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Wow, Green Lifers! This is the third time I've had to re-write this newsletter - what a strange month March is turning out to be. Who would have foreseen panic buying of seeds & seedlings? In this past week or two we have seen a huge surge of people wanting to grow their own food, or some of their own food. While it's fabulous that people are (re)turning to this past time, the worry and concern that comes with it isn't so good. With so much uncertainty going on in the world right now, it's lovely to be grounded in nature and experience some calming time in the garden; our homes & gardens are more important to us than ever.
As a business, we're not sure what the months ahead will hold for us. Things are changing so fast, but we'll do our best to keep you in the loop of any changes to our business arrangements. If you use Facebook or Instagram, please follow us on those platforms.
GLSC has now implemented a 'closed door policy' - this means we are still trading, however our premises are no longer open to the public. We are offering (as we always have) a delivery service, and other products (including trailer loads of soil) can be purchased by a click & collect system. Payment will be taken over the phone, and a mutually convenient time slot allocated for you to pickup your order. Orders can be placed online or over the phone, and cash will only be accepted by prior arrangement.
Because we have no idea at this stage if we'll be allowed to continue to trade, we have a waitlist for those wanting bulk orders. We are booked up at least a week in advance, and don't wish to take customers' money while things are uncertain... as things unfold, and once delivery timeslots become available, we are then confirming deliveries.
Unprecedented demand for our soils means we're really under the pump - and our team have been phenomenal in stepping up and doing their utmost to service as many customers as we can.
In saying that, we're aware we're not getting to all phone calls - so if you're frustrated you can't get through, I do apologise. I can only suggest you leave a message, or use the 'contact us' form here on our website, or email us directly. We are working on responding to you as soon as we can. We also have a backlog of orders to process - again, we're working on these each and every day, with extra staff and extra hours, 7 days a week.
Hopefully you're finding some comfort & joy in your garden right now. It's a great way to centre yourself, relieve a bit of anxiety for the things we can't control (because we can't always control our gardens either - am I right?) and enjoy seeing nature doing its thing. If we do go into lockdown, I think our gardens will be a huge source of comfort to many. I guess we've got to look for the positives, and it will be a great opportunity to finish those projects, right?
We've been joined recently by a familiar face to some of you - Fiona Blackham is a Permaculture educator (part of PEA - Permaculture Educators Alliance) - and an all round bundle of energy and knowledge who also happens to make a pretty decent lemon/ginger slice. Fiona is on board just a couple of days a week - at this stage, working most Mondays and Fridays - so hit her up with all your permie questions. Here we are pictured right (obviously taken in the days before social distancing was a thing. Like 2 weeks ago.) We've got a couple of new faces in our production team too, helping us get bagged product done and get orders out as quickly as possible.
We do appreciate your support - it enables us to employ a fabulous team. There are many small businesses suffering at the moment; we're grateful to be useful at this time, and thank you for your business.
Happy gardening (in these strange times),
Linda & the Team @ The Green Life Soil Co
In this newsletter:
Oooooh, so many things to choose from in Autumn! Check out our when to plant guides (there's one on vegies and one on herbs), plus there's also an extended e-guide 'Top 12 Edible plants for Autumn/Winter' - all are FREE to download.
A quick list to consider includes:
Artichokes (globe), Asian greens, Beetroot, Beans (runner beans & broad beans), Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Coriander, Endive, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leek, Lettuce, Onion, Parsley, Peas, Parsnip, Radish, Rocket, Silverbeet, Snow peas, Spinach, Spring onions, Swede, Turnip.
Plus - it's sooo close to Garlic & Potato season! Our seed potatoes will be in stock this week, and we have a limited amount of Certified Organic Italian Pink garlic available, and a much larger quantity of conventionally grown but local Italian Pink garlic, too. Click on the words 'garlic' and 'potatoes' to access our free fact sheets.
I'm sure you're aware that seedlings across the country have been in high demand. Again - there's no issue with supply... Growers have more coming on each week, and we will have more stock through. Bear with us while we work out a system that these can be listed on our website so you can pre-order. This has caught us all by surprise; but we'll get there.
YOU WON'T MISS THE BOAT!
With temperatures in Perth still in the mid 30's, it's actually still too warm to plant many Winter vegies. Crops will struggle in the heat and we're concerned that many novice gardeners who are planting everything they can find right now are going to be disappointed. We hope this won't taint their experience with gardening and they'll learn and persevere. Many growers are holding off until the rains start, or until things get a little cooler.
And remember - succession planting is the best way to ensure continuous harvests from your garden. Planting some things this week, some other things the next week, and the same every week will mean a more even yield and also (to an extent) help you in the struggle with pests & diseases. You can monitor and address early outbreaks without entire crops being wiped out at a critical point in their development.
With so many people looking to grow some food at the moment, here's my list of favourite, (almost fail-safe) winter crops to try that will give you worthwhile return for effort:-
Silverbeet (Swiss Chard, Perpetual Spinach, Ruby Chard, Rainbow Chard)
These are all similar types of leafy green vegetables. Reasonably quick growing, they are also prolific producers. Give them regular (weekly) liquid feeds of a weak fish, kelp or worm wizz solution, and they'll provide you with lots of greens for at least 12 months or more. Reasonably pest free - watch for snails, grasshoppers (more active in warmer months) and slater damage - particularly to young plants. Young leaves can be eaten raw in salads/sandwiches. See our fact sheet on silverbeet here.
