over - it's not uncommon for some areas of your garden to receive more water than others - and armed with this knowledge, you can make sure you set your retic to deliver maximum efficiency within the watering guidelines; and you'll know where and if you need to hand water any areas.  Most people have retic coming on early in the morning when chances are you're not up & about to really notice what's going on - so don't leave it to chance; do your research and you'll know that everything's working well.

mulchWe bang on about mulch in summer non-stop.  But the reality is, it is essential in this climate.  We're regularly asked what mulch is best - but it depends on your situation.  A coarse, chunky mulch is great because it allows water to penetrate between the particles.  Avoid fine mulches and anything that contains peat - because this absorbs water and prevents it from getting to the soil below.  We need to re-think our "black mulch" preference and go for lighter colours (which reflect heat) and big particle sizes, and lay it on nice an thick. Ideally 75mm - 10mm thick, but keep it way from direct contact with tree trunks & stems to allow some air flow and prevent collar rot.

While there's nothing wrong with using woody mulches on your vegie garden, because they take longer than a season to decompose, straw/pea straw tends to be more popular for vegie gardens - it can simply be dug in at the end of the season and adds to the organic matter in the soil as you're replanting.  Woody mulch will need to be carefully scraped off the soil before you revamp & replant the garden bed.

Pots & hanging baskets
potted plantsIn extremely hot weather, move your pots & hanging baskets to a more sheltered position. If they're really dry, soak them in a weak seaweed solution & water for about half an hour.  Cluster pots in groups to shelter each other, and make sure you move them away from areas where they'll cop reflected heat from walls, fences or paved areas.  If you have no choice, use a sheet of wood or cardboard between the plants & the wall to help insulate them.

Vegies & sensitive plants
Shadecloth.  Provide some kind of shade to your plants.  We sell white horticultural grade 50% and 70% shadecloth, and have a limited amount of 30% (green) shadecloth in stock.  If you're on budget, visit your local op shop and stock up on old curtains and bedding.  There's no reason you can't string up sheets and curtains around your garden.  Tie corners to trees, your clothesline, or garden stakes.  Use beach umbrellas, camping gazebos - whatever you have.   A few small but sturdy stakes in the ground can be covered with t-shirts and/or pillowcases over them as a kind of tree guard around younger plants.   Use outdoor furniture to create a sun shade (or to attach something to), and use your shovel or pitchfork handle if you run out of stakes.  Pop a cardboard box upside down over plants, etc - Seriously - you're only limited by your imagination!  Temporary shade provided by ANYTHING will help your plants through the real heat of the day and help them come out the other side of a heatwave.

seedlingsSeeds germinate readily in hot weather but the problem is usually keeping them moist enough to thrive.  It's probably best to avoid planting out seeds if you're aware there's a number of really hot days coming up.  If you can't help yourself, and feel you must go sowing because it's the only chance you'll get, water seeds in well, then use a layer of old shadecloth or hessian thrown loosely over the top.  This allows water to penetrate, but provides enough protection to prevent the seeds from drying out.  Check regularly, and once the seedlings have germinated, remove the cover, water regularly (probably more than once a day in very hot weather) and mulch.  Raising seeds in trays may give you more option to move them around for shelter, but be aware that small punnets, pots or shallow seedling trays can dry out very quickly.

wateringLong & deep watering is more effective in the long run than frequent, light waterings.  In the morning is best - it gives plants a chance to hydrate their cells before the heat of the day begins and they transpire.  If you have to water later in the day, try to do so allowing enough time for water on the leaves to evaporate.  This is particularly important for your curcubits - cucumbers, pumpkin, zucchini, melons etc - which are all very susceptible to mildew.   (A weekly spray of 1 part milk and 9 parts water is a good preventative; but will need to be repeated if washed off with rain or retic.)   If at all possible, water the soil and NOT the plants anyway - the soil is where the water is needed.  If possible, avoid splash back up onto leaves - this helps keep soil borne diseases away from plants.    

Avoid pruning, fertilising and transplanting in a heatwave.  All these things put plants under more pressure.  There is a Yates product called Droughtshield on the market - we don't sell it as yet, but a number of professional landscapers swear by it to help protect plants from heat stress.  It is described as a polymer that when sprayed on, provides a protective coating (a polymer is a blend of chemicals which could be naturally occurring - I can't find out a great deal more about it, so I would personally be wary of using it for edibles); if you have much loved ornamentals that are struggling, it might be worth trying it.   One treatment will last a couple of months, and as I said, it comes highly recommended to me.  

