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Hello & Welcome to October! Spring has been wonderful so far and I hope your gardens are thriving.  If you still haven't had the chance to get into yours yet - there is still time to get things underway before the heat sets in.

In this newsletter we've got some pointers for growing from seed.  It's the cheapest way to get a garden growing; and once you have enjoyed a growing season you can save your own seed for next year!  Plus we've got jobs to do in the garden now, things to plant right now, a VIP special offer & more...

We're also asking FOR YOUR HELP this newsletter in two important ways:-

1)  Do it in a Dress.  Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th October we are having a fundraising initiative to support DO IT IN A DRESS.  All our team will be wearing dresses and we'll be raising money for One Girl - A charity that supports the education of girls; predominately in Africa.  We've got Nick Bell coming in on the Saturday and Leesa Caldwell on the Sunday; so come in and get some FREE garden advice and help us out supporting this worthwhile cause.

2)  Vote for us!!!  GLSC has nominated in this years Organic Consumer's Choice awards in two categories; Organic Specialist and Favourite organic product - our lovely Certified Organic Premium Vegetable Mix.  PLEASE, Please take the time to click on this link and vote for us to be in the running.  While we'd get a lovely trophy, YOU get the chance to win some great prizes just by voting.  Entries close on 31 October, so please jump in and do it soon!

So enjoy this newsletter, and enjoy your garden this Spring!

team pictureLinda & The Team 

Jobs to do in the Garden Now
Things to Plant
Growing From Seed
Do it in a Dress - What's it all about?  (AND meet the experts!)
Organic Consumers Choice Awards - Vote NOW
VIP special offer

Jobs to do in the Garden - October

  • Weeds.  They will be going to seed now so slash or remove them if possible.  Even seed heads left on the ground won't spread as much as those allowed to spread on the wind. 
  • Fertilise.  If you haven't already fed fruit trees emerging from dormancy, roses, etc.  It's a great time to do so.  Add soil improvers like compost or our general concentrate to build the soil.
  • Repot & prosper!  It's a great time to freshen up & re-pot indoor plants and outdoor ones!  They will be putting on growth so topping up soil will keep them healthy.  Trim off dead growth, treat for any pests (scale, mealy bug are common on indoor plants), and give the leaves a good wipe over to remove dust.
  • Plant some potted colour!  Grab some seedlings of summer faithfuls like petunias, lobelias, dianthus - your local nursery will have a range - for some colour in your garden.  Plant now and things will be flowering nicely by summer, when you'll be wanting to enjoy your outdoor areas.
  • Pot up herbs, etc. for Christmas prezzies.  Living herb pots make lovely gifts.  Pot up herb seedlings (or divide some you may have growing) and by Christmas they will be growing strong and looking good.
  • Plant waterlilies & clean out your ponds.  As summer approaches, the ambiance of water in the garden is appreciated by people and animals, too.  Time to give your pond and pond plants some TLC.  Clean out, re-pot etc.  Worried about mozzies?  See us for Native Fish which are great to have in frog friendly gardens.
  • Check out your fruit trees.  If you have suffered brown rot in your fruit, spray when plant is in full bloom or at petal fall with an appropriate fungicide.  If you have fruit fly in your area, net your fruit (either individual fruit, branches or the whole tree) while fruit is forming - you don't want to leave it too late.
  • passionflowerPrune Passionfruit vines back by up to a third.  This will encourage the plant to put on lots of new growth, which is where the flowers are formed.  Feed up & mulch well.
  • Mulch your garden.  Get your mulch on early while there is still a moisture bank in the soil and you will have a greater chance to avoid water repellency and the top soil layer drying out. Check out our brand new downloadable Guide to Mulching; free on our website.  Click here.

Things to Plant in Your Garden Now

chilliThere's still time to get your seeds in for crops of:  Asian greens, Artichokes, Basil, Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli:*, Capsicum, Chilli, Carrots, Celery, Chives, Choko, Coriander*, Cucumber, Dill, Eggplant, Kale*, Leek, Lettuce, Melons, Parsley, Parsnip, Potato, Pumpkin, Radish, Rocket, Silverbeet, Spring Onion, Strawberry plants, Sweet Corn, Sweet Potato, Tomato, Turnip, Zucchini.

* these crops will need protection from cabbage moth and should be grown under insect netting.
* Coriander does not like extremes of heat and will bolt to seed if stressed.  If planting now, grow in sheltered, shady position and keep well watered.

herb propagation chartRemember that you can plant from seedlings of many of these plants, too - it will give you a jump start of at least 6 weeks in most cases from germinating from seed.  We have fresh seedling stock arriving weekly @ GLSC - check us out early in the weekend for the best range.  Click here to view the range Leesa (from The Greenhouse) is producing this year - please note it is a guide only and our weekly availability will vary.

