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new shed Hello & welcome to 2020!  It's been a crazy few weeks around here - our big move happened over the Christmas break.  We're now open & operational @ 166 Wilson Road; but still settling in - there'll be many improvements to come over the next year - so keep a look out and we hope to see you soon.  

We're right next to Tass 1 Trees - they're open Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun - so if you come on these days you can make it a one stop shop!  (We're open 7 DAYS - so obviously you're welcome to pop out ANY day...)  Bring your keep cups - Jane Brook Fresh (the little fruit & veg shop on the corner) serves delicious coffee & cake (Quondong Jam Tarts, Passionfruit Cheesecake, Bushmint Chocolate Cake etc. etc.) - so what more excuse to you need???

Our new site is a mere 4 minute trip (a couple of kms) by car from our previous site - if you're taking Roe Highway to reach us, take the Toodyay Road exit heading towards the hills and you'll find us.  Our new site has a drive thru shed - so if you're just picking up bags, follow the arrows via the far gate and on in and we'll load you.  For trailer loading, please park in the yard in front of the bays.  For general browsing, there's a large carpark that stretches the whole way in front of the property & Tass 1 Nursery, so please park out front.  

Bushfire Relief 

bushfire

Like all of Australia - we've been saddened by the bushfires which have ravaged so much of the country and caused such devastation to humans and animals alike.  So we've decided that for all retail bags we sell in the months of January & February, we'll donate $1.00 per bag.  Bags we wholesale to other retailers we will donate 50¢ per bag.  The funds raised will be allocated 70% to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, and the remaining 30% to WIRES for wildlife rehabilitation.  So wherever you buy our bagged product Jan/Feb you'll be helping make a difference - thank you!

So while it's been a challenging start to 2020 - we are aiming for it to be a SUPER year, and we look forward to being of service to each of you in your quest to have a healthy and sustainable garden.  We thank you for your continued support.

Linda & The team @ The Green Life Soil Co

front counterIn this newsletter:

Jobs for the January Garden
What to Plant Now
Summer Gardening Solutions
VIP Special Offer
Photo Competition Winner
Retailer Update

Jobs for the January Garden

  • garden ladyMake sure YOU take care in the heat - slip, slop slap, and work in the cool of the morning or evening to avoid over-doing it in the heat of the day. Stay hydrated and take regular breaks.

  • Plants do well with a light feed to help them cope with the hotter conditions. Don't over feed the nitrogen (which will give you weaker, leggy green growth that will just wilt!) a balanced fertliser, (and a low-dose at that) is best. Seaweed/kelp fertlisers are great to help plants cope with heat stress.

  • Check your pot plants from time to time. Some that are more exposed than others will tend to dry out more - you may need to provide them with extra water or dunk the whole pot into a tub of water for an hour or two or so to allow soil to re-wet.

  • pea straw

    Mulch, Mulch, Mulch. Of course, you applied mulch in Spring, right? But it pays to check - particularly if you use straw mulches in your vegie garden - have they broken down and are they still being effective? Sometimes you may need to apply a little bit more for best results. If you have areas of the garden where no plants are growing, it is still wise to mulch the bare soil. This will help protect soil biology and aid with water repellency problems.

  • Preserve the harvest. If you're overwhelmed with zucchini, tomato, squash, corn, cucumbers - experiment with drying, pickling, freezing or preserving them! There are so many excellent tutorials online to look at. Harvest your cucumbers and zucchinis when they are small. This will make sure they're sweet and tender.  

  • powdery mildewSummer rain and humid conditions can lead to increased fungal problems; watch out for powdery mildew in particular. It can be treated very early on (or even prevented) by a foliar spray of 1 part milk to 10 parts water. Spray all over the leaves (underside too) and repeat maybe twice a week and definitely after rain - and if possible, avoid overhead watering which can exacerbate the problem. You'll need to act early - once the disease has really taken hold it is hard to eradicate.

  • Check out your seed stock of autumn/winter growing vegies. Make a list of what is still viable, and what you will need to buy in fresh. Make a note of what crops you are growing now and read up on Crop Rotation - where are you going to plant your next round of vegies?

  • Grab your 2020 Moon Planting Calendar - now in stock @ $11.00 each or 2 for $20.00; so why not grab one for a friend?

What to Plant Now

eggplantIt's the hottest time of the year in Perth making gardening extra challenging.  Remember we've got 50% and 70% white horticultural shadecloth in stock - so get some protection up for your vegie patch and with a daily hand water you'll still be able to have a productive garden.  Now's the time of year for some succession planting, time to think about starting winter brassicas from seed (well, almost!), and time to think about your Autumn/Winter garden and what is going to follow on from your summer crops when they run out of steam.

