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Welcome to November! Here we are just a stone's throw from Christmas again - how does it happen? I hope you've been enjoying this Spring weather - up to now it's been very mild and our gardens have enjoyed some rain; such a lovely time as things are actively growing but not stressing in the heat.
There's been a little bit more roadwork going on down Farrall Road from us as the Shire are putting in some extra breaks in the median strip for local residents - it's not quite over yet. If you're coming out to visit; we're definitely open - tell the lollypop person you're coming to see Green Life and they'll let you through.
We've got some great news to share... Last month we announced we were finalists in the Belmont & WA Small Business Awards; and we are THRILLED to tell you we WON the "Sustainability Award" at the presentation night 24th October at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. It means a lot to us; and I know we were up against some strong competition (for one - Urban Revolution of Vic Park). And if that wasn't enough - 29th October we discovered we've WON the National 2018 Organic Consumer Choice Award for "Best Organic Specialist" - as voted for by our lovely customers! So THANK YOU everyone who voted for us ~ you put us over the line and a people's choice award is surely the best accolade any business can hope to receive. So we're feeling the love - thank you all so very much for your support.
Workshops! While a few workshops unfortunately haven't had enough traction to run; the ones that have run have been well attended and we've received some great feedback from participants. Remember to check out the Events page right here for all the info and prices on more coming up between now and Christmas. (And our manufacturing workshops are a great opportunity to learn how to make gorgeous Christmas gifts for friends and family using things growing in your garden - so don't miss out!) The next workshop (17th November) has a rather boring title 'Botany Basics' - but for people struggling to growing vegies and fruit or gardening generally; you'll find it anything but boring. It's presented by Permaculture educator Fiona Blackham, and will look at all the aspects of what plants actually need so you can achieve amazing results! From basic nutrition and soil building, crop rotation and companion planting ~ learn how to minimise the pests and diseases in your garden using natural methods. Work with nature and the seasons to build a resilient and abundant garden. More info & bookings can be found here.
Those of you who keep an eye on our Facebook page may have seen the little videos we've been making lately. Some feature Leesa from The Greenhouse and we bring you a few ideas to use and grow herbs and vegies. I've been uploading these to YouTube - and we'll be adding more as time goes on, so check in every now and again. Video is a brave new world for us - we hope we'll get better & better at presenting them as we go along. If you've any suggestions for topics to cover; let us know! You can find us on YouTube here.
It's a busy time in the garden - enjoy these lovely sunny days outdoors!
Linda & the Team @
In this newsletter:
Assess how your crops are going, and decide if there are 'gaps'. Succession planting means putting in a few seeds every three or four weeks - this ensures that you've always got new crops coming on, and is the gardener's equivalent of "not putting all your eggs in one basket". Should you have a major drama (blocked sprinkler, pest explosion) you've got new plants coming on a bit behind that will provide you with produce in due course. Succession planting also means you're not trying to harvest and use 25 cucumbers a day. If you planted things too soon and the ground temperature wasn't quite right for germination; the next lot you plant will probably be fine.
Check out our free downloadable growing guides (there's a planting calendar for vegies, one for herbs and expanded growing guides for Top 12 edible plants for Spring/Summer) - click here to view them.
Some things you may wish to consider planting now are:
Artichokes (globe), Asian greens, Basil, Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli*, Cabbage*, Capsicum, Chilli, Celery, Choko, Cucumber, Eggplant, Ginger, Kale*, Leek, Lettuce, Melons, Okra, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radish, Rocket, Silverbeet, Spring onion, Strawberries, Sweet corn, Sweet potato, Tomato, Squash, Zucchini.
* Members of the Brassica family will grow over Spring/Summer in Perth - however they're considered best grown through Autumn/Winter due to pests. Should you wish to grow them year-round; you'll definitely need to consider insect netting; or consider growing them as microgreens. Packed full of flavour and nutrition, you can grow these small seedlings indoors (or they're easy to cover up). We've got info on how to grow Microgreens here.
Herbs. (Ok some are already listed above - but they're so good we're listing them twice) Many herbs will grow brilliantly at this time of year. Basil, Rocket, Chives (pictured right), Mint, Oregano, Marjoram, Dill, Fennel, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme are some of the most common ones - but there's so many other interesting herbs you might like to try. We keep a good range of herbs (culinary and medicinal) at GLSC - so if you're in the area, do call in and have a look!
We have got HEAPS of stock - both seeds & seedlings - of non-hybrid vegies and herbs all good to grow now; so come on in and see for yourself.
I honestly believe that home grown fruit and vegies taste amazing - and better than most of what you can ever buy at the supermarket. Of all of these highly prized, home grown, delicious crops – surely tomatoes are the ‘holy grail’ and most popular crop among home gardeners.
Choosing a Tomato Variety
Once you start to look – you’ll be amazed at the huge range of tomatoes available; whether in seedling or seeds… and yet there are far less varieties around NOW than there used to be; largely thanks to commercialisation of tomato growing and the decline of home gardens, and seed saving.
How much room do you have? You may have heard of ‘determinate’ and ‘indeterminate’ tomatoes. Determinates stop growing once a genetically pre-determined size (number of nodes) has been reached; and tend to fruit pretty much around the same time – so handy if you DO wish to bottle them or make sauce.
