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Well HELLO and welcome to April!  Autumn is in full swing and it's been fantastic to have had lots of rain up our way over Easter (although commiserations to anyone who went camping over the break!)

Our workshop program is in full swing - remember to check out our EVENTS page to see what's coming up - there are new sessions being added regularly as dates are confirmed.  We're open to suggestions from our customers to know what topics they'd like to learn about - so please let us know if you have ideas!

Remember we have our brand new delivery pricing in place - meaning you'll be getting cheaper bulk deliveries (and maybe even FREE delivery if you meet the criteria); so spread the word!  I think you'll find it makes our pricing very competitive.  Our website has all the details here.

So happy gardening - enjoy this highly productive time in your garden, and we hope to see you soon!

Linda & the Team @ Green Life

In This Newsletter:

Jobs to do in the garden
What to plant now
Composting - which method suits you?
Perth Garden Festival
VIP Freebie!  

Jobs to do in the garden

  • Revitalise your lawn for autumn.  Now the cooler weather is on its way, it's time to get busy.  See our lawn fact sheet here.
  • Watch for snails, slugs, aphids and mildew in damper conditions.  Mildew can be prevented by mixing regular milk (1 part milk) to water (9 parts) and spraying every 5 days; try to get under foliage too.  Controlling mildew will extend the life of your summer curcurbit crops to get as much produce as possible.
  • Plant your winter vegies - check out our free, downloadable guide for autumn/winter vegies right here.
  • Harvest autumn leaves and start a compost pile  (see our article below on what type of compost system works for your lifestyle)
  • Sow a green manure crop if you have the space.  We have green manure seed packs available; allow to grow until plants are about to flower then slash and allow to rot back into the ground to increase the organic matter before planting spring crops.
  • Give your citrus some TLC.  It's time for light prune to ensure branches are about 1m above the ground, and and reduce the canopy if necessary to ensure good airflow/light to the tree.  Treat any scale (if present) and feed with a balanced fertliser and rock dust - our blood & bone (which contains rock dust) and a dash of potash is ideal.
  • Separate any Globe Artichoke suckers that are emerging.  (Gorgeous Globe Artichoke flower is pictured above.) Remove from the old plant with a sharp knife or spade edge and separate the new growth to replant.
  • Divide and re-pot perennial herbs into fresh potting mix to renew them.

What to plant now

See our downloadable 'When to Sow' guide here on our website.  Some suggestions are:

Asian Greens, Artichoke, Asparagus (seeds/seedlings), Beetroot, Broad beans, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery & Celeriac, Coriander, Fennel, Garlic*, Kale, Kohl rabi, Leek, Lettuce, Onion, Peas, Potato*, Radish, Silverbeet, Spinach, Spring Onions, Strawberries, Turnip.

I've mentioned Coriander (which LOVES these milder conditions & is pictured here) but autumn is also a great time to plant many herbs like Thyme, Parsley, Chives, Garlic Chives, Fennel, Mint, Rocket.  Avoid planting Basil now (as it will struggle over winter) unless you can plant in pots & keep in a warm spot to prolong the growing season.

It's also a great time to strike cuttings of many perennial herbs, including:  Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Oregano, Lavender and Wormwood.  Take about 8cms of healthy growth off the tips of the plant, remove about 1/3 of the lower foliage on the cutting, dip the end in honey and plant into a propagating mix (or try potting mix if it's what you have available).   Water regularly but avoid keeping the mix too wet - it needs to be well drained (excess dampness will cause cuttings to rot).  Look for signs of top growth or new roots emerging from the bottom of your shallow planting pots/trays (recycling punnets is good for this) in about 8-10 weeks and re-plant when necessary.

*  In stock:  Italian Pink Garlic, local & organically grown - for planting.  Coming soon!  Certified Organic Seed Potatoes - we have been told these will be available from the 18th April.  First varieties coming on stream will be 'Dutch Cream' and 'Ruby Red'.  

Composting - What Method Works For You?

