October in the Garden

We are excitedly marching off to our nearest GCA garden centre to buy flower and vegetable seedlings, seasonal perennials, groundcovers, ornamental grasses, flowering shrubs, fruit trees, and all the other stalwarts of mid-spring to plant now. AND, it’s “rose month”! We also know that October is a fine time to feed all plants and to protect mid-spring treasures against pests and weeds. But most of all, enjoy your spring garden!

Seedling newsflash!

Ready-to-plant annuals in seedling trays are the fastest and cheapest way to turn any garden into a garden of Eden and at this time of year, and you are spoiled for choice. Flower seedlings to plant include: petunias, lobularias (alyssum), gazanias, dianthus, penstemons, summer chrysanthemums, Sunpatiens, salvias and celosias – all perfect for sunny spots.

Remember that seedling success relies on: Compost enriched soil and regular feeding with a water soluble fertiliser. So, make sure that you stock up on these products as well.

Bountiful flowers and food

Summer-flowering annuals like cosmos, marigolds, lobelias, Portulacea, zinnias and sunflowers, and most summer vegetables and herbs can be sown, now that night temperatures are higher. Here are some handy tips when sowing:

  • Large seeds – place a piece of chicken wire over the seed tray to make a template for sowing evenly. Use one seed per hole.
  • Small seeds – fine seeds such as lobelia can stick to your fingers and are difficult to spread out. Mix them with dry sand or bread flour in an old flour shaker and shake the mix lightly over the moistened soil.

Some easy-to-grow veggies to sow now:

Cucumbers – sow seeds directly. The plants will need sturdy stakes to keep the fruit off the ground.

Green beans – plant seeds of bush types which are easier to manage.

Squashes and baby marrows – sow seeds directly.

Kids Activity October: Keep cool with wonderful water gardens

Spring has sprung and the summer sunshine is around the corner. October is the perfect time to have some fun in the sun - it’s time to get up and get gardening with your kiddies.

Cool off under the sunny skies with a water oasis that adds some tropical warmth to your garden. This water garden is the perfect way to refresh your patio or add a touch of leisure to your outdoor area.

What you will need:

  • A watertight basin or bucket, between 30 to 40cm deep with a diameter of between 60 to 90cm
  • Topsoil, which contains clay (or simply, aquatic soil)
  • 1 x Aquatic crate with lattice, fitting to the size of the plant you purchase
  • 1 x Terracotta pot
  • Aquatic fertiliser
  • Silica sand
  • Bricks and/or pieces of bricks
  • Aquatic plants, such as Water Lily, Acorus gramineus, floating aquatic plants and a variety of others. Visit your local GCA garden centre for advice on the best plants to use
  • Plastic frog, duck and/or pink Water Lily
  • Water to fill the container

How to create the perfectly, refreshing water garden:

  • Place your container on a table, and help your kiddies to place the bricks in the position in which you are going to grow the water plants.
  • Show your kids how to fill the terracotta pot with aquatic soil, to about 3cm from the rim.
  • After adding a capful of fertiliser to the soil, plant the Acorus graminea. This is bright green grass that will grow particularly well in wet soils!
  • Fill the remaining area in the pot with silica sand, and place the pot on the large brick to create extra height for your water garden.

What to do about fruit flies

Symptoms

Our “gogga” of the month for October will cause prematurely ripe fruit and vegetables, which rot soon after. It’s the fruit fly.

What does this mean for me/my plants?

Fruit and veggies will be totally spoiled (inside and possibly outside too) and inedible if not treated

Suggested Action

A preventative spraying programme for fruit fly and coddling moth must be followed every two weeks from 80% blossom fall. Alternatively a bait may be put out – but the bait must often be replaced. Often, the fruit is opened and is infested with worms, with no outside damage to the fruit. This is because the eggs are laid and the fruit forms around these. If a preventative spraying programme is not followed, most fruit will be damaged. Visit your local GCA garden centre for advice on the best solution for you!