Keep the faith
hose knotIf you have an area of the garden that just seems too difficult - everything dies in summer despite your best efforts, then don't stress.  Take some photos in the heat of the day (because it will be a good reference as to the amount of sun that spot receives), and come and talk to us in the Autumn about how to summer proof your garden for next year - because the REAL secret lies in soil preparation.  Making sure you have all the goodies in the soil, plus a means of keeping the moisture and microbial content healthy in hot weather makes the difference between success and failure in the garden.  Having plants die doesn't mean you're a bad gardener - it just means that you didn't quite get the right plant for the conditions; or didn't get the conditions right for the plant.  These are two different angles to look from - but it's the key to success.

Worm farms
wormsMake sure your worm farms are in a shaded, sheltered spot.  Worm farms can easily overheat and cook your worms.  Speaking from experience, this is both distressing and revolting - so it's worth avoiding for sure.  While adding water is good (don't let the bedding material or food become dry), foodscraps that are composting in a worm farm will be heating up - so this can be an additional source of heat.  Get a few old 2L cool drink or milk bottles, fill with water and freeze.  During a heatwave, in the morning before you leave for work, take out a bottle and place it in the top layer of your worm farm, just on the surface.  This provides a cool spot that the worms can move to if they're getting too hot.  Having a couple on the go means you can just swap them over every day.  Another possibility is to place your worm farm feet in a shallow dish of water, and cover it in damp hessian or an old blanket draped over the top with its hem sitting in the water.  This takes advantage of wicking and evaporation - just like our great grandmothers used a Coolgardie Safe in the days before refrigeration.

Look after yourself - this too shall pass!
thermometerLastly, remember to stay hydrated yourself.  Avoid working in the hottest part of the day, use sunscreen, and wear a hat.  While summer can be a trial for gardeners, without it we wouldn't get to enjoy the wonder of summer bounty like tomatoes and juicy grapes!  
Enjoy the cooler part of the day to get things done - it's a happy co-incidence that the early mornings and evenings are both lovely times outside - when you can take in the peace of your garden and refresh your soul.

VIP Special Offer

lucerne pelletsThis month, we have another mulch special for you (it's certainly time to MULCH your plants!!!)  Grab a 15kg sack of Lucerne Pellets for a discounted price - $25.00 (usually $29).  

Lucerne pellets make an excellent feeder mulch for your roses, vegies, fruit trees - basically everything!  I love to use them around pots because they're so easy to apply.  They're a great way to give pots a feed too - and with no odour around your entertaining area that's always a bonus!

Lucerne pellets are locally made, and perfect for Vegan gardeners!  Why not grab a sack for a Chrissy pressie for a hard to buy for gardener?

On line - VIP's need to log into the Member's section to obtain the special price.  If shopping in store or over the phone - please ask for your VIP discount on the pellets.

Photo Competition Winner

Thanks to a number of Green Lifers who have sent in photos recently of their gardens and lawns - I am always really excited to see other people's garden projects and it's a privilege to be able to share them with a wider audience via social media and this newsletter.  Please keep them coming in!  I pick one at random each month to win a $50 credit with Green Life.  There's no limit to entering, so why not make it a regular thing to send photos with the changing seasons?

This time I've selected Sin Sin Oi - who sent us in the following pictures with this comment:-

"Hi, I have been using Green Life Soil square foot mix and potting mix as well as blueberries mix for 3 years now and absolutely love them. 
Here is some photos of my garden. My garden is a small urban garden and I grow everything in raised beds and containers. Even though I haven’t been using shade cloths
but the plants still look happy after many hot days in Perth."

Thanks Sin Sin & congratulations!


Retail Stockist Update

potting mix bagPlease support the local independent retailers who support us. They've got great local knowledge and are happy to help.

All stockists carry different items (so give them a call and check!). If there's an item of ours they don't usually carry, in most cases they'd be very happy to add it to their next order for you.

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
Thrive Sustainability - Lower Chittering 0408 157 301
Waldecks Bentley - Bentley 9458 5944 (pictured right)
Waldecks Melville - Melville 9330 6970
Waldecks Kingsley - 9309 5088
Waldecks Stirling - 9254 6730
Zanthorrea Nursery - Maida Vale 9454 6260

Australind Landscaping Supplies 9796 1720
Busselton - U scape Garden Centre 9751 3995
Leschenault & Bunbury Markets - Fancy Plants Nursery 0428 844 597
Margaret River - Landmark 9758 7677

THANK YOU for being part of the Green Life family - we hope to see you soon in store (and here next month for the next newsletter!) In the meantime - stay up to date with all the Green Life happenings by following us on Facebook and Instagram.  Merry Christmas!

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