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Hello & welcome to Winter!
We've had some chilly nights & mornings (with frost already at our place) but not much rain as yet - let's hope the rains will come - ideally at night leaving the days lovely so we can get outside and enjoy a bit of winter sun!
Remember Perth is now on our Winter sprinkler ban, so turn off your retic systems but keep watch - if we have dry spells you may need to water pots, etc. by hand.
We've had a busy couple of months at GLSC - The Perth Garden Festival this year went well. We had a great time introducing Perth to the Vegepod, and meeting lovely customers old & new during the event.
And although it's Winter, things won't be slowing down! It's a highly productive time to garden in Perth, so do make the most of it and enjoy your garden.
We'll be having more informal information mornings (come into store and chat with an expert); and have some great VIP deals in the works for you, so remember to check your email. Further details follow below. (And don't miss our DISCOUNTED DELIVERY DEAL!)
So until next time - Happy Gardening!
From Linda & The Team @ The Green Life Soil Co
In this newsletter:
There's still time to get in a quick crop of Green Manure seed to add organic matter to your fallow beds before Spring planting. See us for Green manure seed packs.
Other things to plant include:
Artichoke, Asparagus, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Chives, Garlic, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Kohl Rabi, Lettuce, Onion, Peas, Potatoes, Radish, Rocket, Snow Peas, Spring Onion, Strawberries.
Rhubarb (pictured right) and Asparagus crowns should be in stock in July. These need to be properly dormant before they can be dug & sold to you.
We receive fresh seedlings every week from The Greenhouse Organic. Leesa normally brings in seedlings Fri or Saturday morning; so we are fully stocked for the weekend. Our seedlings are always seasonally appropriate; we simply don't stock things that have been grown in hot house conditions that will die once you plant them into your home garden. All seedlings are non-hybrid, and Certified Organic.
See our What to Plant Now guide for more information.
Around Easter this year, we received our first shipment of Vegepods. We were so impressed, we decided to take them along to the Perth Garden Festival to show them off to Perth gardeners, and the reaction has been very positive.
Vegepods are a cleverly (Australian) designed wicking bed system. No need to worry about tree roots or grass invading your vegie patch. The base is made from UV stabilised food grade polypropylene. The reservoir of water means that plants can access moisture when they need it; plants are less stressed and grow quickly.
They come with a COVER - designed to fit over a frame which has a built in misting system you can simply attach to your garden hose!
The covers provide about 18% shade protection in summer; and in winter act as a cloche to keep vegies warm and protected from frost. Best of all, the cover will keep out everything that wants to EAT your vegies; bugs, caterpillars kangaroos and all but the most determined rodents.
Available in three sizes, they are a modular system that come in an easy to assemble kit. (It took me about an hour to put one together - so if I can do it - anyone can!).
Small (0.5m x 1m) - perfect for growing a few herbs or salad greens in a courtyard or on a balcony. Also great to use as a dedicated seed raising bed.
Medium (1m x 1m) - ideal for 'Square Metre Gardening', a good size to grow a range of greens & seasonal vegies for a couple.
Large (2m x 1m) - great for serious vegie growers; one or two of these in your back yard will provide you with a good amount of produce.
At The Green Life Soil Co, we have all three sizes of Vegepod on display. Come in and have a look for yourself how they work.
We sell the kits with our wonderful 'Square Foot Garden Mix' - which is especially designed for intensive growing in shallow garden beds; containing vermiculite, cocopeat and compost - plus added fertilisers and trace elements.
Pricing (includes Vegepod kit, bags of our premium Square Foot Garden Mix to fill the bed, and metro delivery) is as follows:
For a limited time (to end June) we would like to give our Newsletter/VIP customers an added bonus of a copy of Mel Bartholomew's best selling book "Square Metre Gardening" with each kit (Value $30). This edition was completely re-written to suit Australian seasons & conditions and will give you lots of great information & tips for getting the most out of a small vegie garden. Either mention this offer when you come into store or email or call up to order; OR visit the VIP Members Only section of our website to buy online.