Summer Show Stoppers

Hailing from around the globe, including several indigenous varieties, Begonias come from a massive genus consisting of more than a thousand species. With over ten thousand documented hybrids there is an almost confusing array to choose from.  When it comes to long lasting, outdoor colour however, there is little to be confused about. Begonia semperflorens or bedding Begonias and its numerous cultivars, are just the thing to brighten up those dull areas in the garden.

Impatiens – known to many as “Busy Lizzies” – are a vital ingredient to any summer garden. Few, if any, other plants offer such a mass of blooms for such a long period as do these valiant little plants. For a relatively small outlay, a few trays of impatiens will transform a dull shady corner into a riot of gorgeous colour. Impatiens will perform beautifully all summer long, impressing all passers-by. Once impatiens are established, discerning gardeners the world over are finding them among the most carefree annuals in the garden.

Begonia

One of the many advantages bedding Begonias have is that they are relatively maintenance free. They don’t need deadheading and will provide colour from early spring right through to the end of May, especially if given a regular helping of seedling food.

When planting in sunny position the seedlings need to be placed closer together (10cm apart) as the plants won’t spread as much. If it is very hot, it is a good idea to mulch between the plants to keep the soil cool, although as the plants grow they will soon shade their own roots. Many gardeners are under the misapprehension that either the green or bronze variety perform well in the sun. This is just a myth as both green and bronze varieties perform well in both sun and shade. In shade, Begonias grow a bit taller and spread further so space them 15cm apart when planting.

Azaleas on the Balcony

Potted azaleas are a miniature version of the more common, larger, outdoor azalea – Rhododendron simsii. Outdoor azaleas grow to be large shrubs that burst into colour during early spring. They are an established garden favourite, prized for adding intense colour to shaded areas and under trees. Azaleas prefer acidic soils – mulching, especially with acid compost or pine needles intensifies flowering.

Potted azaleas are more commonly referred to as ‘Florist Azaleas’. These miniature plants offer a compact ball of striking colour from early spring onwards. They have small, leathery dark-green leaves bearing clusters of buds and blooms at their tips. The range of flower colours is impressive and  includes white, pink, peach, lavender, red and bicolour. Blooms are 2 – 5cm across and often double or semi-double, some with ruffled petals.

Potted azaleas can be expected to flower for 3 – 4 weeks indoors, provided they are positioned correctly and well cared for … here’s how:

A few ‘selection tips’ when purchasing indoor azaleas

  • Look for plants with many buds, rather than full blooms
  • If sold in a plastic sleeve, remove once home (the sleeve is for protection during transport, but traps ethylene gas and can cause leaf drop – so don’t use it as a display or container)
  • Check the underside of the leaves for pesky whiteflies & mealybug (they love azaleas!)

Care advice and instructions

  • In their natural environment, azaleas thrive in cool, filtered sun positions
  • Cooler temperatures help the blooms last longer
  • Position in well lit area, but out of direct sun
  • Pay careful attention to watering – do not allow the plant to dry out. Water two to three times a week. A ‘good soak’ is always beneficial with indoor plants… stand the plant in a bath of water overnight, or ‘dunk’ into a bucket of water until the bubbles stop.

Sow your own Spring Sunshine with Sunflowers

September is the bright and vibrant start of the Spring season. Your garden perks up and is painted with colour! It’s a time of new growth, new life and refreshment. We love Spring time!

Sunflowers are the perfect plants to put a smile on your face. With golden petals, and stems that tower over most parts of your garden, these are such cheerful additions to your yard. Create a little sunshine and happiness in the world - and your garden - and sow some sunny Spring sunflowers for a pop of colour.

Life is a Garden - a lover of sunflowers - is an avid supporter of The Sunflower Fund and the amazing work they do. The fund's biggest national campaign “Sunflower Day” will be celebrated on 15 September 2017, where we see what was previously known as ‘Bandana Day’ renewed and revitalised! Instead of bandanas, their new product the ‘Tube of Hope (TOPE)’ will be available for its second year running, at a cost of R25 each. The public are encouraged to show support for people fighting chronic blood conditions like Leukaemia and remember that “Hope begins with you!”

