Download our FREE when to plant guide -  click here

new leafAutumn is officially here!  After a mild summer, it looks like we've got a few hot days on our hands early March - but it's obvious that the days are becoming shorter and the seasons are changing.  The garden knows it!

With Autumn & Winter being fantastic opportunities for gardening here in Perth, we're really excited to "let the games begin!"

We've got some workshops kicking off this month - see our EVENTS page for more info - and there's more to be added once dates, etc. are confirmed with presenters - so keep an eye on this page.

For those of you who live a little further away and find it hard to get to Green Life; we're continuing to expand our network of retailers...  see the end of the newsletter for an updated list of where you can grab some of your favourite GLSC products a little closer to home.

produce basketAlso this month we announce the winner for our 2018 tomato contest & she gives us her winning tips...  Check out this GORGEOUS photo of her tomatoes (and a couple of other fresh picked goodies).  Doesn't it inspire you to get growing?

We certainly hope it does, and you find satisfaction and joy outside this autumn in the garden.

Happy Gardening!
Linda & the Team @ The Green Life Soil Co  

Pictured below right - Paul at a recent trade event hosted at Green Life Soil Co.

WALDA eventIn this newsletter:

Jobs for the March Garden
Prepping Your Garden for Autumn Planting
What to Plant Now
Tomato Contest 2018
Monthly Photo Competition
VIP special offer
Retailer Update

Jobs for the March Garden

  • powdery mildewPumpkin & Zucchini might be showing signs of powdery mildew as the nights are getting cooler.  This is quite normal and signifies the plant is nearing the end of its seasonal lifespan.  You can spray with milk & water (1:9) every couple of days to help slow down the spread; but apart from that avoid overhead watering and keep nurturing the plant to help the last fruit reach maturity.  Pictured right is the mildew recently showing up on a previously very healthy pumpkin vine.
  • Save seeds!  If plants have been great performers in your garden this summer, leave some fruit to mature and collect the seed to use next year (provided of course you have grown non-hybrid varieties).  Remember to allow seed to dry (remove pulp, etc) and store in something like a paper bag or recycled envelope and correctly label it (your future self will thank you!).  Store seed in a cool, dark place where mice can't find it!
  • lucerne flowerPull out, compost and prepare soil.  If plants have finished, compost healthy material.  Running it through a mulcher will speed up the process.  Now is the time to dig through compost, a little manure, rock dust (to provide trace elements) and to incorporate water holding minerals like clay and / or Charlie Charcoal if your soil is sandy and dry.  Here's our guide to soil improvers - click here.
  • When digging in soil improvers, water the garden in stages (a good opportunity to have a little rest as you go!).  This ensures the water is incorporated through the soil profile, rather than relying on it to soak down from the top once you have finished.  Add mulch to the soil's surface to keep water where it belongs & in the root zone.
  • Plant a Green Manure crop!  As I write this, I know Jacob is feverishly ordering in seeds and we hope to have green manure seed packs ready to go within the next week or so.  Watch for our Facebook posts as I'll announce when they're back in stock.  Pictured above right is a lucerne plant flowering - something I hadn't seen until recently when I observed it in a customer's garden - growing as a green manure crop.  Did you know this is the same plant that we know as alfalfa - used at the sprouting stage in salads.
  • taking cuttingsThink about what trees you want to plant this winter!  I know it seems a while off, but nurseries are getting together their orders for bare rooted trees now (to be shipped around June/July) - so if there's something special you're looking for; put your order in now.  Our friends at Guildford Town Garden Centre would be happy to help.
  • As Autumn progresses, it's time to plant the bulbs & seeds of flowers that will help bring in the pollinators in Winter & Spring, and add to the colour and life of your garden.
  • Take cuttings!  Autumn is good time to try your hand at propagating many shrubs and native plants.  Come along to our Propagation workshop to find out how if you're needing some help and inspiration. 

