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Hi There and welcome to our June 2013 e-newsletter!
Welcome to winter! With a good start to rainfall this May, and also some lovely sunny days it has been good weather to spend time in the garden.
Remember our quarterly photo contest will be drawn at the end of June; then the next quarterly one will start. So keep those photos of your lovely gardens rolling in! People find it very inspiring - and it is always good to see your wonderful ideas. I have included some of the photos in this newsletter for you to check out.
Photos can be uploaded to our Facebook page (don't forget to 'Like' us to be part of the FB family!) or e-mailed directly to firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't forget to let me know if there is anything you would like to see in future newsletters - and I hope you enjoy this one!
Pictured right: Tracey from Jarrahdale's highly organised garden. :-D
There is never a dull moment in the garden! There's always an excuse to get outdoors on those sunny winter days. It's time to look at:-
Pruning deciduous trees, shrubs, vines and fruit trees. Remember to disinfect your pruning equipment between each plant. Use a 1% household bleach solution, or wipe tools with tea tree oil.
Plant out bare rooted trees. (See our fact sheet on planting bare rooted fruit trees.)
Transplant any dormant trees, roses, etc. you wish to move.
Cut back autumn flowering perennials.
Keep on top of winter weeds. (See our fact sheet on weeds.)
There is still time to plant winter crops. Keep your garden productive over the winter months, and into spring. (See our when to sow guide.)
It's time now to plant asparagus and rhubarb crowns, and strawberry plants.
Watch for snails and slugs, and mildew as damper conditions start. Also keep an eye out for white cabbage moth caterpillars, scale and aphids. Control numbers before populations get out of hand. (See our natural pest and disease control fact sheet.)
Keep adding leaves and weeds to the compost. It could be an idea to cover piles now to prevent them getting waterlogged. Check, aerate and turn piles at least every two weeks to prevent them stagnating. More often is better still.
Monitor citrus trees for general health, and remember to water if we have extended dry conditions. Thin fruit if branches are too heavily laden, and remember to keep picking up fallen fruit as good hygene. See our fact sheet on caring for citrus.
What to plant now
There are a huge range of winter vegies and herbs which will grow well if planted out now.
It's still a great time for those winter vegies like spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, leeks, lettuce, asain greens, onions, potatoes, peas, snowpeas, beetroot, silverbeet, turnips,carrots, etc. It's time for asparagus and rhubarb crowns, too. Things may take a little longer over the cooler months, but you can still have a productive garden. Best of all, you might not even need to water it at all!
We still receive new seedling stock every week; with all stock being seasonally suitable to plant.
We still have Certified Organic seed potatoes in stock. In Perth, we have found potatoes can just about be grown year round, although winter is the traditional time.
**Newsflash - we currently have a surplus of seed potatoes, so are reducing price by 50% until we sell out** Available in 2kg bags ($5.00) or 20kg sacks for $35 They need to go in the ground - so get planting!!!
Remember our moon planting calendars have another 6 months of planting information; and we are clearing stock at $6.00 each.
Pictured right: Kim's manicured garden :-D
Garden Pests & Diseases
Every garden is affected at some time or another by insect pests and plant disease. Often, the two can be simultaneous. Weaker, sick plants can be more susceptible to pest attack, and sap sucking pests can be the vector for disease to be spread to healthy plant material.
To garden organically is to avoid 'icides'. Unless things get ridiculously out of hand, organic management is possible and definitely preferable in the natural scheme of things.
A friend of mine recently observed after having a termite treatment, and a subsequent 'free' spider treatment outside the house, the frog population deminished and didn't return for about two years. I don't know that frogs eat many eave-dwelling spiders, but there must certainly be knock on effects in the food chain - so think first before using treatments around your garden.
Healthy plants grown in season, and managed well, are going to have the best chance. Management can simply mean selecting the correct microclimate (more/less sun, avoiding over crowding, pruning to allow air circulation) and correct watering techniques.
Many fungal diseases are moisture related, and are therefore more prevalent in autumn/winter/spring when conditions are damp. Fungal spores are often spread by water splash. Overhead watering and insufficient air circulation around plants often exacerbate the problem. Opening up plantings, removing and destroying infected plant material and not saving seeds from infected plants are all ways to reduce the incidence of fungal problems.
Sometimes thinning your plantings and allowing more sun and air between plants will give you a better yield in the end, even from a lesser number of plants.
Crop rotation helps avoid diseases that affect certain plant families from thriving in the soil to re-infect the next crop. (See our fact sheet on crop rotation.)
