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Hello - welcome to JUNE! It's officially WINTER and we're transitioning to Makuru in the Noongyar calendar - the wettest and coldest time of the year when the Indigenous Australians would move away from the coast to inland rivers and waterways; changing their diet to animals like kangaroo and seasonal plants. Many native birds are beginning to prepare for breeding, and in the bushland, you'll see wildflowers like Hovea and other blues/purples like the Dianella berries and Purple Flags (Patersonia) appear. Don't the seasons roll around quickly?
May has been a pretty dry month; but some of the Autumn days have been simply gorgeous - perfect for getting outdoors into the garden. Did you get to visit the Perth Garden & Outdoor Living Festival? GLSC had a stand there, and the event seemed pretty well attended; even though it DID rain on the Saturday which unfortunately affected numbers through the gate. Paul & I did a talk on soil improvement on the Friday afternoon. Speaking of talks, we were pleased to have the Roleystone Organic Growers Association join us last week on an "excursion". It was a good opportunity for their members to learn a little more about various inputs (and what they do) and I think they all went home happy - probably in part due to the yummy fresh scones baked by team member Lesley's daughter for the event!! (Photo of the ROGA crew below)
Coming up on Sunday, 4th June is the next Kalamunda Garden Festival, held at Stirk Park in Kalamunda. There's going to be lots of stall holders selling plants and planty stuff! And there are three stages offering expert talks during the day. Green Life Soil Co is sponsoring one of them - so we'll be around! So come along and say hi! For full schedule of speakers & ticket purchases - check out their website here. There's a range of local experts and some from the Gardening Australia team - so much knowledge to be shared.
Also coming up is the WA Day long weekend (Monday, 5th June). Green Life Soil Co will be CLOSED for the day - so make sure you plan ahead and come in on the Saturday for all your weekend gardening needs.
Apologies to customers who've experienced issues with our online shop over the past month or so. We've had a number of technical difficulties at a very high level between the various software programs that securely process credit card transactions to push through to the bank. It seems increased security protocols weren't talking to each other - resulting in transactions being rejected. We believe this has now been sorted!
We hope to see you SOON @ Green Life!
There's LOTS to do in the garden in the next few weeks - so read on for inspiration! This month, we've got articles on:
Jobs for the June Garden
Jobs to do in June
Weeding: with the rain and colder weather upon us weeds started rearing their ugly heads. The good news is now is one of the best times to do something! Younger & smaller weeds have less developed root systems and are easier to pull. Use a hoe to easily chop & uproot weeds between your plants. If hand weeding, don't weed when the soil is really wet - allow it to dry out after rain for a day or two. Take a bucket with you, collect them all and add them to your compost or use them to make a fertiliser. See our fact sheets on organic weed control (and weed tea) here. Mulching will help protect your garden and reduce weeds.
Preparing soil (Asparagus/Rhubarb): Although these have not yet arrived in store it is a great time to start preparing for planting. Use these easy steps to prepare your soil. 1. Picking a spot: Rhubarb prefers morning sun and partial shade and Asparagus prefers more of a full sun position. 2. Remove any existing weeds or grass from that area. 3. Both Asparagus and rhubarb prefer a rich and fertile soil. Prepare your soil by digging in compost and manure, and/or adding some blood and bone (optional). For an easy option, use our Vegie Concentrate which is a blended soil improver, Certified Organic, rich & ready to go! If you can hold yourself back from harvesting in first year, it will enable the plant to establish itself well for future seasons. For more in-depth information on growing Rhubarb and Asparagus see our fact sheets here (scroll down the right hand column and flick through the pages to find the relevant fact sheets!). (Stock should be arriving in July - so watch this space!)
