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fEBRUARY

Due to technical difficulties, we were unable to send out our January newsletter this year; so we've updated a few things and here it is - coming out in a strange start to February with the snap lockdown and the bushfires.  Our thoughts are with all those affected at the moment.
Here's the newsletter:

Happy New Year! We hope you had a great Christmas and maybe had some down-time to relax.  We're back in full swing for 2021; and let's hope it's a great year!  We've been at our "new" Wilson Road site for a full year - can you believe it?  While there's a lot we've accomplished in that time, there's still more developments & improvements coming as time and budget allows - so watch this space!   

How has your garden coped with the heat?  We've certainly had some hot days; and I know our garden has suffered.  And as for those easterly winds...  urgh! So drying and damaging.

At home, we were very overdue with getting shadecloth up, as we had some structural improvements to the framework to do - and you know how one thing always leads to another, right?  Well finally we've got over half of our vegie patch protected.  We've got cucumbers, pumpkin, tomatoes and basil that have been struggling, and strawberries that have barely hung on - but they should all do much better now, and I can think about a few more things to get in the ground.  [Never too late to have a go, right??]  If it's any consolation, we're more than half way (officially) through summer - so  hang in there!!  If you're like me, and have yet to plant a few varieties of summer crops, here's a tip.  

Smaller growing varieties (and smaller fruiting ones - they're not necessarily one and the same) will give you faster results, because plants don't need to put as much energy & time into reaching maturity.  There are smaller growing varieties of tomatoes, pumpkins and watermelons for example.   

Speaking of summer fruiting crops, Leesa (from The Greenhouse Organic) has written us an article this month all about one of her favourites to grow - WATERMELON.  As a naturopath, she's excited by their nutritional benefits too.  So check out her piece below.

For those of you who were aware - we didn't send out a January newsletter this year.  Unfortunately we had some technical difficulties with software, which meant that we weren't able to send it - despite me spruking it on Facebook!  So apologies - we're in the process of some website changes, and the way we do newsletters in coming months will be one of them.

truck loading So until next month - happy gardening!!

Linda & The Team @ The Green Life Soil Co

In this newsletter:

Jobs to do in the February garden
What to plant NOW
Watermelon
VIP special offer
Photo competition
Retailer update

Jobs to do in the February garden

  • thermometerMake 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.
  • Don't over feed your plants with too much nitrogen (which will give you weaker, leggy green growth that will just wilt!) - use a balanced fertliser (a low-dose is best). Seaweed/kelp fertlisers are great to help plants cope with heat stress.  Water the roots, not the leaves - any water droplets can act like a magnifying glass and cause localised burn spots on the leaf surface.  Any fertiliser that's slightly oily will be worse.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • tomatoesPreserve 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.   If lettuce and cucumber are bitter tasting - they need MORE WATER.  
  • Overhead watering 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 2021 Moon Planting Calendar - now in stock @ $11.00 each or 2 for $20.00; so why not grab one for a friend?  Limited stock available.

What to Plant NOW

zucchiniIt'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 (Golden Zucchini - pictured right).

*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.

Watermelon - as food and as medicine

Watermelon slice(Article by Leesa Caldwell - The Greenhouse Organic)

Watermelon would have to be my favourite fruit during the summer months, especially when you pick a homegrown ripe, juicy red one. Did you know that Watermelon is not only very nutritious for you, but also has some powerful medicinal properties?

All parts of the watermelon can be used including the fleshy interior, the seeds and the (white fleshy part of the) rind. The flesh can be eaten fresh or used to flavour drinks; it is an excellent source of vitamin A and C, a great source of Vitamin B6 and vitamin B1 and contains various minerals. The seeds can be roasted and seasoned and eaten as a snack or added to other dishes. The seeds are a great source of fat and protein. The rind can be stir-fried, stewed, pickled or even grilled.  Avoid the green skin, which can cause stomach upsets.

Growing Watermelons

Watermelons are tropical/subtropical plants and need temperatures higher than 25 degrees C to grow. Their growing season is in the warmest months of the year, which is why they are always found at a BBQ meal.

Watermelons grow best where there is a lot of open space. The vines ramble so the plants are going to spread around the garden as they grow. They are also heavy feeders, so you might need to prepare your soil and make sure it is nutrient rich. You can also plant soil enriching crops like beans and other legumes in your watermelon patch. These vegetables make excellent companion plants, and you can even incorporate them into your crop rotation system to get your garden bed ready for the next season.

Watermelons require a thorough watering at least once per week. They’re surprisingly drought tolerant - this obviously depends on how hot the day gets. A little bit of fertiliser each week can also be good for your vine, as watermelons need all those nutrients to produce sweet fruit. It is also a good idea to mulch your soil where you have planted your watermelons as this helps with retaining moisture and keeping the weeds away. Weeds can interfere with the growth of your vine by taking some nutrients from the ground that is meant for your watermelons.

watermelon flowerThe flowers may begin to appear about two weeks after your vine starts to ramble. The first flowers to appear are the smaller male flowers, with the fruit-bearing female flowers appearing soon after (pictured right). Most of the time the bees in your garden should be able to pollinate all your flowers for you. However, if you don’t have that many bees, you can also pollinate them yourselves.

It takes about three months for your watermelon to grow from seed to mature fruit, with smaller varieties having shorter growing times.

If you are growing from seed, we recommend open-pollinated or heirloom seeds instead of the hybrid varieties. (Seedless varieties are hybrids – and – obviously you can’t save seed from these for future years.) They’re reasonably easy to germinate in warmer weather – either in the ground or in seedling trays (I prefer trays as you can keep a more watchful eye over them in their initial stage.) Watch out for the usual seedling pests – snails, slugs and slaters.