For many patients diagnosed with a blood disorder or blood cancer such as Leukaemia, their only chance of survival is finding a matching stem cell donor. We all have such a unique mix of DNA that finding a stem cell match is incredibly tough - for a patient, the chances of finding a match is 1 in 100,000! The more donors on the registry, the greater the chance of finding a match and giving someone’s child, parent or friend the hope of life.

Visit your local GCA Garden Centre between 16 August and 15 September (ending on Sunflower Day), purchase any stickered product and help Life is a Garden help The Sunflower Fund - all proceeds will be donated to the fund.

Carpets of Colour

If it’s warm, rich colours you are after then marigolds are just the thing for you. Their colourful flowers come in shades of orange, yellow, red and bi-coloured, with many flower shapes and sizes to choose from. You may be forgiven for thinking that surely marigolds are a bit old fashioned, because they bring back memories of your grandmother’s garden. This may have even been true a few years back, however they have made a big comeback in contemporary gardens.

Everyone has those shady areas in the garden where nothing grows, or at least they think, nothing can grow. Well the good news is that of course there are things that can grow there and we’ve got just the annual for you to use. Coleus, more commonly known as “Flame Nettle” or “Painted Leaf”, is just the thing to brighten up those shady areas.

Marigold

Bedding plants are an indispensable aspect of your summer garden. Marigolds fit squarely into this category! If you have lots of sun and well-drained soil, you can grow these easy to care for and ultra-rewarding bedding plants with very little fuss. They are particularly good at giving your garden bold swathes of eye catching colour. Some may have you believe that they water hungry and demanding, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact they generally thrive with minimal care and once established, only strategic watering during dry spells.

Plant marigolds in full sun in a well composted bed. To ensure continuous blooms (up to four months at a time), deadhead the plants regularly. Feed your plants every six weeks with a balanced fertilizer. Marigolds are a water wise choice, so once they have settled in after transplanting, water infrequently.

Coleus

Excellent for use as a ground cover, these plants will inject colour into the darker, drabber corners of the garden and will also do well indoors.

September in the Garden

Spring is here! The quote “We’re so excited, we wet our plants!” is really appropriate to how we feel right now! 🙂 Time to create a rainbow of early spring colour with lots of exciting plants which are in flower now, and to start working on your summer veggie harvest.  

Trees for Africa!

National Arbor Week is from 1 – 7 September which gives you seven official days to plant trees. The following are recommended by GCA nurseries:      

Buffalo Thorn (Ziziphus mucronata) – this is an attractive, small to medium size deciduous tree, reaching up to 9m in height and is the official tree of the year for 2017. It produces a fairly dense spreading canopy. The young trees have sharp, paired and dissimilar thorns, one being straight and the other hooked. The flowers and fruit of these trees are sought out by birds and bees. This pleasing little shade tree withstands drought, is moderately frost resistant, and succeeds in most soils and conditions.

Pomegranate ‘Wonderful’ (Punica granatum) is a leading cultivar with a resistance to adverse conditions and a high yield potential of huge blush red fruits. It is a small deciduous tree (2,5 m high), for climates with cool winters and hot summers.

Olive varieties – these hardy, but beautiful trees with their dull green leaves with the silver reverse, can tolerate very cold (and hot) temperatures and wind. Good varieties are ‘Manzanilla’ and ‘Mission’. Olive trees are not only functional, but become really pretty shade trees that blend well within any planting scheme or garden design.

Lilies to please!

As 6 September 2017 is officially ‘Secretary’s Day’ visit your local GCA nursery for potted calla lilies (Zantedeschia) which will be in magnificent flower, to present with love to your faithful ‘slave’ in the office.

What to do about mole crickets

Symptoms

Our “gogga” of the month for August (the mole cricket) makes unevenly raised burrows in the lawn and/or patches of dying grass

What does this mean for me/my plants?

These critters will ruin the lawn and if not treated, will burrow deeper and deeper into the soil, making it more difficult to treat them.