We all KNOW we should compost, right?  Food waste being picked up from our verge by a diesel-burning truck, taken to be buried in a lined hole in the ground really doesn't make sense.  Autumn is a great time to begin composting - there's usually prunings/waste from garden tidy-ups, and lots of leaves from deciduous trees which make a great composting resource.  But if you don't have much space, or don't have a lot of time - what are your options?  Here, we hope we can offer some ideas & alternative ways to deal with your waste:

Bokashi

What is it?
The word means 'fermented organic matter' in Japanese.  It is an anaerobic system of composting that has become popular in recent years.

Pros

  • Requires very little space - any bucket with a well fitting lid will suffice, but kits (with drainage taps) are readily available.
  • Can handle ALL compostable materials, including meat, dairy and bread scraps which are not recommended in regular composting systems.
  • No unpleasant odours to stink out your yard.  The liquid leachate makes a great fertiliser!
  • Easy - anyone can do it!
  • Suits those living in apartments without direct access to a garden for traditional compost making.

Cons

  • Ideally you have at least two buckets/systems - so you can allow the bokashi to mature and have somewhere to put new scraps.
  • You need a bokashi mix - which can be purchased (or made) to add to the buckets.  This contains the microbes which do all the work.
  • The 'finished' physical waste, although reduced in matter, still needs to be disposed of.  You can add it to worm farms (ideal), bury it or put it in your bin; but unfortunately it doesn't magically disappear.

More info:  http://www.wmrc.wa.gov.au

Horizontal Composting

What is it?
Ideal for lazy gardeners (or 'time poor' if you prefer that description!) - it is a neat term for 'chop and drop' composting; ie. allowing things to rot in-situ in your garden bed - which is really copying what nature does on the forest floor.  Don't be concerned about nitrogen drawdown - it simply isn't a big enough factor with material on the soil's surface.

Pros

  • Ideal for garden waste - whether you choose to put it through a mulcher (which will speed up decomposition) or allow prunings to remain intact.
  • Recycles nutrients from that same spot in your garden - ie. fertiliser taken up by that plant will be returned to the soil for re-use by that plant.
  • Least amount of work possible in your garden.
  • Can be used for weeds - use them to feed the soil and prevent more from coming up with this layer of composting mulch!  (Assuming no seed heads.)

Cons

  • House-proud gardeners simply can't cope with the 'mess'.  :-D
  • Not suitable for kitchen waste (unless buried) as it may attract pests.
  • Not suitable if you have diseased plant material, as it may spread in the soil.

More info:  http://www.gardenmyths.com/

Compost Towers

What is it?
At its most basic, a compost tower is a vertical hole dug in your garden that you bury your compost in.  Dig about 30cms deep (deeper if you want) and add your waste material.  A more complex model involves a vertical tower (PVC sewer pipe, or a plastic bin with the bottom cut out so it forms a tube) that you at least half bury into the soil.  A lid can be added to keep out vermin and keep smells in.  We sell the ready-made Compost Canon as a kit.

Pros

  • DIY - no expensive materials needed.
  • Excellent to incorporate worms - drill additional 5mm holes up and down the tube to allow worms easy access.
  • You can have several dotted around your garden to rotate use & extend the usage life of each hole.  When full - remove tube, cover scraps & re-plant tower somewhere else.
  • Can be positioned to 'feed' particular trees or vegie beds in your garden with the seasons.
  • Don't require a large amount of space

Cons

  • To prevent rodents or pets accessing your scraps, a well-fitting lid should be used on the tube/bin.
  • Not usually suited to large amounts of waste or garden prunings, etc. as they fill up too quickly.

More info: www.compostingcannon.com.au/

Compost Bins

What is it?
Many types of compost bin are available - flatpacked kits that you assemble to make a square shaped bin, or rounded 'dalek' style bins.  Both come with lids and are very common.  Ideally, they should be slightly buried into the earth to allow worms access.  Watch that rodents don't tunnel under - if necessary use a fine steel mesh underneath to prevent access.