Plants to consider growing now include:  Beans, Beetroot, Brussel Sprouts*, Cabbage*, Capsicum, Chilli, Carrot, Cauliflower*, Cucumber, Eggplant, Kale*, Kohl Rabi*, Leek, Lettuce, Melons, Parsnip, Pumpkin, Radish, Silverbeet, Spring Onion, Swede, Sweetcorn, Sweet Potato, Tomato, Turnip, Zucchini.

insect netting* Disclaimer: Brassica vegetables are best grown as Winter crops here in Perth. While they will grow in Summer, they are more susceptible to pests like Cabbage Moth & Cabbage Butterfly, so it's best to keep them under insect netting (pictured right) at this time of year. Keep up the water as stressed plants will bolt to seed, and ensure seeds & seedlings aren't allowed to dry out.
Brussel Sprouts are borderline in Perth - they thrive in cold weather; and usually our Perth Winters are too mild for them.  Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower are slow to produce - so for your best chance of success, start off seeds early so that once conditions cool down in Autumn you have advanced seedlings ready to go in the ground... Of course - here's where it get's really tricky - you need to predict WHEN it's going to get cool enough; so starting a few seeds off every couple of weeks will be helpful.

Check out our FREE downloadable 'When to Plant Guide' here - we've got one for vegies and another for herbs, in a handy month-by-month list.

seed standsAt our new premises we have two lovely seed racks made for us by local hills craftsman - Pete from Hobbit Furniture.  The stands mean we have effectively doubled our shelf space for seed display.  So there's no doubt - GLSC has the biggest range of non-hybrid/heritage seed available retail in Perth.  When planning your autumn garden, come on in and check it out.

We're finishing off our shadehouse area for seedlings - by the end of this week we'll have got this area finished and under retic, so will be stocked up again with organically grown vegies, and a wide range of culinary and medicinal herbs.

Seven Summer Gardening Solutions

Recently, I posed the question to our Facebook family "what are your biggest issues in the garden at the moment?" - not that there were too many surprises - they're issues we're facing in our own garden at the moment, too.  Remember we're smack bang in the middle of summer - it's a tough time to garden in Perth, so hang in there!  (It was lovely to see so many people offering up suggestions to other gardeners - it's such a supportive community.)  Here's a list of the top 7, and if they're issues you're facing, you might find a solution or two to try.   Good luck!

Heat

shadeclothGardening on the edge of a desert here in Perth is difficult - no more so than in Summer, as temperatures sap the life out of everything but the hardiest natives who have evolved with these conditions.  So there's a hint - if you're planning a new garden and want something low maintenance, consider local native plants.  There is a wide range available, so visit a good nursery (Zanthorrea in Maida Vale specialise in natives, as does Australian Native Nurseries in Oakford) and get some advice.   It is possible to have a colourful and beautiful garden using native plants.

Should you be looking at growing exotic plants (ie. anything non-native, including vegetables) the key to success is to provide them with their ideal growing conditions.  Do some research onto where your favourite flowers/shrubs originate from, and what type of growing conditions suit them best.  Then, try to replicate that in your own yard.  Understorey plants will need shade and shelter from wind - for example.  Taking the time to set up your garden before planting will give you the best chance of success.

For vegetable gardening in Perth, soil improvement, MULCH, regular water and shadecloth* is really the only way to ensure success.  And obviously - growing things in the correct season is paramount to success.  (* We have white horticultural grade shadecloth available in 50% & 70%.)

Water Repellent Soil

water repellent soilIn our sandy soil, the hot weather can dry out the top layers of soil where the microbial life is, and nutrient recycling and water holding just isn't happening. Water will pool on top of the soil, and just runs off if your garden is on a slope.  

In the short term, use a good quality soil wetting agent (we recommend EcoWet) to help get water into the soil profile. However this method isn't permanent, and you'll need to repeat applications every 12 months. Incorporating water holding material is the key to longer lasting benefits.

Clay is extremely beneficial to add to sandy soil - the clay permanently improves the soil's structure, enabling it to be re-wet even if it does dry out. There are a number of clay products on the market - and all have their place. The two main types are bentonite & kaolinite clays. Green Life sells BOTH. We have pure Watheroo bentonite available, our Sand Remedy (which is bentonite based but includes a number of other effective minerals for water and nutrient holding - as well as trace elements), and kaolinite clay 'Cassies Clay'. Both Sand Remedy and Cassies Clay are endorsed by the WA Water Corporation and help your garden use less water.