Spring is a great time for growing many herbs.  See our brand new 'When to Plant Herbs' guide for Perth - free download on our website.  Click here.

seedsGrowing from Seed

There are many reasons to grow your own vegetables and flowers from seed. Generally, there is a wider range available of heritage seeds than seedlings, and it is certainly cheaper.  Given that you can save your own seeds of non-hybrid plants, once you have been growing a season or two you can produce much of your own seed stock; and have plenty to give away or swap for other varieties.

It is very rewarding to grow from seed, and definitely worth a try!  It is a good way to increase your gardening knowledge and teach children about where their food comes from.

If starting out, choose a few vegies & herbs that you like to grow.  Get hold of your seed and collect all the other things you need before you start.

You may have some old pots and seedling punnets lying around - it is fine to recycle these.  Give them a good soak in a bucket of hot water and detergent (a small drop of household bleach is also good), then after a soak give them a scrub to ensure any remaining dirt is cleaned away.  Dry them in the sun for a while and you're ready to go!  Small pots are probably easier to use than large ones; and you can also recycle old containers and even toilet paper rolls (see photos).  The advantage of these is the whole roll can be planted out, and will decompose into the soil with no root disturbance caused by transplanting.

It is important to use a good seed raising mix.  At GLSC we make a specialised mix that is Certified Organic.  It is a lovely mix to use.  (You can purchase in store or on line.)  Don't use normal garden soil or potting mix; it won't give you such good results.  A good seed raising mix needs to be light and fluffy so that tiny, emerging roots can push through. Air flow in the soil is also important, and the ability to retain moisture.  It should have a neutral pH.  Seed raising mix doesn't need to have a great deal of nutrition added, as it is a short term growing medium.  To make your own seed raising mix, you can use sieved compost, coir or cocopeat, and some people use sieved worm castings.  Vermiculite or perlite are also used to lighten the mix.  (A mixture of any of these ingredients is also good.)

Have some labels ready - whether you recycle used plant tags or cut down old icecream or margarine containers; have something to use.  It's tempting to think you will remember what you've planted in each tray...  but many experienced gardeners have learnt that it's best not to rely on memory!  I find it useful to record the date too.

A dibbler is a special tool used for planting - for most seeds a pencil works well.  Other 'tools' you may consider include a watering can with a fine rose or a spray bottle to mist seedlings, and any cover/s - if you want to make a mini-greenhouse.  Plastic storage tubs work well - they allow light to penetrate and you can remove the tops in warmer weather to allow for air circulation.  I have found many of these are not UV stablised (designed to be used in the dark recesses of a wardrobe no doubt) and don't last well outdoors, so clean them and put them away in the shed when not required.  Otherwise, make simple "tent covers" with bent wire and clear plastic, or bubble wrap - be inventive and recycle!

So ready to go?  Fill your clean pots or punnets with whatever seed raising mix you use, and tap lightly to settle.  Water evenly to help settle the mix and leave aside to drain.

Open seed packets carefully so you can re-seal them.   Sow seeds thinly; if using a punnet, one per cell is good.  Otherwise, seedlings will need to be thinned and this can damage them - just something to consider.  The general rule with sowing seeds is to watch the depth of planting.  Don't go deeper than two and a half times their diameter.  Tiny seeds don't have the strength to push up through deep layers of soil, and any that do will be weakened and more prone to diseases.  Sowing too deeply is one of the main reasons people aren't successful with raising their own plants from seed.  (I made a small indentation with the pencil and popped a corn seed in each hollow in this picture.  Then I lightly covered with more seed raising mix.)

Small seeds like lettuce don't need much covering, and can be sown by pressing each seed down lightly into the mix with the back of the pencil.  The objective is to bring the seed into contact with the soil, not to bury it completely.  Lettuce seeds actually need light to germinate.

Other seeds like tomatoes, capsicum, etc. can be placed on top and covered with a small amount of your seed raising mix.

Large seeds, like pumpkins, zucchini, etc. can be planted into a small hole made by that ever-handy pencil and covered with more soil.

Once you have planted your seeds, water thoroughly with a fine rose from your hose nozzle or a watering can.  You can add a dash of seaweed/kelp fertiliser which is a good plant tonic if you like.  There is no need to fertilise again until you plant out your healthy seedlings in a month or two.

