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Hello and welcome to October! We're right in the heart of Spring - and I've been amazed (again) at the speed of growth in the garden at the moment. It seems the minute you turn your back, things are doubling in size. We've gone from waiting weeks and months for cauliflower heads to form, to being overrun with them - but it's a nice problem to have!! I hope you've been enjoying your garden, too! Weeds for sure are coming on strong - with things beginning to flower and set seed. Try to get on top of them as soon as possible - they say one year's seed is seven years weed... not sure whether it's true but it sure FEELS like it!
We've been exceptionally busy at GLSC this Spring - we appreciate the support of our customer base and apologise if it's been hard to get hold of us. Thank you for your patience with order deliveries. We've added to our production crew to try and get on top of stock, and doing additional delivery runs to get stock out. It's not quite as crazy as covid months earlier in the year - but it's still busier than last Spring, and is presenting some scheduling challenges. Remember we're open 6 days 8.30 - 4.00pm (closed Sundays) so come on in anytime for in store shopping. There's no charge to borrow one of our trailers (just remember to bring in your drivers license) if you want to pick up bulk soil or mulch. There's lots of new products in store too - from new gloves, raised garden bed kits, new mulch products and heritage seeds (Perth's largest range), seedlings & herbs coming in every week.
This October marks GLSC's 19th Birthday! [Our last year of being a teenager! :-D] The last 19 years has certainly been an interesting ride - and we thank you all for being a part of it. We wouldn't have made it this far without the support of our wonderful customers, and without an amazing group of team members over the years. And we're still growing! (October also marks our 25th Wedding Anniversary... So we're enjoying a few special days away this week. Aren't we lucky in WA to currently have the freedom to see our amazing state!) Paul & I are only away a few days - we're still open & our capable team will be more than happy to help.
We look forward to welcoming you soon @ GLSC.
From Linda & all of the team
In this newsletter:
Check out our free 'When to Plant' guide on our website; but as a quick reference, it's time to plant:
Growing abundant, perfect tomatoes is something of a 'Holy Grail' for many gardeners. Everyone enjoys the taste of fresh, in season fruit - incomparable to most of the store bought 'fodder' tomatoes we get year-round in the shops. In theory, growing tomatoes is easy - but yet at the same time, many of us have failed at some point in achieving the crops we've dreamed of. It seems tomatoes can be fickle... so here are a few tips which may help you this Spring/Summer achieve an abundant harvest.
Seed Vs. Seedling. This can come down to personal preference. For new gardeners, I'd recommend starting off with some existing plants. You're buying a minimum of 6-8 weeks growth, and you can select from healthy plants. Currently, we have individual seedlings in small, biodegradable pots - perfect for selecting just one or two to get you started.
Varieties. Hybrid Vs. Non-Hybrid. At GLSC, we sell non-hybrid seeds & seedlings - these are old fashioned types, selected for their taste and other qualities. And you can save your own seed from these types if you have a favourite. That said, tomatoes are prone to a number of different diseases. Hybrids are varieties that have been bred for specific benefits, so if you do your research, you may find some that are less susceptible to problems you may have experienced before. If you're a new gardener, perhaps one of the robust hybrids may be for you. Just remember, it's unlikely you can save seeds and get the same results from next year's plants.
Varieties. Determinate Vs. Indeterminate. There are many different varieties of tomatoes and within the family, there are two distinct branches. Determinate, generally, are lower growing and don't require as much support/staking for growth. Also, they tend to set and ripen fruit at the same time - so these types are great if you're wanting to dry or preserve your own crop. Indeterminate are usually taller growing, will need a good support or stake to grow up, and tend to flower and fruit over an extended period - so these types are perfect for picking to use fresh.
Varieties. "Which is the best tomato to grow?" Is a question we get all the time. And it really depends so much on what you're looking for! Cherry tomatoes? Large slicing tomatoes? Unusual coloured varieties? If you have the space, I'd recommend growing several different types. That way you get to experiment with different flavours/sizes - and should disaster strike your crop, you may find one variety at least will manage to produce for you. And can you ever really have too many home grown tomatoes?
Location. Tomatoes like warmth & sun - a spot that gets 6hrs sun per day is ideal. Near a wall or fence that reflects heat is great in the early part of the season to get things off to a flying start; but may result in burning of plants in the height of summer. If you have space - put in later crops away from these hot spots.
Planting out your seedlings. Improving the soil prior to planting is key. Ideally, dig through our Vegetable Concentrate (or your own compost, or manure) and water in well. If you can do this a week ahead of planting - great. I also like to include a handful of worm castings under each seedling when I plant out. So once your soil is good to go, dig a hole, and get your seedling ready. Deep planting tomatoes is a technique that supposedly helps plants develop a stronger root system - useful for stabilising the plant, but also strong root growth supports robust growth and fruiting. You can safely plant a tomato seedling leaving just the top 1/2 or 1/3 of leaves above ground; but carefully pinch off the leaves that are going to be buried prior to planting. If you're going to use a stake or tomato cage, put this into position now - do it while the plant is young; the longer you leave it, you're more likely to damage the roots once the plant is more established. Ideally give plants about 1m spacing per plant - although if you need to, you can push the boundaries and plant them closer. Just be aware that poor airflow can exacerbate fungal problems. Tomatoes can be grown in pots - ideally 20-30L size to allow sufficient root development.
