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new leafWe're excited to say it's OFFICIALLY AUTUMN!  Our favourite time of year in the garden.  Obviously we're still in for some hot weather but the seasons are definitely shifting.  The indigenous Noongar people recognise 6 seasons in the South West of WA; and March falls in Bunuru - the 2nd summer; with 'Autumn' or Djeran being April & May.  I think they know what they're talking about!  Gardeners are nothing if not optimistic - so with the knowledge that cooler weather is on its way - there's much to be done in preparation for Autumn planting.

We hope in this newsletter we can help inspire you to get the jump on the season...  One of the common things we hear are customers rueful that they've left it too late to plant various vegie crops - so why not make sure this year that you're NOT one of them and get organised!

pgf advertRemember next month (April 11 - 14th) is the Perth Garden Festival.  We'll be there with a good range of The Greenhouse seasonal vegie seedlings; so do come along and say hello.  Nick Bell (Turf Expert) will be doing a guest panel appearance on Sunday 14th, and will be coming over to our stand after the panel session (around 2.30pm) - so if you have lawn issues and would like some advice; come along on Sunday and have a chat to Nick.

And while we're talking about learning from the experts, we do have a few workshops coming up - Check out our EVENTS page for more details.

We're also busy in the next couple of months presenting at workshops for other groups/organisations around town - including a very special collaboration with Josh Byrne coming up in May - more details about that exciting event closer to the time!  

So enjoy the changing season in your garden & we hope to see you soon down @ The Green Life Soil Co.

garden festival signHappy Gardening!

Linda & The Team

In this newsletter:

Jobs to do in the March garden
What to plant now (& tips for seed sowing success)
Growing gorgeous GARLIC
Winner - Tomato contest 2019
Winner - Photo competition
VIP special offer
Retail stockist update

Jobs for the March garden

  • green manure packGreen Manure time!  Well - technically you can grow a green manure crop anytime - but Autumn is a great opportunity to add more vital organic matter to any garden beds that have been left fallow over the Summer months.  Spread the seeds thickly, keep the bed watered well and allow the crop to grow for as long as possible (but before it sets seeds) then dig in or slash the crop and allow it to break down and feed the soil.  We have 1kg Green Manure mixed seed packs available that will cover approx. 20m2.  We use a whole range of seasonal seed varieties so there'll always be a few types that will be suited to conditions and grow well for you.  If you've got summer crops that have finished & looking a bit sad - rip them out and grow a quick green manure crop!
  • Take cuttings.  Just a reminder that many plants can be propagated in the warmer months while they're actively growing.  Take the opportunity to grow MORE Plants for free!  It's a good time to give Lavender, Geranium and many other shrubs a prune - so it makes perfect sense to use the prunings to try some propagation.  If you'd like to learn some tips & tricks - we've got a propagation workshop coming up in a couple of weeks - see our events page for details. 
  • indoor pot plantsGive your indoor plants some love.  A light feed, a dust down (or a light hose down - in the shade) will rejuvenate them and keep them looking great.  Remember that as the weather changes they may not need watering quite so regularly - check your soil moisture and don't overwater - it's the most common cause of indoor plant death.  Check them for any signs of pest & disease, repot them if necessary using a good quality potting mix (into a slightly larger pot if you can; otherwise you can trim roots back - but no more than 30% as a general rule).
  • If you haven't fed your fruit trees, this is the time to do so while they're still actively growing (in the case of deciduous varieties).  Citrus trees definitely benefit from a feed in early Autumn to prepare them for flowering & fruit set in the coming months.
  • Citrus Leaf Miner makes its appearance in Autumn, so watch out if trees have been affected in previous years.  If you wish to treat trees with a pest oil, you need to be sure the larvae are active - so if you keep watch now, you'll catch them before it's too late.  We've also got traps in stock @ GLSC if you want to give those a try this year.  They work with a pheromone that attracts the adult males, trapping them and thus breaking the breeding cycle.
  • zucchiniWatch your melons, pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers as the mornings are a little cooler & damper for any appearance of Powdery Mildew.  It might be impossible to prevent entirely as winter draws near; but a good preventative is a regular spray with milk.  1 part regular milk to 9 parts water; drenching the leaves and getting the underside of leaves ideally.  You may need to spray every 5-7 days, and after any rain, but this should help prolong the life of susceptible plants and extend your harvest.

What to Plant Now

broccoliIt's an exciting time - many winter vegetables can be started from seed now; although it might be a little early to plant them out in your garden; depending on where you are and the microclimate in your garden there's always a bit of guess work involved on when's the perfect time to plant out seedlings.