Suggested Action

Mole crickets are destructive pests on lawns. A contact /systemic insecticide drench should be directed toward young nymphs. Treatments must commence from October to early April, on the more vulnerable nymphs. This is more effective than later treatments on larger mole crickets. Visit your local GCA garden centre for advice on the best insecticide for you!

Cheerfully Pretty

If you are like many, living a hectic lifestyle with precious little time to potter around the garden, then Petunias are for you. They are one of those rare gems that reward very little care with masses of blooms. Petunias are one of the most recognisable and popular of the ornamental bedding plants. This is probably due to their hardiness coupled with their ability to bloom prolifically. There is a Petunia for every season and for every garden.

Garden plants don’t get more typically cheerful than Chrysanthemum paludosum. You’d be forgiven for thinking this small creeping daisy, with its all too familiar white petals and yellow centre, has its roots in South Africa, especially when you hear them referred to as Madeliefies! They are in fact native to the Mediterranean basin though, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying them to their fullest.

Petunia

When planting Petunias, whether in containers, window boxes or beds, placing them along a north-facing wall is preferable, as it will trap a lot of heat and light. These are a prime growing position for petunias and will encourage them to flower throughout winter and spring – for up to five months!

Whilst your soil needn’t be particularly rich to grow good petunias, it must drain well. After planting, water regularly until the seedlings are established.  Once settled, the secret behind successful Petunias is to allow the soil to dry slightly out before watering again. This is important as the drying out cycle encourages them to flower more profusely and keeps pathogens at bay.

 

Chrysanthemum Paludosum

Chrysanthemum paludosum, also known as Creeping Daisy or Madelifies, produce masses of flowers from spring all the way through to late autumn. Their creeping nature make them excellent specimens for hanging baskets, containers and window boxes but they’re also just as comfortable growing over an empty bed, as capably as dedicated ground covers do.

August in the Garden

gardening

The sap is rising and most of nature awakens once more in expectation of another spring and major growing season to come… It is time to think about composting, planting, making pretty and tooling up. Visit your closest GCA garden centre to check out what’s in, and what’s in bloom!

Tie a knot somewhere: Wednesday 9 August is National Women’s Day, which means that you will have a public holiday in the middle of the week to spend in the company of ladies first, and then with plants!    

Trending: Potted trees and hot leaves

Page through any decor magazine and you will see thick stalks with dramatic leaves, gracing huge glass vases as decor items. You will also notice that bold leaved houseplants like the old ‘parlour palm’ and lush potted trees indoors, are in fashion again. Consider Ficus microcarpa (nitida) and Ficus benjamina as perfect trees to grow in large pots on your patio and also indoors. To complete the ‘jungle look’ which is so trendy this year, also plant  Philodendron selloum, Dracaena varieties and Chrysalidocarpus lutescens (Bamboo palm)  in patio pots.  

Smart Planting for days of Powerful Flowers

Delosperma ‘Wheels of Wonder’ is a new-age vygie with big shiny flowers from early summer to early winter. It is drought, disease and frost tolerant, and perfect for full sun.

Lavandula varieties – Unusual purple spikes of flowers hold waving mauve petals from the top. There are also varieties available in white and pink. Excellent in mixed containers, as well as a hot, sunny border. Drought tolerant once established. Flowers are very attractive to butterflies.

Argyranthemum ‘Angelic’ and ‘Madeira’ – these ranges of daisy bushes produce an abundance of flowers on compact plants. The flowers are produced above the foliage and appear from early spring right through the summer season.

Perfect for the Patio – Ficus nitida

ficus plant

Ficus plants are amongst the most popular foliage plants for indoor containers. Whilst there are hundreds of different species, there are only a few prized for their lush green foliage and successful growth indoors. Ficus nitida is one of these.

As trends globally continue to feature and include plants and foliage – the use of indoor plants is growing. Although most Ficus will grow into huge trees in the open and in frost free areas, they adapt very well to growing in containers, both indoors and out. They are ideally suited to smaller homes and townhouses, with limited space, contained gardens and patios. Individual pots make a stylish feature, whereas a row of plants or hedged plants offer the practicality in the form of screening, both visually and for sound!