If you don’t have enough room to grow your vines on the ground, you can train the vines to grow on a trellis. This may take a little more effort and time, but it will free up a lot more space to plant other food. Growing on a trellis will get tricky as the fruit grows. You will need to put the fruit in a bag and tie the bag to the trellis when it starts to become a fair size. That way when the fruit grows it won’t fall of the vine the heavier it gets, supported as it grows by a sling.

Once your vines start to grow, make sure you lookout for rotten parts that need to be clipped away. If these rotting parts stayed on the vines, then bacteria and fungi might spread and damage the rest of your plant.

How to know when Watermelons are ready to pick?

watermelon on vineKnowing when your watermelon is ready is a bit tricky as there is no sure fire way of checking whether the fruit is ready for picking. A ripe melon has a smooth, hard rind that is usually green with dark green or yellow spots or stripes. One way of knowing if it’s ready, is that it has a yellow or cream colour on the bottom end of the melon instead of a bright white colour; you can also tell when you see a brown and dried up tendril near the fruit; you can also knock on the melon to see if it produces the hollow sound that ripe watermelons makes; you can pick it up to find one that is heavy and dense for its size.

Once you cut the watermelon from the vine it has about 3 -4 weeks of shelf life. Wash the outside of your watermelon before you slice into it. You don’t want your knife to transfer any germs to the inside. Store cut watermelon in a glass or plastic container in the fridge. It should keep for about 3 – 5 days.

Nutrition

watermelon and squashAlthough watermelon may not be as nutrient-dense as fruits such as berries or oranges, it still has some impressive benefits. All the varieties of watermelon are loaded with antioxidants and have been associated with a wide range of health benefits.

One cup of watermelon will provide around 48 calories and no fat. It is an excellent source of Vitamin C and vitamin A and much more. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s data on watermelon nutrition, one cup (about 152 grams) contains approximately:
• 46 calories
• 11.5 grams carbs
• 1 gram protein
• 0.2 grams fat
• 0.6 grams dietary fiber
• 12.3 milligrams vitamin C (21 percent DV)
• 865 international units vitamin A (17 percent DV)
• 170 milligrams potassium (5 percent DV)
• 15.2 milligrams magnesium (4 percent DV)
• 0.1 milligrams thiamine (3 percent DV)
• 0.1 milligrams vitamin B6 (3 percent DV)
• 0.3 milligrams pantothenic acid (3 percent DV)
• 0.1 milligrams copper (3 percent DV)
• 0.1 milligrams manganese (3 percent DV)
DV = Daily value

Exercise enthusiasts

juiceWatermelons’ high water content, antioxidants and amino acids may make for a better workout. You can sip watermelon juice after you sweat to rehydrate and assist with recovery. (Being high in potassium could cut down on cramps and help with muscle soreness.)

Medicinal

Bioactive compounds present in watermelon have numerous health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of cardio vascular disease, aging related ailments, obesity, diabetes, and various cancer alleviating effects have also been reported; help with joint pain, Ulcerative colitis, digestive disorders, acid reflux, help to prevent kidney stones and so much more. If you would like to know how watermelon can help you medicinally you can read my whole blog here: https://oaktreeherbalclinic.com.au/blogs/news/watermelon-as-a-food-and-as-medicine

Interesting fact

In Japan farmers of the Zentsuji region found a way to grow cubic watermelons, by growing the fruits in glass boxes and letting them naturally assume the shape of the square glass box. The square shape supposedly makes the melons easier to stack and store, but the square watermelons are often more than double the price of normal ones. Have to put that down on my to do list. If anyone out there has grown watermelons in a square box, I would really love to know.

Leesa picAbout Leesa

Leesa is a qualified Naturopath, Master Herbalist, Nutritionist and Aromatherapist. She grows a range of edible and medicinal vegetables and herbs under her business “The Greenhouse Organic” – available at The Green Life Soil Co. She runs several Educational Workshops teaching people “How to grow their own food and Medicine”. To see the other things that Leesa does you can visit her web page at www.oaktreeherbalclinic.com.au and www.thegreenhouseorganic.com.au

VIP Special Offer

Sand RemedyDry, sandy gardens??  We've got the solution for you!  Sand Remedy is our own mineral mix of clay, zeolite and several other important minerals that help with nutrient and water holding.  It helps water penetrate, and keeps it at the root zone where it's needed by your plants.  It contains trace elements, and also makes other fertilisers more effective, preventing leaching.  Sand Remedy goes a long way - a 5kg tub will treat about 15m2.  It is Certified Organic, and is a Waterwise Product - endorsed by the Water Corporation of WA, based on independent tests.  

A 5kg tub is normally $32 & a 20kg tub is normally $85.

This month, until COB March 8th, VIP pricing on the tubs is TRADE PRICE - ie. 5kg = $25 (save $7) & 20kg = $68 (save $17).  

VIP price is valid in store & online - log into the member's section to find your member's only pricing on Sand Remedy (and much more besides!).  In store or phone orders - please ask your GLSC team member to apply the special price for you.

Return & Refill - because we make Sand Remedy in house, you can bring your own tubs in for a refill and SAVE even more - pay per kg, and save plastic packaging!

Photo Competition

Congratulations to the Yanchep Community Garden - who've picked up our $50 voucher this month for sending in pictures from their garden.  

Yes, Marge comes down to our yard from time to time from Yanchep to stock up on goodies...  This is what she had to say:

"Thank you Green Life Soil for your amazing acid mix and manure which we now use in all our garden beds at Yanchep community garden. 

The photos of the Zuchinni were taken ten days apart! To say we are impressed is an understatement!
The 3rd photo is our community garden!
Thankyou for your support.
Marge, Frank and the Yanchep community garden team"

 

     

Retailer 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.

vegie mix bagsBeaufort 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 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!






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