Check out our free downloadable planting guides here.  But for starters, you can try:-

Globe artichoke, Asian Greens, Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli (pictured right), Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, Coriander, Daikon, Garlic, Kale, Kohl Rabi, Leek, Lettuce, Onion, Parsley, Parsnip, Peas, Radish, Silverbeet, Spring onion, Swede, Turnip

Brassica season has finally arrived (that is the family that includes cabbage, cauli, broccoli, brussels, kohl rabi, kale) & it's the perfect time to get seeds sown for planting out in a month or so into your prepared garden beds.  

We have spray free SEED GARLIC in stock now @ Green Life; currently 4 different varieties ('Purple Stripe', 'Osmington White' & 'Rojo') sourced from the Margaret River area.  And we have locally grown 'Italian Pink' in stock too; but all are selling fast so don't delay - grab your garlic while stock is available.

We've also just taken receipt of a large order of seeds - so there's a good range of heritage, non-hybrid seed available in stock.

seed raising mix bagRemember to stock up on your Certified Organic Seed Raising Mix when you come in & get your seeds off to a flying start.

Seed Sowing Tips for Autumn

  • Decide whether you're going to sow seeds in trays, then transplant later; or whether you're going to sow direct - ie. in the garden bed where you want the plant to remain and mature.  There are advantages to both.  At this early stage of the season, sowing in trays can make it easier to control the growing conditions because you can move them around if necessary.  
  • Root crops like carrots and parsnip don't like being transplanted, so you're better off sowing these direct.  (Strangely - beetroot do OK with transplanting.)  Make sure you keep the soil surface moist, or tiny seeds can begin to germinate (although you can't see anything happening with the naked eye); then dry out and die.  A good tip is to water the seed, then lay an old offcut of shadecloth directly over the soil.  This will allow water to penetrate, but protect the surface to an extent.  Keep checking underneath and when you see obvious signs of growth, remove the shadecloth.
  • cabbage germinationOne of the reasons people fail with seeds is they plant them too deeply. Remember a seed needs to use a lot of energy to germinate, grow roots downwards & shoots upwards.  If the soil surface is too far away they can run out of ooomph and never break through.  As a general rule - only sow seed as deep as twice the seed width.  So it's not very much; particularly for things like lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, carrots etc.  Often a very light sprinkling of soil over the seed is all you need.  (Pictured right - tiny cabbage seed germinating)
  • In hot early Autumn temperatures you may need to water or mist your soil more than once a day.  Use a cover to keep humidity in but also check regularly and ensure adequate airflow to avoid rotting or 'dampening off' disease.  It is a delicate balance to achieve but if you can keep soil (and seedlings) moist but not wet you're on the right track.
  • Sow little & often.  A few seeds sown each fortnight will mean you don't end up with a glut at harvest time because plants will mature at different rates (hopefully).  It will also spread the risk and if things are sown too early, or die off in a hot spell, you'll have more coming on and sooner or later you'll jag the perfect timing.
  • tiny seedlingsIf you have old seed, don't be afraid to use it.  Seed doesn't magically 'go off' and viability (the rate of germination) decreases slowly over time as seed ages.  It's always worth sowing older seed; you might just need to use a bit more.  Some seed can last for years and years if stored well; so give it a go.
  • Seed Raising Mix gives seeds (in trays) a great start; it is designed to be light and fluffy for the right balance of moisture and air holding, so that delicate plant roots & shoots can easily penetrate between particles.  It is not designed for long term sustained growing; so if you end up leaving things in pots/trays for longer than a month you may well need to liquid feed regularly to keep things in tip-top shape.  It's time to transplant once seedlings are developing their first true set of leaves.  Often the first leaves put out by plants (cotyledons) look nothing like the mature plant leaves, so be patient!  DIY seedling holders out of recycled toilet paper rolls (pictured here) are a good way to go - they can simply be planted out without removing the seedling and causing root disturbance, as the cardboard will naturally break down.

Growing gorgeous Garlic


italian pink garlicAs a kid, Garlic was something my parents were a bit suspicious of - being an anglo family it was something new & exotic, and I suspect we weren't the only ones!  It's quite amusing how things have changed, and garlic is a hugely popular vegetable used so very widely year-round in many styles of cuisine.  We also know how good it is for us - with natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities, it is brilliant to help keep us healthy in cold and flu season in particular.

Most of the garlic you find in the shops comes from China or Mexico.  Like all imported fresh produce, it is treated with methyl bromide gas and as such isn't really that great for you...  Fumigated garlic is less likely to germinate (as the process has a detrimental effect on all living tissue) and according to the Ag Department's website it is illegal to plant imported garlic due to disease issues.  And it isn't great from a food miles perspective to have any vegetable shipped half way around the world regardless of what other treatments it may receive - so why not grow your own?