Pros

  • They look quite tidy in the corner of your yard.
  • Easily handles kitchen scraps for most families.
  • Inexpensive and commonly available.
  • Can be used as cold composting bins - throw in your waste and leave bin when full for (up to) 12 months.  Nature does the work for you.

Cons

  • Hard to get a fork or spade into to turn the compost
  • Volume is not quite enough to ensure high internal temperature to kill weed seeds.
  • As compost takes time to mature, at least two bins are required to have an 'in use' bin for scraps and a 'maturing bin' for active composting.
  • Unless maintained (regular turning, adding water, etc.) composting tends to be slow.
  • then there's the risk of this happening: http://www.tastefullyoffensive.com/

More info: http://www.sgaonline.org.au/choosing-a-compost-bin/

Compost Tumblers

What is it?
Compost tumblers are a drum on a frame.  You add the compost through a hatch, and remove compost the same way when it's ready.  The 'tumbling' process removes the need to fork and manually turn compost; so in theory the process is easier and quicker than manual bins.

Pros

  • Completely enclosed & off the ground means rodents and curious pets can't access the waste.
  • Compost is aerated in the turning process and thus matures much faster than in regular compost bins.
  • Tidy and non-smelly for house proud gardeners.
  • Some designs make it easy to get a wheelbarrow underneath the bin for emptying*. 
  • Enclosed units tend to hold moisture better than open bins.

Cons

  • You need more than one compost tumbler to allow the full bin to mature (you shouldn't keep adding fresh scraps).
  • It does require turning - recommended daily - and a bit more attention to the carbon/nitrogen ratio as sealed units can go sloppy more easily; so some maintenance required for optimal results.
  • More expensive initial outlay - but bins should last you many years.
  • A little more space is required to access and turn bins.  (Not so good hard up against a shed wall, for example)
  • Bins can be heavy/difficult to turn when full; and difficult to empty (*depending on design.)

More info: http://www.motherearthnews.com/

Aerobin Composting System

What is it?
A 'closed compost system' - where you put your food scraps and garden waste in at one end, and remove finished compost at the other end.  A lot of research & development went into these systems; they are patented and come with an associated price tag.  I have spoken to both raving fans and people who aren't that impressed.  My suspicion is that they work really well - providing you stick to 'the rules' and compost the 'right way'.  The company seems to have a good reputation for customer support; which is always important.

Pros

  • You only need one bin - there are several sizes available to suit your household.
  • There is no turning required, and basically no maintenance (unless things go wrong).
  • Easy to remove the finished compost material.
  • Liquid leachate can be harvested and used on the garden.
  • Sealed and vermin proof.  Can be positioned on paving as it closed on the bottom.

Cons

  • Initial outlay is quite expensive.
  • Usually a learning process involved to understand and master the system.
  • Large models are LARGE.   A full bin can weigh up to 400kgs so you won't be moving one in a hurry.
  • While you can add worms once you have some mature compost produced, they can't find their way into a sealed unit so must be intentionally added. 

More info: https://www.aerobin400.com/

Compost Heaps

What is it?
The age-old method of composting most of us grew up with!  Ideally a compost heap should be enclosed on at least three sides as the volume needs to be about 1m3 in order to generate enough internal heat to break down waste quickly and compost weed seeds.

Pros

  • Cheap - can be as simple as a heap on the ground.  Or you can build bays out of recycled materials.
  • If you have space, it's easy to keep adding another heap when needed, or in times of peak compost production (eg. garden tidy-ups)
  • Time-honoured method; lots of published advice on ways to achieve good results
  • Easy to access with a garden fork/spade.

Cons

  • Easy access to your scraps by rodents and pets.
  • Can be unsightly and smelly - not suited to smaller suburban subdivisions.
  • Requires maintenance - adding water, and turning regularly (1-2 weeks) for best results.
  • At least two heaps/bays required to have an 'in use' heap and a 'maturing' heap.