New Zealand Spinach (Warrigal Greens)
This is a perennial plant that makes an excellent ground cover if you have the space to allow it to ramble. You'll get larger leaves if you grow it in good soil, and part shade. While it doesn't live forever, it does prolifically self seed, meaning you'd be unlikely not to have a continuous supply if you look after your plants well. High in oxalic acid, make sure you rinse cooked leaves well and don't over do the consumption - which is pretty standard advice for many leafy greens.
Spring Onions (Shallots)
All parts of all onions are edible - so while spring onions may not be super fast growing, they can be eaten at any stage. Buying punnets? Carefully split the tiny seedlings and thin them out - you'll get many, many plants so they're good bang for your buck. Add young ones to dishes like you would chives. Harvest mature spring onions by cutting them off about 4-5cms above the ground. They'll re-grow, meaning you'll get a 2nd harvest from them.
Peas (Snow peas/Sugarsnap peas)
Easy to grow, I find they do best in a sunny spot with good airflow and good/decent soil - although being a legume they don't need too much nitrogen. But they do appreciate regular watering. Dry, gutless sand won't produce a good yeild. You can try growing them in pots, but they'll need to be a decent size. Ideally, supply a trellis or climbing frame. Some varieties grow taller than others, so check out what you'll need to do. Kids LOVE peas straight from the vine - and any surplus/glut can be frozen. Watch for slaters on young vines. Sugar Snap and Snow Peas have crunchy, edible pods too (actually all pea pods are edible - but many are tough and unpalatable). Growing tips of pea plants can be tip pruned and added to salads or stir fries to add interest & flavour. See our pea fact sheet here.
Related to Silverbeet, Beetroot are a valuable, dense root vegie. Unfortunately they are slow growing, but all parts are edible - so leaves can be harvested too. Watch you don't take too many leaves; the bulb does need to be supported by leaf growth in order to thrive. Worthwhile sticking into all odd corners of the garden, they don't take up much room. They'll do their thing, and one day you'll be pleasantly surprised that you've got yummy beetroot to harvest. See our beetroot fact sheet here.
Broccoli does need a bit of space (but not as much as Cauliflower). Highly nutritious, they can be grown as microgreens - considered something of a superfood. If you plant broccoli out into the garden, once you've harvested the main head, the plant will continue to send out smaller but multiple side shoots that can be continuously harvested over a long time. Leaves and stalks are edible - add them to soups & stews. Watch for aphids, whitefly, cabbage moth & cabbage butterfly (these two are more active in warmer weather). If pests are hammering your crops, Broccoli should be protected with insect netting.
Lettuce & Salad Greens
There's a huge variety of useful greens to grow; heaps of lettuce varieties, mizuna, mibuna, tatsoi, mustard greens, rocket, corn salad, & spinach are just a few. They will all do well in slightly cooler weather with a bit more rainfall. Feed weekly with a weak liquid fertiliser to keep them pumping out lush leaves for harvest ~ make sure you wash leaves well if you're foliar feeding. Growing a variety will mean there's always something handy to pick & use in salads, sandwiches, soups & stews, and as a garnish or side dish.
Sow in Autumn and harvest in late Spring. All parts of the garlic plant are edible - green tops can be used as spring onions at a pinch. Garlic likes regular water but good drainage, and benefits from improving the soil prior to planting. With the exception of a particular type of black aphid, garlic tends to be pest free. With so many health benefits; it's definitely worth growing. You can grow garlic in pots; spacing only needs to be 15cm - 20cms between plants, so you can produce a high yield from a small area. See our garlic fact sheet here.
One of the fastest growing crops, this can be a great one for your kids to grow. While we think of radish as a crunchy, salad vegie, it can be cooked too - added to stews, soups, baked and pickled. It has a strong, peppery flavour which may be best as an ingredient rather than a solo dish. Radish leaves are also edible, and reputed to be highly nutritious, but can be bitter & an acquired taste.
Bok Choi/Pak Choi
These mild Asian cabbages are fast growing, and don't take up much space. They can be successfully grown in containers in good quality potting mix. As a leafy green they'd do well with a regular liquid feed, and can be grown in full sun (during winter) or part sun. Apart from slugs/snails, they're reasonably pest free, although watch out for caterpillars too. If you're growing from seed, stagger the plantings so you don't end up with heaps to harvest all at once.
So there you have a 'top 10' list I'd recommend for new gardeners - feel free to share with your friends or neighbours who are just starting out.
Remember healthy plants start with healthy soil. We can help you with quality soils & soil improvers to make sure your vegies not only look good, but that they taste good too - and are good for you. Nutrients in your vegies come from nutrients in the soil; so don't forget rock dust, which provides a range of trace elements (unless you're buying our soil - because it's already included).
This month, use the code ' March ' at checkout and a $10 discount will be applied to any order over $100. Codes are case sensitive. Remember too, VIP's can log into the members section anytime and find a number of our products at discounted rates.
(If you have issues logging in, please use the contact us form & let us know. Customers who have been on our mailing list for some time do have issues - because of the way data was imported from one system to another when we upgraded systems a few years ago. The system has difficulty in that there's an 'existing user name' and we need to manually & individually fix this. Technology! Please be patient - we will get to your request as soon as we can.)
There's never been a better time to support local small businesses - Please support the independent retailers who support us. They've got great local knowledge and are happy to help. Many are now bringing in pre-order & pickup/non-contact services in order to help keep you safe.
We know the newsletter is both late & brief this month. As mentioned, It's had to be revised several times & under the current circumstances, we felt it was important to get the message out to you about our new trading arrangements.