The other fantastic product that will help with water repellency is Charlie Charcoal. Charcoal by its nature is highly absorbent, and is a permanent source of carbon in your soil - hugely beneficial for microbes and for nutrient holding, and as a bonus - it has a very low pH, so if you struggle with high alkalinity (as do many people along the coast) - this is the perfect product to use. Charlie & Cassie work so well together in your garden that we would say it's a match made in heaven!!  We use both products in the majority of our soil mixes.

Root Invasion

tree rootsThis is a big problem for many gardeners - and because it happens below the surface, it isn't something obvious until you go digging.  Your garden beds (especially vegie gardenss) are lavished with love, nutrients and water - and trees, lawns, shrubs etc. from everywhere will sniff that goodness out and send roots in to get their share.  Even neighbour's trees can be a problem - they don't respect the boundary fence.

Unless you're up to digging out the bed and starting afresh every 2-5 years, the best thing you can do is to use a root barrier material.  We have found weedmat ineffective.  Geotextile (which we sell @ $7 per metre) is the far better choice.  Allowing moisture to permeate, it stops root hairs getting through (you do need to watch out for any overlapping sections).  

Slaters

slatersI have mulched most of our vegie garden with pea straw.  It does a great job to help protect the soil surface and keep it moist, but it really seems to attract slaters, which have decimated many of my snake beans (grrrrrr).  There are a number of traps & tricks you can try if you're wanting to avoid using any pesticides in your garden.  Cleaning up areas like piles of wood, prunings and pots will also remove areas where slaters like to populate and hide away. These creatures do have a role to play in gardens. They assist in the breakdown and recycling of organic matter, which in turn makes nutrients available to plants. The problems appear when they breed up to large numbers.

If you have left over citrus halves from juicing, upturn these amongst your plants. Slaters (and also slugs and snails) will shelter inside, and can be easily disposed of in the morning. Another trick is to take a newspaper and roll it up with a lacky band at each end. Make sure the open edges of the paper are outermost. Soak it thoroughly in water and put out in the garden. The slaters will go inbetween the pages along the edge - again it's a simple thing to pick up the whole paper and dispose of it. You can also try wet newspaper sheets crumpled up in an old pot on its side. Same theory - damp & dark = nice spot for slaters!

Leaving potato peelings in a pile on an icecream container lid for a few days will also work as an attractant. The decaying skins provide food and a place for them to hide - again the whole lot can be easily removed. Beer traps will also work with slaters, as will off yoghurt or sour cream to attract them.

If you're wanting to dial it up a notch, the iron based snail pellets do work very well at killing slaters.  (we stock Multiguard and Protect-Us) 

Scale & Mealy Bug

scaleMealy bug are a type of scale pest - a group of little sap sucking critters that attach themselves to your plants, and can weaken them.  Worse, the sticky substance they secrete (honey dew) is sought after by ants as a food source, so ants actively farm them and spread them around your garden.  Black sooty mould can grow on the honey dew secretion.  This isn't itself such a problem - but it is unsightly.

Traditionally, heavy duty systemic pesticides are used - treating them organically requires a bit more effort.  There are parasitic wasps that deal with them - but if scale are present in large numbers, you may not win the battle.

Small plants are manageable - using gloves, or a cloth, you can wipe them off leaves and stems with a little metho or pest oil.  Larger plants need a spray with something like Eco-oil, neem oil, potassium soap spray or pyrethrum, and you will need to do repeated treatments to get new hatchlings as they emerge.  Oil based treatments can be problematic in hot weather - you'll burn your plants.  It is best to treat in late winter.  
For trees & hard to reach shrubs, blasting foliage with a high pressure hose will help - you may need to do this for several days in a row, and repeat often.

Control ant numbers (with trunk banding) and you will help stop the spread of the scale pest.  Plants that are constantly under attack by these pests may be best removed and replaced with a less susceptible species.

Ants

antsWhether it's spreading scale, or messing up your paving - ants can be a headache.  Often they're a symptom of dry conditions - regular watering the garden/s they're in may cause them to move on.  Ants in compost or worm farms definitely mean it's too dry.  Tipping a kettle of boiling water daily on nests in paving will certainly help.  Organic control is limited to a few soft options - you can try our diatomaceous earth, or Eco-ant spray; which is a eucalyptus based formulation.

