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Wow, welcome to summer! Let's hope it is a kind one to our gardens!
In this newsletter, we've got some great Christmas gift ideas for you and more exciting news and developments @ GLSC.
While we're talking about Christmas Giving:-
Christmas Food Drop Point
This year, we have set up as a drop point for non-perishable food for the Salvo's Christmas appeal. Please bring packets/cans of non-perishable food (within date code please) and leave them at GLSC for collection by the Salvos. A little bit will go a long way to help make someone's Christmas a little bit brighter, if they're going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment.
GLSC is excited to say we are now members of B1G1 (Buy 1 Give 1). This is a worldwide foundation set up specifically for small businesses to combine resources and donate to projects all around the world, by regular giving and/or linking sales to donations. At Green Life, we want to be a positive influence on the world, so have decided that we will link online sales of our most popular bagged products to a B1G1 donation scheme. And to make it a bit more fun, we are involving our team. Every month, one of our team will be able to choose from one of the many worthwhile B1G1 projects to direct the donation towards. We will show on our website the progress of the giving scheme as it progresses. So THANK YOU to you - our customers - for helping make this happen, and for the impact you are having on the world. (If you happen to own a small business, I'd encourage you to look into B1G1, too.)
We will be closing for our Christmas break from 5.00pm Tuesday, 23rd December and re-opening 8.30am Friday, 2nd January.
The cut-off date for delivery of online orders to be received for pre-Christmas delivery is 8.30am Thursday, 18th December. (Any online orders received after that date/time may not be delivered until the week commencing 5th January.)
Experts in Store THIS WEEKEND - Come and get some free gardening advice!
Saturday, 13th December from about 10am - 12.30pm Nick Bell will be
IN STORE to help you with your Square Foot Garden & Lawn queries.
In this newsletter:
At this time of year the question is more 'what CAN'T you plant now'... Warm temperatures make germination a breeze, however you must be prepared to give lots of extra TLC to things that are heat sensitive or more prone to pest attack (eg. brassicas). Consider shadecloth and/or insect netting if you wish to grow healthy crops of kale over summer, for example.
Things to grow at this time of year include: asparagus (seeds), beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, carrots, celery, chilli, choko, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, kale, leeks, lettuce, potatoes, pumpkins, radish, rocket, rockmelon, rhubarb, silverbeet, snake beans, sweetcorn, sweet potato, tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini/squash. See our When to Plant free PDF download for more information.
Prepare your lawn now to make sure it is strong and healthy without excessive growth (all summer long, and compliant with Water Corporation Regulations) by close mowing, fertilising with Shades of Green Lawn Fertiliser Blend, and the application of Zeolite.
Remember - if you need lawn advice (new or existing lawns), Nick is available to do consultancy at your home! please contact Nick directly on 0413940 259 for more information.
One of the great things about having an organic garden (where you don't use 'icides') is you can have nature give you a helping hand in controlling some of your insect pests. It's all a question of balance - if you have aphids or caterpillars in plague proportions, then waiting for the good bugs to save your whole garden will be fruitless. But it isn't just pest control - insects are a vital part in the process of pollination of vegetables, fruit and herbs. One of the main reason fruit and vegetable crops are less productive than they could be is poor pollination. With pressure on the bee population (with a number of common 'icides' proven to be harmful to them) keeping flowering plants in your garden and in pots around your fruit trees makes good sense.
Flowering plants are also enjoyable to have dotted around from a purely aesthetic point of view - so if you're a vegetable purist; maybe it's time to put a little bit of colour in your garden! I have read an article referring to a US study suggesting 10 times more beneficial insects visit a flower filled garden. These include insects like ladybirds, beetles, hoverflies, lacewings, parasitic and predatory wasps, bees, praying mantis - as well as spiders, lizards, frogs and birds. Here are some useful plants to help encourage some of the good guys in your garden:-
Coriander - Many of us are tearing our hair out in summer that coriander wants to bolt to seed. Well, if it does disappoint you in the leaf picking area, then at least you know that the flowers it produces are highly attractive to a range of beneficial insects. Dill and Parsley are two other culinary herbs that - when in flower - are well loved by insects.
Borage - Related to comfrey, this is a hairy-leafed annual which grows to about 1m x 1m and is covered with bluey-purple edible star shaped flowers. The leaves are also edible; and can be finely chopped and added to salads and stews. Both leaves and flowers can be used for herbal tea. Borage likes reasonably fertile soil witih regular watering, and does best in a part sun position. It can grow in full sun but it tend to droop when thirsty and leaves will be smaller. The blue flowers are very attractive to bees.
Alyssum (or Sweet Alice) - This groundcover is usually grown as an annual, and is easily found as a flowering plant available in punnets in most nurseries. The tiny flowers are borne in clusters, and Alyssum flowers prolifically if given a bit of regular water and TLC. It can handle being trimmed back to keep it compact. The flowers attract bees and hoverflies.
Salvia - This is a huge family which contains the edible herb Sage as one of its members. Many are grown purely for their flowers, which come in a range of colours and are often grown as part of a cottage garden scheme. Their tall flower spikes are attractive to bees and small nectar eating birds.
Grevillea - If you only have space in your garden for one or two flowering plants - my choice would be Grevillea of some kind. There are many, many species to choose from (groundcovers to trees, and everything in between); but all tend to have flowers that are really attractive to nectar eating birds. Many of these birds are also insectivorous - so you can see the benefits of having these guys regularly visit your garden!
Some of your vegetables, if allowed to go to flower, are also good insect attractors eg; Carrots, brassicas, globe artichokes (pictured at the top of this article). Other useful flowers and herbs are: Marigold, Basil (we have found sacred basil is one the bees really love!), Clover, Lucerne, Rosemary, Cosmos, Statice, Heliotrope, Lavender, Zinnias, Queen Anne's Lace (pictured right), Bishop's Flower.
Remember it's all about the food chain. Encouraging insects will encourage other carnivorous insects and creatures that eat insects (including the ones that are a nuisance and chomping on your prized plants). Provide water and habitat for fauna in your garden (see our fact sheet on encouraging wildlife) and you will have a more vibrant, productive slice of nature in your back yard.
Who doesn't LOVE home grown tomatoes? The pinnacle of home grown veg; (yes, technically a fruit) is the source of pride for many gardeners when they get a bumper crop; and pain and angst when it's not such a great year.
To celebrate all things tomato - It's on again - The Green Life Soil Co Tomato Contest - bigger and better in 2015! Theo Kalogeracos from Little Caesars Pizzerias has once again kindly agreed to judge the tomato entries we receive.
Prizes will range from gardening goodies to pizza vouchers - plus there's the all important certificate with your name on it, together with all the associated bragging rights!
The 'rules' (such as they are) can be found on this link: Tomato Contest 2015 Entry is by gold coin donation which goes to the winner's registered charity of choice.
Tomatoes must be delivered to The Green Life Soil Co by 4.00pm on Saturday, 31st January to be eligible. Spread the word, and go give your tomato plants some love & encouragement. We hope you will be a part of it!
Remember to check our on-line Red Hot Members Only Specials - we have a number of products currently on sale leading up to Christmas, (sign in here!) including:
2015 Moon Planting Calendars
All available while stocks last!!! Remember all on-line orders must be received before 8.30am Thursday, 18th December for pre-Christmas delivery to be assured.
The exception is our electronic gift vouchers - extra PERFECT for last minute, these are delivered direct to the recipient's email address and you can add your own personal message.
Until next time - Have a Very Merry Christmas, and Happy Gardening!