Prepping Your Garden for Autumn Planting

Once your summer crops have finished, it's a good idea to replenish the soil - depending on what you intend to grow for the winter season.  Check out our free downloadable 'Top 12 Edible Plants for Autumn/Winter' booklet for ideas.

growing guideIf you've got space - consider crop rotation (see our free guide).  Some crops actually do well with less fertile soil.  Many root crops (eg. carrots) can scavenge nutrients and will not grow so well in a high nitrogen environment.  Other nitrogen fixing plants (peas and beans) also don't require much extra nitrogen, because they have the unique ability to "harvest" it in conjunction with Rhizobium bacteria in the soil.  However, there are other nutrients and trace elements required by these plants - so some soil improvement is considered beneficial.

How did your last crop grow??  Did it seem to you that there was plenty of goodness that the plants were drawing on?  Or had you noticed vigour decreasing?  If things were cranking you may not need to add much extra to the soil just yet.  Over fertilising sandy soils (particularly with manure) can lead to excesses which ironically affect the growth of your plants as much as deficiencies...  So have a think about your soil improvement practices and apply fertilisers as and when required.

Compost and organic matter (straw, etc) is usually less of a problem and in most of Perth's sandy soils, organic matter is something you may well need to regularly incorporate.  Over time, humus will build up - but for a few years at least, you'll be shocked at how organic matter "disappears" over a few months. 

Charlie charcoal close upConsider adding clay and / or Charlie Charcoal (pictured with a macro lense - right).  Both help to improve the soil structure and aid with water and nutrient retention - again something critical in sandy areas where leaching of water and nutrients occurs.

While digging through soil regularly can be detrimental to soil structure and to microbial life, digging in soil improvers, minerals and ensuring water is available throughout the soil profile can be beneficial if it's only done once or twice a year.  Avoid digging in really sodden/wet soil as it can lead to compaction.

While mulch is not so vital over winter, your early autumn plantings should still be mulched to protect the soil surface.  Use a straw mulch for your vegie garden. 

We're happy to provide you with advice - come in and have a chat!

cabbage seedGrowing from seed or seedling?

We're often asked whether it's "better to grow from seed or seedlings" ? ...  and it's hard to give a definitive answer.

Seedlings will usually give you a faster crop - after all, you're buying time - someone else has lovingly hand-reared them for the first month or two of their lives.  You can choose healthy seedlings at the stage you prefer (some can be more advanced than others) and be harvesting leaves from leafy greens like lettuce and spinach within a couple of weeks from planting out.

Growing from seed is cheaper - assuming you get good germination numbers and plants reach maturity.  Some things are easier than others to grow from seed...  But it's always worth having a go.  One thing I'd recommend is to start off with a few seeds of each variety at a time - say a punnet's worth.  Plant those and wait a couple of weeks to plant out another punnet.  That way you'll have a succession of plants growing on, and you'll avoid a glut of produce come harvest time.  Staggering your planting will also mean if you get it "wrong" - ie. a cold snap or a heat wave wipes out your baby plants - hopefully the next batch will be timed "right" and they'll boom.  (Note - "right" and "wrong" used here is purely conjectural - of course we know Nature is ALWAYS right!!)  

We've got a great fact sheet on growing from seed that you can find here.  Some good crops to try from seed are beetroot & silverbeet.  Rocket is another good one for kids to grow because it germinates within days.  In our When to Plant guide there's a list of common vegies and approx. days for germination - although be aware this is a guide only.  Temperature and other factors will always have a bearing on how long things can take.

At the start of a growing season you might want to try growing from seed because time is on your side.  Towards the latter part of the growing season, you might be better selecting seedlings for a shorter time to harvest.

Pictured above right - a tiny cabbage seedling emerging - the round seed casing still attached.

What to Plant Now

romanesco broccoliI'm sure you've got the message if you've read this far that Autumn is a very productive time in the garden.  There's lots of wonderful winter vegies & herbs to grow now, including:

Artichokes (globe), Asian greens, Beans (have a crack with bush beans), Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts (a bit dicey for Perth but if you're interested - get them in early), Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Coriander, Endive, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leek, Lettuce, Onion, Parsley, Peas, Parsnip, Radish, Rocket, Silverbeet, Snow peas, Spring onions, Swede, Turnip.  Pictured right is a gorgeous Romanesco Broccoli we grew last year.

