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Welcome to Winter!

June bannerChilly nights and mornings have arrived ~ and some good rainfall; with the May monthly average reached just in the nick of time!  How is your garden going?  Ours is thriving; but we definitely need to keep on top of weeds; as the rain has also given them a boost and they seem to grow overnight!

Winter is a great time to garden in Perth - especially when we enjoy mild, sunny days to get outside.  By world standards, our winters are very mild and many things grow very well - so if you're not sure whether it's a good time; don't wait until Spring!  Get plants in the ground now and they'll get off to a flying start.

dianella berryJune also marks the start of Makuru in the Noogyar calendar - the winter season of fertility.  Traditionally, as creeks begun to flow and rivers rose, people would move to more inland areas to hunt and gather food.  Kangaroos provided food and also fur cloaks to protect from the winter weather.  At this time of year many native animals and birds begin to pair up for breeding.  (We've noticed pairs of galahs and 28's claiming nesting holes in some of the trees at our place).  Some of the first flowers to emerge are the purples - the Dianella berry (pictured left), and the Pattersonia or Flag Lily.  Then, one of the earliest and loveliest - Hovea flowers.  If you're lucky enough to have areas of native vegetation near you, over the next few months as winter progresses then leads into spring, the amount of things flowering - and how quickly things change - is always a pleasure to observe.  Winter is a great time to take a drive up into the Perth hills - so why not plan an adventure?

Hopefully we can inspire you to get outdoors and among the environment - whether your own back yard or slightly further afield.

We'd love to see you soon @ The Green Life Soil Co to help you on your gardening journey.

WA Day - Long weekend trading hours:
Open Saturday 8.30 - 4.00pm
Open Monday 8.30 - 2.00pm (early closing)

Happy gardening

Linda & The team @ The Green Life Soil Co
(Pictured right - an unusual shot of GLSC - taken by drone recently; when the landlord kindly installed solar panels for us!)

solar panelsIn this newsletter:

Jobs for the June garden
What to plant now
Feijoa - useful plant & tasty fruit!
Poo - useful but less tasty
Photo competition
VIP special offer
Garden bed kit 
Retailer update