Preparing soil for Fruit Trees: Preparing your soil before you plant fruit trees or ornamentals is crucial. Researching to find the right tree for your location is essential for success. A little bit of planning and preparation now will save problems in the future. If you have poor sandy soil (like most of Perth), then digging some General Concentrate through those areas will be very beneficial. We spent a lot of time and energy perfecting our soil concentrates to ensure your plant is provided with all the trace elements and nutrients that may not be available in poor sandy soils; plus we add minerals like clay & biochar to assist with water holding. It's a complete soil improver - no need to add additional fertilisers. Bare root trees will soon be available at good nurseries; so now's the time to do your research. What do you want to grow? Is there a variety well suited to your location? Does it need a pollinator? Plan ahead so you don't miss out.
Transplanting/Moving trees: If you feel like some of your trees or shrubs could use a better position, then now is the time to move them! If you are moving deciduous plants, wait until all the leaves have dropped. Find a new spot where you think they would suit the conditions more and prepare the soil. Dig out as much of the root ball as possible and re-plant immediately. Cleanly trim damaged roots, and it's often a good idea to trim the top growth a little too. Giving your plant a good dose of seaweed/kelp will help with transplant shock. Transplanting can be tricky but when successful can be rewarding - and if a plant is not thriving or desirable where it is, what have you got to lose by giving it a go?
Feeding your Garden: Using a liquid fertiliser can be very beneficial to your garden. Most of our vegie patches at this time of year have leafy greens and winter vegies growing. Feeding your vegies with something like Fish Hydrolysate, a kelp/seaweed mix, Verigrow or Worm Wizz will boost growth and provide a good harvest! Mix it up - try rotating between your liquid fertilisers, as they all have slightly different elements to add to the soil. Remember if you're feeding very regularly, use less than the recommended amount. [If you're shopping in store, look out for the fertility bundle package deal we're offering on fish hydrolysate and kelp - pictured right.]
Feed your Garlic: Now's the time to side dress garlic with blood & bone or something like Multigrow (composted chicken manure). The nitrogen boost now will get them growing strongly to support good bulb growth later.
Planting Flowers: Winter for our gardens can feel a little dull. Planting some flowering annuals or bulbs will brighten up the garden, fill any gaps and bring a sense of warmth with a touch of colour to the garden. Try planting some Calendula in the garden- pretty bright orange and yellow flowers which can be used as a medical herb and used for to add a touch of colour to salads. In fact, there are many edible flowers that make a great addition to salads, desserts, or a garnish for a fancy touch!. Check out our fact sheet here.
What to plant now
Don’t worry ~ it's not too late to plant vegies to enjoy in the next couple of months; need inspiration? - check out our winter/spring vegie guides here.
We have organically grown seedlings and heaps of heritage seed varieties being delivered to us regularly, so check out what is in season & in stock to plant in your garden. A list of things to plant now includes:
Artichoke (globe), Beetroot, Broad Beans (check out the article below), Broccoli, Cabbage, Coriander, Dill, English spinach, Jerusalem Artichokes (now in stock!! See our growing info here.) Kale, Kohl rabi, Leek, Lettuce, Onion, Parsnip, Peas, Potatoes, Radish, Silver beet, Snow peas, Spring onion, Strawberries, Turnips.
Pictured right is a big, nuggety Jerusalem Artichoke - they're locally grown & spray-free - so come on in and grab a few and get them growing. Related to sunflowers, they're a hardy plant that has delicious, nutty tubers. Once you've grown them, they're easy to regrow (they often leave tiny babies behind in the ground when you harvest them) so are a great addition to your garden - even pop them into flower beds; the yellow flower pictured in the newsletter cover photo right at the start of this newsletter is a Jerusalem Artichoke flower - so you can see they're quite pretty. Flowers grow quite tall so are good along the back of a garden bed or along a fenceline.
Foodcubes - Wonderful Wicking Beds
These are Australian made from 80% recycled food grade plastic, UV stabilised and robust. The concept of the Foodcube is they have an inbuilt water reservoir (110L in the Foodcube) - so they're basically a huge self watering pot! The growing depth of soil is a good 30cms; and the soil is in contact with the water reservoir through special cones, enabling the water to wick up through capillary action. Plants can access moisture when they need it - making them less stressed in hot conditions, and the good thing is that you can fill the reservoir and forget for a few days or weeks - depending on what you're growing and the time of year. So they're fabulous for busy people who find it hard to get out and water their precious vegies every day in summer.
