Companion planting means growing certain plants close together for their mutually beneficial effects, such as pest protection or growth enhancement. Bedding besties allow you to have your cake AND eat it – your desired harvest flourishing gogo-free and eco-friendly with little other effort required from you. Mother Nature is clever like that – she knows what’s up. Here’s what to plant and reasons why your veggie needs a bestie. Life is a Garden, let’s optimise yours!
We often think of a veggie garden as produce sown in neat rows, exposed soil, and clear of any other plants not on the menu. Well, it might just be the time to revise this idea. There is so much to benefit from including other herbs and flowers to the veggie garden, which take care of pest control, weeds, water evaporation, poor soil conditions, composting, barren spaces and of course, pollination. Consider the idea of a starting a “mixed masala patch”, if you will, and let’s venture beyond the concept of a “vegetables-only” party.
Although we’re going for a “mixed masala patch”, it should be mentioned that not all plants like each other, and some can be pretty picky about who they bunk with. Your GCA Garden Centre guy will be able to advise you on the best buddy for your baby, but for now, here are some general friends of the veg with no-strings-attached benefits:
As mentioned earlier, some plants are incompatible while others are the perfect match. We’re helping gardeners avoid any regrettable flings this autumn by equipping you with a swipe-right (good), swipe-left (bad) companion planting guide. Here is a list of greens to sow now to get you started on your bedding romances. Cool-season vegetable seedlings are also available at your GCA Garden Centre.
Swipe right: Basil, chives, lettuce, onions, and peas.
Swipe left: Broccoli, cabbage, dill, fennel, and potatoes.
Swipe right: Beetroot, beans, cabbage, celery, and green peppers.
Swipe left: Grapes, potatoes, and sage.
Swipe right: Beetroot, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, and maize.
Swipe left: Dill, fennel, and all members of the onion family.
Swipe right: Beans, broccoli, cabbage, leeks, and tomatoes.
Swipe left: Nothing, this one’s easy.
Swipe right: Beetroot, celery, chives, dill, and onions.
Swipe left: Mustard plants, strawberries, tomatoes, and grapes.
With Mother Nature in your corner, a couple of flowers in your hair, and fragrant herbs by your side, companion planting is made simple and super effective. Avoid harsh chemicals and keep your garden’s eco-system flourishing and beneficial to the entire food chain. Reinventing the veggie patch is easy when you choose the best friends for your farming-fam goals. Remember, dear green fingers, Life is a Garden, so create yours with consideration.
One tell-tale sign that summer is in full swing is the arrival of Mosquitos. These annoying little guys transmit diseases, buzz around your ear, suck your blood and if that’s not enough – they leave an itchy bite. A good form of natural mosquito control is to grow certain plants with strong natural fragrances. Grow or place these plants in your entertainment and living areas:
Lavender has a distinct, soothing fragrance which hinders a mosquito’s ability to smell. It endures many climates and grows beautifully in South African soil.
You’ve probably heard of or even used citronella candles before, but little did you know…it’s actually a plant! It produces a strong aroma which masks surrounding scents, preventing mosquitos to be attracted to things close by. You can either plant it in pots or in a garden bed. You can even crush the plant and put it on your skin to fend away the mosquitos.
A member of the mint family which has a strong lemon scent when leaves are crushed. Use the crushed leaves on your skin to repel mosquitos. It can also be used in teas, sauces, and desserts.
Not only used in yummy, fresh food dishes but it makes a great and easy insect repellent. Crushed or not, it gives off an aroma that mosquitos cannot bear. Keep multiple pots outside.
Marigolds contain Pyrethrum (natural insecticide) which is found in many insect repellents due to its distinctive aroma. Mosquitos and other bugs and insects find it to be repulsive.
Nothing solves a no space in my garden problem like a potted garden.
If you have limited space, poor soil quality in your garden beds or dogs that like to dig – the solution to all these problems is to have a potted garden. Great herbs to include in your potted garden are:
Container herbs should get at least five hours of sun per day. The more sun they get, the better their flavour, health and resistance to pests and disease. Potted herbs should be watered more frequently than garden herbs because containers can lose moisture quickly, especially in the summer heat.
Herbs grow incredibly well in pots and having fresh herbs on hand, especially when entertaining is always a win. Imagine how handy it would be when you are serving homemade pizzas, whipping up a salad or offering a refreshing gin to your guests – to be able to wonder over to your potted herb garden and have all the fresh ingredients right there.
September is the month to shed the cold frosts of winter and welcome spring. Did you know September is sometimes referred to as tomato month! This is because tomatoes are mostly harvested around this time.
There is something very satisfying about being able to go into your garden and pick something homegrown to use as ingredients in your cooking. The tomato is an almost indispensable part of meal preparation in many South African homes, and it even has its own week…YUP, the 24th to the 30th of September is tomato week.
Low in calories and rich in vitamins A and C, potassium and iron, it deserves to be celebrated.
Don’t worry if you have limited space, as many types of tomato will grow happily in window boxes and containers. Soil preparation is the key – include generous amounts of compost and, because tomatoes flourish in conditions with low nitrogen, high phosphorous and moderate potassium, incorporate a complete fertiliser. It takes about six to eight weeks for a fertilised flower to develop into mature fruit. Depending on the type, the ripe tomato could be yellow, orange or any one of many shades of red. The flavour and nutrient content of tomatoes are best if they are allowed to ripen on the plant.
Now is the perfect time to get out your recipe book and try out those summer-inspired tomato recipes. Nothing welcomes spring like a basil tomato salad, and we have the perfect recipe for you! Bone petit!
Cut your freshly picked tomatoes into small cube dices. Try to ensure that all tomato pieces are relatively the same size, this makes it easy to get all the salad content in one bite. Then cut the cocktail tomatoes in halves. Place all the cut ingredients into your salad bowl and give it a good shake.
Chop the basil leaves and onions into small pieces and places in the bowl. Then mix all the ingredients by giving them a satisfying shake!
Scatter mozzarella cheese on top of the salad. Add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the salad and salt and finish off with black pepper to taste. Voila - simple and delicious.
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