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Hello & welcome to February! As the kids go back to school it feels like we're really in the groove for 2018. I trust some of you got to enjoy some fun family times over the holidays.
It's an interesting time in the Perth garden. Usually February's one of our hottest months, so not conducive to gardening much at all - but we've been lucky to have a fairly mild summer so far this January and even LOTS of summer rain (thanks to ex-cyclone Joyce). At the same time there's that SLIGHT hint that we're on the downhill run to Autumn, with the promise of PERFECT growing conditions once more just around the corner. Hopefully this newsletter will inspire you and get you ready.
It's back to school for gardeners too! Over the next few weeks we'll be finalising dates for our 2018 autumn workshop program - so keep an eye on our 'events' section of our website for up to date info & bookings.
Blueberries have become very popular additions to Perth gardens over the past few years. As more and more varieties are now available to the home grower, we're discovering these tasty and popular berries do well here and are worth a place in the garden. GLSC has developed a special BLUEBERRY MIX soil; and we're really excited to announce it has passed organic certification. Most berries prefer a slightly acidic soil - so why not give it a try for your next crop of homegrown organic berries - yum!
We recently learnt that there's a business based in Parkerville that not only grows berries for sale, but also propagates and sells blueberry plants to other commercial growers and nurseries - so we've taken on some of their lovely stock and if they prove popular will continue to bring them in for sale. So why not call in and grab a plant and a bag (or two) of our special Blueberry Mix and get growing your own superfood today!
At the same time we also had our Blood & Bone recipe mix submitted for testing and are happy to say it has also been approved! So our quality blood & bone (which has added rock dust) is now Certified Organic. (Come and grab some so it's handy when you're fertilising for autumn and revamping your garden beds.) We're pleased to have these two products added to the list of Certified products we produce.
Basically, ALL the products we make @ Green Life are allowable organic inputs (we don't use anything that couldn't be approved under the Standards) - but we've decided to go the whole hog and pay for Certification for products used for food production to give YOU - our customers - the peace of mind that full Certification carries with it. As the only company in Perth making Certified Organic soil mixes, we'd really appreciate your support. Look for our products (available bagged in a number of nurseries and stockfeed places around Perth - see stockists below) and know what you're growing and what you're eating. We're a local, small business trying to do big things - but we can't do it without you!!
We hope to see you soon @ Green Life.
From Linda & all the team.
In this Newsletter
Powdery mildew is a common problem of cucurbits (melons/zucchini/pumpkin etc) at this time of year - particularly after any summer rain or in humid conditions. Good airflow and avoiding overhead watering if possible are two ways to help keep conditions less than ideal for the fungus. It can affect grapes and roses badly, and some other ornamentals too.
Often it's a "time of year" thing; an opportunistic fungus will thrive in perfect conditions.
A preventative treatment (used weekly) is a milk spray (full cream milk is best) - 1 part milk to 9 parts water and sprayed liberally over your plants (don't forget the underside of leaves). Repeat ASAP after any rain is received.
Should you spot this white, powdery growth starting, treat ASAP. If caught early enough, you can often stop it. Once the disease has a foothold it can be hard to eradicate. (If your cucurbits are coming to the end of their life, don't worry too much about it, but destroy infected plant material in the bin.)
Just a note - some zucchini plants naturally grow with a white pattern on their leaves (as pictured right). This is normal and is NOT powdery mildew, so be aware you're looking at something completely different! If you're not sure - rub it with your fingers. Powdery mildew will rub off and leave a residue on your fingers, and usually appears as leaf spots that spread.
For more ideas on natural pest control check out our gardening tips here.
There's still time to try for a crop of quick-growing summer vegies. A tip I read recently was to choose smaller cropping varieties towards the end of the season (eg. Sugarbaby Watermelon, Golden Nugget Pumpkin) - the theory being the smaller fruits mature faster. Things to still plant now include: Beans, Beetroot, Capsicum, Carrot, Celery, Chilli, Cucumber, Eggplant, Lettuce, Pumpkin, Rockmelon, Silverbeet, Sweetcorn, Sweet Potato, Tomato, Watermelon, Zucchini. Get them in sooner this month rather than later for one last crop.
If you're not ready for autumn planting but not wanting to nurture another summer crop - consider a green manure to grow quickly and turn into the soil before your winter seedlings go into the ground. We've got packs of green manure seed available ready to sow now.
Your slow growing Brassica crops need to be planted (from seed) as soon as possible. Brussel Spouts don't tend to do well in Perth due to our warmer climate; but if you're in the hills or have the perfect spot - if you're wanting to give them a try now's the time. Cauliflower and Cabbage also do well if you get them off to an early start. Just remember that your ungerminated seeds and then tiny seedlings are vulnerable to heat for at least another month yet; so keep them somewhere protected and don't let them dry out.
For more 'when to sow' info for vegies & herbs - plus lots of other garding info check out our FREE downloadable growing guides.