Place your seed trays in a warm spot with filtered light where you can check them regularly.  Depending on weather, you may need to give them a light watering or spray once or twice a day.  The objective is to keep the soil damp but not flooded.  Tiny seeds may germinate and you won't even see it - but if allowed to dry out, they will die and you've lost your potential crop.  (My corn seeds were just starting to pop up today - 8 days after planting.)

Some seed will germinate very quickly - within a week, but most take between 14 - 21 days, and some even longer.  Don't despair if your seed seems to be taking a long time, as sometimes nature will wait until conditions are just right to make it happen.

The main reasons people don't have success with growing from seed are:

  • incorrect depth - sowing too deep or two shallow. 
  • incorrect watering - either too wet or too dry.
  • temperature - many vegetable seeds need warm soil to germinate.  If it is too cold, seed will remain dormant until the temperature increases.  Remember that soil temperature is always cooler than air temperature in Spring.
  • viability of seed.  Sometimes, seed is either too old or wasn't viable to begin with.  It's always worth attempting to grow from seed; but sometimes - despite your best efforts - it just doesn't work.  That's the challenge of gardening!!!

Once your seedlings are mature (usually with several 'proper' leaves formed - not just the first leaves (known as cotyledons) use that trusty pencil to gently 'prick out' the seedlings and plant into your garden bed.  Water in well (seaweed or kelp is great for helping with transplant shock) and be alert for pests like snails and slaters which LOVE young tender seedlings!  (See our other articles/guides for help with natural pest control.)

For further reading see our fact sheet on growing from seed and our When to Plant Guide for propagation/germination tips.

Do It In A Dress  (And our in store gardening experts - Nick Bell & Leesa Caldwell)

Do it in a dress is the fundraising initiative of "One Girl" - a Melbourne based charity that focuses on providing education for girls; predominantly in Sierra Leone and Uganda.  Why?  Here's just one statistic:   A girl born in Sierra Leone is more likely to be sexually assaulted than go to high school.  

And in much of Africa, only one in six girls ever get to attend school at all.  Most girls, denied of an education, are married young, and spend their lives in poverty.  Studies throughout the world have shown that by educating girls, the marriage age in society rises, women have fewer, healthier children and are able to provide for their families better.  In short, it breaks the poverty cycle and helps their society as a whole.  Happy and healthy societies make the world a better (and safer) place for all of us.  

So largely, because we are in a male dominated workplace, I thought it would be a bit of fun to have the boys frock up and support this worthwhile charity.  They're up for it.  Any additional challenges for them?  I'm sure they'd consider it for the right sized donation to the cause!

All the team will don a frock to wear on the weekend of 10th & 11th September, and GLSC will be donating part of our proceeds.  We'll also have donation boxes on the counter, and you can contribute direct to our fundraising page on line:

Please come in and visit us!  Nick Bell will be here on the Saturday morning (approx. 10.30 - 12.30)  to demonstrate Square Foot Gardening and answer your gardening & lawn queries.  Come and see how our Vegepod display garden is going.  He will be giving you some great seasonal growing tips.

 Leesa Caldwell (from The Greenhouse Organic) will be here on Sunday afternoon (approx. 12.00 - 2.00) to do a talk on herbs, and to help you with your vegie & propagation queries.  Leesa will be talking about the medicinal qualities of herbs (as well as their culinary uses) and can give you lots of helpful tips on growing them.

We hope to see you!  

Organic Consumers Choice Awards - Vote NOW

National Organic Week 2015 runs from Friday 2nd to Sunday 11th October.  As part of the awareness of the organics industry in Australia, The Centre for Organic Research and Education is running its Annual Organic Consumer's Choice Awards.  

Green Life Soil Co has entered in two categories; under "organic specialist", and we have entered our renowned Certified Organic Premium Vegetable Mix as  "Product of the Year - Organic Garden & Farming Product".

We need your help to vote!  So if you love our products, and want to get behind a local Perth business get some recognition from the East Coast - PLEASE click here and vote for us in both categories!

Each vote will enter you in the draw to WIN a gorgeous hamper of organic goodies - there are over 20 to be won..

Voting is open 2 - 31st October, so please don't delay!!!


VIP freebie offer - Get your Spring garden off to a flying start!

As you would have read - we're having a special weekend here 10th & 11th October.  Visit us in store over this weekend and receive two FREE Certified Organic vegetable seedling punnets with any purchase over $50.  Just mention you're a VIP member to claim the deal.

Available Saturday and Sunday 10th & 11th October in store only - while stocks last.

Until next time, Happy Gardening from all of us @ GLSC!!!!

NASAA Organic Certified ProductsNASAA Organic Certified Products