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Hello Green Lifers - August already? Next month we'll be celebrating the start of Spring, so now's the time to be getting your garden sorted, and we hope this newsletter will get you inspired. It's a fantastic time to be getting garden beds ready and seedlings started. The days are getting longer and our plants are slowly responding to increased sunlight hours.
Conditions are still mild enough for things not to stress - and growing conditions are pretty much ideal (apart from the cold nights), so enjoy it while it lasts!
The Harvest Club has been taking up lots of our focus, and it is going to be a FANTASTIC program; check out some of the awesome photos we received as part of the process below. (And this ultra-cute one here!)
We're always happy for your suggestions on what to feature in our newsletter; so please feel free to drop us a line with your ideas. On social media recently, I asked people to let me know some issues they were having with their garden, and learnt that some of you have been struggling with too much shade & not enough light in your winter garden. In this newsletter we've got some ideas to help address that. Hopefully we're not too late to help (and maybe file it away for use next winter)!
When you're looking to get your gardens cranking for Spring, do give us a call - remember our new discounted delivery policy is in place, so your garden goodies will be even more great value.
We look forward to seeing you soon & happy gardening!
Some great workshops are coming up in Spring, including:
Soil Essentials - How to Get the Balance Right 13-Aug-2016
Permaculture Garden & Yard Design 27-Aug-2016
Grow Your Own Food & Medicine 10-Sep-2016
Grafting Techniques 24-Sep-2016
Basics of Garden Design 01-Oct-2016
Full details can be found by clicking on each topic.
If you are building a new home (or know someone who is), or starting from scratch with a garden design; you may wish to consider the 'Basics of Garden Design' workshop on 1st October, presented by Lisa Passmore. This is a very intensive, 3 hour workshop with a small group; where you will be working on YOUR OWN design plan, under the guidance of an experienced landscape designer.
Part of the process is you'll receive an A3 aerial colour photograph of your yard; necessary in working on designs reasonably to scale and with correct orientation. (Make sure you book early enough for us to organise these!)
Lisa teaches landscape design regularly through Homebase; and we are lucky to have her present an intensive workshop out at Green Life. We hope you'll spread the word among your friends & family and we can get this fully booked - we're only offering 15 places!
Workshop attendees receive a discount @ GLSC on the day; so once you have planned your garden at the workshop, book a delivery and SAVE on turning your dream garden into reality this Spring.
Winter brings some challenges for gardening. Where we live in the hills, we've had some heavy frosts this year (pictured here - although this isn't our property - we wish!!). And on Facebook recently, gardeners were discussing challenges they were facing in other areas of Perth; and for many this winter, lack of light has been an issue. Of course if the shade is coming from your OWN garden, you will just need to bite the bullet and prune - or pay the money and have a professional come in and do it for you. Unfortunately, if the trees belong to a neighbour you may need to start a longer-term diplomacy program, and if they are reasonable people, they may see your perspective and be willing to take responsibility. Maybe you can get them onside with some excess home grown produce? Just an idea... good luck!
I don't want to get into the legalities of overhanging branches - it has caused many a neighbourhood rift - but if you do your research (a call to your Shire is a good place to start) you should be able to find out where you stand. At least you should have control over SOMETHING here, and improve the amount of light you receive in your garden.
There are some ornamental plants that can tolerate shade - things like Clivia, Aspidistra, and some natives too. Ask at your local nursery for ideas, and choose something that suits your garden style, soil type and available space. Be aware some plants will grow OK in shade, but may not flower so well. You can also try growing things in pots, and move them around every month or two. (Buy some plant stands with castors if you have paved areas, or invest in a trolley.) Hydrangeas are pictured here.
Choosing the right plant for your situation is half the battle; but if it is your vegie growing area it is more difficult. Make sure you stack your plants, placing taller ones to the south side, and shorter ones to the north side to maximise available sun light, and keep weeds down to minimise competition and shadows. Things like large leafy greens (lettuce/silverbeet) grow fairly well in lower light conditions. Often fruiting crops do poorly without as much sun, and will be more susceptible to pests (often aphids) and disease (often fungal problems). Maybe limit what you CAN grow in the winter months to this area; and either rest the beds, try a green manure crop, and use pots and grow bags for crops that need more sunlight, and take advantage of a sunny spot elsewhere.
Sometimes sheds, buildings and fences are the problem, casting shadows on your prime growing areas. Remember white and light coloured surfaces reflect light, so if they are a dark colour maybe you can try painting them a lighter colour. If you're renting, be creative - can you hang something up or temporarily line the wall with something white? I have seen old lino, 'wrong side up' with a light coloured backing used to line a shed wall.
And something else you may wish to try is using MIRRORS in your garden.
Using mirrors can't make MORE light - but it CAN bounce light around, reflecting light into dark corners and behind other plants, extending the useful growing space for winter conditions. There are some pro's and con's to using mirrors to consider:
As an aside, we had a mirror in our garden that we had to remove in summer, due to a young male wren fighting his own reflection for HOURS. It was a very hot summers day and I swear this little bird would have continued until he died of exhaustion - poor thing!
Some research I have found states that white surfaces surrounding plants actually work better than mirrors at reflecting light for plant growth. A low cost way to trial this for lower growing plants is white polystyrene broccoli boxes or box lids from your supermarket. Low cost; and the boxes can be utilised for growing space too!
Another growing tip for low light conditions is ALFOIL! Lay alfoil on the ground around your plants; shiny side up; and keep it as smooth as possible on the ground. The foil will reflect light upwards on the underside of leaves. This also helps with pest control - aphids in particular will attack weaker plants in low light conditions, so by reflecting light upwards, it helps discourage them. It works particularly well if you have nice straight rows! Weigh the corners down with stones, or a small handful of soil. You can even lay down the foil first, and punch holes through for planting seedlings. Just make sure there is enough space around plants or between sections of foil to allow water to get to your plants.
Sure - foil and mirrors might look a little ODD In your garden. You'll get neighbours talking and visitors asking what you're up to. I'd suggest wearing a tin-foil hat on such occasions; then they'll stop asking, and leave you well alone. :-D
Lastly, the seasons are turning, so you won't have the problem for long - pretty soon we'll all be seeking the shade and looking for options to save our gardens from cooking in the heat. But that's the joy of gardening - or so I'm told!
This month - it's time to get your seeds started; so we have a little something to help.
Buy any 5 packets of seeds, and get a bag of our Certified Organic Seed Raising Mix for $6.50 per bag; which is basically HALF PRICE!!
People have told us that it's the best seed raising mix they've ever used; so why not take advantage of this offer and give it a try.
Placing an online order? Please contact us and we can work out what seeds you'd like from our available selection and send them out at the same time with your other products.
Valid until COB 31st August.
So what are you waiting for? Go outside and garden! :-)