Summer is the time of year when most of us love to regularly pick and eat fresh salad greens from the garden. Depending on your situation, keeping up with greens can be tricky in the really hot weather - so what to do? Maybe consider trying microgreens!
Microgreens are tiny seedlings harvested (leaving the roots behind) while still at the seed leaf stage (cotyledon) or very soon after the first set of true leaves appear. They can be grown in soil, inside or outside, and are harvested at about two to four weeks after germinating. The difference between sprouts and microgreens is that sprouts are germinated seeds; often just grown in water, while microgreens are grown in a soil medium and allowed to grow a little longer, developing leaves before you harvest them.
Any wide and shallow pot or planter (with drainage) can be used to grow microgreens. Seedling trays and clean, recycled punnets are idea. Use a good quality seed raising mix (like Green Life's Certified Organic mix) and tamp the soil lightly to settle. Broadcast your seeds thickly and evenly over the soil surface, and cover very lightly again with the seed raising mix. Water with a fine shower nozzle or a misting spray bottle. You don't want to disturb the seeds or uncover them. Keep the seed raising mix evenly moist (but not soaking wet) until germination occurs. Water your young seedlings at least once a day - they may require more regular watering depending on where you have them situated and your local conditions.
What to use as a Microgreen
Almost any vegetable or herb with edible leaves is suitable. Salad greens like rocket, mibuna and mizuna, lettuce and spinach are ideal. Also herbs and things you know as conventional sprouts are great - like sunflowers, alfalfa, nasturtium, mung beans, basil, fennel, coriander (a great way to get the flavour when it won't grow in your garden in summer!), chives. Then there's the vegies - beetroot, radish, silverbeet, and the brassicas - kale, pak choi, cabbage, mustard and broccoli. While all microgreens are packed with nutrients, broccoli is considered to be among the best for you. Broccoli microgreens contain even more phytonutrients than mature broccoli heads - so they pack a powerful punch!
Simply harvest the microgreens you need with scissors, cutting just above the soil. Leave the rest of the container until you need to harvest them. Unfortunately microgreens are best harvested once. You can wait for any stray late germinators, but once you've harvested the greens the remaining root material is best given to your chooks, worms or added to your compost.
If you'd like to trial some microgreens, if you get along to the Perth City Farm you'll find James McDonald, who is growing and selling microgreens at their markets every Saturday 7.30 - 11.30am; and Stirling Farmers Market on Sunday 7.40 - 11.30am. You can also buy microgreens directly from James in Mundaring - contact him via his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/sociallyconsciousmicrogreens/). James has been growing and selling microgreens since October 2017, and is passionate about everyone having access to good food at affordable prices. See his story published in the local paper here.
In January this year, James started an initiative called Giving Greens - for every tray of microgreens sold, he's donating the same quantity to Manna Inc, who provide meals to the homeless. In this short period of just a month, he's donated over 34 trays (about 8kgs) of these nutritious greens to the Charity.
James has advised us his favourite three microgreens to grow. Here is his quote:
"Broccoli - broccoli has long been my favourite veg, the micros have a hint of broccoli with a slight nuttiness
Sunflower - Great to snack on, high protein, crunchy
Red Cabbage - great for adding colour, slight bit of spice, im not a fan of too much spice (like the cress and rocket) so this one is enough for me."
We're talking to James about getting in seed in suitable quantities to grow microgreens at home - so check in with us soon (or watch our FB page) for an update.
Photographer credits - Photographer: David Baylis – Community Newspaper Group
Congratulations to January's photo competition winner - Josipa of Swan View. She had the following comments to say about her garden (and Green Life products):
"Dear Green Life Soil Co.,
I'd like to let you know how fantastic your Vegetable Concentrate is! I have used it in my garden for a couple of years now since discovering it and won't go back! My garden is lush and thriving; and my vegetables are huge, plentiful, tasty and look so healthy. I'm looking forward to trying out your other organic products. Here are some photos of this season's growth, one zucchini weighed in at over 1.1kg and another at 1.5kg!!"
Thanks to Josipa for sending in your pictures. We all love to see what other people are growing (and how they're doing it) - so remember to send in your photos and inspire others! And YOU could win the voucher next time! One winner picked at random each month; so keep those pictures coming. You can send via email or our Facebook page.
Our quality blood & bone mix is now CERTIFIED ORGANIC! To celebrate we're giving our VIP's the chance to grab some (just in time for Autumn) at heavily discounted rates.
3kg = $13.00 (save $8.00)
Limited time offer - up until close of business 28th February 2018 & valid one per customer.
In store - please ASK for the VIP discount on your Blood & Bone; and online shoppers - you must be logged into the members page in order to see the special prices (and order them at the discounted rate).
And here's another reason to SIGN UP as a VIP member... watch your inboxes in the coming weeks for a deal on bulk product deliveries to get your garden ready for Autumn! (This deal will only be offered to our exclusive VIP member database - not all newsletter customers.)
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Remember to check product availability with individual stockists as the range they carry will vary.