There are a number of accessories available for Foodcubes (you can see trellises and netting systems in this photo) - from feet to raise them up, trellises for vertical growing, and net systems with a clip on aluminium frame and zipper access to keep your vegies safe from bugs but also allow easy access. The net systems are a premium product made to last, and not cheap - but there's potential to DIY your own system using the premoulded holes in the corners of the Foodcube and standard retic polypipe. There's also clips along the edges of the Foodcube to secure netting or shadecloth - they really have thought of just about everything! You can even join up multiple Foodcubes with a coupling - and as long as they're level, only one unit needs to be filled with water.
The soil we recommend to use with Foodcubes is our Square Foot Mix. Square foot gardening is a whole methodology for intensive vegie growing in small spaces & shallow depth soil - so it's a very special mix; rich and certified organic, and also perfectly suited for wicking beds. (To learn more about Square Foot Gardening - check out our free downloadable guide.) Square Foot Mix is light and fluffy, allowing for good root development. We offer special pricing on Foodcubes with our soil - so if you're thinking about setting up ahead of next summer, and looking for easier ways to grow - consider a Foodcube. Come on in and we'd be happy to demonstrate how they work, and you can see ours in operation (we have one that forms part of our display garden).
We are able to deliver - but the most cost effective way is to pick up your Foodcube & soil at the same time in a ute or trailer from our yard - When empty they're not heavy. Slims can be lifted by one person. The Foodcube needs two people just because of the size. Foodcubes are 1150mm x 1150mm x 500mm (external dimensions) and the Slim (pictured right) is 1150mm x 665mm x 500mm. You can position them where you need and then fill with soil, and get planting! It's a great option if you're renting - you can take your garden beds with you!
Creating a Pet-Friendly Garden
(Thanks to John Gabriele/Landscape Magazine for theme and partial content)
Gardens offer a wonderful opportunity to enjoy nature, unwind, and spend quality time with loved ones, including our furry friends. However, it's important to consider a few special factors when designing your garden or bringing home a new fur baby (and probably an actual baby too!) to ensure that it remains a safe and enjoyable space for both pets and plants.
Australia boasts one of the highest rates of pet ownership globally, with an estimated 25 million pets residing in the country. Dogs and cats are the most popular pets, occupying the top two spots on the list. The type of pet you have will greatly influence the overall garden design and plant selection, taking into account their natural instincts, well-being, and potential impact on the garden itself.
Keeping pets safe also involves considering garden maintenance. Careful thought should be given to the use of insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Even 'natural' fertilizers, soil conditioners, and some mulches contain animal manures (such as chicken manure), and blood & bone, which can be enticing to dogs and cats. However, if consumed, these substances can cause health issues. It's important to have a good understanding of safe products to use in gardens where pets roam freely, as well as being aware of the risks associated with certain products. For instance, there are pet-friendly alternatives available for managing pests like snails and slugs - from making traps, copper tape, or using non-poisonous iron based pellets (like Protect-us - in stock @ GLSC) for example. If you must spray pesticides and herbicides, make sure your pets are secured inside or in a different area before treating your plants, and keep them away from the area for as long as practicable.
When it comes to pet-friendly gardens, dogs require special consideration. Protecting plants from unintentional damage caused by dogs trampling or digging them up can be as simple as creating a fenced area specifically for your furry friends. This dog-only zone should be inviting and provide a stimulating environment for play. You can easily set up a small splash pool using a hard plastic kiddie pool or a sprinkler for dogs to run through while playing fetch. Additionally, make sure there is plenty of shade for them to escape the sun, and consider placing a kennel under a tree. Installing a pet window in a boundary fence can also allow dogs to observe the outside world while remaining safely enclosed.
In smaller gardens where it may not be possible to allocate a separate play zone for dogs, protective barriers/fencing around delicate plantings like vegetable gardens and flower beds can be an option. Alternatively, growing plants in raised beds can help keep pets out. Another strategy to prevent dogs from damaging new plantings is to opt for larger plants instead of smaller ones, as dogs are less likely to pull on larger plants. For areas where smaller plants are installed, temporary protection barriers like tomato cages can be used until the plants are established.
