Hello Green-Lifers - and welcome to February! At this time of year things are settling into a 'routine' - kids are back at school, holiday season is over and the year is really underway. It's time to get back into the garden.
Hasn't this rain been awesome? Although we've still got some hot weather in front of us, it is a reminder that the seasons are changing, and if you want to get a head start on your Autumn garden, then we've got some tips to help you.
Also this month we're announcing our Tomato Contest Winners. Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter; it is always great to see the variety of tomatoes you're growing.
We've got a whole new round of workshops coming for the first half of the year - now listed on our website. We'd love to know what other workshops you may be interested in, so drop us a line with your ideas.
Last - but not least - there's our VIP special and a bit of fun (with Valentine's Day just around the corner) showing that growing your own peps up your love life!
So we hope you enjoy this newsletter - as always, your feedback is welcome.
Happy gardening & stay cool!
Linda @ The Team at The Green Life Soil Co
(Pictured right: Blueberry - recently planted into our NEW low pH Blueberry potting mix - have you tried it yet?)
In this Newsletter:
Jobs to do in the Garden - Preparing for Autumn
What to Plant Now
Tomato Contest - The Winners!
Valentine's Day - the food of Love?
VIP Special Offer
Jobs to do in the Garden in February
- Your existing vegie garden will need some TLC over the hot days of February and maybe into March. Give a light liquid feed to vegies every two weeks and make sure your plants are getting regular water. Continue providing shade in heatwave conditions. The more protection you can give your plants, the less likely they will bolt to seed. Use a soil wetter or a product like our Sand Remedy to help if you have water repellency problems.
- It is almost time to prepare the soil for winter planting. If you have an area where your summer crops are spent; remove them and add some manure, or compost and plenty of water and turn through. Put a layer of mulch (straw works well) on top and leave to settle down before planting in a few weeks time. Ensure the area gets a thorough watering at least once a week - soil will need to be moist in order for microbes to get to work and break down the organic matter! Dig in some rock dust to provide a range of minerals and trace elements.
- Check your compost. If it's dry - ensure you add plenty of water and turn it weekly at least. The heat will enable it to cook down quickly and you will be in time to add it to your autumn/winter garden. If you're looking to expand your compost making skills - check out our workshop coming up later in the year on Hot Composting. This is where compost making gets serious!!
- As the weather begins to cool down (and with rain on the way), it's time to topdress your lawn. Aerate your lawn, use a soil wetter and apply our Lawn Top dress. Follow this link for an article by Nick Bell published last February on lawn care at this time of year.
- It's a great time to take tip cuttings of your favourite perennial herbs & shrubs.
- Trim/deadhead roses and feed to encourage autumn flowering. Watch for blackspot on leaves.
- Watch for signs of powdery mildew on your pumpkins and melons. Remove leaves if in the early stages and spray with milk (full cream & water at a ratio of milk 1:9 water) or chamomile tea, making sure you get the underside of leaves and on top of the soil/mulch below the plant, where spores can remain.
- Separate your strawberries if they have finished fruiting. If you have healthy runners, separate them, trim them back and plant into fresh soil (especially avoid planting where solanum crops [tomatoes/eggplants/capsicum] have been growing).
- Use your basil & enjoy it! If your garden is like ours, your basil plants are in full swing right now (see photo). So harvest some & experiment with drying it, or freezing it for a year-round supply, or making pesto (which can also be frozen). A basic pesto recipe can be found here.
What to Plant Now
Gardeners are excited that it's time to get seeds started for your autumn garden. Check out our free, downloadable When to Sow guides here - we've got one for Vegetables and one for Herbs.
Some of the choices include:
Beans, Broccoli, Beetroot, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Kale, Kohl Rabi (the alien looking thing pictured right), Leek, Lettuce, Parsnip, Radish, Silverbeet, Spring Onions, Swede, Turnip
Ensure any tender seedlings started off now are protected and nurtured to make sure they survive until transplant stage. Use a good quality seed raising mix, keep out of direct sun and ensure seedlings receive sufficient moisture - but have good drainage. Seedlings that are too wet, or kept under protective covering without good air circulation are prone to fungal problems and dampening off disease.
At Green Life, we've got a good range of heritage/non-hybrid seeds in stock, and will have autumn/winter seedlings coming on-stream over the next few weeks - so if you're impatient to get your autumn garden started, drop in and see us soon! Pick up a bag of our Certified Organic Seed Raising Mix and give it a try. (Pssssst: Check out our VIP special offer below!)
2017 Tomato Contest
Thank you to everyone who took the time to drop off entries in our 2017 Tomato Contest. As always, judging is difficult and totally subjective - but we're pleased to announce the winners are:
1st Prize - Best Tasting Tomato ($300 Voucher) - Peter Langlands with his 'Tommy Toe' Tomato (pictured right)
2nd Prize - Best Tasting Tomato ($75 Voucher) - Jake & Toby Brinfield with a variety of black cherry tomato which was sweet with an unusual flavour
3rd Prize - Best Tasting Tomato ($50 Voucher) - Sally Roberts with an unusual yellow heirloom variety 'Lemon Boy'. The tastiest yellow tomato we've ever had! This was a good sized and very attractive looking fruit - definitely a variety to look at including in your selection next year.
