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leafHello again - here we are more than halfway through winter; so you know what that means; SPRING is literally just around the corner!  Days are getting noticeably longer week on week and the plants will be noticing too!  Let's hope there's still some good rain to be had - I'm sure there's still some very chilly days ahead too; we're not out of frost danger yet (if you live in those susceptible areas).

As the weeks roll on; we'll have more and more varieties of Spring/Summer vegies available in both seed & seedlings.  Come on in over the next month and check out our range, or feel free to call up if you're looking for something in particular.

Later this month our workshop season swings into action - check out our Events page right here for all the details.  By clicking on each event you can see the description, time & cost of each session.  

JessWe'd like to say congratulations to one of our team members - Jess (pictured right) - she's just completed her course @ Midland TAFE. Those of you who went along to Perth City Farm's Indoor Plant Market last week would have met Jess on GLSC's stand.  

Jess came into the GLSC family last year with a whirlwind of energy and love of all things gardening. She has just completed her Cert 3 in horticulture, conservation and land management and is applying her studies to help our Green Life customers grow their knowledge and their gardens.

Jess is a big lover of indoor plants, is an advocate for organic gardening alternatives and up-cycling! Feel free to pop in anytime for a chat (she loves animals, so bring your furry friends for a visit too!).

Come on in and say hello to Jess (or any one of our team) - we hope to see you soon @ Green Life Soil Co.

Happy Gardening from all of us @ GLSC.  

In this newsletter:

Jobs to do in the August Garden
What to Plant Now
Mite-y Garden Pests
VIP Special Offer
Photo Competition Winner
Retail Stockist Update

Jobs to do in the August Garden

  • rose Rose pruning.  If you haven't already done so, it's time to give Roses and other perennial flowering plants their winter prune to encourage a flush of spring blossoms.  (Thanks to our photo comp winner Lorraine for this lovely pic of one of her roses!)
  • Feed.  Keep feeding your winter vegies that are still producing.  A seaweed tonic and some fish emulsion are perfect every 1 - 2 weeks to keep things going.
  • Select the best plants for seed saving.  Label these plants and continue to feed & observe for pests.  
  • Check on your compost.  Piles that you've created with winter weeds & autumn leaves should be cooking nicely.  Check on the nitrogen to carbon ratio - if the piles are too wet, add more shredded dry material.  If they're too dry, add a bit of water.  A handful or two of blood & bone and a good turn over of the pile should get things cooking again.  Start a new pile for new material and monitor your existing pile every week - it should cook nicely for you to use with in 1-2 months for your Spring crops.
  • seedlingsSelect & plan your seed propagation.  You can start to raise some Spring vegies.  A few seeds in trays that you can move around and keep warm will give you a great head start (providing they survive the rest of winter).  A few seeds sown every few weeks will mean you'll jag the right time early on - covering your bets.  Jackie French recommends planting out only once the soil is warm enough to sit on bare-bummed.  (You might want to warn your neighbours first!)
  • Take photos or make some notes of your Winter garden - where you grew what vegies.  What worked (what didn't work) and what do you think might be a good idea to try next Autumn/Winter?  Taking 5 or 10 minutes to do this now is better than trying to remember what it looked like in six month's time.
  • yellowing citrusGet ready to feed up your fruit trees.  It is possibly a little early at the start of the month, but heading to the end of August/early September (and depending on the weather) it's time to feed up your Citrus trees, and your deciduous trees that will be emerging from Winter dormancy.   We recommend a good fertiliser or soil improver that contains rock dust (or use rock dust separately) - the trace elements will lead to healthier plants and better tasting fruit.
  • Spray your fruit trees.  If you need to spray peaches/nectarines for peach leaf curl, or against brown rot or other fungal diseases that affected last year's crops, make sure you're ready to go at the appropriate time.  With peach leaf curl there's a specific window just as the new growth buds are about to burst; if you miss it you're already too late.
  • Plan.  If you're going to build new garden beds, or relocate existing ones,  now's the time to plan and build.  If you're wanting to go no-dig and use up some decaying plant material & weeds, it's a good time to start so things can begin decomposing.  Solarise soil with plastic to cook weeds before you mulch any new paths, etc.  See our article on organic weed control (including solarisation) here.  
  • Plant trees & shrubs.  Bare rooted trees are now available & it's the best time to plant before they emerge from dormancy.  Consider planting some flowering native plants to bring in birds and pollinators.  Visit a good nursery on a lovely, sunny day and get some advice about what variety/ies will suit your garden, situation & site, and soil type.  

What to Plant Now

asparagusThere's still time to get some crops in the ground of potatoes, onions, peas, broad beans.  And there's Asparagus, Rhubarb & Jerusalem Artichokes - just about to arrive in store @ GLSC.  

Click onto the highlighted text above to go to the fact sheets for these plants for the detailed growing information you need to get started.  (asparagus - pictured right)

You can also begin to start some seeds off in trays - but my advice would be to do a few only.  There's still plenty of time, and no need to risk all your seed on one roll of the dice.  Remember our free downloadable When to Sow guide for Perth also has some handy tips on germination temperatures and times - check it out here.