If you need to do something more heavy duty, it's best to correctly identify your ants so you can target them efficiently.  Using a piece of sticky tape, collect a couple of them, send them to the Agriculture Department for ID.  Here's a link to their web page which has a heap of info on native and introduced ant species, and the details for taking & sending samples:  https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/invasive-species/ant-identification-key-successful-control?nopaging=1

Ants are a natural part of the eco system and have a role to play in the food chain - and also pollinating your plants!  So if they're not causing you major problems, try and leave them be.  Ants can help control other insect pests and help aerate the soil (allowing water, air and nutrients to penetrate).

Grasshoppers

grass hopperGrasshoppers are chewers, ripping holes in plant leaves and spreading disease. They will nibble on tissue of some crops causing it to rot and go brown, and in large numbers they can defoliate plants very quickly.   Insect netting will protect vulnerable plants. Praying mantis are a natural predator; as are many birds - so encourage them in your garden by planting a few shrubs around & supplying a bird bath to provide shelter and habitat. Grasshoppers are sluggish in cooler temperatures early in the morning. If you go out then, you should be able to hand pick quite a few off your plants. You can also use a small hand held vacuum to suck them off sturdy plants. Chickens will devour grasshoppers; and they're edible for humans too - if you're interested!
Spraying your plants with a garlic & chilli spray helps as a deterrent. You can also try Neem oil. Some studies have shown it to be a deterrent for grasshoppers, as well as a control if they ingest it. Direct contact sprays (for spraying directly onto the pests) include pyrethrum and/or horticultural soap (potassium soap). Traps can be made by floating small bits of yellow plastic on top of bodies of water (eg. kids wading pools); the grasshoppers are attracted to yellow and will drown when they hit the water. You can also try 10% molasses in water solution, cover with a thin film of oil on top to deter bees, (canola oil is said to attract grasshoppers) and leave in small jars/containers around the garden. Again, if you can paint them bright yellow this may help. Yellow sticky traps close to the ground are worth trying too - just be aware these have caused problems with small birds that have been trapped on the strong glue; some yellow traps now have a 'cage' built into the design to prevent this.

Dead Patches in Your Lawn

dead lawnBoy, has this one been a popular topic on social media over recent weeks.  Dead patches on your lawn are ultimately a sign of stress - that section of lawn is too hot & too dry to be thriving right now.  Often compaction occurs, and there's less opportunity for water to easily work its way into the root zone.  

Again, our sandy soils have often been poorly prepped for lawn, and there can be a number of reasons why certain spots in your lawn aren't as healthy as others.  One section may simply be receiving less water due to poor/reduced sprinkler overlap, water pressure, blocked nozzles - etc.  Here's some really useful info from the Watercorporation - we recommend you use catch cups to test & compare how much water your lawn is receiving in different places (it may surprise you!).

To help fix the issue, aerate your lawn in the dry spots.  You can use special tools, or a pitchfork loosely moved through the soil will do the job.  Use a good quality liquid soil wetter (we recommend Eco-wet).  You may find repeated applications are necessary in some spots.  Hand water well to ensure soil receives the moisture.

If you know of anybody about to lay new lawn, PLEASE get them to talk to us about getting the soil prep right.  We speak to people on a daily basis who struggle to keep their lawn healthy - and your best chance is to do it right the first time.

So there you go - hopefully the 7 deadly sins of summer can be circumvented!  (Good luck & let us know if there's other issues you'd like us to focus on next time!)

moved signVIP Special Offer - A housewarming gift for YOU!

As a special incentive to come in and see our new home, shop in store between now and close of business Sunday, 16th February and receive a FREE bag of blended manure when you spend $50 or more.
Our weed free blended (sheep and cow) manure is a popular staple soil amendment/feed for your garden.  Great for fruit trees and roses, it is gentle and slow release.   

One per customer from available stock.

Photo Competition Winner

CONGRATULATIONS to June Then who sent in the pictures below, with the following comments:  

"Hi there - I went away for 5 weeks over December and I was dreading to see what my garden would look like when I got home, thinking it would be torched from the heat. Turns out it was the opposite happened!

I’m in love with the Vegepod I purchased from GLS (filled with square metre mix) a few years ago. These plants get supplemented with some blood and bone, powerfeed and potash every now and then."


(If you're looking to purchase a Vegepod, try your closest Waldecks Store.  You can grab a Vegepod and our awesome soil to put in it right there!)

Thanks June for sending in your photos - your garden is certainly looking lush, which shows the benefits of a wicking bed in our summer.

 

June garden 1 June garden 2
June garden 3 June garden 4

Retail Stockists

bushfire picPlease support the local independent retailers who support us. They've got great local knowledge and are happy to help.  (And remember 50¢ from every bag purchased at any of our retailers in January/February goes to support bushfire relief.)

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
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 
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

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