Ficus trees maintain their tree-like shape regardless of size. They are excellent container plants that add an instant feature, whether small, medium or large; to homes, offices & patios.

In recent years, imaginative nurserymen have taken advantage of Ficus’ pliable trunk and you can now select from standard, braided and twisted forms which continue to grow in demand and popularity.

Ficus microcarpa var. nitida is more commonly known as the ‘Indian laurel’. It has a lovely silvery bark with glossy, shiny leaves. Ficus varieties have recently been identified to possess air purifying qualities. According to NASA’s Clean Air Study, Ficus’ absorb airborne VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), effectively purifying the air. In corporate environments, indoor plants have been proven to increase mood & productivity, enhance concentration and reduce stress and fatigue… how awesome is that! In the home environment, they do this too … AND they look good and make you feel great ☺

Ficus are fast growing, with a rapidly spreading roots. Their growth is contained by the size of their container, but one should take care when growing Ficus outdoors… Some varieties may be invasive in certain areas and it is advisable to check with your local GCA for advice.

Kids Activity July – Making a Cement Planter

kids activity

Family Time in the Garden

Family time is so important. In the blink of an eye, your kiddies will be all grown up, so it’s essential that you spend as much time having fun with them, creating memories to always look back on.  

With the July Holidays coming up, your kid will be a busy bee! Take one day out of your child’s busy holiday schedule and spend some time bonding over a DIY project planter - one everybody can be involved in! It’s time to create, get outside with your kids and have fun while doing it. 

What you will need:

  • Fine sand
  • Cement
  • Water
  • An old bucket
  • A scraper or old trowel
  • Rubber gloves (2 x pairs)
  • Old newspaper/an old plant drip tray, covered in foil
  • A medium-sized succulent in its original plastic pot
  • A piece of hessian cloth, cut to the size of the plant pot you have
  • Smaller succulents to go around the bigger-sized plant
  • Stones
  • Potting mix
  • Mini chalkboard and chalk
  • Some shells or beads

Here’s what your family needs to do to make this perky planter:

Parents please remember that although the kids are helping you, keep the harder jobs for yourselves - we don’t want any tears, cuts or sores while the family is getting their creative juices flowing on this little project.

  • A few days before you would like to plant up the container, start by helping the little ones to take the large succulent out of its pot, keeping it in the original soil. Place it aside.
  • Take the pot from the succulent you’ve just put aside, brush or wipe the outside to make sure it is free from sand or dust. Turn it upside down and place it on the foil-wrapped drip tray. Cover the pot and tray with the hessian cloth.

July in the Garden

In bygone days, gardeners would spend mid-winter poring over seed catalogues and planting bare-rooted roses and fruit trees sent to them by snail-mail or rail. Nowadays, we go to well-stocked GCA nurseries in winter to buy what’s flowering and looking good!  

Trend planting

Filling your house and patio with lacy ferns which are once again very fashionable, is definitely on trend! It is also said that ferns of all kinds clean the air and being surrounded by them, leaves one with a sense of well-being and calm. Stock up on your fern collection by adding the following easy-to-grow species: Maidenhair, (Adiantum) Rabbit’s Foot (Davallia), Holly Fern (Cyrtomium), Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis) and all the dainty varieties of Pteris.

Display them in bright light, away from cold drafts, keep their roots just moist, and feed regularly with a water soluble fertiliser.   

Lovely lavender

Winter is lavender planting time and here’s a selection of the best lavenders for your garden:

  • Lavandula angustifolia – compact and bushy with small, grey-green leaves and long flower spikes in deep purple.
  • Lavandula dentata (toothed lavender) – spreading, bushy shrubs with scalloped foliage which are either dark green or grey depending on the variety. Fragrant, purple-blue flowers.
  • Lavandula x intermedia (English lavender) – vigorous hybrid with a spreading growth habit and aromatic grey-green leaves. Tall flower spikes covered in small mauve flowers.
  • Lavandula stoechas (french lavender) – numerous hybrids available of this compact bushy shrub with slender green leaves. Short spikes of purple or pink flowers topped with two colourful bracts looking like rabbit ears.