More info:  http://www.abc.net.au/

Worm Farms

What is it?
Worms turn your food scraps into worm castings, which are a valuable addition to your garden soil, potting mix and seed raising mixes.  Composting worms are not our local earthworms, who exist in the soil and happily eat decaying organic matter, but aren't as voracious or effective at devouring scraps like their tropical cousins that we know as composting worms.  (Worm Cafe Kit pictured here)

Pros

  • Worm farms don't take up a lot of space and are suited to courtyards and balconies.
  • Liquid leachate and worm castings are great additives to your organic garden.
  • Easy care & low maintenance (provided you follow a few basic rules).
  • Worm farms can be DIY and extremely low cost, or are readily available as kits.

Cons

  • Not suitable for meat, dairy or bread; you're best sticking to vegetable matter (cooked vegie scraps are fine) and shredded paper.
  • Not suitable for large volumes of garden waste, prunings, etc.
  • Ideally, large & coarse material (eg. broccoli stems) should be chopped - worms don't have teeth and need material broken down to digest.
  • Worms need to be protected from extremes of temperature; so some provision needs to be made in summer to keep them happy.

More info:  http://www.foodwise.com.au/

General notes on composting:  

With the exception of the bokashi method, physical composting still requires some attention to the 'recipe' of your compost and the carbon to nitrogen ratio.  In closed systems (tumblers and Aerobin systems) this is even more important.

'Hot' composting refers to the natural heating up of decomposing material as bacteria get to work with the waste.  Hot composting produces compost quicker, cooks weed seeds and some pathogens.  Hot composting needs more careful attention.  You can buy temperature probes to help you monitor internal temperature of piles.  Paying attention to moisture and regular turning of compost is required to achieve hot composting.  It's work; but some people love mastering the detail and the fantastic results they achieve.

'Cold' composting refers to the slower process of allowing things to rot down.  All organic material, with enough moisture, will break down over time.  Compost can be made this way, and there's nothing wrong with the resulting material to use in your garden, but remember you may get weed seeds germinating that have been through your compost.  Aside from that, it's a great method for those that have the space to allow it and little time & inclination to maintain their composting systems.  Worm farms operate on the cold composting method.

See our fact sheet on compost here:  http://www.greenlifesoil.com.au/sustainable-gardening-tips/compost-the-essentials (and we've got heaps of info on keeping worms, too) ... Or come along to our workshop on Saturday, 23rd July which will look more in depth at Bokashi and composting systems suitable for the home gardener.   It's not yet open to bookings; but keep an eye on our EVENTS page right here as it will be live soon; once I have a few more details confirmed with the presenters.

Remember if you can't produce sufficient compost for your garden needs, talk to us about how we can help with composts and other soil improvers to help your garden thrive!

Perth Garden Festival 

This year the Festival is on April 28 - 1st May at McCallum Park, Victoria Park (off Canning Highway).  GLSC will be there in a small capacity with Vegepods (along with Leesa from The Greenhouse Organic & all her lovely seedlings).  So if you're curious about Vegepods and how they work, come along and check them out, and say 'Hi'.

You can buy tickets online and get an earlybird discount - see the website for more details:  http://perthgardenfestival.com/

There will be lots of plants for sale, display gardens, free talks and info on many aspects of gardening; all suited to Perth.  If you were put off in recent years by the declining quality of the Festival; new organisers last year did a great job at their new venue and I'm sure it will be even better this year, now that they have the confidence of the industry behind them.


VIP Freebie!    Seed Potatoes are coming!!  

Once our potatoes have arrived (due approx. 18th April) VIP members can pick up a 2kg pack of certified organic seed potatoes for FREE with any purchase over $75.  

We are expecting to receive 'Dutch Cream' and 'Ruby Red' varieties initially.

- Customers - please check with us when potatoes have arrived to avoid disappointment (9250 4575)
- In store customers - please ask for the offer at time of purchase.
- Online customers, please mention the VIP potato offer in your delivery notes/special instructions.
- Limit once per customer, valid to 15th May or while stocks last.

THANK YOU for supporting our business ~ it is appreciated!  :-D





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