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Hello & welcome to 2020! It's been a crazy few weeks around here - our big move happened over the Christmas break. We're now open & operational @ 166 Wilson Road; but still settling in - there'll be many improvements to come over the next year - so keep a look out and we hope to see you soon.
We're right next to Tass 1 Trees - they're open Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun - so if you come on these days you can make it a one stop shop! (We're open 7 DAYS - so obviously you're welcome to pop out ANY day...) Bring your keep cups - Jane Brook Fresh (the little fruit & veg shop on the corner) serves delicious coffee & cake (Quondong Jam Tarts, Passionfruit Cheesecake, Bushmint Chocolate Cake etc. etc.) - so what more excuse to you need???
Our new site is a mere 4 minute trip (a couple of kms) by car from our previous site - if you're taking Roe Highway to reach us, take the Toodyay Road exit heading towards the hills and you'll find us. Our new site has a drive thru shed - so if you're just picking up bags, follow the arrows via the far gate and on in and we'll load you. For trailer loading, please park in the yard in front of the bays. For general browsing, there's a large carpark that stretches the whole way in front of the property & Tass 1 Nursery, so please park out front.
Like all of Australia - we've been saddened by the bushfires which have ravaged so much of the country and caused such devastation to humans and animals alike. So we've decided that for all retail bags we sell in the months of January & February, we'll donate $1.00 per bag. Bags we wholesale to other retailers we will donate 50¢ per bag. The funds raised will be allocated 70% to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, and the remaining 30% to WIRES for wildlife rehabilitation. So wherever you buy our bagged product Jan/Feb you'll be helping make a difference - thank you!
So while it's been a challenging start to 2020 - we are aiming for it to be a SUPER year, and we look forward to being of service to each of you in your quest to have a healthy and sustainable garden. We thank you for your continued support.
Linda & The team @ The Green Life Soil Co
In this newsletter:
It's the hottest time of the year in Perth making gardening extra challenging. Remember we've got 50% and 70% white horticultural shadecloth in stock - so get some protection up for your vegie patch and with a daily hand water you'll still be able to have a productive garden. Now's the time of year for some succession planting, time to think about starting winter brassicas from seed (well, almost!), and time to think about your Autumn/Winter garden and what is going to follow on from your summer crops when they run out of steam.
Plants to consider growing now include: Beans, Beetroot, Brussel Sprouts*, Cabbage*, Capsicum, Chilli, Carrot, Cauliflower*, Cucumber, Eggplant, Kale*, Kohl Rabi*, Leek, Lettuce, Melons, Parsnip, Pumpkin, Radish, Silverbeet, Spring Onion, Swede, Sweetcorn, Sweet Potato, Tomato, Turnip, Zucchini.
At our new premises we have two lovely seed racks made for us by local hills craftsman - Pete from Hobbit Furniture. The stands mean we have effectively doubled our shelf space for seed display. So there's no doubt - GLSC has the biggest range of non-hybrid/heritage seed available retail in Perth. When planning your autumn garden, come on in and check it out.
We're finishing off our shadehouse area for seedlings - by the end of this week we'll have got this area finished and under retic, so will be stocked up again with organically grown vegies, and a wide range of culinary and medicinal herbs.
Recently, I posed the question to our Facebook family "what are your biggest issues in the garden at the moment?" - not that there were too many surprises - they're issues we're facing in our own garden at the moment, too. Remember we're smack bang in the middle of summer - it's a tough time to garden in Perth, so hang in there! (It was lovely to see so many people offering up suggestions to other gardeners - it's such a supportive community.) Here's a list of the top 7, and if they're issues you're facing, you might find a solution or two to try. Good luck!
Gardening on the edge of a desert here in Perth is difficult - no more so than in Summer, as temperatures sap the life out of everything but the hardiest natives who have evolved with these conditions. So there's a hint - if you're planning a new garden and want something low maintenance, consider local native plants. There is a wide range available, so visit a good nursery (Zanthorrea in Maida Vale specialise in natives, as does Australian Native Nurseries in Oakford) and get some advice. It is possible to have a colourful and beautiful garden using native plants.
Should you be looking at growing exotic plants (ie. anything non-native, including vegetables) the key to success is to provide them with their ideal growing conditions. Do some research onto where your favourite flowers/shrubs originate from, and what type of growing conditions suit them best. Then, try to replicate that in your own yard. Understorey plants will need shade and shelter from wind - for example. Taking the time to set up your garden before planting will give you the best chance of success.
For vegetable gardening in Perth, soil improvement, MULCH, regular water and shadecloth* is really the only way to ensure success. And obviously - growing things in the correct season is paramount to success. (* We have white horticultural grade shadecloth available in 50% & 70%.)
Water Repellent Soil
In our sandy soil, the hot weather can dry out the top layers of soil where the microbial life is, and nutrient recycling and water holding just isn't happening. Water will pool on top of the soil, and just runs off if your garden is on a slope.
The other fantastic product that will help with water repellency is Charlie Charcoal. Charcoal by its nature is highly absorbent, and is a permanent source of carbon in your soil - hugely beneficial for microbes and for nutrient holding, and as a bonus - it has a very low pH, so if you struggle with high alkalinity (as do many people along the coast) - this is the perfect product to use. Charlie & Cassie work so well together in your garden that we would say it's a match made in heaven!! We use both products in the majority of our soil mixes.
This is a big problem for many gardeners - and because it happens below the surface, it isn't something obvious until you go digging. Your garden beds (especially vegie gardenss) are lavished with love, nutrients and water - and trees, lawns, shrubs etc. from everywhere will sniff that goodness out and send roots in to get their share. Even neighbour's trees can be a problem - they don't respect the boundary fence.
