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Hello & welcome to November!
As we head halfway into Spring, we can sense the days warming up. It was lovely to have some rain recently (commiserations if you're one of the gardeners who had some hail damage) - let's home a little bit of summer rain every now and again comes our way.
The Spring garden is definitely alive & buzzing at our place. Seedlings of corn, cucumber, zucchini, tomatoes and salad greens are pumping. We're picking sugar snap peas, heaps of spinach and silverbeet, some early garlic, and globe artichokes. While the broccoli is almost over (some side shoots still being produced from very sad looking & caterpillar ravaged plants), we've got a couple more nice cauliflower heads forming - but that will be brassicas done & dusted for the year. It's been a good one for us this year - we've enjoyed home grown broccoli most days, quite a few cauli's and plenty of delicious sugar loaf cabbages.
I'm now looking forward to home grown salads full of tomato & basil - let's hope it's a good year for them. (An early reminder - we'll be holding our Tomato Contest in early 2020 - so think about your favourite variety and the time it takes to fruit & get yourself organised to enter.)
October 30th was the Belmont Business Enterprise Centre's 26th Annual WA Small Business Awards presentation evening at the Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre. Green Life was thrilled to receive the 2019 'Sustainable Business' award - this follows up the 2018 'Sustainable Business' and the 2017 'Marketing' awards - meaning we've won for 3 years in a row! As a result, we were humbled to be presented with entry to the "Hall of Fame". (I'm pretty sure this means next year we have to let somebody else have a go!!) THANK YOU to all of our lovely customers who have supported us along the way - we wouldn't be here without you.
In last month's email I alluded to the fact that we had a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT to make... well, the time has finally arrived where I can let you know...
THE GREEN LIFE SOIL CO will be moving to new premises in 2020.
We'll be moving to 166 Wilson Road, Middle Swan. That's 3.7kms or 4 minutes by car away from where we are now. We'll be right next door to Tass 1 Trees - on the corner of Wilson & Toodyay Roads.
There's still work to be done to prepare the new site - so we haven't got an exact date for you. Keep an eye on our next newsletter for more of an update.
The land we're currently leasing on Farrall Road is earmarked for residential development; we've known this was on the agenda for some years. The time is now right for us to make the move to brand new & bigger premises; and we have loads of exciting things planned in the year to come. We look forward to sharing the journey with you!
Until next month ~ happy gardening!
Linda & The team @ The Green Life Soil Co
In this newsletter:
Hopefully you've got some of your summer cropping vegies in already... if not, grab some healthy seedlings and get them in. Buying seedlings is buying time - you will save yourself 4 - 6 weeks over growing from seed. However, planting seeds NOW will give you later crops - so for maximum benefit, plant a few seedlings to get harvesting early - then plant out your seeds soon for your succession planting and extend your harvest window.
Some ideas of what you can grow now include:
Globe artichokes, Asian greens, Basil, Beans (Snake beans are a heat loving variety), Beetroot, Capsicum, Chilli, Carrots, Celery, Choko, Cucumber, Eggplant, Ginger, Leek, Lettuce, Melons, Mint, Parsley, Parsnips, Pumpkin, Radish, Rocket, Rosella, Silverbeet, Spring onion, Squash, Strawberries, Sweet corn (pictured above), Sweet potato, Tomato, Zucchini.
OK - so a couple of herbs snuck on that list. But many herbs grow well in the warmer months - check out our 'When to Plant' guides HERE on our website. We have one for vegetables, and another for herbs.
Coriander is a herb that we often enjoy using in summer; but unfortunately it doesn't do well in Perth heat. (If you still have some growing in your garden, now's the time to provide some shadecloth for it.) If you really want fresh coriander over summer - there are two options. You can grow Mexican or perennial coriander - which is not actually coriander at all; but tastes and smells the same. It is tougher and more adaptable to our summers, providing it gets regular water. Or if you're a pureist and want ONLY traditional coriander; try growing it as a microgreen indoors (or at least in a sheltered spot). You harvest the plants at a very early stage; but they are packed with that pungent coriander aroma and taste that so divides the world.