Vegies to consider include:  Artichokes (Globe & Jerusalem), Asian Greens, Asparagus, Beans, Broad Beans, Beetroot, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Choko, English Spinach, Kale, Kohl Rabi, Leek, Lettuce, Onion, Parsnip, Peas, Potato, Radish, Silverbeet, Snow Peas, Spring Onion, Turnip.

Plus many herbs will grow well now - still time to grow Coriander, for example.  See our Planting Guide for Herbs here (free download).  

Mite-y Garden Pests

two spotted miteRecently via social media, I was contacted by someone wanting advice on how to deal with mite infestations on their plants.  I thought it would be a worthy topic to research and write about - so here we go!

While there are many different types of mites (some of them are major agricultural pests); as home gardeners the two we mostly come across are Red-legged Earth Mites and Spider Mites (sometimes called Two Spotted Mites or Red Mites* - just to be confusing.)  They're two distinct species - Red-legged Earth Mites have the fantastic name Halotydeus destructor while Two Spotted Mites are Tetranychus urticae.  (Pictured above right - Two Spotted Mite adult & egg.  Photo courtesy Ag Dept of WA.  Pictured below right - also a Two Spotted Mite; but with red colouration.  Photo courtesy Pestnet.org.)

red miteMites are actually arachnids and not insects -  having eight legs, and are really quite tiny; the size of a full stop - making them quite difficult to spot with the naked eye.  To identify mites, you'll need a good magnifying glass and good lighting.  (A magnifying glass or hand lens should be part of your gardening kit - they do come in handy to help ID many pests and diseases.)  Also check a reliable reference to ID a pest vs. a beneficial species.  The Ag Department's My Pest Reporter App will be helpful with this.  

Once numbers have built up, you will notice the damage they're doing to your plants.  The mites are usually active on the leaf underside.  Being sap suckers, they pierce the leaf surface and damage the cellular structure of the leaf, causing mottling, yellowing and tissue death.  In advanced attacks plants can be severely stunted and may even die.  Mites can be pests of broadacre crops, vegetable crops, and tree crops.  Unfortunately due to widespread spraying, many have built up resistance to insecticides/miticides, but luckily there are many natural predators - so as an organic gardener we can certainly give nature a helping hand to attract the good bugs!

red legged earth miteRed-legged Earth Mites (RLEM) have a black body, with 8 pinky-orange legs.  (Pictured right RLEM & damaged caused to leaf tissue - Photo courtesy Ag Dept of WA.) They can have several generations a year, with the female creating 'diapause eggs' which are dormant in the hotter months, and hatch once conditions are suitable following the autumn rains.  They are more active in May to October, and tend not to be active in the hotter weather.  As the name suggests, they spend a lot of time on the soil surface, and congregate on leaves to feed - being attracted to volatile compounds released from damaged leaves.  Young seedlings are particularly susceptible.

Spider Mites or Two Spotted Mites (TSM) can be almost clear, yellow-green to brown, but adults have two large dark spots on their back.  *In Autumn, the colouring can be pinky-red; hence the name 'Red Spider Mite' is another name commonly given to the same critter.  (See 2nd photo in this article - this is also a Two Spotted Mite!) 
They are
probably a bit more of a problem for home gardeners here in Perth; given that they prefer hot weather and dry conditions.  Their numbers can build up very quickly, and females can reproduce asexually - so it pays to be vigilant. Mites have several stages in their lifecycle; nymphs may appear a little different from the adults but also damage plants.  TSM can attack a wide range of ornamental plants (including indoor plants) and vegetable crops (especially beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and strawberries - but many other plants too!). 

Mites produce webbing - which they use in many ways (moving around, breeding, etc) and Two Spotted Mite explosions can actually cover the growing tips of a plant and the leaf underside with a fine webbing coating; a tell-tale sign you've got a good infestation.  (Photo below right shows webbing on strawberry plant.)

So what can you do to control them organically?  

spider mite webbingA good tip is to clear up cape weed, thistle, marshmallow weed, nightshades and plantain weed from your gardens; these broad leaf weeds are a common host for mites.

Healthy plants are far less susceptible to attack.  Jackie French observes that plants starved of nitrogen & phosphorus tend to be more susceptible.  She recommends spraying with manure tea twice a day at the first sign of attack.  Other research suggests soil high in available silica helps.  Rock Dust and DE in the soil would be beneficial.  Another option as a foliar spray is the Zeogrow fertiliser we carry.  Biodynamic farmers use their preparation 501.
Good soil building practices of adding compost, feeding and mulching your soil also help.

If spider mites are very active on the tips of your plants, tip pruning may help give the plants some breathing space while you try other treatment methods.

Mites don't tend to like moisture - so high pressure hosing (best early in the day) every day for up to a week will impact numbers.  Giving your indoor plants a rinse under the shower will have the same effect.  Overhead watering (particularly in very hot weather) can be helpful.

Green Harvest's excellent website also recommends a DIY spray of 2% Rosemary oil in water (with a dash of soap to help it stick), claiming it will work against TSM but not affect predatory mites.  Home made Garlic spray is another well used option against sap sucking insects (including mites).

