Hello & welcome to May! Autumn is well & truly here - with Winter just around the corner; officially at least! There are always some gorgeous days in May - sunny but not hot; the perfect combination to get outside and enjoy your outdoor space. It doesn't matter how big your area is - you can make it a pleasing sanctuary - your own happy place!
Perth Garden & Outdoor Living Festival was on 6-9th May at Langley Park in the City. It was pushed out a week due to Covid restrictions - but luckily the event went ahead & the weather was great!
Although GLSC didn't exhibit this year (taking a year off after attending for at least the last 13 years), I did a talk on Sunday on "Overcoming the challenges of Perth's sandy soils to create a healthy garden" - a subject that many of our GLSC customers are very familiar with, I'm sure! (I think it went down well - as attendees were required to wear masks it was difficult to see any yawns!!)
I trust all the mums (and mother figures) all had a lovely Mother's Day. Also earlier this month was World Naked Gardening day (first Saturday in May) and also International Permaculture Day (first Sunday in May) [Don't get them confused!]. If you follow us on Facebook you might have seen our posts for both occasions. ;-) It's been an odd month with the lockdown and mask wearing restrictions in place and it's nice to have those restrictions (mostly) lifted again now. We're so lucky in Perth - talking to customers with friends and family overseas - we need to remember to all do our part, and we thank our customers for being understanding and observing the need to sign in and wear masks (when masks are mandatory).
Let's hope this month we can help inspire you to get outside and enjoy your garden. It really is a FABULOUS time of year to do a little work now and reap the rewards in coming weeks as nature (hopefully) takes care of much of the watering for you over winter; and milder conditions are ideal for many plants.
We look forward to seeing YOU soon @ Green Life!
Until next month - happy gardening.
Linda & the Team
In this newsletter:
Jobs to do in the May garden
What to Plant NOW
Broccoli - a winter favourite to grow
Garden Pests - Grasshoppers
VIP Special Offer
Photo Competition Winner
Jobs in the May Garden
- Composting: 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. If your piles are open, you may find throwing a tarpaulin over them in winter helps prevent them from becoming too sodden. Check every now & again and leave them exposed if you need to get a bit more water into them.
- 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 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. Pictured right are 'Protect-us' pellets - certified organic & made from an iron based compound. Safer for pets and native animals.
- Diseases: 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.
- 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). If your soil remains damp, you're likely to attract fungus gnats, which are annoying little flies that hang around your plants (and seem to always fly (a) up your nose, and (b) land in your glass of wine). See more indoor plant tips in our free fact sheet here.
What to Plant Now
By May it's usually a little too late to be sowing winter seeds; but my gut feeling is that this Autumn/Winter has been a little late arriving. It's fun to grow your own vegies from seed, but it's always a gamble to time seed raising just right- it's safer using seedlings (and you get a jump start of 4-6 weeks to harvest). More seedlings are coming on stream each week @ GLSC.
Some winter vegies to plant now are:
Artichokes, Asian greens, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Coriander, Dill, Garlic, Kale, Kohl Rabi, Leek, Lettuce, Onion, Parsnip, Peas, Potatoes, Radish, Silver beet, Snow peas, Spinach, Spring Onion, Strawberries, Turnip.
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.
We still have Manjimup grown Certified Organic Seed Potatoes in stock. We have “Laura” which is an oval red skinned potato great for roasting, mashing, wedges and baking; and "Delaware" a popular all purpose brown skinned potato good for baking, mashing and boiling. Get in before they all sell, as stock is dwindling!
Want tips on the best way to grow spuds? Check out our fact sheet here.
Our handy 'when to plant guide for Perth' is FREE to download - check out our other handy fact sheets in the 'learning centre' tab above.
One of our favourite vegies to eat year-round is Broccoli. This is the perfect time to grow it in Perth - so why not get some in your garden!
Broccoli is in the same family as Cabbage, and is closely related to Cauliflower. It is actually the flower head we pick and eat – left on the plant the flowers will open (lots of tiny yellow ones) and eventually seeds will follow if flowers are pollinated. Broccoli is highly nutritious – containing more Vitamin C than oranges; along with fibre, Vitamins K and A, folate, chromium, manganese, calcium and iron. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits.
There are several types of Broccoli – from the large green heads we’re familiar with, to purple broccoli, and the amazing Romanesco broccoli which is so pretty! (Pictured below). There is also Raab broccoli –sometimes confused with broccolini as both grow a series of smaller ‘cut & come again’ heads. While related, Raab broccoli belongs to a different sub-group of brassica along with turnips; so has a more pungent flavour. (It's probably not popular with many kids.) Another close relative is Gai Lan or Kai Lan - Chinese Broccoli. The tender shoots of this plant ARE sweet - one of my favourites! It's also much faster growing so you can be harvesting this vegie within weeks of planting out seedlings.
Broccoli can be grown from seed or seedlings. If growing from seed you can plant directly into beds, or raise seedlings in trays first. It likes well drained soil which has been improved with compost, manure and rock dust before planting. It is a heavy feeder, and benefits from a light liquid feed of at least twice a month throughout the growing season. Allow at least 50cms between plants – they will grow to take up this space, and crowded plantings lead to smaller heads. Plants take about 90 – 120 days from transplant to harvest full heads. Multiple heading varieties (broccolini etc.) will be faster. Ensure plants get regular water.