Remember to plant out some summer flowering annuals. They'll add colour to your garden, and most importantly, provide food for our pollinators. We need to attract lots of pollinators to our gardens in order to have the best yield from many crops. Growing some colourful flowers in pots means you can move them around to dress up your outdoor entertaining area or to hide bare spots in the garden.
Regularly, we get asked which herbs are useful to plant around the house to repel flies and mosquitoes. Summer time is when we like to be outdoors, but these pests can ruin an otherwise pleasant evening. I wish there were sure-fire way to use plants to get rid of these pests, but there isn't a magic bullet. Generally, plants that have a strong scent when leaves are crushed or brushed against are useful as a deterrent. The strong scent is distasteful to insects and can confuse them. Some leaves can be rubbed against the skin; although you do need to be cautious as some may cause irritation (especially to young or sensitive skin). Test on a small patch of skin first to see whether there's any adverse reaction. Correct plant ID is always essential to make sure you're not dealing with toxic sap. Remember that 'natural' doesn't automatically mean 'safe'. Caution needs to be exercised when using herbs on your skin, on your children and your pets. If you're not sure - use a sprig pinned to clothing or wrapped in a small sachet.
Some common aromatic herbs include:
Such a great companion plant in the garden, this annual herb* is said to repel flies. Dried basil can also be sprinkled around the surface of indoor pot plants where fungus gnats are a problem. There are many, many types of basil - all with different scents and flavours. (*There are perennial basil varieties too - you'll get a couple of years from these plants; but they do vary in taste & smell to traditional sweet basil.) Keep a pretty pot of basil on your outdoor table. You can grab a leaf to garnish your plate - and its presence may help to keep flies off your dinner.
Catnip leaves when crushed deter mosquitoes - testing has shown it is effective as DEET (the active ingredient in most commercial repellents). Crushing the leaves releases the same volatile compound that can attract cats - so I guess it depends on which pest you find more annoying! (About 50% of cats don't even notice catnip - it's a weird pheromone thing.) This plant has pretty flowers, and is a worthy plant to add to a mixed flower bed or cottage garden. Cat mint also has some pest repellent qualities,and makes an excellent ground cover, being a smaller plant than Catnip.
A popular perennial herb with many culinary uses. If picking to harvest for essential oils, they are most concentrated while buds are forming but before the flowers open. Fresh leaves can be used anytime, and the scent repels mosquitoes. This low growing plant is good in rockeries and around pathways - if it grows over pavers, as you step on it, the oils will be released.
Sage is a slow growing medium sized perennial herb in the mint family that grows well in garden beds or in pots. Useful in cooking, throw some leaves onto your BBQ, pizza oven or into your fire pit - the smoke will deter mosquitoes. There are several varieties of sage available (purple sage makes a lovely accent plant). White sage is the variety used in incense and in smudge sticks, and is related to common sage.
Thyme, and in particular Lemon Thyme oil has been shown to be very effective against mosquitoes. Thyme leaves when burnt will keep mozzies at bay. This is a small, low growing plant with delicate foliage that you can keep in a pot or grow in the ground. I've found it quite hardy as long as watering is regular.
There are many different varieties of mint - experiment with what you have got in your garden. Mint is supposed to repel mosquitoes and ants - but in particular, flies. Try crushing or chopping fresh mint and using it in small bowls around your picnic. It is suggested that if you crush mint in your hands then run your hands over your dog, you can help keep biting flies away. Dried mint sprinkled around your window & door frames helps to deter ants. Mint prefers damp soil & a shady spot - it can be invasive so many people like to keep it contained in a pot.
I love lavender and often grab a handful of leaves to crush on my skin when I'm working in my garden. Apparently the flowers are more effective at repelling insects - but I like to leave them for the bees! Lavender oil repels mosquitoes, flies and fleas. Springs of lavender in your wardrobe help repel moths - I'm sure the smell will remind you of your Grandma!