Bedding besties – Calendula

If you did not get around to planting Calendulas in March or April you can still get flowering plants from your GCA. In winter, Calendula officinalis rubs shoulders with other popular winter annuals on the seedling tables in garden centres.

Healthy Herb: July – Lovely Lavender

Lavender, a magnet for bees and other insects, is the queen of herbs – loved for its beauty, fragrance and the sense of well-being that it imparts.

If you plant just one herb, it should be lavender, for no other herb combines so many qualities in one plant. Its beauty and fragrance are self-evident, it is a significant healing and tonic herb, it has a myriad of culinary, beauty and household uses, and can play a role as a pest-repelling plant in the garden. According to ancient records, you can even smoke it! For all that, lavender is the one herb that is least likely to be found in the herb garden. Instead, it is usually grown with roses, clipped into hedges, used to line pathways or fill containers, and can also act as a silvery grey foliage plant in the garden. As a landscape plant, it is one of the best, and when in flower, it is breathtaking. Gardeners travel halfway around the world to view the lavender fields of France and Britain. Even in a domestic garden, a lavender bush in full flower stands out as a feature.

Five tips for growing lavender

This Mediterranean herb likes cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers, making it ideal for Western Cape gardens. That doesn’t mean it can’t grow successfully elsewhere, even in hot, wet, summer-rainfall areas.

  • Plant lavender in a sunny position where it receives at least full morning or afternoon sun.
  • Make sure the soil drains well, adding plenty of compost and other organics. If you have clay soil, rather grow lavender in pots.
  • Space plants well enough apart so that there is adequate air movement, which prevents fungal disease. For informal planting, space bushes 45cm to 90cm apart. For hedging, plant up to 60cm apart.
  • Water well to establish and then reduce watering, especially during a rainy period.

Winter Warmth and Smiles

No garden should be without calendulas at this time of year; it’s the only way to guarantee a little burst of sunshine when the weather fails you!  Whether it’s a sweep of golden blooms or a vivacious display in a pot, calendulas are a golden ray on a cold winter day. What’s more, even the most inexperienced of gardeners can grow them easily.

Most of us have childhood memories of squeezing the flowers of Antirrhinums together to make dragon mouths. Snapdragons are not only an endless source of amusement to children, they are ideal for bringing striking colour into the garden.

Calendula

Calendulas are one of the most versatile flowers to work with, especially as they are so easy to grow. Whether it’s in a bed, a pot or a vegetable garden, calendulas add a reliable touch of warmth to any garden. Calendulas tend to grow well in rich soil, but can also tolerate average to slightly poor soils. Water your calendula plants once or twice a week but remember that they do not like standing in wet, soggy soil so plant them with compatible plants.

Position them in partial shade or in an area that will receive a full dose of sunshine every day. These plants will flourish in nearly every light condition with the only exception being deep shade. They do best, however, if planted in sunny locations with rich, well-drained soil. Don’t forget to deadhead your plants by removing the dying flower heads to encourage them to keep on flowering more and for longer!

 

Antirrhinums

Antirrhinums tolerate light frost so you can still plant these delightful beauties if you live in one of the colder parts of the country. They are easy to grow in any well-drained, reasonably fertile, garden soil, but prefer a light or medium loam – so add in plenty of compost when preparing the bed.

Vital Veggie – June: Growing Broccoli

It is hardly an exaggeration to describe broccoli as “the wonder vegetable”. It is the most nutritionally rich of all vegetables and, as everyone knows by now, a major agent in preventing different kinds of cancer and heart disease. Fresh, home grown broccoli is best because it loses more nutritional value the longer it is stored.

Broccoli contains significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene), calcium, folic acid, fibre and two phytochemicals. One of these phytochemicals increases the activity of a group of enzymes in our bodies that suppress cancer-causing agents. Broccoli’s high calcium content may help prevent colon cancer and its high fibre content may also contribute to colon health.

Now that you know that you can’t afford not to grow broccoli, the other piece of good news is that this vegetable is easier and quicker to grow than those other Brassicas, cabbage and cauliflower.

