In this newsletter:
Jobs for the April Garden
- Plant late Winter/Spring bulbs - the Jonquils, Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinth, Snowdrop (etc) bulbs will all be available soon. (Hint - there's usually a good selection available at the Garden Festival.) Plant them for some lovely colour and scent in the garden - often when there's little else around in the cooler weather.
- Plant a fruit tree! Bare rooted trees won't be available for a couple more months yet (many good nurseries have an order list - so contact them and get on it!). But if there are good opportunities to plant potted trees or evergreen fruit trees like Citrus - Autumn is a fabulous time to do so.
- Feed your lawn! Once the weather cools down you're maybe a bit too late - but the weather is still warm so give your grass a light feed or top dress now (don't leave it any longer) - if you haven't already done so.
- Sow your spring flowering annuals from seed. Poppies, Sweet Peas, Stocks, Aquilegia, Alyssum, Nasturtium - just for a few - to give bees & beneficial insects some food! Also things like Borage (pictured right) - which grows very easily at this time of year and is a great plant if you've got a bit of room. It can grow about 75cms x 75cms at least - but is such a lovely Bee plant to have!
- Watch for slugs & snails - as soon as we have some rain these little guys get really active in our gardens.
- Get your Winter vegies in ASAP. Check out healthy seedlings as a faster option to be harvesting sooner. Start some seed now for your successive crops to follow.
- You can cut down on watering your indoor plants now, as the seasons are changing. Do check out the moisture in your pots before watering; most indoor plants are killed by overwatering (not under watering) so you're often best to let the soil dry out just a little bit before watering again. Got things to repot? Have you tried our Indoor Potting Mix?
- Depending on where you are, it might be almost time to cut back asparagus and prepare beds for winter dormancy with a big load of good compost. Plan on doing this sometime in the next month.
- Cut back Lavender, Geranium (and other summer flowering perennials). Use the off-cuts for cuttings & see if you can grow new plants for free!
- Harvest your Sweet Potatoes - dig around for the tubers. Plants will slow down and potentially die back a little over winter (if you have them in a cooler spot) so make the most of the tubers you have grown. Get some more slips growing to start again in the Spring. See our fact sheet on propagating them here.
With Autumn conditions barely here... there's loads of opportunity to plant your Autumn/Winter crops, but you'd better get a wriggle on if you're growing from seed - you may be better off looking for established seedlings to get a quicker harvest, and grow a few seeds for successive crops which will be ready to harvest 6-8 weeks later.
Do check out our FREE downloadable planting guide for Perth (see link here
) - but here's a quick list of vegies & herbs to try now:
Artichoke (Globe), Asian Greens, Beetroot, Beans (Bush & Broad), Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, Coriander, English Spinach, Garlic, Kale, Kohl Rabi, Leek, Lettuce, Mint, Onion, Oregano, Parsley, Parsnip, Peas, Potato, Radish, Silverbeet, Snow Peas, Spring Onion, Swede, Turnip.
Here's a link to our growing guide on POTATOES
- if you've never given them a try before, it's definitely worth having a crack! You don't need a huge amount of space, as the fact sheet will tell you - there are a range of ways you can get a good crop. We've got Certified Organic, Manjimup grown seed potatoes in stock (pictured above) - but be quick!!!
Remember - there's HEAPS of free information, tips
& growing guides
right here on our website; please feel free to share in your social media groups! (And tag us in your garden photos!)
Sambung - Longevity Spinach
By Leesa Caldwell (The Greenhouse Organic & Oak Tree Herbal Clinic)
This month I would like to talk about Sambung, aka Longevity spinach. The latter name is what many of you know this plant as, but to us herbalists we refer to this amazing herb as Sambung.
I first received a cutting from one of my customers about 7 years ago. She was a European lady and we were just talking herbs in general. She said she had this amazing herb that was a "gift from God”. She started talking its praises and that’s when I knew I had to have one.
Sambung’s botanical name is Gynura procumbens. Other common names that Sambung has been known as are Moluccan Spinach, Leaves of the Gods, Sambung Nyawa, Akar Sebiak, Daun Dewa, Kelemai Merah, Bai Bing Ca and let us not forget Longevity Spinach.
It is a hardy perennial of the Asteraceae family (daisy family), and includes many plants useful to man, eg. German chamomile, echinacea, sunflower, calendula, dandelion and St. Mary’s thistle.
