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Howdy Green Lifers

new leafWow - what a roller coaster the last few months has been ~ April was so busy we didn’t get time to publish the newsletter and we send our deepest apologies to those who have been waiting! On a brighter note we have noticed a lot of new members signing up and would like to welcome you all to the Green Life family.

What a strange Easter and Anzac we all experienced in isolation this year! With most of us home and spending time in the garden I wonder how much our gardens have grown? On a creative note World Naked Gardening Day was on Saturday the 2nd of May and my only comment is wow didn’t we get innovative in isolation this year.?  

With the first week of May we experienced some strong winds and rain (how did your garden survive?) But we're grateful the weather cleared up in time for Mother's Day.
Covid-19 Policy & amended Trading Hours

With the relaxing of restrictions due to WA's current Covid-19 low rates, as of last weekend we have returned to having our gates open and welcoming drop-in customers.  We do ask you practice social distancing while in store, and make use of hand sanitiser available.

This policy will be reviewed in line with Government advice - thank you for your understanding.  We have been working hard to keep everyone safe - customers and our team alike, and it has been stressful at times.

Current trading hours have changed to be 8.30 - 4.00pm Monday to Saturday - CLOSED Sundays. 

seedsWith everyone settling in and coming to terms with Covid-19 restrictions, we have noticed panic buying of seeds and seedlings has reduced (PHEWW!) and we now have a steady supply of vegie seeds and seedlings available (thanks to Leesa at The Greenhouse).

We want to shout out to all our existing and new members for being so patient, loyal and adaptive in these strange and busy times and we are excited to see how much your gardens will grow over the next few months!

Happy and Safe Gardening,

from Jess & The Green Life Team

social distancing marksIn This Newsletter:

(Pictured right - something that needs no explanation now but 12 months ago would have been a different story.  Stay safe, Green Lifers!
A big THANK YOU to Jess for putting together much of this month's newsletter ~ Linda)

Jobs to Do in the May Garden

  • compostComposting: If you haven't checked your compost in a while now is the perfect time to do so. Turning your compost will aerate and oxygenate your pile allowing the essential three natural elements air, moisture and heat to continue the decomposition process. Turning your pile will also solve some composting problems such as odors. A great way to test your compost pile is to feel it. If it feels too dry you may have too much brown matter (leaves, straw and paper). If it feels too wet you may have too much green matter (vegetable scraps, grass clippings). Composting can be hard but if you find the right balance and have patience you will be rewarded.   Here's our fact sheet on compost making.
  • Cleaning: Raking leaves from deciduous trees, cleaning out gutters or pruning perennials can be a little tedious but can also be super beneficial to your compost pile while preparing for colder weather. 
  • Weeds: Weeding sounds dull but its best to get onto it now before it gets out of control as the rains come. You can always add these to you compost pile and have the satisfaction of a weed free garden.  Use weeds to make a liquid fertiliser - see our fact sheet here.   
  • Pests: With the rain coming it brings in those pesky snail and slugs. Making an adventure of going out there with a torch and a bucket at night collecting snails.  It can be fun to do with kids, and also quite effective; you can dramatically bring down their numbers over the course of a few nights! You can squish them or drop them in some hot salty water.   See our free fact sheet on pest recipes here.  
  • silverbeet leaf spotDiseases: With colder weather coming that means damper conditions and the more risk of fungal diseases.  Keep an eye on your plants and act quickly to remove infected leaves or entire plants (if necessary), or treat them with an anti-fungal spray.  Allowing adequate air flow around susceptible plants is important.  (Pictured right is bacterial leaf spot on Silverbeet.  It's usually brought on by humid conditions.  Infected leaves are still edible, but unsightly.)
  • Look after your indoor plants: Testing your indoor plants and their soil moisture is important, and as simple and easy as sticking your finger in the dirt - quite literally. Insert your finger 1-2 inches into the soil. If the soil feels dry your plant probably needs a drink. If it feels wet and soggy it may have too much water and you might need to drain any excess. You may find as it gets colder you have to water indoor plants less and only have to give plants a drink when soil starts to feel dry rather than the usual scheduled weekly or fortnightly in hotter months.   See more indoor plant tips in our free fact sheet here.

What to plant now 

broccoliPeople more now than ever are turning towards becoming more self-sufficient, but growing your own produce can be challenging at times even for the experienced gardener!  We're here to help.  Please check out our Free downloadable planting guides for vegies, herbs and heaps of other handy sustainable gardening tips! We also have a 'New Vegie Garden Checklist' for you to read to ensure you have everything you need to start a new vegie bed. Get some important information on Crop Rotation and what plants belong in the same family in our Companion Planting Guide

It might be a little late to sow winter seeds now for your initial crops (fine for succession planting) but you can always get ahead using seedlings. We have plenty in stock and our suppliers have more to come.