Selecting the site
Tomatoes can have large and vigorous root systems (they have been known to grow several metres down!) – so if you’re planting in a pot; the bigger the better. We like the 75L planter bags as they give the tomatoes enough room to grow. Improve the soil with aged manure and/or good quality compost. A side dressing of potash is good. Tomatoes do require good drainage, but also require regular water (more on water later!). Mulching is also recommended to keep soil protected. Straw, pea straw, lupin or lucerne mulch is ideal.
Some gardeners like to prune tomatoes as they grow. This may help allow extra airflow around plants – but it’s interesting to note that a Diggers study conclusively showed that pruning reduced yield, and had no effect whatsoever on the size of the fruit - so trim your plants if you need to contain their size, or make them less top heavy; but otherwise there’s no advantage in pruning your plants.
Tomatoes should receive REGULAR watering. Make sure they’re watered well when establishing them; and as they mature you can ease off. A recommended check is to monitor the growing points of the plant. During the heat of the day the young tips may wilt slightly. This is OK. But if the mature leaves and whole branches wilt – more watering is required. Once plants are producing heavily, less water tends to mean enhanced flavour (studies show that excessive water can dilute flavour).
Unfortunately tomatoes are susceptible to a number of diseases – bacterial and fungal. (I could list them all here but it would only depress you.) Unfortunately many diseases are soil borne, and can be spread by insects. Certain weather conditions (usually humidity) can make the problem worse; and there’s often not much that can be done. Plants may wilt and begin to die back –but the good news is if plants are already carrying fruit these will still ripen and can be harvested, even if the plants look shocking. If you have plants that develop diseases (and you suspect your soil is infected), crop rotation is an important way to avoid the problem in future seasons. Grow a resistant crop in subsequent seasons – brassicas (cabbage family) are a good choice, as are onions and then corn. Infected plants should be destroyed and not composted. Some tomato varieties are disease resistant – so in subsequent years, look out for them.
Cherry tomatoes may be a good choice for you if you've had problems in the past. They seem to be both prolific and persistent - so give them a go if you've had no luck growing your usual favourites.
We talked about aphids & thrips (in the 'jobs to do' section above) and their role in spreading disease. Tomatoes can also be affected by mites - another tiny sap sucker that attacks the leaves. But then there's the grubs/caterpillars that attack the FRUIT - which is even worse!! These budworms are the larvae of a moth (active at night) and while they start off on the foliage, they move into developing fruit, causing it to rot. Hand picking any tiny caterpillars, netting your plants and treating with Dipel if the problem gets exceptionally out of control are the best ways to deal with them. There's also the green shield bugs that will attack your fruiting tomatoes; shake these off into some soapy water each morning and you'll make a good dent in their numbers.
Be on the lookout for the Tomato Potato Psyllid (TPP) - a new pest discovered (unfortunately) in WA for the first time a year or so ago. This tiny sap sucking insect (pictured above) can affect members of the solanum family, spread disease, and could be very damaging to commercial crops. See the Ag Department fact sheet for more info and treatment options here.
Did you know that the hairs on the stems of your tomato plants serve to protect the plant? Called Trichomes, they help insulate the plant and protect against water loss, but they also exude essential oils - that "tomato smell" you get on your skin when handling the plants. This scent is thought to deter chewing insects, and the plant can alter the compounds it releases in an attempt to confuse and deter different pests. So the hairier the tomato - the healthier, potentially!
Basil is a well known good companion to Tomato - but others include: beans, carrots, celery, chives, parsley, stinging nettle, cucumber, asparagus, lettuce, nasturtium, sage, borage. (See our companion planting guide here.)
Spring/Summer is definitely "tomato time"... if you haven't got any planted yet it's not too late to enjoy the amazing taste of home grown ripe tomatoes - so get to it!
Thanks to Jemima from Jane Brook - who sent us in these photos with the lovely testimonial:
Jemima wins a $50 to spend with us at GLSC. So if you want to be in the draw - send in a photo (or two) of your garden, with a short note and YOU might be next month's winner. It's easy - but you've got to be in it to win it! Photos can be shared via our Facebook page or emailed to us @ GLSC with the subject 'photo competition'.
In October's newsletter we advertised the Lucerne Pellet mulch for $24 per bag (instead of the $29 regular price) - in store and online in the special 'members only' log in space. It was brought to my attention only recently that it WASN'T available online as advertised - and for this I apologise... I'd made a mistake in setting up the product and it wasn't "live" and available for purchase... so I've extended the deal for online shoppers until 30.11.18. My apologies!
NOVEMBER'S SPECIAL OFFER is still all about mulch - just in time for summer!
Supasaver Mulch is a new product. It is made from aged & ground up tree waste. It is quite chunky (rougher than our Economulch - which has gone through an extra grinding process). It is a great basic mulch; chocolate brown in colour.
As a 'SUPA SPECIAL' we are offering truckloads (7m3) of Supasaver Mulch DELIVERED Perth metro for $300 ~ including delivery*.
Don't need that much? Pickup from our yard at $15 per scoop ($30 per standard trailer/$45 per cubic metre)
This pricing ($45 per cubic metre) applies to VIP members ONLY for the month of November 2018.
(Standard delivery prices apply for quantities other than the 7m3 special deal)
Contact us today and get your garden ready for summer!
Please support the local & independent businesses who support us. You'll find great advice and friendly service close to home!
(Please note - the range of products available will vary from store to store so it's always best to check with them for what you're looking for. If it's something they don't usually carry they would most likely be happy to add it to their next order.)