Hello & welcome to DECEMBER! In the Noongyar culture, it's the start of Birak - the first summer season of easterly winds and cooling sea breezes - the regularity of which made it suitable for cool fires to burn the land; which aids germination, cleared areas for access and hunting (while regrowth provides grazing for native animals), and to reduce fuel for wildfires. The rains are easing up and temperatures are rising. Many young animals are around - fledglings have left the nest, and reptiles are shedding skin as they grow.
Spring was certainly strange in recent weeks - with cooler days (and very cool nights!) and more recorded rainfall in November than ever before! (more rain than in July and almost as much as August!). Plants are definitely confused - cooler weather will delay germination of seeds, delay ripening of crops, and we're seeing a fair bit of blossom end rot in tomatoes due to the rainfall. And then there's the powdery mildew on cucurbits...ah - the joys of gardening! There's always SOMETHING to keep an eye on!! If you're like us and haven't got around to planting some of your summer crops - the extended cooler weather has given us something of a reprieve... it's not too late to get things growing - but we will need to watch out for sudden spikes in heat that may be just around the corner now that Summer's technically here. Luckily the last of the winter crops - turnips & carrots are still giving us something to harvest, and some repeat plantings of lettuce have given us picking greens too. I've been lovingly tending strawberries and they're starting to develop fruit - hopefully there'll be fresh strawberries for Christmas desserts! Tomatoes on the first vines planted are forming - but ours are some weeks away from ripening. Time to get in more for ongoing supplies. (And a friendly reminder of our tomato contest which will be held in the new year! - get 'em in now and start talking nicely to them!!)
We hope this newsletter will give you some tips & ideas as we head towards the end of 2020 - what a year it's been. From all of us @ The Green Life Soil Co, we'd like to THANK YOU for your support and wish you (and your gardens) all the very best for Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Stay safe & cheers!
Linda & all of the team. x
Christmas Trading at The Green Life Soil Co
Open: Wednesday 23rd December (closing early @ 12.00pm)
Closed: Thursday 24th
Open: Tuesday 29th
Closed: Friday 1st January
Open: Monday 4th (reverting to normal trading)
Last day to accept online orders of bags, etc. (except for bulk) will be Wednesday am, 16th December in order to have goods delivered before Christmas. (Bulk orders delivered in the tipper can be placed right up until we close - please book ahead if you're planning on getting some serious gardening projects done over the Christmas break, as we already have orders scheduled in pre-christmas...)
In this newsletter:
Jobs to do in the December garden
What to plant NOW
Christmas gift ideas for gardeners (put the HOE in ho-ho-ho!)
Beat the heat (because we know it's coming)
VIP Special offer
Photo competition winner
Retailer stockist update
Jobs to do in the garden NOW
Eeek! Christmas is ON OUR DOORSTEP! So it's time to get busy...
- 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 of flowers.
Get 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, salvia and vincas to brighten up your entertaining area.
You have left your run too late to pot up herbs and have them really settled into a new planter. 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 (pictured right). It's not too late to plant cucumber, pumpkins, melons, zucchini etc. from seed if you get cracking.
Fruit trees should be netted and protected against fruit fly by now ~ or as fruit is beginning to form. Thin fruit crops - it seems counter-intuitive, but it will result in larger and better tasting fruit. It will mean that you'll likely get a good crop the following year, too. I read recently that trees left to their own devices to crop heavily are more likely to become biennial to give themselves a 'recovery year'. Thinning fruit takes stress off the plant and encourages even fruiting patterns.
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 - pictured right - highly recommended for summer, as they can handle the hot weather), Beetroot, Capsicum, Chilli, Carrots, Chokos, Cucumber, Eggplant, Ginger, Leeks, Lettuce, Okra, Parsnips, Pumpkin, Radish, Rockmelon, Rosella, Silverbeet, Spring Onions, Squash, Strawberries, Sweet corn, Sweet potato, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Zucchini.
We recently received another Eden Seed order, and we've got fresh seedlings and herbs coming in all the time - so do pop in and grab what you need to fill gaps in your Summer crops.
Something new to try:
Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius)
We were lucky enough to get our hands on a few Yakon tubers recently, which Jacob has potted up for sale. (Only a few - best be quick!) If you've not grown these tuberous vegies before, here's a bit of info about them:
Sometimes called 'Peruvian Apple' - these members of the daisy family form an edible underground tuber that is slightly sweet and crunchy. It can be eaten raw (sliced in salads) or cooked, and has risen to popularity in the past few years for it's health benefits. Like Jerusalem Artichokes, the tubers are high in inulin - an indigestible form of sugar that is fine for those with diabetes. It is also a pre-biotic, so aids gut health. Yacon can be juiced, and will add a sweet flavour to other less palatable juices (cough... kale... cough...).