Jobs for the June garden

  • Weeding: with the rain and colder weather upon us weeds started rearing their ugly heads. The good news is now is one of the best times to do something!  Younger & smaller weeds have less developed root systems and are easier to pull.  Don't do it when the soil is really wet - allow it to dry out after rain for a day or two. Take a bucket with you, collect them all and add them to your compost or use them to make a fertiliser. See our fact sheet on organic weed control (and weed tea) here. Mulching will help protect your garden and reduce weeds.
  • asparagusPreparing soil (Asparagus/Rhubarb): Although these have not yet arrived in store it is a great time to start preparing for planting. Use these easy steps to prepare your soil.  1. Picking a spot: Rhubarb prefers morning sun and partial shade and Asparagus prefers more of a full sun position. 2. Remove any existing weeds or grass from that area. 3. Both Asparagus and rhubarb prefer a rich and fertile soil. Prepare your soil by digging in compost and manure, and/or adding some blood and bone (optional). For an easy option, use our Vegie Concentrate which is a blended soil improver, rich & ready to go! If you can hold yourself back from harvesting in first year, it will enable the plant to establish itself well for future seasons. For more in-depth information on growing Rhubarb and Asparagus see our fact sheets here.
  • general concentratePreparing soil for Fruit Trees: Preparing your soil before you plant fruit trees or ornamentals is crucial. Researching to find the right tree for your location is essential for success. A little bit of planning and preparation now will save problems in the future. If you have poor sandy soil (like most of Perth), then digging some General Concentrate through those areas will be very beneficial. We spent a lot of time and energy perfecting our soil concentrates to ensure your plant is provided with all the trace elements and nutrients that may not be available in poor sandy soils; plus we add minerals like clay & biochar to assist with water holding.  It's a complete soil improver - no need to add additional fertilisers. 
  • Transplanting/Moving trees: If you feel like some of your trees or shrubs could use a better position, then now is the time to move them! If you are moving deciduous plants, wait until all the leaves have dropped. Find a new spot where you think they would suit the conditions more and prepare the soil. Dig out as much of the root ball as possible and re-plant immediately. Giving your plant a good dose of seaweed/kelp will help with transplant shock. Transplanting can be tricky but when successful can be rewarding - and if a plant is not thriving or desirable where it is, what have you got to lose by giving it a go?
  • watering canFeeding your Garden: Using a liquid fertiliser can be very beneficial to your garden. Most of our vegie patches at this time of year have leafy greens and winter vegies growing. Feeding your vegies with something like Fish Hydrolysate, a kelp/seaweed mix or Worm Wizz will boost growth and provide a good harvest!
  • Planting Flowers: Winter for our gardens can feel a little dull. Planting some flowering annuals or bulbs will brighten up the garden, fill any gaps and bring a sense of warmth with a touch of colour to the garden. Try planting some Calendula in the garden- pretty bright orange and yellow flowers which can be used as a medical herb and used for to add a touch of colour to salads. In fact, there are many edible flowers that make a great addition to salads, desserts, or a garnish for a fancy touch!. Check out our fact sheet here.
Top Tip:
  • cabbage mothCabbage moths are a pain this time of year. They are very territorial and will not lay their eggs in an area where their young will have to compete for food. Making a paper cabbage moth is a great way to get the kids crafty and deter these pesky pests from your vegie patch! (Luckily for us they are easily fooled.) Draw your own or download a template. (Laminate them to hold through the weather, or make them out of a 2L milk bottle and decorate with a permanent marker.) Attach your decoys to stakes or suspend in and around your susceptible plants. It should help!
  • Removing the caterpillars by hand is the most organic way to deal with an infestation. Check the back of leaves, and along stems, as this is where they like to hide from small birds. As a last resort, Dipel is a naturally occurring bacteria that will kill caterpillars and is safe for other insects and animals. But remember there are many beneficial, predatory insects that feed on the caterpillars - including parasitic wasps. So if you use Dipel, it does affect their life cycles, too. There's always a knock-on effect for any type of spray or treatment so reach for the sprays only when absolutely necessary.
  • Keep the kids happy - If harvesting broccoli and you're suspicious it may contain "extra protein" (ie. caterpillars) - fill a small bowl or sink with water, and allow the broccoli head to sit in water for a good 10 minutes at least.  Caterpillars (if present) will rise to the top to prevent drowning; so they're easy to remove or skim off the water if floating. I find this works with even the tiniest ones that you may miss in a visual inspection.

What to plant now

kohl rabiDon’t worry ~ it's not too late to plant vegies to enjoy later in Winter & Spring; check out our winter/spring vegie guides here.

We still have organically grown seedlings being delivered to us regularly, so check out what is in season & in stock to plant in your garden. A list of things to plant now includes:

Artichoke (globe), Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Coriander, Dill, English spinach, Kale, Kohl rabi (pictured above), Leek, Lettuce, Onion, Parsnip, Peas, Potatoes, Radish, Silver beet, Snow peas, Spring onion, Strawberries, Turnips.

Top Tip:
Not only are peas great for you, the kids love them! It is the perfect time of year for peas and they do not take long to establish. Peas produce their own nitrogen and therefore do not need a very fertile soil to grow in, so planting them after a heavy feeding crop such as tomatoes is perfect. To speed up germination, pre-soak in some warm (not too hot) water for a couple of hours to soften the seed coating, then plant out. Have a trellis or some kind of frame in place that they can climb up as they grow. Check out our free fact sheet on growing Peas here.

Feijoa - 'Sweet as'... !

Feijoa flowerFeijoa sellowiana (also known as Pineapple Guava) is a favourite plant of ours - and this autumn we've had a bumper crop of their sweet fruit.  The plants are gaining in popularity here (they seem to be particularly favoured by our Kiwi cousins from across the pond, where they're more commonly grown); but interestingly they originated from South America.  

