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new leafWelcome 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.

belmont awardWe'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.

occa awardWorkshops!  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!

Until next time - happy gardening!

paul and linda at awardsLinda & the Team @ 
The Green Life Soil Co
(Pictured right - Paul & I at the WA Small Business Awards)

In this newsletter:

Jobs to do in the November Garden
What to Plant Now
Growing Terrific Tomatoes
Photo Competition Winner
VIP Special
Retail Stockist Update

Jobs to do in the November Garden

  • mulchPrep your garden for summer!  We discussed it last month, but your plants will benefit from getting soil improvement done (water holding minerals and mulch) BEFORE the heat really strikes.
  • With Christmas just around the corner - select some gorgeous pots or planters and pop some young herbs or summer flowering annuals in them.  If you tend them well - by Christmas you'll have some well established and healthy plants to give away as living and useful gifts.
  • Refresh your hanging baskets and patio pots now for the same reason - come Christmas celebrations they'll be looking amazing.
  • lawnLawns!  Now's the time many varieties are actively growing, so feed them, add soil wetters and/or minerals for long term soil health - this is the perfect time to show your lawn some love.  Try our top dress (becoming quite renowned around town!) to rejuvenate your lawn and fill in divots.  Check your retic and remove weeds.  Your hard work now will pay off in time for all those family gatherings coming up when you'll want to use your backyard for entertaining and playing outdoors.
  • Get planting your summer vegies.  We've got so many healthy seedlings and herbs in stock right now!  Come on in and grab what you need to fill in any gaps in your garden, or things you've forgotten to grow from seed this year, or to save yourself some time.  
  • Prune back spring flowering shrubs.  Keeping things clipped will encourage bushy growth.  Be careful not to trim things back too hard, leaving plants super exposed before the hot weather kicks in.  Little and often is usually a safe way to prune rather than chop and shock.
  • Watch for fruit fly.  As your stonefruit develops keep a vigilant eye on your crops.  By now you should have some protective measures in place; be it baits, or netting (available @ GLSC).  Totally organic control is difficult to achieve - see our fact sheet here on organic fruit fly options.
  • cabbage butterflyPest patrol.  Stay on the lookout for slugs & snails (which have been active for longer with this Spring rain), aphids and the dreaded white cabbage butterfly - breeding up in numbers now.  Sap sucking aphids & thrips can spread disease to healthy plants - so deal with them before populations get too big.  Controlling weeds is helpful in this too - lush weeds can support pests 'between seasons' of your vegies - so make sure you don't make it easier for pests to thrive in your garden.
  • Weeds.  Whippersnip and mulch your weeds.  They can remain in the soil to break down under the mulch, and return nutrients to other plants growing around them.  Layer damp newspaper or cardboard under the mulch to help add another barrier to their regrowth.
  • Fertilise.  Your vegie seedlings will benefit from a light liquid feed every week or two.  No need to be heavy handed; little and often once more being the best way to keep nutrients in the soil and prevent leaching.  Plants will only take up what they need - anything more is potentially wasted.

What to Plant Now

zucchiniAssess 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.

chivesHerbs.  (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.

Top Tips for Terrific Tomatoes

tomatoesI 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.

Each year, Green Life holds a Tomato Contest. Customers submit some of their bounty to us for subjective taste tests; and we love the range of colours, sizes and shapes that get brought in each year. (Keep an eye on our next couple of newsletters for more details. It’s worth entering!  Pictured right is last year's winner - Mirey's gorgeous photo!)

Unfortunately no matter how keen the gardener – the elusive perfect tomato can be difficult to achieve – we hear it often enough from customers.  Some years we’ve had great success with tomatoes; growing more than we can keep up with. Other years we’ve had limited success; so I can sympathise with those of you who tell me similar stories. So what is it that makes the difference? Unfortunately so many things!! But don’t despair completely – it’s always worth having a go, for the (literal) taste of victory is sweet!

Choosing a Tomato Variety

tomato bunchOnce 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.

So where do you start? Think about how you tend to use tomatoes. Do you like throwing handfuls into salads? Do you like to slice them in sandwiches? Or do you like to cook with them and use them in sauces? Whatever your preference – there are varieties that will be ‘fit for purpose’.

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.

Indeterminate varieties have different growth patterns and tend to be more sprawling and fruit over a longer timeframe; so ideal if you’re wishing to harvest regularly for your salads.