Yacon can be grow in large pots; but be aware they can reach 2m in height and spread to around half a metre. Ideally, give each plant a metre of room. They need fertile soil to do well, and can grow in full sun, but do need regular water - they'll wilt and look a bit sad when thirsty or on very hot days. Mulch them well. Technically they're a perennial, but most people treat them like an annual - harvesting the tubers and replanting the rhizomes for ongoing supplies. They'll flower (small, yellow daisy type flowers) and in Perth, they'll begin to die down around the end of June. That's the time to dig up and harvest. The edible tubers are brown in colour; the pink ones are rhizomes that you replant in early spring. (see photo right. Photo by Justin Siew) Sugars will continue to develop after harvest - so they're sweeter if left in a cool/dry spot for a while after harvest. Individual tubers can be 'bandicooted' from plants as required. Leaves are edible - though a bit hairy; best used like vine leaves to cook/steam food, or leaves can be used as animal fodder.
So for the person who has everything this Christmas - maybe you could surprise them with a ''Ground Pear" - as they're sometimes called.
Christmas Gifts for Gardeners
Not sure what to buy a friend or relative who's into gardening? Here's some ideas that may work well for you:-
- Moon planting Calendar 2021
Vintage 'Dig for Victory' poster - pictured right. We had these printed as we've been asked sooo many times over the years. Measuring 420mm x 594mm (A2 - supplied rolled - DIY frame or block mount)
Gardening gloves! (We've got leather gauntlet gloves - perfect for rose pruning; regular gardening gloves, and longer knitted gloves that would make AWESOME gifts!)
Seed packs - choose from a ready-made 'set' or select from our range. Seed packs are great little surprises to pop into Christmas cards, too!
Shampoo Bars - waste free, quality shampoo bars that are fabulous for travelling. They work really well, too - we're all converts!
Gardening kits - check out our Greensmart Pots, Foodcubes and locally made Aluminum raised beds for something a little more substantial
Worm farm kits - who doesn't love a good "I gave her worms for Christmas" opportunity!?
Books & gardening guides - we've got a few different ones to choose from; fabulous for beginners
Fertilisers. Whether you're after a little sachet as a stocking-filler, bottle or a large bag... Grow your relationship AND your garden!
Gift Vouchers - make it sooo easy. We've got physical vouchers you can pick up (or have posted) - and online ones that you can email direct.
Beat the Heat
Summer is officially here - and while we've had a mild Spring, we all know those 38° days are coming. So be pro-active and get your garden ready! Here are some tips for summer garden survival:-
- Shadecloth. We have white horticultural shadecloth available in 50% and 70%. White is recommended for plants (and used in commercial nurseries) as it doesn't alter the colour spectrum of light. Darker colours are more comfortable for humans to be under; but for plants, you'll get straggly growth. Whether you build something permanent, or set something up that you can quickly throw over in the morning of those really hot days - your plants will thank you for it. Check out your local op shop or buy-swap-sell sites for curtains and beach umbrellas as a cheap alternative to provide some shelter.
Water. Make sure your retic & tap timers are working properly. Now's the time to check for leaks and broken sprinklers, and get everything in tip-top shape.
Pots. Growing in pots can be a good option in summer - you can easily move things around to take advantage of shelter. But remember that pots tend to dry out quickly ~ some more than others depending on the material they're made from. Black & dark coloured pots also can heat up and cook roots - so think about placement and stagger pot heights to provide some protection.
Mulch. Seriously. I can't bang on enough about WHY YOU NEED TO USE MULCH. I see it on FB forums all the time - people who've dug a bit of poo through their gardens and wonder why things are really struggling in summer. Mulch acts like a blanket to protect your soil - and most importantly, protect the soil microbial life, which is most active in the top 10cm layer. So if that heats up & dries out - you're killing off the beneficial microbes that make nutrients available to your plants, making them even more stressed. So mulch thickly, and mulch often! (Pictured right - sugar cane mulch on strawberry plants)
Improve your soil structure. Adding clay and biochar (try our Charlie Charcoal) will really help change the structure of sandy soil and enable the particles to hold moisture. Sand with added clay will still dry out - but clay acts like a sponge, making soil easier to re-wet. But do be aware that clays hold many times their own weight in water - so re-wetting soils that contain clay can take time (and a whole lot of water) - but once you've got the moisture back into the soil - mulch to lock it in, and you will have a much easier time of watering and less water repellency.
