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When plants eat insects, where do they go? A carnivorous plant dissection experiment for kids. When Love Bites
Do plants have stomachs and teeth? How are they able to catch prey like other carnivores if they can’t run? And when they catch insects, where do they go? These are mind-baffling questions indeed and certainly worthy of a little hands-on investigation! Scientists, biologists, and creepy-crawler lovers, are you ready to find out what happens when love bites this February? Eeeeew!
Did you know?
Carnivorous plants, also known as insectivorous plants, are those which get their nutrition by catching and digesting insects. How cool is that? Carnivory in plants is owing to centuries of evolution, driven by pure instinct to survive in areas with nitrogen-poor soil. There are over 600 known species of insectivorous plants around the world, time to get yours!
The deadliest devils
Here are a few carnivorous contenders that will make the perfect dissection specimen.
- Sundew: These bad boys exude a sticky substance that attracts and then traps insects and other small prey. Their meal is quickly swallowed by a web of tiny tentacles and digested by enzymes within the plant stems and leaves.
- Venus Fly Trap: One of the most popular meat-eaters with trigger-sensitive, dangerous jaws! They use sweet nectar to attract their prey and then with interlocking teeth, trap their victims. Digestive enzymes get to work as the plant absorbs a lovely nutritious soup.
- American Trumpet Pitcher: This cleaver funnel-like plant hunts using a pit-fall trap. Insects are attracted by a nectar-like secretion on the top of the leaves. Unlucky for them, the nectar is poisonous, sending their intoxicated bodies tumbling down the funnel.
- Tropical Pitcher Plant: Similar to the beastie above but more sack-like in appearance. They too attract insects using sweet intoxicating nectar. Prey slip on the rims of the plant, falling into a pool of death and soon drowning inside a sticky acidic liquid.
Nurture your darling garden this month of love by sowing delicious edibles and magnificent flowers. Remember to give your roses some TLC and maintain your existing crops for an abundant harvest. Life is a Garden – here’s what to do with yours this February.
Blooms to sow
- Plant tough annuals such as Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) and Gazania Rigens to fill gaps in beds and provide gorgeous colour for the months ahead.
- Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) is your best bet for pots with full sun. They boast striking pink, red, cream, or orange blooms that’ll bring any patio to life.
- Begin sowing these winter and spring-flowering gems that need a bit of time to mature in seedling trays: cinerarias, gazanias, Iceland poppies, primulas, violas, pansies, larkspurs, Canterbury bells, columbines, and aquilegias.
Many summer-flowering annuals start coming to the end of their flowering season and need to be removed. As such, collect ripe seeds from flowers you wish to grow for next season and begin preparing seed and flower beds for autumn planting.
Best for indoors
Adorn the indoors with your very own Love Palm (Chamaedorea elegans). They are small, slow-growing palm trees, reaching a full height of approximately 1 meter. Celebrated for their attractive foliage, compact shape and decorative cluster form, Love Palms are ideal indoor beauties that thrive in low to moderate light.
Caring for flowers
- Keep azaleas and camellias well-watered to ensure a good show of flowers during winter and spring.
- Keep deadheading your spent blooms to promote faster regrowth with more flowers.
- Deadhead and dis-bud your babies.
- Water well 3 times a week.
- Fertilise BUT remember that a heap on the surface is not optimal. Fertiliser is only of use when it is dissolved by water and carried to the roots.
Welcome, novice farmers! We are delighted to see your green fingers in bloom, exploring the world of homegrown goodness. Experience for yourself what all the hype is about by starting your own little veggie garden or edible pot. There is something truly special about fresh greens from the Earth – their incredible flavour loaded with nutrients, the direct connection with Mother Nature, and the unbeatable sense of pride from harvesting the fruits of your labour. Find out how to start your own edible journey below.
For your first growing quest, we recommend starting small. Think about whether you would like to use containers, plant straight into the ground, or if you would like to make raised beds. Consider your space and available time to guide your growing style. Sowing a couple of seeds in an empty space in your flower bed is as good a beginning as any.
Top tip: Be careful not to overpopulate your space. Your veggies will increase in size and need room to grow and climb. Planting too close together will also cause veggies to shade one another. Refer to your seed packet or handy GCA Garden Centre guy for advice.
