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Happy New Year!  I hope 2017 brings you & your family every happiness, and that your garden blooms exceptionally well this year!  I hope you've had a chance to have a rest over the Christmas period.  

We're glad to say @ GLSC we survived the road closure - Farrall Road has been re-opened and you can now access us from each end; however due to the median strip, northbound traffic can only enter & exit from the northern end of our carpark.  

The new year has seen us implement a new software package for our point of sale and invoicing systems - hopefully you won't notice it from your side of the counter, but we hope it will streamline our sales process and down the track help us implement a customer loyalty program for you!

If you're lucky enough to still be on holidays, don't forget we've got new books & magazines in store; great for summer reading on those days where it's too hot to be outside & providing information and inspiration for the cooler opportunities to come.

There's always jobs to do in the garden, and things that you can still grow well over summer - see below for more information.

We've also got news about our 2017 Tomato Contest, and articles on Moon Planting; so we hope you enjoy our first newsletter of 2017.  As always, your feedback is welcome.

Happy Gardening!

Linda & The Team  

(photo shows our team Christmas party playing Archery Attack
down by the river!)

In this newsletter

Jobs to do in the garden now
What to plant now
Moon Planting - what's it all about?
Tomato Contest 2017
VIP offers for January
New products @ Green Life

Jobs to do in the Garden - January

  • Check your potted plants - they can dry out very quickly in summer.  A good way to resurrect them is to slowly dunk them in a bucket of water - add a little bit of liquid fertiliser like kelp or fish hydrolysis - and leave them for a while until no more air bubbles come out from the pot (this means the soil is well saturated). You can leave them in the pot for a couple of hours if you like but do make sure you remove them and allow them to drain (often better to allow them to do this in the garden rather than to stain your paving).
  • Top up mulch - after you've given your garden a good, deep watering.  Remember a deep watering less frequently is usually better than frequent light waterings; especially for shrubs and trees which have deeper root systems.  
  • Preserve the harvest - hopefully your work in Spring is paying dividends with produce now.   If you have excess vegetables and/or fruit, why not look into methods of preserving - drying, blanching/freezing, fermenting - there is a re-emergence of many of these 'old-skills' and workshops and websites devoted to the methods, so why not learn a new skill and enjoy your home grown produce for even longer.
  • Fruit fly - with fruit ripening, keep vigilant to reduce fruit fly strike.  Monitor your traps, net developing fruit if you haven't already (either individually with small exclusion bags, around branches - trimming excess leaves/twiggy growth and wrapping the branch section like a christmas cracker, or the whole tree with insect netting - making sure it is well sealed around the tree truck).  Most importantly, collect fallen fruit daily and dispose of it.  Any affected fruit should be solarised - place in a sealed plastic bag and leave in the sun for several days - before composting or putting in the rubbish.  Failure to do this can result in spreading fruitfly to other plants/areas which will only compound your problem in seasons to come.  Green Life has Cera-traps, Eco-Naturalure and insect netting packs available to help you fight the good fight.
  • Although it's hot, gardeners know the seasons are rolling on, and it will soon be time to plant seeds for autumn/winter crops; so go through your seed collection and decide what you'd like to grow.  Check out catalogues and order in what you need.  Check out our growing guide for our picks of edible plants for autumn/winter - it's free to download here.
  • Check worm farms & compost piles - ensure they're not drying out.  A good watering once a week may be essential.  As an added bonus, the liquid leachate you collect from your worm farms will help condition the soil around your vegies, making them grow stronger.

Things to Plant Now

Beans, Beetroot, Capsicum, Chilli, Carrots, Cucumber, Eggplant, Leek, Lettuce, Melons, Parsnip, Pumpkin, Radish, Silverbeet, Spring onion, Sweetcorn, Tomatoes, Turnip, Zucchini.

When it comes to planting successive crops, Jackie French suggests: "plant more beans when the last lot start flowering, and plant more corn when the last lot reaches ankle height".

Many gardening books also suggest you can start seeds now for autumn/winter brassicas (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, Kale) - it's always a bit of a gamble in Perth when we have the high temperatures of February to get through yet; but it is always worth a try with a small quantity of seeds if you're wanting to get off to a really early start; particularly for brussel sprouts and cauliflower that take a long time to produce.  Keep seedlings very well protected through the heat and watch for cabbage moth, who will devour seedlings in the blink of an eye.  By providing all the tender loving care they need, you may well be rewarded.  

See our downloadable free When to Sow guides for Vegies and Herbs.

Moon Planting

Each year, we obtain Moon Planting Calendars which are always popular gifts for gardeners.  Many people ask me whether 'moon planting works' - and to be honest, I'm much more inclined to stick things in the ground when (a) I remember and (b) when I get the opportunity - sadly.  Perhaps one year I might be self-disciplined enough to give moon planting a proper go.  Until then, I'll have to take the word of customers and friends who have tried it; and many of them are experienced gardeners and swear by the practice - so I guess there must be something to it.

Over the years, we have come to rely on science in agriculture to solve problems and increase yields.  Plant growth has been reduced to chemical inputs and outputs as required by the plant to photosynthesise and grow.  Hydroponics is the pinnacle of this process - proving that plants can grow and produce without soil at all.

Unfortunately, in mainstream agriculture today it seems that adding specific fertilisers to promote plant growth rather than looking at overall soil health, including minerals and soil biology, has lead to a decline in crop health and increased pest and disease attack, needing more specific chemical inputs to address this.