A hand held vacuum cleaner can also remove mites from your plants.  (Also a good way to deal with Whitefly.  And to mystify the neighbours.)

Beneficial Insects

Mites have a huge range of predatory insects that will help keep their numbers under control. Hoverfly, other species of mites, ladybirds, and ants and spiders will prey on pest mites. So avoid using sprays if you can (even organic ones) because you can harm the good bugs in your garden too. Biodiversity - planting a wide range of flowering plants to encourage a range of visitors to your garden will help.

You can buy predatory mites to release in your garden. See www.bugsforbugs.com.au - they can send to WA a type of predatory mite that will feast on your Two Spotted Mite problem.

mite damageMore 'heavy duty' treatments for mites can include Eco-oil (which will smother the mites), Eco-neem (which disrupts the growth and/or breeding cycle of many insects), Pyrethrum, and potassium soap sprays like Natrasoap.  All of these treatments are best used as contact sprays directly onto infestations.  As none of these options are systemic (absorbed into the plant tissue) you may need several treatments 3-7 days apart, and close observation to make sure new hatchlings don't breed up again.  (Photo right - mite damage on tomatoes.)

Another treatment is to dust or spray the plants with sulphur - although this is considered a 'heavy duty' treatment and best as a last resort.  Don't use sulphur in hot conditions or anytime you've used an oil spray recently - it will damage your plants.

Remember the mites are mostly active on the leaf underside - so you'll need to ensure you get good coverage there.

For vegetable crops, basil is said to be a good companion to assist in preventing TSM (and probably attracts beneficial insects too). Practice crop rotation and make sure any infected plant material is disposed of in the bin, or burnt.

If particular ornamental plants are being attacked year after year; it might be a worthwhile option to consider an alternative plant in that position that will be less susceptible.

Like many of our garden pests, numbers may vary with the seasons & when conditions are ideal for their numbers to explode. If you can do what you can to minimise spread, in an established organic garden hopefully the beneficial insects will arrive shortly after the mites. To quote Ross Mars - "You don't have too many pests. You haven't got enough predators." It's a nice theory anyway, and one to remember on our gardening adventures... Good Luck!!!

VIP Special Offer

blood & boneAs our gardens are waking up from Winter, it's time to give our gardens a feed.  So to help you with this, we're giving our VIP's a FREE 3kg Blood & Bone tub with purchase over $50.  (And remember - you can bring in your own tubs for a refill and save plastic.)

Our Blood & Bone contains nothing but the goodness of blood meal, feather meal and rock dust - so you're getting a range of nutrition including trace elements.

Oh, and it's also Certified Organic.  So what are you waiting for?  Come on in and grab your Spring garden goodies and remember to mention the VIP Blood & Bone special to the Green Life team member who's looking after you.

If placing orders online, mention 'free VIP Blood & Bone offer' in the delivery instructions box.

Ordering over the phone?  Ask our team as you're placing your order.

Limit of one per customer & valid until COB 31st August.

Photo Competition Winner for August

Congratulations to Lorraine H. who sent in a whole heap of photos of her garden as a work in progress (see below).  She had this to say:

What I love most about gardening is changing something that was ugly and barren to beautiful; it makes coming home so nice. Although it’s winter the front verge is very colourful.
Using the general mix from Green Life made it so much easier - being able to plant directly into the really healthy soil, it retains moisture well, and the plants have grown really fast. I have lots of roses for cutting. I’ve now added edible plants into all the empty spaces so it’s more useful too.

Cheers,
Lorraine 

The photos show the garden in February this year when soil was delivered; and June now things are getting established.  THANKS Lorraine for sending in your pictures.  You're the winner of this months competition and have scored a $50 voucher to spend with us @ Green Life.

Remember - you've got to be in it to win it - so send in your photos via email or to Facebook with a few words as to what's going on in your garden, and what you love about it, and next month it might be YOU.






Retailer Update

waldecks bentleyPlease support the local independent retailers who support us.  They've got great local knowledge and are happy to help.

All stockists carry different items (so give them a call and check!).  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.

Beaufort Garden World - Inglewood 9271 0585
Dunn + Walton - Doubleview 92427711
Garden Elegance - Subiaco 9381 2197
Guildford Town Garden Centre - Guildford 9279 8645
Nibali Stockfeed - Hamilton Hill 9433 2211
Stanbee Stockfeeds - Barragup 9581 2390
Thrive Sustainability - Lower Chittering 0408 157 301
Waldecks Bentley - Bentley 9458 5944 (pictured right)
Waldecks Melville - Melville 9330 6970
Waldecks Kingsley - 9309 5088
Waldecks Stirling - 9254 6730
Zanthorrea Nursery - Maida Vale 9454 6260

Australind Landscaping Supplies 9796 1720
Busselton - U scape Garden Centre 9751 3995
Leschenault & Bunbury Markets - Fancy Plants Nursery 0428 844 597
Margaret River - Landmark 9758 7677

So THANK YOU for being part of the Green Life family - we hope to see you soon in store (and here next month for the next newsletter!) In the meantime - stay up to date with all the Green Life happenings by following us on Facebook and Instagram.











 

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