Unless you're up to digging out the bed and starting afresh every 2-5 years, the best thing you can do is to use a root barrier material. We have found weedmat ineffective. Geotextile (which we sell @ $7 per metre) is the far better choice. Allowing moisture to permeate, it stops root hairs getting through (you do need to watch out for any overlapping sections).
I have mulched most of our vegie garden with pea straw. It does a great job to help protect the soil surface and keep it moist, but it really seems to attract slaters, which have decimated many of my snake beans (grrrrrr). There are a number of traps & tricks you can try if you're wanting to avoid using any pesticides in your garden. Cleaning up areas like piles of wood, prunings and pots will also remove areas where slaters like to populate and hide away. These creatures do have a role to play in gardens. They assist in the breakdown and recycling of organic matter, which in turn makes nutrients available to plants. The problems appear when they breed up to large numbers.
If you have left over citrus halves from juicing, upturn these amongst your plants. Slaters (and also slugs and snails) will shelter inside, and can be easily disposed of in the morning. Another trick is to take a newspaper and roll it up with a lacky band at each end. Make sure the open edges of the paper are outermost. Soak it thoroughly in water and put out in the garden. The slaters will go inbetween the pages along the edge - again it's a simple thing to pick up the whole paper and dispose of it. You can also try wet newspaper sheets crumpled up in an old pot on its side. Same theory - damp & dark = nice spot for slaters!
Scale & Mealy Bug
Mealy bug are a type of scale pest - a group of little sap sucking critters that attach themselves to your plants, and can weaken them. Worse, the sticky substance they secrete (honey dew) is sought after by ants as a food source, so ants actively farm them and spread them around your garden. Black sooty mould can grow on the honey dew secretion. This isn't itself such a problem - but it is unsightly.
Traditionally, heavy duty systemic pesticides are used - treating them organically requires a bit more effort. There are parasitic wasps that deal with them - but if scale are present in large numbers, you may not win the battle.
Small plants are manageable - using gloves, or a cloth, you can wipe them off leaves and stems with a little metho or pest oil. Larger plants need a spray with something like Eco-oil, neem oil, potassium soap spray or pyrethrum, and you will need to do repeated treatments to get new hatchlings as they emerge. Oil based treatments can be problematic in hot weather - you'll burn your plants. It is best to treat in late winter.
Control ant numbers (with trunk banding) and you will help stop the spread of the scale pest. Plants that are constantly under attack by these pests may be best removed and replaced with a less susceptible species.
Whether it's spreading scale, or messing up your paving - ants can be a headache. Often they're a symptom of dry conditions - regular watering the garden/s they're in may cause them to move on. Ants in compost or worm farms definitely mean it's too dry. Tipping a kettle of boiling water daily on nests in paving will certainly help. Organic control is limited to a few soft options - you can try our diatomaceous earth, or Eco-ant spray; which is a eucalyptus based formulation.
If you need to do something more heavy duty, it's best to correctly identify your ants so you can target them efficiently. Using a piece of sticky tape, collect a couple of them, send them to the Agriculture Department for ID. Here's a link to their web page which has a heap of info on native and introduced ant species, and the details for taking & sending samples: https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/invasive-species/ant-identification-key-successful-control?nopaging=1
Ants are a natural part of the eco system and have a role to play in the food chain - and also pollinating your plants! So if they're not causing you major problems, try and leave them be. Ants can help control other insect pests and help aerate the soil (allowing water, air and nutrients to penetrate).
Grasshoppers are chewers, ripping holes in plant leaves and spreading disease. They 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.
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. 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. Chickens will devour grasshoppers; and they're edible for humans too - if you're interested!
Dead Patches in Your Lawn
Boy, has this one been a popular topic on social media over recent weeks. Dead patches on your lawn are ultimately a sign of stress - that section of lawn is too hot & too dry to be thriving right now. Often compaction occurs, and there's less opportunity for water to easily work its way into the root zone.
Again, our sandy soils have often been poorly prepped for lawn, and there can be a number of reasons why certain spots in your lawn aren't as healthy as others. One section may simply be receiving less water due to poor/reduced sprinkler overlap, water pressure, blocked nozzles - etc. Here's some really useful info from the Watercorporation - we recommend you use catch cups to test & compare how much water your lawn is receiving in different places (it may surprise you!).
To help fix the issue, aerate your lawn in the dry spots. You can use special tools, or a pitchfork loosely moved through the soil will do the job. Use a good quality liquid soil wetter (we recommend Eco-wet). You may find repeated applications are necessary in some spots. Hand water well to ensure soil receives the moisture.
If you know of anybody about to lay new lawn, PLEASE get them to talk to us about getting the soil prep right. We speak to people on a daily basis who struggle to keep their lawn healthy - and your best chance is to do it right the first time.
So there you go - hopefully the 7 deadly sins of summer can be circumvented! (Good luck & let us know if there's other issues you'd like us to focus on next time!)
As a special incentive to come in and see our new home, shop in store between now and close of business Sunday, 16th February and receive a FREE bag of blended manure when you spend $50 or more.
One per customer from available stock.
CONGRATULATIONS to June Then who sent in the pictures below, with the following comments:
(If you're looking to purchase a Vegepod, try your closest Waldecks Store. You can grab a Vegepod and our awesome soil to put in it right there!)
Thanks June for sending in your photos - your garden is certainly looking lush, which shows the benefits of a wicking bed in our summer.
Please support the local independent retailers who support us. They've got great local knowledge and are happy to help. (And remember 50¢ from every bag purchased at any of our retailers in January/February goes to support bushfire relief.)