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Autumn 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.
Also 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?
In this newsletter:
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.
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.
Consider 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!
Growing 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.
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.
I'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!
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!
I think this last bit would be my main take away message - plant tomatoes deep with a good portion of the stem.
THANK YOU for sharing your experience, Mirey!
Speaking of winners... Keep on sending in pictures of your gardens. Each month we pick a random winner.
For 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!!
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.
3kg = $13.00 (save $8.00)
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.
See you next month!