The bush may grow 30cm to 100 cm tall, and staking the plant is an advantage as the oval-shaped leaves to 10cm long have a rather thick, fleshy feel, and can weigh down the stems. The stems are green, and may get tinges of purple, and the leaves may also have purple colourings.
Sambung grows easily from stem-cuttings. (Seeds are not viable, that’s not to say they don’t produce seeds, I have just not had much luck growing Sambung from seed.) If you don’t stake your Sambung, you can also propagate it by layering.
(if you are not sure how to propagate your own plants, I have an online propagation workshop you can sign up for https://oaktreeherbalclinic.com.au/collections/workshops/products/propagation-on-line
It is best grown in well-draining, fertile soil that is kept moist at all times. Semi-shade is preferred by this plant although it can be slowly adapted to grow in full sun, provided the plant does not dry out at the roots. I prefer to grow in semi shade. Initial planting under direct sunshine will result in burnt leaves and stunting in growth. (I tried to grow this amazing herb in full sun, but our harsh summers just killed it.) In shade, the leaves are darker green and appear rather flat but under direct sun, the two sides of each leaf may develop a slight V shape along the mid-rib and take on a lighter green colour.
Sambung is well known in South East Asia, with folklore medicinal uses in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and the leaves of the plant are also eaten as a vegetable. Leaves have a mild flavour and can be used raw in salads, added to soups, stir-fries, casseroles, condiments and sauces, rice dishes and other savoury meals. When growing very well, and leaves are in excess, feed some to laying hens.
Leaves can be made as a herbal tea using 5-10 cut up leaves to 1 cup of boiling water, stir and leave to steep 5 minutes, drink hot or cool. The flavour is quite pleasant. Other herbs can be added to the tea if desired, like peppermint, lemon myrtle, citronella grass, etc. Many people just make it “a way of life” to eat 2-3 leaves a day, for the many benefits to health the plant may provide.
The herb has been noted for anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, anti-pyretic, antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-ageing, anti-allergy properties, and also actions as a blood cleanser, tonic, diuretic, and pain killer. Some of its uses include: treating migraines, dyspepsia, constipation, arthritis, rheumatism, diabetes, dysentery, fevers, malaria, varicose veins, kidney stones, joint and back pain, knitting broken bones and strengthening ligaments, stroke and cardiovascular conditions, high cholesterol, lymphatic diseases, cancers, leukaemia, hepatitis, detoxifier, coughs, colds, sore throats, halitosis, laryngitis, flu, sinusitis, depression, urinary infections, renal failure, varicose veins, and as a “skin-care-elixir” for skin diseases, skin care and toning, acne, boils, bites. It supports male reproductive health and performance, including prostate function. Females have taken the herb for breast firming, menstrual cycle problems, and vagina contraction. (Herbsarespecial)
Green Life do have stock of this amazing herb but get in quick as stock is limited. I am sure if you ask nicely, they will get some more in for you.
If you are interested in learning more about this amazing herb, I have done a more detailed blog on Sambung which you can read here:
Leesa (pictured right) 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. You can visit her web page at www.oaktreeherbalclinic.com.au
Editor's note: This plant is gaining popularity as more and more people become aware of it. It's so easy to propagate, and makes a very useful, thick tall ground cover; out competing weeds. If you have a garden area that you are wanting to do something with - but you're not quite ready; Sambung is a great 'filler' to cover bare soil and provide greenery in the meantime. It does need moderate, regular watering - but otherwise it is as tough as nails; recovering well from sunburn, insect attack, and seems to thrive on general neglect.
Garden Pest - Armyworm
Armyworm are not actually 'worms' - they're the larvae of a moth - so they're technically caterpillars. They're not new to Perth, but this year they seem to have been particularly bad. There are three existing species recorded in Australia - and depressing news - a 'new' variety (Fall Armyworm - originally from America) was discovered in Australia in 2020 (including Northern WA). Dubbed 'The Coronavirus of Agriculture' - it has caused widespread crop damage in other parts of the world, and has never been fully eradicated anywhere; although Australian scientists have announced trials with parasitic fungus as a biological control does look promising. Given that the adult/moths can fly 100 - 200kms (and each moth can lay 100's of eggs in a single laying; producing many thousands in a lifetime) it may not be too long before these guys arrive in Perth. Click here for a link to the WA Ag Department site which talks a little more about Fall Armyworm. (Also - DPIRD is presenting a talk on Fall Armyworm @ Perth Garden Festival 3.30pm Saturday 1st May if you'd like to learn more.)