VIP Special Offer
'Feed the soil' is the organic gardener's mantra... so to help you do this as your summer garden grows, this month's VIP special offer is a HALF PRICE 25L/14kg bag of Multigrow (composted chicken manure pellets). Multigrow is a general purpose slow release fertiliser useful for just about anything in the garden including lawns. (Just use around native plants very sparingly.) Because it's composted, it won't burn your plants, and being pelletised, it's easy to use.
Normally $18.50 a bag; pick one up for $9.25 with any purchase over $40 - valid until COB Monday 4 January 2021. Limit of one per customer. In store or online (log into the Member's section to access the discounted rate on this - and other products!). If shopping in store or over the phone - please remember to ask our team member for the discounted price.
Photo Competition Winner
Congratulations to Lynn Castairs who has been chosen as this month's winner of our $50 store credit! Lynn loves her wicking beds, and had this to say:
I set up my first wicking bed this year using an old apple crate from an orchard and filled it with your vegetable mix and some of your lettuce seedlings in the biodegradable pots. I added a worm tower too which is working a treat.
So far I have only had to water once a week to fill the water reserve in the wicking bed – wicking beds are fabulous if you are time poor (or work fulltime like me) but still want to enjoy fresh, home grown veggies.
I am a wicking bed convert and am now saving up for a Foodcube!
We agree - wicking beds make very efficient use of water; and help plants even out their intake, leading to more even growth, less susceptibility to pests and disease (as plants are less stressed) and yes - you don't have to worry about watering every day. Come and talk to us about how you can set up a wicking bed. You can make one yourself for very low cost, or choose a fully ready made option (like the Greensmart Pots and the Foodcube). Definitely a great solution to growing in Perth's summer.
The first photo was taken in September; the 2nd in October.
So be like Lynn - set up a wicking bed but EVEN MORE IMPORTANT - send us in your photos and it might be YOU next time that gets to win the voucher! Email in your photos (use 'photo competition' in the subject line, or send via FB) - a winner is chosen at random each month, so go for it & good luck!
Retail Stockist update
Please support your local independent retailer who supports us! The specialist retailers listed here will be happy to give you gardening advice and help you with our products - please call to check what lines they carry.
We were a little bit sad to see U-scape in Busselton close their doors recently. But - as they say - as one door closes, another one opens... a former U-scape team member now works at Soils Ain't Soils in Busselton, and at her suggestion, they've taken their very first order of Green Life products this week. So YAY Busselton - you're back on board!
Beaufort Garden World - Inglewood 9271 0585
Evergreen Studio - North Beach 0419 091 095
Garden Elegance - Subiaco 9381 2197
Guildford Town Garden Centre - Guildford 9279 8645
Hass & Co Botanics (Indoor Potting Mix) - Leederville 0414001017
Nibali Stockfeed - Hamilton Hill 9433 2211
Richo's 4 Hydro - Joondalup 9301 4462
Stanbee Stockfeeds - Barragup 9581 2390
Swan Valley Station - Swan Valley 0427 371 001 (pictured right)
Tass1 Trees - Middle Swan 0419 988 344
Thrive Sustainability - Lower Chittering 0408 157 301
Urban Revolution - Victoria Park 6102 1068
Waldecks Bentley - Bentley 9458 5944
Waldecks Melville - Melville 9330 6970
Waldecks Kingsley - 9309 5088
Waldecks Stirling - 9254 6730
Zanthorrea Nursery - Maida Vale 9454 6260
Ardess Nursery (Albany) 9842 9952
Australind Landscaping Supplies 9796 1720
Blossoms Nursery (Denmark) 9848 2014
Boyup Brook Co-op (Boyup Brook) 9765 1001
Margaret River - Nutrient Ag Solutions (formerly Landmark) 9758 7677
Soils Ain't Soils (Busselton) 97515 322
All stockists carry different items - 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.
Know of anywhere in your area that you'd like to stock our products? Let us know (as well as letting THEM know!) and we'd be happy to approach them.
Remember to keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages for news & updates regularly.
THANK YOU for being part of the Green Life family - stay safe, stay healthy & keep gardening!