Dogs tend to patrol their territory by walking the same paths, which can result in damaged turf. To address this, consider installing paving along the perimeter of the garden where dogs usually patrol. Opt for light-colored pavers to reduce heat retention or (even better) use a soft mulch material to protect their paws from the heat radiating off the pavers. Incorporating playful nooks in garden beds and utility areas can also provide a stimulating environment for dogs to engage in.
If you're considering dog ownership, do research your breeds to match one to your family's energy levels, space required, and other factors. Bored dogs bark, exhibit stress behaviours like digging and chewing, and generally have miserable lives. Choose wisely & take your time to consider all the pro's and con's - after all pets are a lifelong commitment and responsibility.
Cats can be polarising among gardening circles and neighbourhoods, as they are notoriously difficult to confine to a backyard. Stricter regulations on roaming cats have been implemented by many local councils to protect native wildlife populations. To design a landscape that allows cats to explore safely, consider installing cat runs or enclosures. These structures provide cats with a secure and interesting environment to play and climb, eliminating concerns about wildlife, traffic, fighting with other cats, or upsetting neighbours. Depending on the type of run or enclosure and the materials used, they can be incorporated into the landscape without being overly intrusive. A "Catio' is a great place to hang out with your puss cat and your favourite plants!
Cat runs can be made to compliment the garden design; eg. galvanized mesh fencing can support climbing plants, providing shade for the felines and your house; or creating a privacy screen from the neighbors. Modular enclosures allow for greater design flexibility, accommodating existing site features like trees and or adapting to landscape level changes. If you can incorporate a cat flap into a door or window, the cat has the freedom to go outdoors or retreat inside - depending on the weather (or its mood!) any time day or night, but still remain safely enclosed within the larger run. Don't forget to include some branches/logs or a cat scratching post to keep kitty's claws well manicured!
Choosing pet friendly plants
When selecting plants for a pet-friendly garden, it's important to be aware that many common garden plants can be toxic to pets if ingested. While most pets typically won't consume plants in the garden (thankfully they seem to 'know' what's good for them!), poisoning can occur if a bored dog uproots plants or consumes seeds and fruits from certain species. Cats, in particular, are vulnerable to poisoning from Lilium spp., so do watch out if you have bouquets of cut flowers with lilies in them. Contact with certain plants like Tradescantia spp. (Wandering Jew) can cause dermal reactions in dogs. While the list provided here is not exhaustive, it offers guidance on some species to avoid when creating a pet-friendly garden.
While the toxicity varies from mild to fatal, it's good to be aware of any potential risks should your pet display too much interest in your plants (so you can seek veterinary care). It's also important to note that some things are toxic to pets and NOT humans (and vice-versa!) Watch out for:
Brugmansia spp. (Angel's Trumpet), Brunfelsia odora (Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow), Daphne odora (Daphne), Euphorbia spp., Hedra helix (English Ivy), Philodendron spp., Rhododendron spp. (including Azaleas), Stephanotis floribunda (Madagascar jasmine), Aloe Vera, Rubber Tree, Asparagus Fern, Colocasia (Elephant Ears), Elderberry, Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane), Devil's Ivy, Daffodil, Tulips, Hydrangeas, Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily), Cycas revoluta (Sago Palm), Macadamia nuts (fruit), Cannabis, Cherries (trees and fruit), Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen), Oleander, Wisteria, Rhubarb, Lilies (including Daylilies), Hyacinth, Strelitzia spp. (Bird of Paradise)... just to name a few!!
With careful planning and consideration, a pet-friendly landscape can provide a beautiful and harmonious space that offers enjoyment and safety for both homeowners and pets.
Broad Bean Time!