It is fairly easy to grow.  Garlic doesn't like heavy soil, so we're actually lucky in Perth (yay - for once!) as slightly alkaline, sandy loam is ideal for it to thrive.  Garlic doesn't need high nitrogen fertliser or manures, but you can improve the soil with good quality compost and a handful of potash per square metre (according to Peter Cundall) prior to planting.  In a crop rotation system, it's good to grow garlic as the 2nd crop immediately following hungry plants like tomatoes/corn - assuming they were planted into newly enriched soil - so the soil will still have adequate nutrition but not excessive nitrogen.

garlic cropPlant cloves with the pointy end just a little below the surface, and each clove about 10 - 15cms apart (they don't need much room).  Garlic will start to grow quickly, sending out roots & shoots that will be visible within a week.  You do need to ensure that garlic gardens are kept free of weeds; the competition can smother them and will certainly impact on yield.  Plan your patch so you can access all areas for weeding throughout the season.   A light layer of much may be helpful - but do religiously attend to weeding your garlic patch.

Until the rains come - you will need to water your garlic; but not excessively (they don't do well with waterlogging).  Once the rains come they'll pretty much take care of themselves all winter!  Come Spring (around 8 months from planting - depending on variety) once the weather warms up it's harvest time.  Tops will begin to yellow off, and fall over.  Don't leave your crop in the ground too long - lift it, brush off excess soil, and hang the bunches out of direct sunlight but with good airflow.  The bulbs will continue to draw nutrients from the stems & leaves as they mature, so leave the tops on.

There are not many pests that bother garlic; although black allium aphids can be a major problem in some areas.  It's counter-intuitive; as garlic is used as a repellent for many types of sap sucking insects - including aphids.  However, there's one species that is actually attracted to the scent; and they can be difficult to eradicate.  Crops grown in ideal conditions and full sun seem a lot less susceptible.  To avoid any soil borne issues, practise crop rotation and don't plant garlic in the same spot year after year.

garlic bulbsOnce you've grown garlic, if you save some of your crop you can replant it the next season.  If you're sourcing seed garlic (garlic to plant) always try to find locally grown types that should be hardy and adapted to your growing region.  Unfortunately while there are many different varieties - it's difficult to get a good range in WA as due to diseases in other regions, quarantine here needs to be strict.

This year we have brought up three 'new' (to us) types of Garlic from a spray-free garlic farm near Margaret River.  'Purple Stripe' (pictured at the top of the article), 'Osmington White' and 'Rojo' are the three varieties.  'Rojo' is an interesting red clove, and anecdotally a customer told me just last week they're all the rage in the UK.  We also have stock of the always popular 'Italian Pink' (puctured right).  You can plant now or any time through to April ideally.  If storing garlic, don't put it in the fridge, as chilling will speed up the germination - exactly what you're trying to prevent until you're ready!

garlic scapesBecause it has been cultivated for so long (like potatoes) garlic doesn't really form true seed.  You may find tiny little bulblets forming up the stems of your mature garlic plants - these can also be planted out and will grow.  Like all onions, all parts of the plant are edible; so for a garlic flavour prior to harvest you can cut the odd top off a few plants and add them to your cooking for a bit of flavour.  Some varieties of garlic will send out scapes - a type of flower bud that grows out in a curl from the main stem.  These should be removed from the plant as they take energy away from the forming bulbs, but scapes are delicious as an edible crop in their own right.  (Garlic scapes - pictured right.)

An interesting variety is 'Elephant Garlic' (sometimes called 'Russian Garlic').  It isn't a true garlic but definitely a relative and is something a little more like a leek that forms very large bulbs.  Milder in flavour, it is a popular plant.  Unfortunately we haven't been able to source a quantity to sell - but it is around in home gardens, so you can probably track some down within garden clubs/community gardens or on some of the Facebook groups.  Elephant garlic makes a good perennial plant to have in your garden - it sends out gorgeous ball shaped flower heads that are a great addition to cottage gardens.

To learn lots from dedicated garlic growers check out the Garlic Growers Western Australia group on Facebook - you'll get some great advice and tips on growing garlic. 

Tomato Contest 2019


winning tomatoesWe've had a great year growing tomatoes this year - and it seems that some of you did too - based on the entries to our 2019 Tomato Contest.  We're thrilled to announce the winners:-

1st Prize (best tasting) - Dan Rea with a 'Mortgage Lifter' tomato
2nd Prize (best tasting) - Stephanie Gardiner with a 'Grape' tomato
3rd Prize (best tasting) - Lesley Gerrard with an unusual heritage 'Blue' tomato

Biggest tomato - Lesley Gerrard with a whopping 505 gram 'Brandy Wine' tomato
Smallest tomato - Stephanie Gardiner with her tiny but tasty 'Grape' tomato

THANK YOU to everyone who entered; we appreciate you taking the time to drive out to us & drop off your entries.  I hope you'll consider entering again next summer!