The humble European Honey Bee has certainly been in the news a lot over the past year or so. In countries like America, parts of Europe and Asia, populations of bees are under extreme pressure - something we should all be nervous about, when you consider the important part bees play in the human race feeding itself! Sheer survival aside, the economic knock-on of failed crops is also a dismal prospect for those whose livelihoods are dependent upon agriculture & horticultural industries. 35% of the world's food crop production is dependent upon bees! (As are our broad beans - pictured above right with this bee doing its thing!)
Luckily, the number of beekeepers & active hives in Australia is actually on the increase. New Australian invention The Flowhive is set to revolutionise the beekeeping industry and make it easier for more people to manage their own hives.
So what's causing the problem with bees? It's a very contentious and hotly debated issue. While it is acknowledged that world wide the number of managed hives has increased, in Europe and North America bee populations have declined over recent decades. Some say reasons are more 'economic' than 'environmental', with honey being sourced more cheaply from overseas producers. Pretty much everyone agrees that in the future the beekeeping industry of Europe and the USA will be more about using hives for pollination than honey collection; so massive is the impact on our food production. The Obama administration has just announced a National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators - which goes to show how important these little insects are if the USA now has a National Strategy to ensure their survival.
This is a parasite that originated in Asia but spread to Europe in the 70's and America in the 80's. The mites transmit bacteria and viruses that have devastating effects on bee health and can spread from hive to hive. Thankfully, due to Australia being an island with good Quarantine regulations in place, we have not yet found this disease here, although it has made it as close as New Zealand. In fact, Australian bee keepers have been sending healthy populations overseas to try to replenish bee numbers in affected countries.
There are a number of other fungal and viral diseases identified which affect specific bee populations around the world.
Monoculture and Loss of Habitat
Bees naturally source pollen from a wide range of flowering plants from their local area. With habitat destruction, bee populations can struggle to find food. Also with modern agriculture employing monoculture farming techniques (hectare after hectare growing the same crop) bee diets can be limited to one source of plant; and hives experience times of famine when those crops are not flowering (this is not the way that nature works without human intervention). So bees with an incomplete diet are prone to illness - just as we humans are if we aren't getting the range of nutrients we require.
Climate change and the affect it has on the timing of seasonal flowering could also be a critical issue.
Pesticides, Fungicides, Herbicides and surfactants
Neonicotinoids ('neonics') are a type of insecticide at the centre of the bee debate. Their use was restricted by the EU in 2013 and these restrictions are still in place with ongoing studies being conducted. This type of insecticide is relatively new (introduced in the 90's) and was supposedly 'safer' and 'less heavy duty' than pesticides it replaced. Farmers are having to revert to older chemicals as crops, without neonics, have been decimated.
Many entomologists support the farmers, saying there is no evidence that bee populations have been affected since Neonicotinoids were introduced, and that neonics are a more environmentally responsible alternative than pyrethroids, which they widely replaced.
Australia may not have as many neonics approved for use as exist overseas, but they are still here in Australia and recently were reviewed (and passed) by the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority. They are used in seed treatments, soil treatments and foliar applications. (Obviously, not in Certified Organic agriculture.)
Neonics are a systemic pesticide and they are on the shelves in our nurseries, supermarkets and hardware stores. Look closely at the label to see active ingredients listed as: clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam. These insecticides are worth billions of dollars to their manufacturers; so there are vested interests at stake everywhere. (Pictured right - a common insecticide which contains imidacloprid.)
However, non-insecticidal ingredients used in many agricultural & horticultural treatments (like fungicides, herbicides and surfactants) are also known to have detrimental effects on bees; so it is likely that 'chemical cocktails' are causing problems that have not yet been identified.
It is a very complex issue that scientists and governments around the world have been wrestling with for years. As home gardeners we should be aware of the problem, and we can do our part to make bees, pollinators and other important beneficial insects a welcome part of our environment.
Here's what we can do:
Stay away from the 'Icides' in your garden!
In the home garden, there really isn't the need to use heavy duty systemic pesticides. Working with nature (growing in season), watching plants and acting quickly on any pest/disease damage will minimise the need for treatments. Try to use traps, lures or physical barriers in the first instance.
There are home made treatments that are worth trying for many pests & diseases. Click here for our pest recipe fact sheet.