The plants have tough leaves - dark green with a silvery underside.  They can be grown as a shrub, or if you trim the lower branches you can encourage them to grow as a small tree (to about 3 - 4 metres).  They can be espaliered or used as a screening hedge - so they're very versatile.  (Just remember frequent pruning will lessen flowering & fruiting.)  feijoa montageThe plants themselves are very hardy, requiring little water once established, and they seem to tolerate a wide range of soil conditions; although planting in improved soil and a little ongoing TLC will result in faster growth and better fruit production.  They can be grown in pots, but will tend to stay smaller.  Mulch well in summer and a deep weekly watering will suffice.  Once fruit is forming regular watering will result in larger fruit. Protect from strong winds until they're established.  They can be pruned to shape or left to do their own thing - depending on the space you have for them to spread.

The plants produce attractive flowers in summer (flowers are edible) - pictured above - followed by green elongated egg-shaped fruit in Autumn.  When the fruit is ripe, it falls to the ground.  (Unripe fruit will continue to ripen if picked.) We haven't found birds attack them. They can be susceptible to scale insects, grasshoppers, and apparently fruit fly - but we've been lucky enough not to have this as an issue.  Don't leave fallen or damaged fruit on the ground to rot.

feijoa fruitMost Feijoa are at least partially self fertile - so you should get fruit with one plant.  However, like many plants - growing at least two will be better.  Flowers can be hand pollinated if necessary; but hopefully you'll have enough bees & insects around to do the job for you.  Plants should fruit within a few years (up to four) from planting out as saplings. 

feijoa crumbleThe fruit have a taste that's described as a blend between pineapple, strawberries and passionfruit - with a distinctive sweet smell.  Fruit should be slightly soft to the touch when ready to eat.  Cut them in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon, or use a potato peeler to remove the skin, then slice.   They are delicious on their own, and even better partnered with icecream!

There are lots of options as to how to use the fruit besides eating them fresh.  You can make jams, add them to cakes or muffins, make fruit wine - etc!  A new favourite way I've used them is in a crumble - see the recipe here.

So if you're looking for a tough shrub that has attractive flowers and useful fruit - consider a Feijoa.  

How much do you Poo??

poo emojiSorry - hope that's not a personal question.  We're talking about your garden here - and how often you use manure to top up your garden beds?!

We regularly have customers coming in to just "buy some poo" when they're doing up their garden, or planting new plants.  While manure has a role in soil improvement, I think that in Perth's sandy soils, it's expected to do much more heavy lifting than it can really do...  Perthlings seem to have a love of sheep poo in particular.  I guess for a nation built on the sheep's back, it's always been readily available and inexpensive to use in our gardens.  

It's useful to use as a mulch layer around roses and established fruit trees for sure.  It provides a quick hit of nitrogen and a little organic matter as it decomposes.  But what else does it do for your soil?

sandy soilTypically, Perth has very sandy soil that tends to go hydrophobic (repel water) in the summer months.  In theory adding organic matter (including manure) helps with this; but if you're adding organic matter without doing anything to improve the soil structure (ie. adding clay) - it isn't a long term solution and really doesn't "fix" your sand.  As the organic matter breaks down it can actually increase water repellency, due to residues exuded by microbes after they've broken down the manure.

And remember that sandy soil?  The open structure of sand means there's LOTS of air in it.  Manure is organic matter loaded with bacteria.  So once you add manure, warmth and a bit of moisture, with all that air the microbe numbers explode and begin to break down the manure releasing nitrogen very quickly.  Plants can take up some of this nitrogen, but when they've taken up what they need, the rest is unused - and (again) due to the sand's properties, this extra nitrogen is washed through the soil profile and can't be held - so it ends up in water and makes its way into our creeks and rivers, causing algal blooms in our waterways.  Once the microbes have consumed the poo - it's gone.  You've provided a fast food hit to your plants but you'll need to do it all over again in a few months; there's little long term benefit.

So - how is it best to use manure??

clay mixIf you have very sandy soil - add clay at the same time as adding manure.  This will have several benefits:

  • clay will act like a sponge in your soil; holding water and making the soil easier to re-wet if it does dry out.
  • adding clay, the soil will hold more water; excluding some of the air - which means the manure will break down slower & in a more controlled fashion - lasting longer and creating a 'slow release' feed for your plants.
  • once the manure breaks down, the clay can hold onto the tiny remnants as humus - which creates habitat for soil microbes & slowly builds soil health.
  • clay is a mineral - it doesn't break down (unlike the manure) & is a permanent, once-off additive - so it is cost effective in the long run.
So manure is not all bad to use in your garden; but use it wisely and with other soil amendments to really make it a worthwhile additive in the first place.