Keep an eye on your garden. Often, if you act quickly to address pest or disease issues, you can minimise the damage. Pests take time to breed up numbers, so get to them before they have that opportunity. Strip affected leaves from a plant as soon as you notice a few spots.
Should you feel you need to use a treatment, start first with the most 'natural' option and increase to 'nuke-em' treatments only if necessary.
Remember most pest sprays are non-specific, so you may harm beneficial insects too. If using commercial pest or disease treatments, always read the label and use as directed, and at the correct application rates. Observe any withholding period before consuming fruit or vegetables if applicable. (This is the rate at which the chemials are deemed to breakdown and be 'safe' for human consumption.)
Can you live with a bit of damage to vegies and fruit? The answer is usually yes. Perfect produce we see in the shops comes with a heavy chemical price tag - it has often been sprayed several times to make sure it reaches you in pristine condition. If part of a vegetable or fruit in your garden has been attacked - inspect it. Cut it open. Of course don't eat anything squishy or rotten - but often 90% of the fruit is useable. Why waste it?
Work with nature and you will reap what you sow; and usually with less effort!
For some ideas on sprays and treatments you can make at home, see our fact sheet here.
Chooks in the City
In an exciting first for Perth, a friend of mine is developing a business to allow people to experiment with having a couple of chooks in their back yard. A rental/'try before you buy' option that comes with a chook house, two point of lay chickens, feed & support to allow you to see whether chooks will fit your lifestyle. If you've never had chickens before, and don't know what is involved in keeping them - this could be a terrific option for you!
If you're interested, or know someone who is - contact Hannah on 0433 899 970 for more details. Available to schools, daycare centres, aged homes, etc. too.
Hopefully in these damper weather conditions, if you go outside in the evening you just may hear the sounds of some of our native frog species.
Lots of people enjoy having a pond or water feature in their garden, and are also keen to provide a habitat for our native frogs. Having water in the garden is lovely, but what about mosquitoes? The answer is of course - fish. But the problem with most non-native fish is that they will eat frog eggs and young tadpoles - meaning frog numbers are never able to build up in your garden.
Did you know there are native fish species that have evolved alongside our native frogs, and co-exist quite happily?
There are two main species - Western Minnows and Western Pygmy Perch (shown above). We usually have stock of these fish available (although Western Minnows are no so commonly available, breeding less often, and being more wiley to catch).
Western Pygmy Perch are a small fish - growing to 6 - 6.5cms long when mature. Having evolved in creeks in the South West of WA, and surviving in our summers when many of these creeks are little more than muddy puddles, they are tolerant of less than perfect water quality, and don't need water to be circulated.
Quite a shy fish, they aren't showy and usually duck for cover when they see you approach - but they are excellent at mosquito control and providing the pond has plants, and has its own little ecosystem in place, don't require supplementary feeding. Although they can be fed extra fish food (if you have a more barren environment or are just starting up your pond). Deliberately allowing mosquitoes to produce larvae in a couple of containers around your yard is another easy and cheap way to provide food!
Pygmy Perch can live for about 5 years, and will breed at about 1 year of age. The breeding season is July to February, and at this time the fish change colour - males delveloping black fins and orange stripes along their side, and females developing a bluish tinge along their upper sides. Mature females are slightly larger then the males. A breeding group of at least six is recommended. This quantity of fish would be fine for a pond approximately the size of a bathtub.
We obtain our stock from a licensed breeder. It is illegal to take native fish from the wild - and in most cases the small fish you find in lakes around the city are actually Gambesi - an introduced fish that has adapted very well to our waterways and breeds up rapidly - but unfortunately has been shown to be less efficient at mosquito control than the native species.
For more information about frog gardens, see our fact sheet on Wildlife Gardens. Also our Native Fish page. Also the Frogwatch website has great information about the tadpole exchange program, local frog species and recordings of their calls to help you identify them.
Productive Gardens in Small Spaces
Now that many of us are living on smaller properties, with smaller yards, there is a growing movement to educate people about producing food in small spaces.
And it CAN be done. No matter how small your yard, courtyard - or even balcony is - you can apply some permaculture principles and produce something.
Gardening in pots, vegie grow bags, hanging baskets and many other recycled and creative planters is all possible.
If you have a limited amount of room, think about what kind of foods do you like to eat. Do you cook lots? Maybe a range of herbs would suit you - so you can throw a handful of fresh parsley, basil, coriander, chives, orgegano - etc into your meals. Although some are seasonal annuals, herbs tend to grow quickly, and very well in pots.