If you need to use any type of pesticide spray or treatment, go for the lowest poison rating possible. Always follow instructions, observe any withholding period for consuming produce, and never, EVER use more than the recommended amount.
No pest treatment is really "safe"; as beneficial insects can be harmed by "natural" products too - something to keep in mind.
Encourage bees and pollinators by growing plants they love!
Grow flowering plants around & interspersed with your vegies. You'll attract pollinators and beneficial insects (some which help with pest control) and it will add colour and interest to your garden. If you are short on space, grow flowering annuals in pots, which you can move around. That way, you can position them where they will attract the bees where and when it is most useful to your fruit trees or food crops for maximum pollination & fruit set.
Bees seem to be particularly attracted to yellow and blue flowers, but not exclusively. With planning, you can have a range of flowering plants throughout the year. Here's a list of some to try:
Alyssum, Bacopa, Coleus, Cosmos, Daisy, Echium, Forget me nots, Geranium, Lavender (as pictured above right), Marigold, Nasturtium, Salvia, Sunflowers, Zinnia.
Herbs bees love include: Basil (we have found perennial basil an ultimate bee favourite!), Borage, Catmint, Chives, Coriander, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rocket, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme.
And flowering native plants include: Banksia, Callistemon, Eucalyptus, Grevillea, Leptospermum, Melaleuca.
Bees will travel 3 - 5kms from their hive to find food, so make your garden attractive to them and once they find the flowers they'll be back in droves.
Remember a source of water in summer (that they can safely access without drowning) is also very important.
To review the Australian Government's report on bee health & neonicotinoids:
For a FREE downloadable guide (pictured right) about planting to attract pollinators (produced by the Government's Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation click here.
This book is a great resource with lots of pictures - highly recommended. Hard copies can be purchased for $60 but the PDF download is free.
We will be holding regular, informal 'meet the expert' sessions over winter & coming into Spring. The first two we'd like to announce are:
Nick Bell - Saturday, 11th July (10.30 - 1.00pm approx.)
A regular at GLSC, Nick brings a wealth of knowledge on Turf - what variety will suit your needs and how to keep lawns looking fabulous. He is also a qualified Square Foot Garden instructor, and takes great delight in his own garden; so come along and see him in action, and have a chat about the best ways to have a highly productive garden in a small space.
Nick will show you the Vegepods, explain the methodology of Square Metre Gardening and give advice on growing your own seedlings.
Sue Torlach (Saturday, 1st August (11.00 - 12.30pm approx.)
Sue is a native garden designer from Wild About Gardens. She'll be coming to talk about native plants, the benefits of growing them and how to use them in your garden, etc. As an experienced designer, come and get some fantastic ideas on landscaping your yard to be easy care and low water use. (Sue Torlach - Pictured right.)
VIP customers will get a reminder email the week leading up to the sessions, with a special offer valid for the day as our way of rewarding our loyal customers. If you haven't yet signed up as a VIP - click on this link.
Just because winter's here, there's no excuse to hibernate and not garden when GLSC is giving you a great discount on BULK DELIVERY.
We know our delivery costs (especially for those that live a long distance from us) can be an added expense. Unfortunately the cost of transport is real - but we're giving you the chance to save around 20% - 50% (depending where you are) on this cost, up until the end of June 2015.
Book & pay for any bulk delivery by 5pm 30th June 2015 and mention the Discounted Delivery Deal to receive $25 off the normal delivery price. Deliveries can be scheduled up until the end of July 2015; perfect timing to get ready for Spring.
Online ordering: Use the code: DISCOUNT at checkout (select your product AND correct delivery zone as normal) and the $25 will be deducted off your order total.
So that's any BULK delivery (manure, compost, mulch - or any of our specialised soil mixes or concentrate mixes tailor made for your growing requirements).
Call now or email us for advice on what product will be the best in your situation, & to organise your discounted delivery.
Tommy (pictured here) is our lovely contract driver, and he'd be happy to see you soon!
So as always - your feedback on our newsletter is welcome! Remember to send in pictures of your garden so we can share & inspire others to have a go (Thanks to Adrian who sent in the picture of his tidy garden used at the top of the page). Email them in or post to our Facebook page where there's always something happening!
Until next time, Happy Gardening!