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Hello & Happy New Year!
I hope your gardens are surviving as we are now into the height of summer here in Perth. I know our garden struggles with lack of water (we don't have scheme water and are pretty miserly with the bore) but mulching heavily and using overhead shadecloth keep things going until cooler temperatures return. We are harvesting some greens, tomatoes & zucchini, and will have cucumbers coming along really soon. Unfortunately our corn and melons were a bit neglected during their early growth phase so I am not expecting great things from them this year...
Gardening is always a learning experience, and it differs with conditions from year to year - I guess that's what makes it part of the fun!
And in some other news - our own blend of Seed Raising Mix has just been awarded NASAA Organic Certification; the first commercial seed raising mix in Australia to achieve this! So when you're ready to get your seeds going for Autumn crops, do give some a try; we know you'll love it!
In this newsletter:Jobs to do in the garden right now
What to plant
Tomato Contest 2015
Water & Your Lawn in Summer
Super Summer Deal on Pea Straw
Always choose white or light coloured shadecloth in preference to green, black, blue or red. The darker colours affect the way light is received by the plants, and will have a detrimental effect on plant growth.
Anything you are planting out now (seeds or seedlings) is going to need some extra TLC to succeed. But with enough attention and water, things will grow quickly with the warmth. Some ideas to try are:
It's probably getting to the last chance to grow some of these summer crops (although of course it depends on when Autumn comes!), so get cracking. Growing from seedlings will give you a head start.
2015 Moon Planting Calendars are now in stock, so grab one of these to help you plan the best time for your gardening jobs this year.
We have some great advanced Chilli plants in stock right now, so come and grab some bargains! (Some of them are in the photo right here.)
Cost is a gold coin donation to enter; and you will need to complete a form (or you print it out in advance; it’s available online in the link here)
Tomatoes will be judged anonymously by our celebrity judge, Theo Kalogeracos (pictured above). Theo is the owner of Little Caesars Pizzeria, and has won national and international awards for his creative pizzas. He is renowned for using only the best local produce on his pizzas, and we discovered last year that his grandfather was a commercial tomato grower; so he knows a good tomato when he sees one!
There will be prizes of gardening vouchers, pizza vouchers, books - and certificates for the prize winners. Depending on the entries received, we will award prizes for top tasting, biggest, smallest, most unusual - or anything else we believe is worthy of special mention!
It’s always a bit of fun, so we hope you will enter. As they say “you’ve got to be in it to win it” - so get those tomatoes flourishing, and bring them in to us for the contest! (See 'rules' and full details here - click on this link.)
We are dedicated to continually improving our soils so that you get the best results in your garden and the best value for money.
Paul would be happy to share what he’s learnt with you, and we hope to soon offer a service to analyse your soil for microbial activity - watch this space!
You may know that Nick Bell is working with us to provide a consultancy service for Square Foot Gardens and Lawns. He has been busy over recent weeks responding to cries for help from many people who are finding their lawns are not doing well at the moment.Nick is available to come and check out your lawn, and provide a personalised report - see this link for more information.
Nick is finding that many problems are originating from lack of sufficient water - here are his tips on how to make sure your lawn receives adequate moisture in summer and remains healthy.
Lawn Health in Summer - by Nick Bell, Advanced Diploma Horticulture-Turf.
When lawns are suffering from heat stress they draw moisture from the leaf. The turf loses turgidity (ie. wilts), the colour turns blue/brown, foot prints are left when the lawn is walked on, and the grass blades are scorched. In most cases however the lawn is not dead and will recover from stolons and rhizomes which are underground after adequate watering.
From the beginning of December until the end of February hand-watering or watering with portable above-ground sprinklers is often needed to supplement Water Corporation allocations.
But the first thing to do is to do a test on how efficient your sprinkler system is. You may be able to adjust it, or fix the system to bring your lawn back to health once you know how much water it is receiving - you might be surprised by the results.
Catch cups (graduated measuring containers) are a valuable tool in testing how efficiently a sprinkler system is operating.
Calculate the run time required to deliver a standard drink by testing how efficiently the sprinklers are operating. Spread catch cups randomly around the watering zone. Make sure they are at least 1 metre from the closest sprinkler. Note how long it takes the sprinklers to fill the catch cups to the depth required. For example, on a sandy soil a standard drink is 10mm of precipitation so the average depth of water in each catch cup needs to be 10mm. If there is a larger variation in the depth of water captured by the various catch cups then the sprinkler system is not applying the water evenly and should be checked for design or maintenance faults. Once the faults have been corrected run the test again to determine how long to run the sprinklers to deliver the standard drink.
The following Catch Cup DIY Test will enable people to determine the amount of water applied with sprinklers.
1. Place straight sided coffee mugs midway between sprinklers.
2. Run irrigation system for 10 minutes and use a ruler to measure and record the water in mm collected in each mug.
3. Divide the total amount of mm collected by the number of catch cups (mugs).
4. Repair or if necessary replace broken or malfunctioning nozzles or sprinklers.
5. Adjust the run time on each station to ensure that an average of 10mm of water is collected on each of the allocated watering days.
Lawn inspections, consultations and reports and recommendation can be arranged through the Green Life Soil Company for $55.00. Click here to get in touch with Nick.
One of the best ways to protect your garden in Summer is using mulch. And sometimes, by the end of summer, topping up your mulch is a good idea. Some of it may have begun to breakdown (and feed the soil), some may have blown away, or the dog may have eaten it! (strange, but true).
One of the best mulches for vegie gardens, roses, pots, young fruit trees, cottage gardens and general gardens/shrubs is Pea Straw.
While we normally do carry a good stock of pea straw - if you are coming any distance to pick some up from GLSC, please ring ahead to ensure we have sufficient stock on hand - it will sell very quickly with this offer!
Until next time - happy gardening! From the Team @ The Green Life Soil Co