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Hi There and welcome to our September 2013
Don't the seasons roll around
quickly? Here we are again - Spring is here!
It's a fantastic time of year to be in the
garden. I hope you enjoy this newsletter. As
always, your feedback is welcome.
Don't forget to send in your garden pics
to be part of our quarterly draw for a trailer load of
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!
Keep your eyes out for "Homegrown" Magazine at your news stand
now. This is a new, quarterly sustainable living magazine
and yours truly has been asked to be a regular
contributor! :-D Click here for a sneak
This is a very busy time in the garden - lots to do before
summer & lots to grow and enjoy! -
Keep on top of winter weeds. Whippersnip before
flowering to ensure the seeds do't spread. (See our
fact sheet on weeds.)
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.)
It's time to feed plants - they will be putting on
Spring growth so it's time to feed up the soil.
Incorporate aged compost and well rotted manure, together
with rock dust to provide minerals.
What to plant now
This is a really exciting time if you love to grow your own
still time to enjoy another crop of spinach, kale, celery,
lettuce, asian greens, onions, potatoes, snowpeas, beetroot,
silverbeet, carrots, etc.
It's time for asparagus and rhubarb crowns, too. We
have stock of rhubarb now available (sorrry asparagus sold out
but we can tell you where you CAN get some!). Both are
perennial plants well deserving of a spot in your garden.
Asparagus ideally do need a bit of room, but rhubarb can be
kept in a pot quite happily.
Your spring/summer vegies like tomatoes, capsicum, chilli,
cucumbers, eggplant, beans can all be started off if you choose
to propagate from seed. It's best to do early plantings
in trays so you can control their environment (ie. make
temporary greenhouse shelters, or move around to get more
sunlight and warmth, etc) if required.
We recently received an order of over 600 packs of Eden
Seeds, so there's bound to be something you would like to grow
this year available! (Yes, even corn seed!)
We are receiving new seedling stock every week; with all
stock being seasonally suitable to plant. (Each week as
the season progresses, more varieties will be coming in.)
bookmark our 'When to Sow' guide for an easy
to follow, month by month planting chart.
White Butterfly and Cabbage Moth
Cabbage White Butterfly, Pieris rapae,
is a common pest in our gardens at this time of year. The
adult white female is seen fluttering around your vegies,
looking for a place to lay her eggs (usually on the underside
of leaves). The eggs hatch into green caterpillars, which
grow rapidly as they munch their way through your maturing
brassicas. They pupate either under outer leaves, or
often in a sheltered spot nearby (eg. a fence, or garden
edging). Their life cycle takes about a month.
Adults can be found drinking nectar from flowers - they are
attracted to yellow and blue flowers in particular.
These butterflies are originally from Europe but are now
common throughout most of the world; being first reported in
Australia in the 1930's.
The caterpillars are often found on the underside of leaves,
along the leaf veins. Green and plump, growing to up to
3cms long. The are extremely well camouflaged - often the
best hint of where to find them is the large black droppings,
known as "frass" giving away their position.
Did you know that the Cabbage Moth is an altogether
different pest of your brassicas?
Yes - great news. There are LOTS of beasties after
The Cabbage MOTH, Plutella xylostella, is much
smaller - only about a centimetre long, and is a rather
non-descript greyish/brown colour. It is active at dusk -
(being a moth) not during the day. As you would expect,
their caterpillars are much smaller - only growing to about
12mm, and if disturbed often drop from leaves attached to a
silken thread. They pupate in cocoons they build under
Caterpillars of both moth & butterfly will start off in
the outer leaves, and work their way towards the heart of the
plant. Keeping an eye on your crops, and picking
caterpillars off by hand is easier to do when the little
beasties are on the outside leaves.
If you have chooks, feed the caterpillars to them - they
will thank you for it!
Fortunately, the caterpillars do have natural predators
(like wasps) - so where possible avoid broad spectrum
pesticides which will wipe out everything - good and bad - in
Small birds also play a part in insect control; so encourage
them with some native shrubs around your yard.
Other methods of control include:
For butterflies - attacking them with a tennis raquet.