Another larger growing shrub (although there are prostrate forms available which make excellent ground covers) - rosemary leaves contain oils which deter mosquitoes. Sprigs used inside your home can deter silverfish and moths. If you have room, a hedge of rosemary plants around your vegie patch is said to deter a whole host of common garden pests.
Again, many scented geraniums are useful to deter and confuse insects. Citronella/Lemon, Rose - these hardy plants are great to have in your garden. Have them alongside pathways so as you brush against them, the scent is released. They are a small shrub but respond well to regular pruning, and strike well from cuttings so you can easily propagate a hedge of them yourself.
Tansy is a tough small/medium sized perennial plant that is useful for repelling fleas, flies and mosquitoes. Considered a compost accelerator, it's a good 'permie plant' to fulfill several uses in your garden. It is a clumping plant with soft, fern like foliage, it's tough, doesn't tend to be invasive, and thrives with a hard prune.
There are several different types of wormwood and other closely related plants. The soft foliage has a very pungent scent (many people find it unpleasant) which is said to repel flies and fleas. Used around chook pens, chickens will self medicate and pick at wormwood. Leaves strewn in their laying box will help with mites & lice (you could also try this around your garden where pets like to lie to ward off fleas). Wormwood is a perennial shrub which can cope with hard pruning to keep it in check - it can grow a couple of metres high and wide.
The beauty of trying these common plants to help keep the summer pests at bay is that most of us will have one or two of these plants already - so make use of what might be literally on your door step. If you have reasonable quantities of these herbs available, you can try the simple recipe below to extract the oils and make your own sprays:-
DIY Pest Repellent
Gather leaves and soft stems of your chosen herb - put in a saucepan with about an equal amount of water, and bring to the boil, covered to minimise evaporation. Once pan has been simmering a few minutes, remove from heat, keep covered and stand to cool for several hours, or even overnight. Strain. The liquid should be refrigerated and used within a couple of days. To make a spray last longer, mix an equal amount of either white vinegar, witch-hazel (available from many chemists) or (cheap) vodka with the water to act as a preservative. Put in a spray bottle and label it. If you haven't got room to grow your own herbs, look out for good quality essential oils of these (and other) herbs and use a few drops of oil mixed with water instead.
There are lots of recipes online to make your own repellent oils and creams - so if you find a herb that works well for you, this might be another step.
Give your garden plants a go to help repel summer insects naturally (and you may have found a useful, home made Christmas gift idea, too!).
It's MULCH time! We know many Green Lifers like to use pea straw mulch in their garden - so to help you get set for summer, this month our VIP's can buy pea straw bales for $16 each. Normally individual bales are $21, with 5 or more discounted to $18 each. In order to be fair, we'd like to limit this offer to 5 bales per person, and as always, anything over 5 bales ordered online will attract a bulk delivery fee (simply because large orders of straw bales fill up the truck, meaning we can't fit multiple orders on the run).
The offer is valid until the end of November 2019.
Online customers - log into the members section to purchase the bales at the discounted rate. (If you have difficulty logging in - please contact us.)
Photo Competition Winner
We LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing ALL the different types of gardens our customers are growing. Obviously, many of you really enjoy growing your own vegies (yay!) - but this month we've got something a little different to share with you.
Sharon T. from Tapping sent us in these photos of her more formal looking garden (although I can see she's got a Vegepod) - I'm sure you'd agree it looks very lush & healthy; and much loved. Sharon had this to say:
"This is our garden in Spring. We started with sand, grass and gravel when we bought the house. We dug out half a meter depth of rubbish for each and every garden bed and replaced with Green Life vegetable concentrate and Green Life soil concentrate. We are forever topping up with your products and home made compost. My beach sand is now beautiful rich organic loam loaded with worms."
Sharon has won a $50 voucher to spend with us - thanks Sharon!
Keep your photos coming in, Green Lifers! A winner is chosen every month. You can share photos via Facebook or by emailing them to us with 'photo competition' as the subject line, and don't forget to tell us a little bit about your garden and what it means to you.
Please support the local independent retailers who support us. They've got great local knowledge and are happy to help.
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.