Smallest Tomato - weighing in at 1gm (and according to Paul - tasting terrible!) - Peter Langlands with a tiny cherry tomato of unknown variety
Biggest Tomato - weighing in at an impressive 353gms - Dan Rea with a 'Budget Lifter' tomato (large beefsteak type) - great for slicing
Special mention/Tomato Enthusiast award goes to Craig Liebeck, who submitted the most varieties of tomato, and who was a very close runner up in the taste ladder. I'm sure you'll see the range of shapes/sizes & colours is impressive in the photo below/right.
I asked Peter if he'd be willing to share some of his tips for growing tasty tomatoes, and this is what he has shared with us:
"This season I grew a green manure over winter (using Green Life seeds ;) which was dug in and left to rot for a month or two.
I started the tomatoes from seeds (Diggers) in a tray. When these had the second set of leafs, I transplanted them to small pots (10-15cm) and grew on till they were 15-20 cm high. At this point I prepped the planting beds by adding rock dust, blood and bone and kelp. I plant out the plants in single rows at 25cm spacing. I remove the lower leaves and plant them quite deep, half to two thirds of seedling. I prefer to grow indeterminate varieties and Cherries are the easiest. For these, as they grow, I remove all side branches (suckers) and train up twine tied to a frame or wire strung between star pickets so they can grow up to 2m high.
I water deeply every few days and move to daily watering when it warms up. When summer really hits (first 40C days) I add 50% shade cloth and leave up for the rest of summer to protect from burning. Any signs of blossom end rot and I'll foliar spray or watering can fine gypsum (Calcium sulfate) or powdered egg shells. I will also feed fish emulsion a few times as they grow and start to fruit.
As they begin to change colour I put netting over them to stop birds getting them. Best to leave them on the bush until they are nice and dark red for full flavour."
Sally - our 3rd place winner had this to say: "You must take some credit as it is always your soil I buy, your rock dust but my egg shells and Sabrina's advice "not to prune"!... I am picking a bucket of tomatoes each day so friends and family are benefitting too!"
So there you go - file those tips away for next Spring and perhaps YOU'LL be the winner of our contest next year! But one thing we know for sure - if you grow your own tomatoes - you're a winner anyway. Nothing can compare to home grown goodness and freshness!
Topics include Propagation, Grow Your Own Food and Medicine (a series of workshops that can be attended individually addressing a variety of health and wellbeing topics), Grafting Techniques, Hot Composting, Compost Teas, Backyard Chickens - and more are in the pipeline. Keep an eye on our Events page to be up to date, and follow us on Facebook
Happy Valentine's Day!
Growing Your Own adds some spice to your love life - according to a survey conducted at a UK garden show a few years ago.
Nine out of ten people who took part in the survey said the impact of 'growing your own' food felt it improved their relationships with loved ones.
Far from escaping their other half by getting into the garden, seven out of ten people said they work on their gardens together with their partner, and it helps them feel closer to each other.
Hundreds of people took part in the poll. 75% of respondents said they grew their own food because of the improved taste, 75% enjoyed gardening as an activity, 60% said they did it to save money, and 100% of people said they felt healthier and happier eating their own home grown food.
Relationships with partners weren't the only ones to benefit. Eight out of ten people said children in the family enjoyed helping planting and nurturing their own food.
Food as an aphrodisiac
Some surprising fruit & vegies make the list* of supposedly aphrodisiac foods, including:
Chilli - releases endorphins; the 'feel good' chemical in your brain
Avocado - the fruits high level of Vitamin E are said to promote youthful vigour
Globe Artichokes - whether it's vitamins or the intimate act of 'stripping' the leaves; it makes the list
Figs - an age-old symbol of fertility. Also high in potassium and antioxidants
Pomegranate - full of antioxidants and it has been suggested in some studies pomegranate juice can help with erectile disfunction
Strawberries - full of Vitamin C. What romantic picnic would be complete without them dipped in chocolate?
Cherries - like strawberries, packed with feel good vitamins
Pumpkin seeds - high in magnesium, which is said to raise testosterone levels
Olive oil - Ancient Greeks believed olives increased male virility. Today, the healthy fat in olives is acknowledged to support hormone production
Rocket - contains antioxidants and minerals and touted for centuries as raising libido
Pine nuts - full of zinc, said to help support male fertility
Watermelon - contains lycopene, said to improve blood circulation in the same way as pomegranate
Bananas - contains an enzyme which triggers testosterone production
Honey - said to support both male and female hormone production
Onions & Garlic - while maybe not so great for your breath - both contain natural chemicals that support testosterone production
* 'List' is made up of data dubiously sourced from the internet. No responsibility taken by GLSC for the result - or lack thereof!
VIP Special Offer
We've been telling you it's time to get your autumn/winter seeds going - and to help you, this month our VIP/newsletter deal is:
Spend $50 to receive a bag of our Certified Organic Seed Raising Mix for $5.00 (regular price is $14.00 per bag).
If ordering a delivery, ask us to add the bag to your invoice noting the special deal.
If ordering online, you'll find the discounted seed raising mix in our 'VIP/members section' to add to your order - so you'll need to be signed into the website in order to find it.
In store - obviously ask one of our friendly team to grab it for you (and remind them of the VIP price).
Limit of one per customer & valid until end of February 2017.