However, dating back centuries, before all this chemistry was even known, farmers had to observe the land and the seasons to raise healthy animals and produce a good yield.  Observing the cycles of the moon for timing certain jobs was common in many civilisations.  The biodynamic movement (started by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920's) goes even further - not only observing moon cycles but planetary ones, with the idea that the sun, moon, and other planets all have an effect on the energy governing growth, relative to their aspects to each other.  It does make for fascinating reading, and I'd love to hear from you if you've got personal experience in closely following this system.

I guess as a gardener you've experienced the irregular nature/timing of seed germination, and the phenomenon of seedlings planted at different times having vastly different growth rates.  Moon planting practitioners will suggest that the moon could explain it!  Who has experienced poor sleep during a full moon?  Or knows teachers/health care workers who say those in their care can be more rowdy/unpredictable then?  Hmmn.  Co-incidence??

Here is a very basic introduction to the concept of gardening by moon phases:

Waxing moon

(when moon light is increasing - from the time of the new moon to the full moon each luna cycle).
Energy at this time is drawn upwards, from the earth.  This means it's a great time to germinate seeds, and supposedly things planted at this time will continue to enjoy vigorous growth.  Sap flow is supposedly stronger at this time so plants that require good leafy above ground growth will do well.  Crops harvested at this time will have good flavour, but not store well.  It's a good time to use liquid fertiliser as it will be quickly taken up by the plants.
If you want to encourage lawn growth, mow during this phase.  It is supposedly the best time to take tip cuttings and for pruning wounds to heal.

Waning moon

(when moon light is decreasing - from the time of the full moon to the new moon re-appears)
Energy at this time is drawn downwards, meaning it's not an ideal time to germinate many seeds; although root crops - things that grow downwards into the earth like carrots, potatoes, etc. will do well.  Growth will be slower.  Crops harvested now will have less moisture content and store longer.
In this 'earthy' time it is good to make compost & prepare garden beds, and fertilise with solid fertilisers.  Supposedly weed seeds are less likely to germinate so turning over soil is best done at this time.  Prune dormant trees in winter during this phase when re-growth is not required.  Remove unwanted suckers at this time.  Lawn mowing during this phase is said to result in slower re-growth.

Another factor that moon planting guides take into account is the position of the moon relative to the sun - its peak ascension and descension each day.  And its position relative to the earth, making it closer (perigee) and further (apogee) away, also said to influence the sap energy of the plant.

Then there is gardening by the moon through the zodiac constellations method.  Every 2-3 days, the moon moves across a different zodiac constellation, which is supposed to influence certain aspects of plant growth.  Fire signs (Leo, Aries, Sagittarius) influences growth of plants grown for fruits and seeds.  Air signs (Gemini, Aquarius, Libra) influences growth of plants which have flowers as a major emphasis, Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) influences growth of leafy plants, while Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) influences growth of plants grown for root development.

I'd suggest if you're curious, come in and grab a moon planting calendar and give it a try for yourself!  The calendars specify best days/time periods for planting particular plant groups and for other jobs in the garden.  They're also decorative and have lots of interesting information to read.  As a friend of mine recommends:  "No toilet door should be without one!"   Normally we sell them for $11 each.  For the month of January for our VIP customers, spend $100 with us to pick one up for FREE.  Remember to ask for the deal at the time of purchase.  Online shoppers please mention the deal in the 'delivery instructions' section of your order to receive your calendar.

Only valid one per customer, while stocks last, until 31st January 2017.

Tomato Contest 2017 - Calling for Award Entries

We hope you've all been busy tending to your tomato plants, and enjoying a bountiful crop.  But we trust they're going to continue producing for you a while longer so you can participate in our annual Tomato Contest - because it's back!  

Bring your tomatoes into The Green Life Soil Co by 4.30pm Sunday, 29 January to participate.  Each entry is by gold coin donation (which goes to charity) and judging is anonymous, and of course totally subjective!

We will choose our favourite tomato based on:

- size (the biggest and smallest)
- flavour (the tastiest)
- and any other notable peculiarity - redness, pinkness, yellowness, shape - etc.

Certificates to show off with and gardening prizes to enjoy will be awarded to winners.

So why not enter?  See this link for full details & application form.

VIP Offer for January - our way of saying thank you for your support.

FREE 2017 Moon Planting Calendar with any purchase over $100.  

  • Remember to ask for the deal at the time of purchase.
  • Online shoppers please mention the deal in the 'delivery instructions' section of your order to receive your calendar.
  • Only valid one per customer, while stocks last, until 31st January 2017.

What's new @ The Green Life Soil Co

Because we do our own mixes at Green Life, we are always trialling new products and working on sourcing inputs to improve our recipes.  Watch this space for some new soil mixes coming in 2017.

Recently, we've added a Blueberry potting mix to our range*.  Containing horticultural charcoal which has a naturally low pH, our trials of this so far are going very well.  As always, we've conducted laboratory tests on nutrition and contaminants and we're working with external consultants.

In addition, if you're wanting a specialist potting mix for native plants, pond plants, vertical gardens or succulents remember we can make all of these to order.

*  Currently Blueberry mix and our other specialist mixes are not regularly held as stock items, but can be ordered online or made to order for pickup/bulk delivery.  Please call for further information.


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