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Hello & welcome to SPRING! We're enjoying some gorgeous weather, and all the rain has certainly made things GROW! If you have a chance to check out wildflowers this year - I believe it's a spectacular season out there. I certainly know our weeds are exceptional at home... [if only there was a way to capitalise on tourism to view them!]
It's great to see so many lovely customers again - it seems so many have been hibernating over winter. We do get very busy some days so we appreciate your patience if you visit us & there's a little wait time for service or product. With the long weekend coming up at the end of the month, we'll be busy - so if you're wanting a delivery to get your garden projects underway, please plan ahead to avoid missing out! We will be open over the long weekend as follows:
Saturday 25th September- 8.30am - 4.00pm
Spring is the perfect time to get planting. We've got loads of heritage seeds for your summer crops, still some rhubarb & asparagus crowns (be quick!), and there's more seedlings starting to trickle through. They take a while to get going in early spring because the weather (especially nights) are cool - so please be a little patient. None of our vegies are forced on heat beds; so it means they're grown with the seasons and hardened off - which means you're starting with a stronger seedling than those forced and grown in hothouse conditions, which sometimes struggle in the 'real world' of your garden bed.
More Foodcubes are on their way to us too - and we'd like to introduce the brand new Foodcube Slim. So if you're been looking at a wicking bed for a smaller space, these could be a great option for you. Manufactured in Melbourne from food grade recycled plastic, they're well made and will last a very long time. Come in soon (stock expected mid September) and check them out! External measurements: 1150mm (L) x 665mm (W) x 500mm (D)
What do you think of our new-look website? Hopefully it's a little more user friendly... there'll be some more changes in the coming weeks/months - if you notice anything odd on the site (or something not working as it should) - please let us know. For those who are signed up VIP members, you will need to re-set your password to gain access to the members only section. The website platform has moved to a new system - and passwords (being secure) are unable to be accessed and copied.
Do you Youtube? Did you know GLSC has it's own channel? We've recently snuck on a few new videos... pop on over and check them out. There's more to be uploaded soon - so check us out every now and again. (One of the new ones is "4 tips for starting a new garden bed" - so it's perfect timing for spring!) Here's the link to check out all the videos. https://www.youtube.com/c/GreenlifesoilAu
We hope there's lots of inspiration in this newsletter, on our website generally (have a really good look through the 'Learn' tab), and in the Youtube content. Feel free to come out and see us for more advice (and the best soil in town!)
Until next time,
Linda and the Team @ The Green Life Soil Co
IN THIS NEWSLETTER:
Jobs to do in the September garden
JOBS TO DO IN THE SEPTEMBER GARDEN
WHAT TO PLANT NOW
It's SPRING - so there are soooooo many things that you can plant at the moment! The trick is always timing - the weather will still be unpredictable for a while, with (hopefully) some rainy days & cool nights... If you're growing from seed, remember temperature of the SOIL is key - so it is still quite early to be planting out many summer crops. If you're wanting to grow from seed, I'd recommend planting out in trays or punnets at the moment - so you can move them around and molly-coddle them. Start off a few seeds every couple of weeks (rather than planting out a whole packet at once!) - that way you hedge your bets and will jag the right time eventually.
Each week now we'll have more varieties becoming available in our seedling range - so if you're time poor, this may be the best option for you. Here's some ideas as to what you can plant now (remember to see our FREE downloadable guides on our website - click here!) https://greenlifesoil.com.au/free-downloads/When-to-Sow-in-Perth.pdf
Asparagus, Artichokes Jerusalem and Globe, Asian greens, Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli*, Cabbage*, Capsicum, Chilli, Carrots, Celery, Chives, Corn, Cucumber, Dill, Eggplant, Fennel, Kale*, Lettuce, Onion, Parsnip, Peas, Potato, Pumpkin, Radish, Rhubarb, Rocket, Silverbeet, Snow pea, Spring onion, Strawberries, Sweet corn, Tomato, Turnip, Zucchini.
* Brassicas will grow in Perth into Spring/Summer, provided conditions are suitable. Be aware increased pest pressure over the warmer months is likely; are you prepared to net your vegies or deal with cabbage butterflies, for example?
Start spring seeds off in a good quality seed raising mix (like our Certified Organic one!). It's fine to re-use recycled pots and punnets. Ideally, soak them in warm water with a dash of household bleach, give them a good scrub to remove any dirt, and allow them to dry in the sun. Keep your sown seeds in a warm spot, making sure the soil's surface doesn't dry out completely.