Soil preparation

Broccoli grows in any type of soil, but for a good crop, dig in as much compost as possible, as well as bone meal or superphosphate. It is a heavy feeder.

Sowing times

Sow seed from February (in cooler areas), March and April. Being a cool season vegetable, broccoli likes day temperatures of between 10 to 20°C. It must certainly not exceed 26°C because the plants will bolt. Growth will slow down in winter but then pick up for a spring harvest. If you are able to sow early enough you might get a first crop in autumn. Good broccoli varieties to try include: Green Sprout Calabrese (which is late maturing), Green Valiant and Premium Crop.

Sowing

You can sow seed directly into beds but seedling trays are preferable. Plant out the seedlings when they are big enough to handle – usually about four to five weeks after sowing.

Father’s Day June 2017: Spoil Dad With A Raised Veggie Box Planter

A dad is a son’s first hero and a daughter’s first love. He is the one who picks you up, brushes you off and lets you try again. It takes a special someone to be a Dad to look up to. What better way to celebrate Dad this Father’s day than by getting him outside in the sunlight with the kids?

This planter is a great way to spend Father’s Day with the kiddies, getting them to plant yummy veggies and give Dad some extra love! The planter is the perfectly simple gift to give Dad an excuse to take a break from his usual fatherly duties - like hogging the TV remote - and let his green thumbs get to work.

This is what you will need:

  • Some wooden planks, as follows:

10 x 54.5 cm slats,
6 x 34.5cm slats
4 x 22cm x 3.9cm square wooden batons

  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Scissors
  • Drainage stones
  • Potting mix
  • Seedling growing mix
  • Bonemeal
  • Vegetable seedlings (We used pak choi and baby cabbage)
  • Tubtrug/bucket or wheelbarrow
  • Optional decorative rocks               

Here’s what to do:

  • Before buying wooden planks or cutting them yourself, remember the size of the planks very much depends on what size veggie box you would like to make. Choose seedlings that are appropriate for small-size plantings if you make a smaller sized planter box.
  • Start by knocking the pieces of wood together with nails. This should be done very carefully - so mom and dad please take the lead here! Leave a few spaces in the bottom for drainage. You will need three long planks at the bottom and four on both the left and the right. Three shorter planks need to go at the top and another three should be used for the bottom. Place one baton in each corner to complete the box and nail that in.

Ideal for Indoors – June: Stunning Cymbidiums

June might be a cold and gloomy time in South Africa but it’s the highlight of the year for Cymbidium orchid lovers!

Cymbidiums symbolise virtue and morality. In Asian cultures, it is considered an honour to give or receive a Cymbidium as a gift and they are considered a gift of respect and friendship.

Cymbidiums are amongst the most popular, desirable orchids in the world and June is their ‘show time’! The exquisite, incredibly detailed flower blooms need little introduction and are available in almost any colour imaginable.

Orchid blooms are carried in mass on long flower spikes or sprays, making them ideal and striking home/patio decorations. The length of flowering varies, but typically from the time the first flower bud opens, the sprays will remain in bloom for 4 – 6 weeks, often lasting months if the plant has several flower spikes.

Cymbidiums are most commonly grown in South Africa as potted plants with the flower spikes being incredibly sought-after for floral arrangements and floral corsages.

Growing Cymbidiums:

Cymbidiums orchids grow both in the soil and on trees. Historically select varieties were produced in European chateau gardens as a hobby of the upper classes; today cymbidium orchids are most commonly grown as pot varieties.

Pot cymbidiums have long, narrow leaves. Flower spikes are produced during the cooler months (June – Sept), typically carrying six or more flowers. The older the plant, the more flower spikes and hence, the more expensive. Cymbidiums’ colour spectrum ranges through white, yellow, green, pink and red to brown.

Caring for your Cymbidium

Place the plant in a high-light spot but avoid the full heat of the sun. Ensure fresh air, but avoid drafts or cold. No extreme temperatures. Ideally the plants should be cooler at night. The plant flowers for four to six weeks.

After buying the plant, immerse it immediately.