May & June are the best times in Perth to sow Broad Beans (also known as Fava Beans). A useful plant as an edible (all parts!) for humans or stock, or even just used as a green manure plant to increase nitrogen and organic matter in the soil. All parts are edible - leaves and young growth tips can be used eaten raw or lightly steamed like spinach, and taste a bit like peas. Young bean pods can be eaten whole like a regular bean; or once larger, pods can be shelled and each bean/seed can be cooked. My tip is not to wait until the pods are too large. Once beans reach about 2cm in size, they develop an outer skin that is tough, and is best removed before eating. If you pick the beans at an earlier stage (before individual beans reach around 1.5cms) they are sweet and tender and can be eaten without removing the outer skin. If you've only experienced the huge & tough ones sold in shops - you're in for a treat if you grow your own and harvest at a younger stage.
As nitrogen fixing legumes, they don't need to be planted into super rich soil - although some organic matter/compost will be beneficial. They do like well drained soil, and as they grow around 1.5m tall, may need staking or support - plants can be brittle and break in windy winter storms. Plant seeds at least 30 - 50cms apart to allow for growth and some airflow between plants. You can always thin or trim if you've overplanted. Broad beans can be grown in larger pots/containers (small/shallow pots - not so much), and will do best in a sunny spot in the garden. They're relatively pest free - although watch for aphids or snails; particularly for seedlings. Give plants a feed every month or so with a liquid feed to give them a boost; but they're not especially hungry plants.
Broad beans will begin to flower, but you won't see them set fruit until they're good and ready - it's a source of concern for people every year! But fruiting depends on day length and temperature; they'll set pods in their own sweet time - trust me!
As suggested, harvest young beans, steam lightly and serve with a bit of butter and salt & pepper. If you're not a fan of eating them on their own, use the beans in soups & stews, or puree and use as a base for pesto or dips. Beans can be dried and stored for planting next season, or using in cooking.
Photo Competition Winner - Hot stuff coming through!!!!
Yay! Perhaps boosted by our competition to win tickets to the Perth Garden Festival, we received a few entries for our photo competition this month.
We've chosen Daniel from Coondle (out towards Toodyay) as the winner, who loves his chilli plants. He had this to say:
Just sending a photo through for the competition. Pictured is some of the products (pickled chillies, dried chillies and some sweet chilli sauce) from the abundance of chillies we have been growing. We have had success with three varieties this year; cayenne (pictured), jalapeno, and scotch bonnet. Some 8 kgs were picked last weekend alone.
Kind Regards, Daniel
So do you love growing chillies? Or chrysanthemums? Beetroot or Bottlebrush? Garlic or Gerberas? What brings you joy?
Send us in YOUR garden photos with a few lines about what you're growing, or something special about your garden - and next month it might be YOU who wins a $50 store credit to spend with us. Get snapping!
Send in photos via email (mark subject 'photo competition') or via Messenger to be in the competition. We pick a winner every month - so why not put it in your diary to find something new in your garden every month and send through those photos regularly to be in with a red hot chance to win.
VIP Special Offer
This month, we've got a delivery deal for you! Members get 30% off the DELIVERY charge for bulk deliveries...
Orders need to be booked over the phone or in store. Please ask our team for the VIP delivery special. If you're a distance from Green Life - this is a great opportunity to get soil delivered and score a decent saving.
Not valid with any other offer; and only valid until end of June 2023. Discount does not apply to split load fees or any additional handling charges - if applicable.
So what are you waiting for? Get that native garden mulched, your vegie garden topped up, or whatever else you've been planning (but haven't gotten around to)!
Please support your local independent retailer who supports us! The specialist retailers listed here will be happy to give you gardening advice and help you with our products - please call to check what lines they carry as they can't stock all of our products (but may be willing to get stock in for a custom order - if you ask nicely!). Some of these fabulous retailers also offer a home delivery service (marked with *) - so why not go local? (Please contact the store directly for details.)
Daisy Field Organics - Fremantle
Ardess Nursery (Albany) 9842 9952
THANK YOU for being part of our Green Life family! We hope to see you in store soon. Check out our newsletter next month & stay up to date with our Facebook and Instagram pages for announcements, stock arrivals and general good gardening vibes!