Location, location, location
With the idea of starting small in mind, where you choose to grow is an equally important factor to consider. Veggies love the sun and will flourish in open areas that receive as much sunlight as possible with no big trees throwing shade on your new babies. Examine your space through eco-eyes: take note of the sun’s movement, surrounding foliage, and expansion space needed as your greens grow.
Top tip: Location is also important in terms of watering. Make sure your veggies are in reach of the hosepipe or irrigation system, and remain uncovered to receive as much rainfall as possible.
Life is a Garden received press coverage to the amount of R1,241,931.04 in the month of December. The below spreadsheet shows the total press coverage that Life is a Garden received in the month of December 2020.
To view the Life is a Garden – December “Redbook” actual press clippings, please click here: https://www.redbook.co.za/share/book/59e56af535ff8d0447bb9ccb00edf82b
Press Report of December
Have no fear! Lizards are friends to the garden bringing gifts of goodwill with them. Welcome these eco-warriors into your eco-system and enjoy less pests, more life, and a healthier environment.
Lizards are lovely because…
- They eat other goggas we don’t really like such as slugs, mozzies and ants.
- These guys are completely harmless to humans and will not attack you or become a man-eating reptile (incase your nerves are a little fried from watching Godzilla).
- Some do occasionally munch on leaves, but very small amounts that go unnoticed.
- They are also food for larger predators such as owls (who we also love, bonus!).
- Lizards serve as living barometers and are excellent indicators of your garden’s health. Their presence indicates low levels of pollutants, pesticides, and heavy metals in the garden – isn’t that grand!
Attract lizards by…
- Avoiding chemical pesticides and weed killers – these affect not only lizards, but impact the entire food chain (serious stuff, gardeners).
- Mulching up your beds to give them an insulated, snug spot to spoon at night.
- Providing hiding places like big rocks, small rocks, piles of rocks, broken rocks – pretty much rocks in all forms, and bushes too.
- Speaking of rocks, larger rocks make for the perfect sunbathing beds, as well as any brick or concrete platform.
- Providing a freshwater source, which they can access, such as a pond or water feature. Better yet, make your own lizard watering hole by placing a bowl near their favourite hot spot (don’t forget to give them a way in and out).
Warm up to these reptiles and they’ll reward your garden, gracefully! They are mostly out of sight, busy minding their own business. And lucky for us, their business is bugs.
Be bold and go bedless! Perfect your potting skills and never leave your patio without plants again. Here’s how you can easily bring the garden to your stoep with creative containers, vertical planters, colour wheel play, and a few bloomingly beautiful flowers. Life is a Garden, even on your balcony!
Using different sized and shaped containers add height and variety to the space, while also giving you an opportunity to experiment with different styles. Try using cute teapots or gumboots as planters to add a little character and fun to your space. You could even upcycle cans to use as pots and decorate as desired to suit your existing décor.
Ensure your planting containers have good drainage to avoid root rot.
Let it all hang out
Utilising hanging baskets is another simple way of adding greenery to areas with limited space. Using woven baskets (instead of plastic) with spikey foliage will bring in some lovely texture. Vines cascading down a pillar is a fresh break in between bricks and concrete. Your local GCA Garden Centre has a variety of hanging baskets waiting for you!
Add life to your patio paradise by planting gorgeous, blossoming blooms. A couple of flower pots neatly arranged along the lonely stoep wall or outdoor windowsill makes all the difference. Any available space is an opportunity for flowers to flourish. Get this lush look by using the Thriller, Filler, and Spiller (TFS) concept to create the ultimate flower pot.
One upright focal point plant as your Thriller, a mounded plant as the Filler around it, and then something to trail over the edge as your splendid Spiller.
Who’s lus for strawberries and cream?
Grow your own reminder of the sweeter things in life and play with the colour wheel in your pots.
The new year is always a great time to start afresh and get back into the garden. Remove any tired or spent annuals and fill the gaps with new babies that will flower into autumn. Planting fresh herbs and veggies will also help you stick to those healthy New Year’s resolutions. Happy 2021, dear green fingers, and please do remember that your Life is A Garden!
What to do in the January garden
- There is still enough time to sow Eschsholzia, Lobelia, and Phlox for an abundance of summer and autumn colour.