Both indeterminate and determinate varieties benefit from some kind of support – stakes, or mesh they can lean against – although the variety will have a bearing on potential size, with some dwarf types not requiring staking. It is recommended to build the support at the beginning phase of your tomato growing so as not to disturb the roots of maturing plants. Spacing will depend again on the overall size of the mature plant. Around 1m is ideal – although a Diggers trial measured increased productivity when plants were grown at a separation of 1.5m.

You can allow tomatoes to sprawl over the ground if you have the space. They will grow and crop, but it can cause problems with poor airflow and make plants more susceptible to disease.  The benefit from this growth habit is that the fruit is more likely to be shaded; thus avoiding sunscald (sunburn of the ripening tomato which causes the fruit to rot) - so there are pro's and con's with either staking or sprawling your tomato bushes.

Selecting the site 

roma tomatoTomatoes 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.

Tomatoes require a sunny spot in the garden, and need warm soil to thrive (hence why planting them out too early isn’t a good idea). Climate also influences fruit set – cold snaps and cold nights can adversely affect cropping.

Another thing to consider is that tomato flowers are largely self-pollinating – the flower containing both male and female parts. Transfer of pollen relies on some form of motion to dislodge it – the most common way this happens is from wind; so if your plants are in a very sheltered spot, they may not set as much fruit.  You can aid pollination with a small brush/toothbrush or even tapping the flowers lightly to distribute pollen will help.

Pruning

tomato rangeSome 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.
(Pictured right - some of the range of shapes, sizes & colours submitted in our tomato contest.)

Watering

basket of fruitTomatoes 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).
REGULAR watering is the key here… keep the spacing between waterings regular. Infrequent and spasmodic watering is the main cause of blossom end rot. This is often attributed to calcium deficiency; which is partly true; because it is the WATER that mobilises the calcium that the plant can access. Excessive sodium can mean plants can take up less calcium; and lower transpiration rates (ie. humid conditions) can mean slower uptake also.
So stick to your system of watering, although there’s not much you can do if rainy days come along. If this happens watch for splitting fruit – often a symptom of lots of water being taken up too quickly before the plants can adapt.  Generally – less frequent but deep watering is best for tomatoes.

Problems

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.

tomato in grow bagNematodes can be a problem in Perth, too. They love our dry, sandy soil and tend to proliferate at the end of summer. They damage roots and affect the ability of plants to uptake nutrients and water. Crop rotation is another way to deal with this – as is digging in green manure crops and lots of organic matter. As this decays it makes the soil less suitable for nematodes to thrive.

So if you’ve had problems with diseased tomatoes – definitely try growing them a different spot, or if you simply don’t have the space – use a large pot or planter bag (pictured here) for a season or two. Pots/planter bags make it easier to use fresh soil each year, and to take advantage of sun/shade as applicable - you can move them around.

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.

Pests

tppWe 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.  

Hairy Tomatoes

hairy tomatoDid 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!

Good Companions

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!

Photo Competition Winner

Thanks to Jemima from Jane Brook - who sent us in these photos with the lovely testimonial:  

"Hi!  At the start of this year I was ready to give up on vegetable gardening. I had zero luck growing anything and I had mixed advice from different sources about what I should be doing. As a last resort I went to Green Life in Midvale and you kindly did a soil analysis for me. I got onto the veggie concentrate and I haven't looked back! Your consistent and helpful advice and your products that actually work have meant I am growing beautiful vegetables to feed my family (as you can see in the photos!) I love the newsletters and recently picked up some pea straw thanks to your suggestion about helping the garden in the summer. Thanks for helping me!"

 

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'.  




VIP Special

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!

supasaverNOVEMBER'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*.

* please check with us to confirm your suburb is included. For areas that are further away, a small additional delivery charge may apply.

7m3 will cover:-

  • 70m2 if used at a depth of 100mm
  • 140m2 if used at a depth of 50mm
  • 105m2 if used at a depth of 75mm

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!

Retail Stockist Update

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.)

uscape stockBeaufort Garden World - Inglewood 9271 0585
Dunn + Walton - Doubleview 92427711
Garden Elegance - Subiaco 9381 2197
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

Busselton - U scape Garden Centre 9751 3995 (new stockist of Premium Potting Mix & Charlie Charcoal!)
Geraldton - Succulent Kiss 0488 374 444
Leschenault - Fancy Plants Nursery 0428 844 597 (and check out Deb's stall at the regular Bunbury markets)
Margaret River - Landmark 9758 7677


See you next month!  In the meantime - follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with news, new stock & all the good Green Life things!









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