A good way to practise your hand/eye co-ordination and get some
exercise! A squirty bottle with water and soap will work
to bring them down (they can't fly with wet wings) and they can
It is also thought that females are not keen on
laying eggs where lots of other butterflies already have - so
make a simple mobile from bits of white plastic (I've used
bread bag tags here hung from fishing line on an old wire
coathanger). This tricks them into going somewhere
Another method is to invert eggshell halves over sticks
around your brassicas... They look a little like cabbage
Netting is a very effective way to keep both moths &
butterflies (and most other pests) off your crops. Use
some stakes to put the netting over, and weigh it down on the
ground with rocks or stones. Old net curtains from the op
shop work well, or you can buy specialised insect
netting. Just remember though if you are looking to save
seed you will need to allow a pollinator inside to get to
Garlic sprays are helpful against chewing insects like
caterpillars, but require frequent applications to be
effective. DE is worth considering, but can also harm
The other option is Dipel - a product containing a bacteria
ONLY effective against caterpillars. You mix the powder
with water, and spray on your plants. It is safe for
humans, mammals and beneficial insects. Once ingested,
the bacteria will kill the caterpillar in 3-5 days.
Another caterpillar often seen around in winter are the
black 'fuzzy-wuzzy' caterpillars. These are NOT spitfires
(which solely feed on eucalypts and are found in clusters) but
the larvae of the small, native 'Tiger Moth'. So where
possible - try not to decimate these characters. Allow a
sacrificial plant to feed them if you can!
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. with an option
for on-going maintenance to take care of cleaning, etc.
And speaking about chooks - GLSC now has Biodynamic Chook
Feed available on our online
shop! 20kg bag is $39.50. Definitely no
Lawn Care in
Lawn is sometimes seen as not being environmentally
friendly. While the image of a water guzzling lawn in
certainly not a good thing, a certain amount of practical lawn
adds appeal to your home and can have some suprising other
Did you know that on a hot summer day natural turf is
50oC cooler than artificial turf, 30oC cooler than ashphalt and
15oC cooler than bare earth? And that the front lawns of
eight houses have the cooling effect of 70 tons of air
conditionioning? (The average home has an a/c of 3-4 ton
capacity)* So having some green around your home
certainly has it's benefits! Natural turf will last a
lifetime if correctly looked after - artificial turn requires
replacing every 7-10 years and - made from plastic - is an oil
based product and not biodegradable.
So if you have just the right amount of lawn and look after
it, there are certainly environmental benefits. Spring is
the perfect time to give your lawn a little TLC and get it in
the best shape possible to survive the coming summer
Top dress with a fine layer of compost, or our specially
made top dress mix, and water in well. Our top dress mix
contains important minerals like Zeolite, Bentonite and Rock
Dust which provides trace elements and helps to build healthy
The advantage of using a compost based product is it works
to improve the soil structure rather than simply supplying
nutrients in a quick release, soluable form. By improving
soil structure you encourage deeper root growth which helps
your lawn be more drought tolerant.
Maintain strong healthy turf by spraying with liquid
fertiliser that contains seaweed, fish, organic compounds and
amino acids at four week intervals from October to March.
You can make your own compost tea, or look for one of several
brands of these low analysis fertilisers commercially
available. Always follow the instructions and never use
at a greater dilution rate than advised.
Encouraging strong growth also out competes weeds, which
should be monitored and removed regularly. Either
remove by hand or use a low toxicity treatment (there are now
several on the market) rather than a glysophate product.
Buffalo and Zoysia lawns are best maintained at a height of
20-25mm, and Couch; Kikuyu, Velvetene and Queensland Blue
should be kept at a height of 10 to 15mm. No more than one
third of the foliage should ever be removed when the lawns are
mowed, so they need to be cut whenever necessary to maintain
the specified heights.
Sharp, correctly set cylinder and rotary mowers are
essential to prevent tearing the blades of grass that encourage
penetration by insect pest and fungal disease spores.
Modern hand push reel mowers that cut all types of lawns
superbly and are easy to operate in confined spaces are now
available. Easy to use and practical - save money and
fuel, no noise to upset the neighbours, and you get some
Clippings are mostly water, decompose rapidly, re-cycle
nutrients that stimulate microbial activity and increase the
organic content of the soil. Normally we'd recommend you
leave them on the grass, but if you MUST remove them, use them
to make some good compost! They are a useful resource in
And lastly - think about how much lawn you really
NEED. They are lovely to have for relaxing and
entertaining, and provide a great play area for kids and pets -
but if it is a larger area than you need, consider turning some
of it into a low maintenence garden area. Or even a vegie
patch.... (Now, there's an idea!!!)
( * Source of data: Turf Australia)
Thanks also to Nick Bell for Turf Information.
What is it?
Mel Bartholomew is the ‘founder’
of Square Foot Garden – a concept that he launched in
1981. He has published books and made TV shows in the US
of the method. Square Foot Gardening (SFG) has now become
popular around the world, for a number of reasons.
SFG is basically an intensive, shallow, raised bed
system. Growing in a mixture high in nutrients and
organic matter. A small system obviously doesn’t take up
much room in a small yard, and watering can be efficient and
overall water use reduced – another benefit.