Remember you can always grow some vegies and herbs in pots too   (Pictured above - Jess's broccoli doing well in a pot.).

cabbage Some winter vegies to plant now are:

Artichokes, Asian greens, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Coriander, Dill, Garlic, Kale, Leek, Lettuce, Onion, Parsnip, Peas, Potatoes, Radish, Silver beet, Snow peas, Spinach, Spring Onion, Strawberries, Turnip.

Unfortunately, at GLSC this year with Covid-19 and all the craziness we only received a  very limited amount of Certified Organic Garlic which flew out door before we could even pack it! So, my sincere apologies to those who were on the waiting list and didn’t get any.  
If you're still looking to plant garlic visit a good local growers' mart (or farmers' market) and find some local garlic to plant.  It's not too late but you'll want to get it in the ground asap.  It's very important from a biosecurity perspective NOT to plant imported/interstate garlic which is intended for eating (not planting) and may potentially introduce disease.  

seed potatoesAlso, a quick note that we still have Certified Organic Seed Potatoes in stock. We have one variety available - “Laura” which is an oval red skinned potato great for roasting, mashing, wedges and baking! Get in before they all sell!  Want tips on the best way to grow spuds?  Check out our fact sheet here.  

The Dirt on Soils - Rejuvenating Sandy Soil  & Replenishing Old Garden Beds

sandy soilPerth gardeners' biggest problem is water repellent sandy soils - we hear it from our customers ALL THE TIME!  WA has nutrient poor soils that cause a lot of issues in the garden ~ the most important impacting plant health. Having a healthy productive garden means starting things off with a good soil foundation.  But how do you begin?

For new gardeners, it can be difficult to see the value in 'dirt'.  Soils pretty much look the same - bits of sand and organic matter.  It can be difficult to judge from looking at it what's good or what's not so good - and it's hard to understand why they vary so much in price.  We tend to assume that if soils (and mulches, especially) are dark - they must be good.  And while the 'black bits' can indicate a high organic matter content, again - there's lots of variation in organic matter & compost quality depending on the source.  From testing we've done, we know that looks can be deceiving!

So if you're setting up a new garden (or rejuvenating an old one) - where do you start?

tip truckOne option is to bring in completely new soil.  Doing this, you (hopefully!) bring in a growing medium that is good to go - with very little that needs to be done before you can get planting.  If you've just built raised beds, it's probably the most convenient way to go.  But  what if you already have full garden beds?  Is it worth paying money to dispose of 'dead' soil, and replace it entirely?

Or should you improve the soil you already have?  Generally - this tends to be a less expensive option.  Plants need what we do for survival - water, air and food! Surprisingly, all three of these things are taken up by roots from the soil (as well as plants making 'food' from photosynthesis). In our very loose, sandy soils, there's plenty of air, but we need to work to ensure there's enough food (nutrients) and water available.  So by adding 'soil improvers' - you should be adding food for your plants (usually with organic matter like manures and/or compost), and ideally - clay.  This is a vital element in sandy soil to build structure.  Longer term, this means more efficient water and fertiliser use, and less stressed & healthier plants.  (This link on turning Sand into Soil will most definitely give you some options which will be helpful! Our Concentrates/Soil Improvers are made with a broad range of minerals and trace elements that in WA are naturally deficient in the soil. Specially formulated for Perth’s sandy conditions and & made to be mixed in at a ratio of around 50/50. Rejuvenate your garden whether it’s that old vegie bed down the back, a garden bed you forgot down the side or the front native garden you haven't had time to love. Check our page on Concentrates for more information!).

Manure - Don't get yourself in the Poo.

multigrowA popular product people buy as a soil improver for their gardens is manure.  It's readily available, reasonably cheap, and can be a good source of nutrients; however, in our sandy soil, it may not be as great as you think...  Clay soils tend to hold onto nutrients; in our sandy soils, leaching occurs very easily - so instead of nutrients being kept in the soil for plants to access, they're carried by water through the soil profile - which is part of the reason we have the algal blooms in our rivers and waterways.   So if using manure, use it with compost, and preferably in soils that have had clay and/or biochar added.  Never use fresh manure; allow it to compost/add it to compost, and use under mulch.  Be aware it may introduce weeds.   Don't use it as your only soil improvement regime, year in year out - it can lead to nutrient imbalances .  As always, variety is the spice of life. (Pictured above - Multigrow pellets. Made from composted chicken manure, it is a potent fertiliser.)

Garden Soil Vs. Potting Mix

soil in handsGardeners are often unsure why they need to use specific mixes for planting things in pots, and why there's not a soil that's suitable for everything.