Many salad greens can be grown year-round, and there's heaps of herbs you can grow now, too.  If you're looking to plant basil, go for a perennial type as the season is a little late now to be planting sweet basil.  Mature seedlings can be grown for early harvest, but they won't survive once the weather gets colder.

Check in to our Growing Guides - for when to sow in Perth (vegies & herbs) and our 'Top 12 Edible Plants for Perth' booklet.  All FREE info for you!

Tomato Contest 2018

Many customers have told us that this year has been a particularly sad one for tomato crops...  We've had success with our Cherry Tomatoes, but our other varieties were pretty lackluster.  As gardeners, we're eternal optimists - so we just KNOW that next year will be a bumper year, right??

Anyway - we'd like to congratulate the winner of our 2018 Tomato Contest - Mirey from Shenton Park.  She submitted several interesting varieties, and the biggest tomato was one of her Amish Paste crop, which weighed in at 397gms - a whopper!  As you can see from the photo pictured right, her crop this year was very impressive.

Mirey has kindly agreed to share her tips for prizewinning tomatoes - here they are - as written by Mirey:-

1. Feed the soil not the plant!
2. I prepped the soil with your veggie concentrate, first time using it and quite pleased.
3. The main thing for the tomatoes I think, was waiting until the seedlings were about 1 foot tall, then digging a hole twice that depth Mireyand adding crushed up eggshells, blood and bone meal, potash, worm castings. Then plant the tomato into the hole so only 2 sets of leaves are above the ground surface. This allows for a larger and deeper root system which helps with moisture and strength during windy conditions. 

I think this last bit would be my main take away message - plant tomatoes deep with a good portion of the stem.

I also as a side note believe growing from seed produces stronger, better seedlings than store purchased seedlings. I haven't had any non-producing plants this year and use the biointensive / square foot method which can be pretty demanding on plants.

THANK YOU for sharing your experience, Mirey!  

Mirey wins a $250 Green Life Soil Co voucher - so remember to have a go next year and YOU could win!  

Photo Competition Winner

Speaking of winners...  Keep on sending in pictures of your gardens.  Each month we pick a random winner. 

haworthiaFor February, our winner is Linda from Balga who's rather keen on succulents - as this picture of her extensive Haworthia collection shows.

She sent in the photo and said:  "My Haworthia collection - love all the goodies I get from Green Life Soil co. Charlie Charcoal and more." 

Thanks for sharing the love, Linda!

At Green Life we're not JUST about vegies - we make soil mixes for all types of plants and all types of gardens.  

Send in your photos (and tell us a little bit about your garden) via our Facebook page or by email - there's a $50 voucher drawn each month and you've got to be in it to win it!!

VIP Special Offer

In store shoppers & online shoppers - we're continuing the discounted Blood & Bone special for March.

In store shoppers - please ask for your discount on Blood & Bone.
Online shoppers - please sign in to the VIP members section to access your special prices of:

blood and bone3kg = $13.00 (save $8.00)
8kg = $25.00 (save $11.00)
15kg = $43.00 (save $15.00)

Valid one per customer until the 31st March 2018.  Our quality Blood & Bone was added to our growing range of Certified Organic products recently.  We'd love you to give it a go - because we know you'll love what it does for your garden.

And VIP members - keep an eye on your inbox for a special offer on bulk deliveries we're working on bringing to you very soon - just in time to get your garden prepped for Autumn. 

Green Life Soil Co Stockists

Please support the local independent businesses that support us!

charlie charcoalRemember to check product availability with individual stockists as the range they carry will vary.

Beaufort Garden World - Inglewood 9271 0585
Dunn + Walton - Doubleview 92427711
Garden Elegance - Subiaco 9381 2197
Guildford Town Garden Centre - Guildford 9279 8645
Ngoolark Nursery - South Fremantle 0420 703 724
Nibali Stockfeed - Hamilton Hill 9433 2211
Stanbee Stockfeeds - Barragup 9581 2390
NEW  -  Waldecks Bentley - Bentley 9458 5944
Waldecks Nursery - Kingsley 9309 5088 & Stirling 9254 6730
Wandilla Nursery - Wattle Grove 9453 9779
Zanthorrea Nursery - Maida Vale 9454 6260

See you next month!

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