Armyworm has been around for a while in our gardens. They're called 'Army Worm' - because they literally turn up in battalion strength of numbers - and can cause a lot of devastation in a very short space of time. They are more active at night, and in the day may hide in the soil or amid the plant's growing tips. Often the first sign they're there is the destruction of leaves being chomped from the margins inwards - until you're left with just the stalks, and the tell-tale khaki dollops of their frass (poo). They have a wide range of plant hosts - including lawns and vegetable crops. If you suspect you have them - go out at night with a torch and you'll probably catch them red handed; as it were.
Young caterpillars are a couple of centimetres long and lighter in colour. As they grow (to about 4cms long and maybe 6mm across) they tend to be darker, and develop distinctive stripes that run down the length of their body. When disturbed, the caterpillars curl up in a tight "C" shape. They are smooth (not hairy) and their bodies are segmented. Colours can range from green to dark brown. The adult moths are a non-descript brown colour about 3-4cms long with a similar wingspan.
If you have Armyworm - you probably will know it - they do so much damage! Different species have different times of year they're active; but we've certainly seen a lot at the end of summer/Autumn this year.
How to treat Armyworm
Once you've confirmed the presence of Armyworm, do your best to hand pick and squish. Collecting them in a bag first makes it quicker and maybe easier for the squeamish. You can make traps out of damp hessian bags, towels or pieces of carpet among affected plants for caterpillars to hide underneath. In the morning, collect caterpillars and either feed to the birds or place pests into a bucket of soapy water to kill them. If you know they're affecting your grass, use a lawn roller to squash and kill caterpillars. Soaking your lawn with buckets of soapy water will cause the larvae to emerge so they can be picked out by birds.
Encouraging birds to your garden is always helpful - they prey on the adult moths and caterpillars. Lacewings and Ladybirds and parasitic wasps will also be helpful in controlling numbers; so it's important to tolerate a bit of damage rather than turn to chemicals immediately. Encouraging biodiversity will always lead to a more helpful balance to keep pests in check.
If you MUST use treatments; Dipel is the best treatment; it is only effective on caterpillars. It's a bacteria; safe for us and other animals and insects* that causes the caterpillar to lose it's appetite and die within a few days. *Caterpillars that ingest Dipel are unable to support parasitic wasp larvae; so it will kill them too.
Other treatments to try are Neem Oil (disrupts the breeding cycle) and pyrethrum (insecticide). There are progressively more heavy duty pest treatments out there - but we always recommend the soft approach first.
Every month, we select someone to win a $50 store credit. We choose someone at random who's sent us in some photos of their garden, with a few lines telling us something about their gardening project and journey.
This month, we've selected Shani Graham from Fremantle. Perth Permie folks will know Shani & Tim - they've been walking the talk for many years at Ecoburbia.
This is what Shani had to say:
"Since our block has been cut out of limestone caprock, Green life veggie mix gave our beds a great start. Now, with years of compost, clay and rockdust I finally feel we are getting to a point of having "good soil" The funky beds were made using old bricks from our house renovation. There is nothing nicer than sitting at this table with a cuppa before harvesting for dinner. We always have a woofer or two staying with us and the garden thrives on their loving attention."
THANK YOU Shani for taking the time to send in your photo & congratulations on your win. It's fabulous to see the creativity people use in small spaces; and you've certainly taken on a challenge with the limestone rock on site.
So remember to send in your photos via email or facebook - titled 'photo competition' - and next month it could be YOU!
VIP Special Offer
It's time to plant! So this month, VIP's get FREE seedlings or seeds - either two punnets OR two packets of seeds (from available stock) with any purchase over $100.
Please mention the offer to our team member when they're serving you either in store or over the phone. Online shoppers - please put in the 'delivery notes' section of your order that you'd like the VIP deal, and list your preference for seeds or seedling varieties - we'll do our best to match your selection; but as stock moves quickly, we may have to substitute at our discretion for something else seasonally appropriate.
Offer valid one per customer up until COB 10th May 2021.
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 (Store renovated & re-opened under new management)
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
pages for news & updates regularly.
THANK YOU for being part of the Green Life family - stay safe, stay healthy & keep gardening!