Plants grown in the ground are able to scavenge for water and nutrients over a deeper and wider area than things kept artificially in a contained environment.  It's important to make sure that the water/air/food is abundantly available or your plants will have no Plan B for survival.  Good potting mixes contain nutrition to sustain plants for several months (the biggest difference between 'premium' and 'standard' potting mixes is the nutrition provided).  They should be made of a range of particle sizes to allow air & water penetration, but also sufficient water holding.  Often they'll contain less compost (which tends to clump down and not allow much airflow) and more cocopeat and/or pine bark - used for its structure to open up mixes.  Sometimes they'll contain perlite or vermiculite for the same reason.  These are all premium ingredients,and on a large scale would be very costly to use for planting out a garden bed.

So while you can use potting mix in a garden bed - it's not the most efficient thing to do.  (Sure - add old mixes to the garden, as long as you're happy they're not contaminated with weeds or diseased material.)  But we definitely do not recommend using your garden soil in pots.  You'll most likely be very disappointed with the results - unless you go to the trouble of blending your own mix, which means buying in multiple ingredients and is probably a false economy.

The WA factor

mattockGardeners are keen learners - and many enjoy watching videos and programs to pick up tips.  That's fantastic!  But always be aware WHERE that information comes from.  WA has very different soil types and growing conditions to much of the world - including the eastern states of Australia.  So by all means - watch and learn, but maybe ask around locally (at a good garden centre or from a green thumb you know) for a 2nd opinion.  Sometimes you will receive conflicting advice - don't let this put you off.  There's often - to use one of my mother's sayings - 'more than one way to skin a cat'; so find what works for you.  (Pictured right - Hills laterite clay - vastly different to the sandy soils of much of Perth.)

The importance of Mulch

Mulch is vital to our gardens in Summer.  It's not as necessary in Winter; but as organic mulches break down to add to the soil - it's still useful.   In winter, it can help prevent weeds, too.

Building soil health is very important and is a must to gain the most efficiency out of your garden. Hopefully this information is helpful & gives you some ideas of where to start.  If you have any queries about your soil, or would like some advice/recommendations about your particular garden's needs - feel free to get in touch with us.

VIP Special Offer

seed raising mixWe know you like FREE STUFF.   So this month, spend $50 or more with us and get a FREE bag of our Certified Organic Seed Raising Mix. 

Seeds were in very short supply March/April - but things have calmed down and stocks are back up to good levels now for all your favourite heritage vegies & herbs.  It's time to get your succession crops planted to keep you going through Winter and into Spring - so come and stock up.

To claim your bag - if shopping in store or over the phone please ask our team when making your purchase/booking your delivery.

Online customers (including click & collect) - please note in the 'delivery notes' section of your order that you'd like to claim your FREE bag.

Valid until COB Saturday, 6th June.

Winner - Photo competition

CONGRATULATIONS to Erin Clare who sent me this photo of her cucumber harvest a couple of weeks ago.  It looks like she was going to be eating cucumber sandwiches for a while...  and/or enjoying a Gin with a cucumber twist.

cucumber harvestThis is what she had to say:-

"Hi guys, I bought 5 bags of your vegie mix soil improver and some soil microbes a couple of weeks ago. I dug it through the beds that have had their summer crops finished, one of these is also where the cucumbers are still growing. The cucumber harvest has suddenly tripled and are all big juicy fellows - see the attached picture!!!

I’m so grateful for your brilliant advice and product. I’m placing an order now for some more of the vegie mix for the flower beds that missed out. Thanks again, Erin"

Erin wins a $50 credit to spend with us @ GLSC.  

It's that easy!  Send us in a photo of your garden with a note about what you're growing, and if selected,you can be a winner, too!  You've got to be in it to win it - so send in your pics via Facebook or email them directly to us.  One winner is picked at random to publish in each newsletter.

Retail Stockists

potting mixThere's never been a better time to support local small businesses - Please support the independent retailers who support us. They've got great local knowledge and are happy to help. Many are now bringing in pre-order & pickup/non-contact services in order to help keep you safe.

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.

Nibali Stockfeed (Hamilton Hill) recently received some bulkabags of some soils to on-sell; so have a chat to Joel or Micheal if you're down that way and looking for bulk soil. You may not need to travel so far to stock up.

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 - Nutrient Ag Solutions (formerly Landmark) 9758 7677

THANK YOU for being part of the Green Life family - stay safe, stay healthy & keep gardening!
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© Green Life Soil Co, 166 Wilson Road, Middle Swan, Perth, WA (ABN: 56 509 847 119) - Tel: 08 9250 4575 - Try Sand Remedy, turns Sand into Soil, Naturally!