We've got a free fact sheet on growing from seed - so check it out for more tips & tricks for success. Like it? Share it!
SOIL - THE RISKS OF LEGIONELLA
On social media, from time to time you may see posts about someone who has been ill from Legionaire's disease. Unfortunately, although rare, there have also been deaths. If you've ever been curious about it (and most importantly, want to know how to lower your risk) then read on!
What is Legionnaire's disease
It's actually a type of pneumonia caused by a bacteria. There are two strains which can be identified by testing.
Legionella pneumophophila can be found in warm, stagnant water. Some air conditioning systems, spray mist cooling systems, spas, hot water systems, fountains, and water sitting in the garden hose can be potential sources.
Legionella longbeachae is the other strain most of concern to gardeners. It is found in soil (maybe already in your garden!) and is potentially in any purchased compost, soil or mulch product.
The bacteria can enter your body through inhalation of contaminated water vapours or dust.
Legionnaire's disease symptoms start with flu like indications (fever, headache, muscle ache, cough) usually 2-10 days after exposure. It can progress to chest pain, high fever and difficulty breathing. If left untreated, it may lead to kidney failure and death.
People most at risk are those middle aged to elderly, smokers, those with pre-existing lung conditions or a suppressed immune systems.
Prevention of the disease can be achieved through limiting exposure, through:
The good news is that Legionnaires disease is quite rare, and we can take precautions to minimise our risk. When you consider the benefits of gardening to our body and spirit, I'd say the benefits outweigh the risks. If you ever feel unwell, seek medical attention and if you've been gardening; mention it to the Doctor.
One more thing!
It's not all bad news - there's another specific soil bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, which triggers the release of serotonin in our brain according to research. Serotonin is a happy chemical, a natural anti-depressant and strengthens the immune system. So, while there's risk - there's also reward!
Botanical Name: Sambucus Nigra, Sambucus canadensis, Sambucus racemose (note: Sambucus Nigra is the commonly available variety in nurseries)
Energetics: Bitter, slightly sweet, dry, and cooling
The berries, leaves, bark and flowers are used as medicine. Caution - It's important to use a trusted preparation of elder because raw or unripe fruit, as well as the leaves, seeds, and bark, contain a chemical related to cyanide, which is poisonous.
While there are many medicinal uses of Elderflower, perhaps the most widely recognised today is for cold and flu relief. Elderberries are very high in antioxidants, anti viral agents and Vitamin C.
Commercially, it's used as a flavoring and in perfumery.
The Sambucus nigra (Black Elder) plant is one of a number of Elder species that are closely related. Native to Europe and North America, it prefers shady, moist conditions but has adapted well to being cultivated almost everywhere - including Perth!
Elder "trees" can be grown like a shrub; they'll get to at least 4m in height, and with a similar spread - but can be trimmed to keep shape. As they do sucker, and they're multi-stemmed, it may be appropriate to use a root barrier or to keep in a large pot. Definitely not something you'd plant in a small mixed vegie bed - it needs some space. While it can be trimmed, remember that heavy pruning will affect flowering & fruiting.
Elder is grown for its abundant creamy-white, sweetly scented flowers in summer. The individual flowers are tiny, but are formed in large clusters (umbels), so they're very showy. The flowers are followed by dark purple/black berries. Both flowers and ripe berries can be used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Syrup, cordial, wine, etc. are popular recipes to try. Other parts of the plant (leaves and bark) also have medicinal qualities - but be warned. These (and unripe berries) are highly toxic, so do teach your kids not to pick and eat any parts of the plant.
Elder tree tolerates relatively poor soil conditions but will do much better in improved soil, and with regular watering over summer. It likes sun or partial shade, although it produces less fruit in shady areas. They are frost tolerant, and deciduous. Fast growing, they make an excellent screening plant, but they'll take a few years until they're mature enough to flower and fruit. The leaves are delicate and quite attractive (dark green and compound); they turn yellow before leaf fall providing some lovely autumn/winter colour.
They have a shallow root system which can be easily damaged by digging around the plants.
Elderberry plants can be tip pruned regularly to keep bushy, or prune back up to a third every year after fruiting. Fertlise with a slow release fertiliser after pruning, and another light feed in spring and that's about all the maintenance they generally need. Keep well mulched in summer to protect the roots and preserve moisture in the soil.