At GLSC we sell a blend of aged sheep & cow manure; which we use in our mixes in small amounts.  We can also provide you with advice and products with regard to clay - we stock both bentonite and kaolinite clay; as well as biochar (which is something else to consider as part of your ongoing, permanent soil improvement program).  Visit us or call in and have a chat to one of our friendly team who can give you advice.  You're welcome to bring in a soil sample from your garden and we can conduct a free pH test, as well as show you the difference clay can make to how well your soil takes on water.

Photo Competition

Well, after my whinge last month, I'm pleased to say that I had LOTS of options to pick someone to win the $50 store voucher this month!  THANK YOU to all of you who sent in photos; it's always a pleasure to see what's happening in people's gardens & I'll be sharing some of the pictures on social media in coming weeks.  We had a range from people like Brett who have turned their backyard into a food forest over the years, to people like June who converted their verge into a gorgeous native garden, and people like Richard celebrating their first ever pick of broccoli!  So lovely to see the joy people have for their gardens and in creating a little patch of paradise - honestly; it's what we're in business for!  :-D  

Remember - you can enter EACH and EVERY month; so if you didn't win this month - next time you're outside snap another pic or two and send it in - you've nothing to lose!  (And I'll give you a tip - there's not as many people sending pics in as you might think!)

We draw a winner at random; and this month I'm please to announce that Melissa St John is our winner!  Her Medina, Perth WA garden produced a luscious looking watermelon a little while ago - she comments:  

"This was a happy day after growing my favourite fruit and then being able to eat it!  Grown in a wicking bed, it trailed around my garden, setting fruit over this old sheep yard gate."

Thank you Melissa - we hope your wicking bed provides you many more happy days & homegrown produce!

VIP Special Offer

fertiliser sampleWe've got an opportunity for our lovely VIP Green Lifers to be test guinea pigs!!!  Paul has been experimenting with a formula for a fertility-izer (that's a fertiliser, really) suitable to use on a wide range of plants which supplies a range of nutrients including trace elements.  We think we've come up with a great formula - but we'd love YOU to trial it and tell us what you think??
We've got FREE 1kg bags for our VIP's who spend over $50 with us.  

If shopping in store or over the phone, please ask your friendly team member to provide you with your sample.  If ordering online, please add to the 'delivery instructions' box on your order "VIP fertiliser special" - and we'll add one to your order when it goes out.

We'd love your feedback over the next couple of months!  (Bonus brownie points for before & after photos!!)

Valid one per customer up until COB Monday 5th July 2021.

Garden Bed Kit - Special Offer

garden bed kitsWe have a limited number of raised garden bed kits as a clearance offer.  These beds measure 1.2m x 0.6m and are 0.325m high - perfect for a vegie garden.  They are locally made from aluminum panels; powder coated in a wood look finish.  They're rust free, and if damaged, the panels can be removed and flipped over - so they're long lasting and robust.  We've put them into a kit with geotextile (to form a root barrier at the bottom) and 9 bags of our Certified Organic Vegetable Mix to fill the bed, and your choice of 4 vegie punnets.  It's a great way to get an instant garden!  Kits are $275 at a clearance price - first come, first served!
(We can deliver Perth metro for an additional $25 - although the beds do fit in the back seat of medium to larger sized vehicles; or borrow one of our trailers [bring your own tie down straps])

This kit is NOT listed for sale on our website; please call us on 9250 4575 during business hours or use the contact us form to get in touch.  

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.

We're really pleased to welcome Hello Houseplant to the GLSC family of stockists.  Check out their website to learn more about them.  They sent us in this photo of our stock in situ - doesn't it look great? - and I'm sure it will make indoor plant lovers hearts race a little faster!!

hello houseplantBeaufort 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
Hello Houseplant (Indoor Potting Mix) - Carousel 0423 460 520, Joondalup 0478 704 786 & Perth CBD 0421 058 923
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!

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