Dan Rea has been a long time entrant to the tomato contest; and has previously won (in 2017) the largest tomato category.  He was kind enough to send in photos & some information about his experiences growing tomatoes.  Thanks Dan for sharing your gardening story with us:

Well my story is that 5 years ago I had no idea how to grow anything and I had no inclination to even try. my yard was only overgrown weeds and couch grass.
Then I learned about Monsanto company and genetically modified organisms and the damaging effect that the use of pesticides and herbicides such as glyphosate were having on the environment (bees in particular) and our health. The more I learned the more I became afraid for the future. I saw the slogan that Monsanto was using saying they need GMO's to feed the world because the population was increasing which means more mouths to feed. After more research I found this was a lie as we already make more food than the population could possibly eat and the reason that people go hungry is because they don't have the money to pay for the food. The food gets wasted and thrown into landfill for no more than being the wrong shape or size.

I knew it was wrong so I wanted to prove that I could grow healthy non GMO food with no pesticides or herbicides. My first hurdle was Perth's sandy soil of which my yard was made up exclusively of. I learned about Aquaponics as it is a way of growing plants and fish without the use of any soil and decided to build one. Aquaponics is a great way to save water and you can save up to 90% water usage than in a regular garden which is another important factor. It was a great success.

Later I realised that I should try to learn about soil and decided sandwich style gardening would be the best fit for what I was trying to prove. I used some old bricks for the garden bed and started collecting old newspapers, cardboard, food scraps from the local supermarket bins and horse manure from a local horse agistment (not race horse manure) and let the worms do their thing. The results were amazing and I started to grow some huge vegies as it all broke down into compost and worm castings.

The tomato competition for me has been the proof of what is achievable even for someone that had no knowledge. I did this with collecting bio mass for free which was to prove that it can be done by anyone even people on a budget. I look forward to the future and see what I can do with different plants and of course more tomatoes!.

Thank you Dan - we love to hear stories like yours!  Dan's winning tomato was grown in soil this year - but his 353gm biggest tomato winner from 2017 was grown in his aquaponics system.  Check out Dan's photos below.

 

Winner - Photo Competition


You may think of GLSC as your vegie garden soil specialist - but did you know we also work with a number of Perth's best commercial landscape companies?   the photos below were sent in by Jake from Greater Scapes WA of a recent job completed in Victoria Park.  The garden was built over some our hottest weather, but Jake was really pleased how the plants coped, and how they've grown so well in the short time since planting.

Thanks Jake for sending in the photos.  

    
        

Remember each month we choose at random pics of someone's garden to share - and it's worth a $50 credit; so why not send us in your photos and be in with a chance?  Pictures (and a few lines telling us about the garden) can be shared via our Facebook page or emailed to us with the subject 'photo competition'.  Good luck!

VIP Special Offer


multigrowHere's a freebie just in time for your Autumn garden preparation.  This month, spend $75 or more with us @ GLSC and get a FREE 15L bag of Multigrow pellets.  Multigrow is certified organic composted & pelletised chicken manure; so is a great top up for most plants.  It won't burn like fresh manure and will help build the organic content of your soil.  

Online shoppers - please mention the Multigrow offer in the 'Delivery Notes' section of your order & we'll make sure you don't miss out.

Offer valid one per customer until COB 31st March 2019.  Please mention the Multigrow offer to receive the bonus gift.

Retail Outlets


Looking for Green Life goodies closer to home?  Check out our list of independent stockists.  Please support these businesses who support us!  You'll get great advice & local knowledge as a bonus.

Just remember each stockist carries different products; so it pays to ring and check with them to see if they've got what you're after.  In most cases, they'll be happy to add your requests to their next order.

Beaufort Garden World - Inglewood 9271 0585
Dunn + Walton - Doubleview 92427711
Garden Elegance - Subiaco 9381 2197 (you can see our sign on their fence pictured to the right!)
Guildford Town Garden Centre - Guildford 9279 8645
Nibali Stockfeed - Hamilton Hill 9433 2211
Stanbee Stockfeeds - Barragup 9581 2390
Thrive Sustainability - Lower Chittering 0408 157 301
Waldecks Bentley - Bentley 9458 5944
Waldecks Melville - Melville 9330 6970
Waldecks Kingsley - 9309 5088
Waldecks Stirling - 9254 6730
Wandilla Nursery - Wattle Grove 9453 9779
Zanthorrea Nursery - Maida Vale 9454 6260

Australind Landscaping Supplies 9796 1720  ** new stockist **
Busselton - U scape Garden Centre 9751 3995
Leschenault & Bunbury Markets - Fancy Plants Nursery 0428 844 597
Margaret River - Landmark 9758 7677

So THANK YOU for being part of the Green Life family - we hope to see you soon in store (and here next month for the next newsletter!)  In the meantime - stay up to date with all the Green Life happenings by following us on Facebook and Instagram.













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