Propagation can be either through seeds, suckers, or root divisions. If you are growing from seed, seeds must be soaked and stratified to ensure germination.
You can take cuttings that include at least three nodes in early spring. They are usually rooted and ready for transplanting in a couple of months. If you are propagating by suckers or root division, this can also be done just as the weather warms up in spring.
Harvest the flowers on a dry and sunny day by clipping off the entire umbel. Pick them when they are in full bloom but before any begin to turn brown. Gather in a metal pot rather than a bag to preserve as much of the scented, yeast filled pollen as possible. The flowers open from the outside to the inside, so when harvesting, take the ones that are fully open in the centre, remembering that the more flowers you remove, the fewer berries you will have later in the summer. Avoid harvesting flowers after a storm or when they are wet, because they will turn dark when dried. (They should remain creamy colour.)
Berries – Pick in late summer, when ripe, juicy, soft to the touch and the whole cluster head is purple.
Elder Trees in folklore
The elder tree is enshrined in mystery and lore. It is a truly magically associated plant with a lot of medicinal uses. The elder has been used traditionally for hundreds if not thousands of years and is has always been held in high esteem by those who know of its power. Many European people throughout history believed that this tree was inhabited by the 'Elder Mo'er' or mother. She was considered the spirit of the tree that provided much useful medicine and food and so needed respect - cutting branches was considered bad luck.
It's "The witches tree" - it is said that a witch can turn herself into an elder tree, and its wood (collected from fallen branches so as not to harm the tree) is used for the making of magic wands. In Ireland witches rode elder sticks, not broomsticks. Welsh housewives made stenciled patterns of elder leaves on newly washed and whitened kitchen floors to keep witches away. One belief from Germany said that if you fell asleep under an elder, you’d never wake up. An Old Danish belief was that elder trees could move. (Apparently, they would peek into your windows during the night. That would be spooky!)
Thanks to Leesa Caldwell (pictured right) from Oak Tree Herbal Clinic for content for this article. If you're interested in knowing more about Elderberries, or looking for medicinal herbal products, contact Leesa via her website (link below).She also runs a number of online workshops - one of which is the Folklore Herbal Study Group. Here's her information:
"If you would like to learn more about herbs you might be interested in our “Herbal Folklore Study Group”. Each month we look one specific herb. Throughout each month you will receive weekly emails stating how each herb can be used (for example the medicinal uses, culinary uses, and topical uses). Each week you will also be given recipes to try and different types of herbal preparations to use for a range of common ailments." To find out more or to sign up visit: https://oaktreeherbalclinic.com.au/collections/workshops/products/herbal-folklore-study-group-6-months
Making Elderflower Syrup
After collecting the flowers (as per Leesa's method above), shake to remove any insects (you can wash - but this dislodges the pollen, which improves the flavour). Carefully pick off the flowers - you want to have minimal stems in the batch. Place in a large glass jar and cover with water. Leave for 24-48 hours to steep.
Strain off the flowers, reserving the water. (Flowers can be composted; or drop one or two into drinks/desserts for decoration).
Use the syrup as a flavouring/topping for icecream/yoghurt, desserts, pancakes, add to soda water (with or without vodka!), add to cakes, or herbal teas.
PHOTO COMPETITION WINNER
Congrats to Shannon Murphy from Morley who has sent me in photos a few times now - her persistence has paid off this month, as she's the winner of a $50 store credit to spend with us. Shannon planted a wide range of herbs & vegies in July, and is now rewarded with a lovely harvest. She sent in this note with her photo:
"Picked a bumper crop of vegies tonight. Beetroot, ruby/garnet mustard greens, kale, endive, mizuna, cos and bronze mignonette type lettuce, peas and a few tiny carrots. Super happy with my garden."
Thanks Shannon for sending in your photos.
VIP SPECIAL OFFER
Spring is here and it's time to propagate! So as a VIP we're offering you a FREE bag of our Certified Organic Seed Raising Mix (or - choose from our range of soils & soil improvers) with any purchase over $70. Just remember to ask our staff when you're making your purchase (or ordering over the phone).
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. (Pictured right is Paul delivering our new Indoor Potting Mix to Guilford Town Garden Centre.)
Beaufort Garden World - Inglewood 9271 0585
Ardess Nursery (Albany) 9842 9952
Until next time - Happy Gardening!