Do you eat a lot of salads? Leafy greens like lettuce, mizuna, mibuna, spinach, rocket, tatsoi all have tight growth habits and can easily be grown in containers.
Vegetables like silverbeet, bush beans, snow peas, capsicum, tomatoes, eggplant also can be grown in pots.
Even a range of dwarf fruit trees - apples, nectarines, citrus, fig - and many more - are suitable for growing in large pots or half wine barrels on a patio or courtyard. Also things like strawberries, rhubarb and blueberries are perfect for container growing!
Sprawling plants like pumpkins and cucumbers may present a bit of a challenge, but if you have vertical space, they can be trained to grow upwards on a climbing frame or trellis.
The larger the plant; generally the deeper the pot you should use. Most plants will do well in a pot at least 30cm deep. Keep small pots for seed raising or for small, individual herbs (chives or parsley for example). Often a larger pot, planted with two or three plants will do better than using individual small pots. Just remember to check our companion planting chart for compatability!
There are positives to growing in planters, including:
Portability. If you need to move house, the garden can be moved too. Nice to know you're not leaving all your hard work behind for someone else to enjoy!
Take advantage of the seasons. Pots can easily be moved around to take advange of more sun (in winter) or shade (in summer). A larger garden bed can't be so flexible!
Soil certainty. If you use containers, it is easy to bring in Certified Organic potting mix to plant into. There are no considerations of long term residual pesticides in the soil to worry about.
Water. Sure, containers can dry out quickly in summer - but with a little planning, mulch and soil prepararation this can be minimised. And a small, compact area with your containers will overall have a lower water use than a 'normal' garden.
Root competition. Invasive roots are a common problem in vegie gardens. Trees, shrubs, etc. will send roots many metres looking for that regular moisture and good nutrition that you lovingly provide your vegie patch. Keeping things out of the ground in pots avoids this completely.
Proximity. In a small yard pots are often right on the patio or verandah and literally under your nose. This allows you to give them a quick once-over every day on your way in or out; meaning you can react quickly to obvious signs of pest attack, disease or even wilting in heat. Keep the watering can handy and maintenance takes literally minutes of your time.
The golden rule is to use a good quality potting medium, designed for container growing. It needs to be balanced for drainage and aeration, and provide good nutrition. Remember that in a container the plants can only obtain nutrients from what we put in that container with them. In time, you will need to add extra fertiliser or replenish the potting medium, as the plant will be using up available nutrients and providing them to you in your harvest.
Square Foot Gardening
Have you heard of 'Square Foot Gardening' or 'Square Metre Gardening'? It's a simple, easy to use system of producing food in a grid. The beauty of it is that there are guides to help you know how many to plant, and work out how much yield your family may wish to harvest.
Nick Bell had a great display at Garden Week this year. We're working with Nick to bring you a display garden at GLSC and 'how to' information about this method of productive gardening in small spaces.
We will send out further details in a special newsletter once plans are formalised! - Watch this space :-D
ONLINE SHOP NEWS
You wanted it - you got it!!! Green Life Soil Co online shop has brought back FREE delivery! Now, all orders over $200 are delivered FREE. And orders between $100 - $200 are only $15. AND (if that wasn't enough) we have introduced a loyalty program which means if you buy from us regularly you will always receive FREE delivery for any order over $100.
GARDEN GOODIES - an exclusive offerfor our newsletter readers!
Exclusively to our newsletter readers, we are offering 5L of fish hydrolysate for $20
(normally $28). This will make 500L of quality liquid feed for your garden.
Fish hydrolysate is a concentrated fertiliser product, made from the waste material of the South Australian tuna industry. It still contains oils (unlike fish emulsion, which has gone through a process to remove the valuable fish oil) and is a richer food for soil microbes and beneficial fungi. It also contains selenium, and is Certified Organic with NASAA.
It is a very thick liquid - in winter we have found it best to dilute with warm water, then top up your watering can as normal. You can add a small amount of kelp powder the the mix, if so desired, to add a range of other elements.
You will find fish hydrolysate a great liquid feed for your winter vegies.
Online customers can use the code 'FISHY' to receive the same deal.
Limit of 1 per customer, valid to close of business Monday, 15th July 2013.
So until next time – have a great time this Winter in the garden! Have fun, and Let’s get dirty!
(Don't forget - we'd love your feedback on this newsletter! Please contact us with your comments!)