The ideal SFG is a square bed 4ft x 4ft (1.2m x 1.2m)
divided up into a grid with 16 smaller squares within.
The concept is to devote one ‘square’ to a particular type of
plant. How many plants you put into that ‘square’ depends
on the ultimate size of the plant. Larger plants (ie.
Tomato, basil) you would only plant one in the centre of a
square. Smaller plants, (ie. Strawberry, lettuce) – 4 per
square. Even smaller plants (ie. Spinach) maybe 9 per
square, and smaller again (ie. Radish, onion) maybe 16 per
The idea is to have the grid clearly visible and dividing
the larger bed. Because the overall size of the larger
bed is only 1.2m, it is easily reached from all sides, so you
don’t need to step onto the bed or compact the soil.
Tending and harvesting is not difficult. Smaller beds are
also easier to work with if you need to provide shadecloth or
frost protection; depending on the seasons.
Because many crops are grown close together, the benefits of
companion planting come into play – pests can get confused with
the range of plants on offer!
What are the details of a SFG?
It is recommended that the grid box be laid on top of
existing soil or lawn with weed mat underneath, and filled with
‘Mel’s mix’ – his researched blend of 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat
moss and 1/3 vermiculite. Our own experimentation
has shown our Certified Organic Potting Mix to work well
also. (note – we don’t use peat moss due to it being
unsustainably sourced – but our potting mix contains bioactive
cocopeat; which serves a very similar purpose.)
The depth of soil is only required to be about 20cms – so
there are also savings over a conventional garden bed as less
soil is required. Because the mix is a highly fertile and
water holding mix, a depth of 20cms (usually considered too
shallow) will work. However, for crops like potatoes or
carrots, a topper box to sit on top of the original square to
provide additional depth is certainly recommended.
At harvest time, in SFG, the crop is removed – often cut at
the base to allow roots to decompose within the mix – and a
fresh seed or seedling planted in the same spot,, with a trowel
full of new soil.
Within the system, planting guides and recommendations for
things like crop rotation have been published, so it makes it
easy for a new gardener to have relative success and avoid
pitfalls of overcrowding.
Spreading plants like pumpkins and cucumbers are grown
vertically, using a trellis system – again saving space.
LAYOUT – Arrange your garden in squares, not rows. Lay
it out in 4′x4′ planting areas.
BOXES - Build boxes to hold a new soil mix above
AISLES – Space boxes 3′ apart to form walking
MEL’S MIX – Fill boxes with Mel’s special soil mix: 1/3
blended compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 coarse
GRID – Make a permanent square foot grid for the top of
each box. A MUST!
CARE – NEVER WALK ON YOUR GROWING SOIL. Tend your
garden from the aisles.
SELECT - Plant a different flower, vegetable, or herb
crop in each square foot, using 1, 4, 9, or 16 plants per
PLANT – Conserve seeds. Plant only a pinch (2 or 3
seeds) per hole. Place transplants in a slight
WATER - Water by hand from a bucket of sun-warmed
HARVEST – When you finish harvesting a square foot, add
compost and replant it with a new and different crop.
At GLSC we are soon to be setting up a display SFG, at a
special workshop/presentation by qualified SFG instructor and
horticulturalist Nick Bell.
We will be selling kits for SFG made from eWood – a 100%
recycled, food grade product made from recycled computer and
car plastic parts – a complete ‘close the loop’ Australian
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.
In the recent July school holidays, we ran a colouring in
competition for kids promoted via our Facebook page.
(Don't forget to 'like' us on FB to stay in touch!)
We got some lovely entries, and were happy to award 10
prizes of kids' mini-garden packs (a vegie grow bag, our
certified organic potting mix, and a punnet of seedlings or a
packet of seeds.)
Here are two of our winners - Sasha and Mason -
thanks to Mum for sending in the photo.
It's great to see the future generation of gardeners coming
GARDEN GOODIES - an exclusive offerfor our newsletter readers!
If you are looking to top up your garden beds for
Spring, or are building a new bed completely - you will be
needing some soil and/or soil improver to get the best results
from your garden.
So for a limited time we are giving you a discounted rate on
soils - either for bulk delivery or picked up from our
Mention the newsletter offer to receive the BULK rate for
your soil, concentrate or bulk product (manure, compost,
mulch). So even if you only need half a trailer load, you
can buy it for the same price normally given for over 5 cubic
Offer is valid once per household up until close of business
Sunday, 22nd September. If booking a bulk delivery -
please ask for it at the time of ordering.
So until next time – have a great time
this Spring in the garden! Have fun, and Let’s get
(Don't forget - we'd love your
feedback on this newsletter! Please contact us with