- Water regularly during dry spells.
- Put out snail bait after rainfall or after watering in the evening.
- If yellow patches appear on the lawn, this is an almost sure sign of lawn caterpillar, also known as armyworm.
Tip: Use a thick, moist towel placed over a patch at night. If lawn caterpillars are the culprit, they will still be foraging on the lawn in the morning when you lift the towel. Consult your local GCA Garden Centre for a remedy.
- Colourful Begonias are available in trays to liven up semi-shade and shady areas.
- Deadhead hydrangeas and use the beautiful blooms in dry arrangements.
- A light summer pruning of your roses will help to extend quality flowering into late autumn.
- Gently prune lavender plants that have stopped flowering to encourage an autumn flush.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch to beat the heat and save water.
What to do in the January veggie garden
- Most veggies need 60 to 90 days to harvest so if we are sowing in January, we need to think about what we will eat fresh from the garden in March and April. Never sow the whole seed packet at once as it literally contains from around 50 to several hundred seeds, so rather sow in 14-day intervals to achieve a continuous harvest.
Transform white flowers into a rainbow bouquet
Who says back to school can’t begin with a little fun? This DIY experiment is science on rainbow steroids and will intrigue both boys and girls. Learn about plant anatomy, enjoy a little magic, and become the inventor of a whole new flower species. Transform white blooms into any colour you like, here’s how:
Any white flowers should work well for this experiment. Here are some top picks that are currently in bloom, either in the garden or at your local GCA Garden Centre.
- White roses
You will need:
- A few white flowers (store-bought or hand-picked).
- 4 Different shades of food colouring (or as many as you like).
- 4 Medium-sized drinking glasses or jars (avoid plastic cups).
- A pair of sharp scissors
- Fill half of each glass with water.
- Pour half the bottle of your chosen food colouring, one at a time, into each glass of water. You want to achieve a rather concentrated colour so that your flower will have a vibrant hue.
- Cut any leaves off your flowers and trim the stems to fit nicely inside your glass. You want some stem sticking out with your flower comfortably resting against the glass.
- Pop your clean-stemmed flowers inside the different glasses.
- After two hours or so, you will begin seeing slight colours appearing on the edges of the flower petals. When the kids wake up, the flowers should be completely coloured in and looking lovely!
- As a fun little extra, kids could also name their new flower species and make little tags for their inventions. Help kids think of names by combining the flower’s botanical name with perhaps their own, other family members, or their pet’s names.
- While the kids wait, here’s some neat to know science stuff about how your flowers have soaked up the colour.
Like us, plants require food to keep them healthy and strong. Get your plants off to a good start with decedent, nutrient-rich soil. For plants to grow well and produce lots of leafy growth, flowers, and fruit, they need to be well-fed. We are spoilt to live in a country with a generally mild climate and mostly good soil, which allows us to grow a wide range of beautiful plants. However, this tends to make us forget that they do require a little feeding. The key to a flourishing garden is hugely affected by your soil health and fertility.
Tip: Good soil = good roots = a good, healthy plant
Food for thought: According to the Gallup Gardening Survey, less than half of the world’s home gardeners use any kind of fertiliser or plant food on their lawns or gardens. What's unfortunate about this statistic is that it means gardeners aren't getting as many flowers or as much produce as they should. And they're probably struggling with disease and insect problems that could be avoided. Well-fed plants are healthier, more productive and more beautiful.
Soil, often called the living skin of the Earth, is arguably the most important and valuable resource we have. Soil is made from three main components, besides air and water – minerals from weathered rocks, organic matter, which is mainly decomposed plants, and living organisms like earthworms in the soil. There are many different types of soils depending on the composition of the above components. Here is s fun way to test the basic type of soil you have:
- Take a heaped tablespoon of soil from your garden.
- Wet the soil.
- Now roll it into a “sausage” about a pencil-thin.
- If it crumbles and won’t form a sausage – you have sandy soil.
Life is a Garden received press coverage to the amount of R717,736.43 in the month of November. The below spreadsheet shows the total press coverage that Life is a Garden received in the month of November. 2020.
To view the Life is a Garden – November “Redbook” actual press clippings, please click here: http://bit.ly/2WiFOgg
Press Report of November