Watering. Once your tomato is in position, water in well. Avoid overhead watering of tomatoes (it can encourage fungal problems); water slowly at the roots. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING with watering tomatoes is consistency. It doesn't matter if you water daily or (say) twice a week - plants get used to the timing of waterings and the duration between. Regularity of watering is key. If you chop & change your watering regime, you're more likely to have problems with your crop. While there's not much you can do about the timing of rainfall, obviously turn off retic or don't water if rain's due, and try to get back into your routine ASAP.
Fertilising. Tomatoes are hungry plants and like regular feeding. Depending on what you've improved the soil with, a light side dressing of blood & bone, or a liquid feed with fish/kelp every few weeks can help. Potash will encourage fruiting & flowering so adding some to the soil at the first sign of flower development is recommended. Mulch with your preferred vegie garden mulch to protect the soil. Tomato fruit can be prone to sunburn - so watch for scalding on the skin - shadecloth will certainly help, or you could consider clay spray as a sunburn preventative.
Harvesting. Tomatoes should start to produce flowers & set fruit within about 10 weeks (from seedlings & 17 weeks or so from seed) - so if you want home grown tomatoes by Christmas, it's time to get cracking! Tomatoes that are ripened on the vine are (in my opinion) better tasting; but they can be picked a little early and ripened indoors. Carefully twist off ripe fruit so as not to damage the vine.
Diseases. Unfortunately, tomatoes are prone to a number of diseases and there's also pests that can destroy your crop. Keep an eye on your plants as they're growing, and act sooner rather than later to deal with any outbreaks. With some diseases, there's little you can do once it's set in. Crop rotation, or planting in completely fresh soil (ie. using planter bags or pots) can certainly help with some soil borne issues. The good news is that often tomatoes will still set fruit even if the vines are looking terrible... so unless there's the chance of infection spreading to other plants, if your plant is bearing when looking poorly - leave it to do it's thing. Plants are trying to reproduce if they feel their lifespan is ending - so will often pump out more fruit under duress.
For the past few years GLSC has held a summer tomato competition (with the exception of 2020 - due to our moving premises). We're likely bringing it back in 2021, so it's time to think about getting tomatoes growing - you've got to be in it to win it!! :-D
We've got more information on growing tomatoes here in our free fact sheet. Feel free to explore our many vegie & herb growing guides online.
Congrats to Emy Rimpas who's our winner this month for a $50 credit to spend with us. She sent us in these pics of her garden produce, which she's enjoying. Emy had this to say about her Dianella garden:
"Although I didn’t stake my broad beans well. They have produced beautifully! Awesome broccoli too! Thanks for the perfect seedlings and soil products"
Thank you Emy (and everyone else) who sent in photos this month. Remember - we pick someone every month; so feel free to enter as often as you like - you've got to be in it to win it! Photos can be shared via our FB page or email. Please mention in comments 'photo competition' and let us know a few things about your garden & what you're growing.
It might be YOU next month!
Up until COB Saturday, 7th November, we've got Rocky Rock Dust as an extra-special for our VIP members.
Volcanic rock dust is an organic way to provide slow release trace elements to your soil. You only need a small amount, once or (at most) twice a year, applied to the soil and water in well. Soil microbes will eventually activate the minerals and make them plant available. It is a gentle way to improve the overall health of your garden and taste of fruit & vegetables.
Rocky Rock Dust is Certified Organic, and a WA product. It is available in a 5kg tub and a 15kg bag.
Shopping in store? Please ask our team members for the special price on Rocky Rock Dust this month. Online shoppers, log in to the members-only section to purchase rock dust (and a heap of other products!) at the special price.
This Spring, we've got LOTS of fabulous new products in store!
Dsatco have recently brought out WA Grown Sugar Cane Mulch. This comes in a compressed 55L bag, and will cover approx. 3-4m2. The mulch is shredded, dry and light coloured. It's perfect for using around vegies. Sugar cane mulch previously was brought over from Queensland - this product is grown right here in WA.
Also in stock - Certified Organic Whoflungdung mulch. This is a Neutrog product, made from composted straw & chicken manure, with added microbes. A rich, darker looking mulch also suitable for feeding and mulching vegie gardens. A bag will cover approx. 3-6m2.
Greensmart self watering pots. These mini wicking beds are fabulous for growing strawberries, lettuces & other greens and herbs. We carried them many years ago but have recently brought them back. Large size holds 40L of soil - we do a deal for a pot with 2 bags of our certified organic potting mix for only $90. Check them out in store or online! They're fabulous for keeping tender greens producing well over the hotter months.
Locally made, wood look aluminum garden beds. These are strong yet lightweight, and look amazing. Being coated aluminum, they won't rust, and should they be damaged, slats can be turned over or replaced to make them as good as new! Made just down the road, these beds are 1.2m x 0.6m x 0.3m - perfect for growing vegies. We do a deal with our Certified Organic Vegie Mix to fill them. (They're $285 without soil) Come and check them out!
New gloves!! In addition to the long, leather gauntlet gloves we got in a few months ago (perfect for roses), we now stock knitted long gloves. These come further up your forearms than regular gardening gloves, keeping you free from scratches & dirt. The palms/fingers are glass-fibre coated for extra strength and grip. I've had a pair of these for several years - and they are my favourite!!! They're $28 a pair.
Harvest Club Kits - these are available online at www.harvestclub.com.au - we'll be closing order books soon for Spring - so don't delay if you'd like to order (or gift for a friend) a ready-to-grow kit for Spring/Summer harvests. See the website for more information about what's included.
Please support your local independent retailer who supports us! There's nothing like local knowledge, and these retailers have it in spades.
All stockists carry different items (so give them a call and check!). If there's an item of ours they don't usually carry, in most cases they'd be very happy to add it to their next order for you.