It's best as a winter crop in Perth, it thrives in full sun with temperatures between 18 – 23°. Hot conditions tend to make Broccoli run to seed, and insect pests like Aphids, Cabbage Moth and Cabbage Butterfly are an issue come Spring. Exclusion netting is a great way to keep pests away. Once your plants form heads, inspect them regularly and pick off any caterpillars you find. Prior to cooking, drop the heads into water and allow to soak for 5 -10 minutes. Caterpillars will soon become visible as they try to escape the water. With a bit of care you can avoid serving steamed grubs to your friends and family!
In summer, you need to be VERY dedicated to keeping pests off your crop, and making sure the plants are in a protected position to avoid heat stress - but it can be done if you're really committed! In the winter, watch out for slugs, snails & slaters - but they'll do most damage at the tender seedling stage.
If you're growing broccoli for it's amazing nutrient content - you can always grow them as microgreens in the summer if the pests are too hard to deal with.
Traditionally, it is the large head of Broccoli that we eat – however the stalks and leaves are edible and just as nutritious; if not as palatable. (Cook them into soups and stews to get maximum usage from your plants.) Once the large first head has been harvested, for another 4-6 weeks at least the plant will continue to produce smaller off-shoots that can be picked and eaten regularly. If your broccoli is starting to flower it's a sure sign you need to pick it - the flowers are edible so just cook & eat!
Below L-R: (1) small pieces of broccoli harvested after the main head. (2) Raab broccoli (3) Kai Lan - eat the growing tips & young leaves
A versatile vegie, Broccoli can be eaten raw, steamed or boiled (don’t cook it for too long or it will become mush). It is great added to salads and stir fries. Excess can be blanched and frozen.
Grasshoppers in the garden
Do these pests make you 'hopping mad?' Grasshoppers are chewers, ripping holes in plant leaves and spreading disease. It appears with our changing climate, species of grasshoppers that weren't previously common in Perth have moved into our gardens. Not exactly good news.
They seem particularly active at the end of summer & into autumn; many people are complaining of damage in their gardens lately. Grasshoppers 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. Luckily, they're solitary creatures, coming together to breed. However they can eat half their own weight in plant matter daily - so they can do a fair amount of damage in a short time.
They attack a whole range of plants - vegetables through to ornamentals; and seem to quite like citrus trees, often attacking the new growth.
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. Frogs, lizards and spiders also help with control. 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. Squishing or decapitation with secateurs is effective - but not for the squeamish. Chickens will devour grasshoppers; and they're edible for humans too - if you're interested!
Spraying your plants with a garlic, cayenne pepper & chilli spray helps as a deterrent. Blend well with water, strain and spray onto your plants. Use every few days as a deterrent Another simple remedy is to sprinkle plain flour on your plants! This is supposed to gum up the mouthparts of the insect, causing them to starve. Avoid using self raising flower as the raising agents may be unhelpful to your garden.
A similar concept you may wish to try is 'Clay Spray' - the superfine kaolinite clay that you mix with water and spray to form a barrier over your plants that we carry @ GLSC. This is useful against sunburn of fruit/vegetables, and there's some evidence that shows effectiveness against Citrus Gall Wasp and chewing insects like grasshoppers. Clay Spray forms a coating that lasts for several weeks (except if we get lots of rain!). Our 500gm and 250gm packs are pictured right.
Diatomaceous earth is also an effective deterrent; but must be used in decent quantities where the insects come into physical contact with it - which can be hard as the insects are usually up and amongst plant foliage. It is useful in dry conditions (not as effective if wet).
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. Neem affects the breeding cycle so will help decrease numbers. Direct contact sprays (for spraying directly onto the pests) include pyrethrum and/or horticultural soap (potassium soap). Remember these products will impact a wide range of other/beneficial insects too.
Traps can be made by floating small bits of yellow plastic on top of bodies of water (eg. kids wading pools, or plastic washing basins); 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 (or you can fashion your own out of chicken wire).
Keeping weeds down will also help keep numbers down. Grasshoppers love long grasses and lay eggs in the soil around them. So keeping grassy areas outside of your edible garden may be a useful decoy.
Companion planting might be worth a try. Grasshoppers are said to dislike tomatoes, peas and squash plants, as well as coriander, wormwood, sage (and other salvias), dianthus, marigold (pictured right), lavender and other strongly scented foliage plants.
VIP Special Offer
This month we're bringing back one of our most popular freebies for members - a FREE 3kg tub of Blood & Bone with any purchase over $100.
This is our own quality Certified Organic mix containing rock dust - it's great for a light top up of your winter vegie garden, and to use around fruit trees, roses and flowering plants. It's also safe to use on natives!
Online customers - please mention in the 'Delivery Notes' section of your order to provide the VIP freebie offer. If ordering over the phone or in store - ask our friendly team to help you.
Limit of one per customer & offer ends COB Monday, 7th Jun 2021.
Photo Competition Winner
I'm very sorry to say we received NO entries for the competition this month. See how easy it would have been to win a $50 store credit?? If you want to be in it next month - send us in a photo or photos of your garden with a brief story about what you're growing. Send via FB or email - with the title 'photo competition'.
So this month - here's some photos of OUR garden. We got quite busy during the Anzac day weekend lockdown when we were closed - and put the time into our garden (although most of this bed was planted out a week earlier).
The first photo shows a garden bed rejuvenated & planted out 18.4.21 & the 2nd photo is that same bed today (12.5.21). The third bed is garlic that was planted 18.4.21.
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.
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
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 Melville - 6317 0939
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
Remember 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!