Eat your heart out healthily Become a Botanical Boss this January

figs, berries, harvest, life is a garden, delicious garden, delicious, greenery, colour, taste, fruits, abundance, harvest, farming, agriculture, horticulture, summer gardening, summer, gardening, fruit trees, vines, January gardening, produce-producing trees, produce, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, citrus
figs, berries, harvest, life is a garden, delicious garden, delicious, greenery, colour, taste, fruits, abundance, harvest, farming, agriculture, horticulture, summer gardening, summer, gardening, fruit trees, vines, January gardening, produce-producing trees, produce, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, citrus

New Year’s resolutions and gardening go hand in hand, especially considering the amount of healthy food we are able to grow in virtually any space. Whether you’re going for low-calorie, low-carb meals, or high fat intake and intermittent fasting, raw and purely organic or vegan – the harvest is on your side! Fuel your body for less with this mostly summer edible selection and grow guide from Life is a Garden. 

Top tip: If you missed last month’s article, click here for expert advice on how to set up a vertical hydroponic system for all-space produce growing: 

 

Calorie-conscious, nutrient-dense crops to grow

figs, berries, harvest, life is a garden, delicious garden, delicious, greenery, colour, taste, fruits, abundance, harvest, farming, agriculture, horticulture, summer gardening, summer, gardening, fruit trees, vines, January gardening, produce-producing trees, produce, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, citrus
figs, berries, harvest, life is a garden, delicious garden, delicious, greenery, colour, taste, fruits, abundance, harvest, farming, agriculture, horticulture, summer gardening, summer, gardening, fruit trees, vines, January gardening, produce-producing trees, produce, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, citrus
figs, berries, harvest, life is a garden, delicious garden, delicious, greenery, colour, taste, fruits, abundance, harvest, farming, agriculture, horticulture, summer gardening, summer, gardening, fruit trees, vines, January gardening, produce-producing trees, produce, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, citrus
figs, berries, harvest, life is a garden, delicious garden, delicious, greenery, colour, taste, fruits, abundance, harvest, farming, agriculture, horticulture, summer gardening, summer, gardening, fruit trees, vines, January gardening, produce-producing trees, produce, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, citrus

Your farming responsibility 

As gardeners, we have a direct impact on our environment, which comes as a sweet blessing because this means we CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Sustainable water practices are an essential part of gardening and we cannot ignore how precious and finite this resource is. We saw the huge impact of day 0 in the Western Cape, and the rest of the country is not immune to this possibility either. Here are some simple and effective practices from our industry expert, Charles Oosthuizen from Tuberflora Nursery.

  • “MULCH, MULCH, MULCH - why are South Africans so hesitant about this practice? We see this in so many gardens - barren, hard-baked soil raked neatly clean on a weekly basis. This is not the way forward in terms of sustainable watering practices at all.
  • Drip irrigation is the future as it is cost-effective, low maintenance and saves a lot of water.
  • Water only in the late afternoon or early in the morning.
  • Water very well only once or twice a week instead of a little bit every day.
  • Add water-retaining gel to your pots and containers.
  • The more compost and other organic material in and on top of the soil the more water retention the soil will have.

Why your veggies need friends Companion Plants

companion plants
Sweet Pea, companion plants

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!

 

Reinventing the veggie patch

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.

 

Friends with benefits

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:

  • Natural pest controllers: Plants such as lavender (for fleas), basil (for flies), citronella grass and rosemary (for mozzies), as well as chrysanthemum (for spider mites), repel a variety of insects owing to their essential oil compounds and deterring scent. You can sporadically plant these in and around the veggie garden as long as they are in close range of the greens.

June in the Garden Midday gardening with monsters, berries and birds

June in the garden – Midday gardening with monsters, berries and birds.

Winter has arrived, but luckily our days are still blessed by lovely, lunchtime sunshine in most parts of the country. This is the perfect time for a little midday gardening and a braai with the family.  For an enticing entertainment area plant seedlings like fairy Primulas for a dazzling flush of colour. Hanging baskets are back and add a wonderful variety of vibrant texture to your patio. When the party moves indoors, dragon trees and delicious monsters are a great choice.

Friday 5 June is World Environment Day. Celebrate your surroundings by thinking about our feathered garden friends. Birds often find it difficult to source food in the colder months, but we can lovingly assist them by putting out bird feeds. Beautiful seed feeders, suet, fruit feeders and even bird pudding can be found at your nearest GCA Garden Centre. Nesting logs will encourage Barbets to nest in your garden. In addition, any of these would make an ideal gift for Father’s Day on Sunday 21 June. You could also consider a bonsai plant and bonsai accessories as a Father’s Day gift.

June in the Garden feed the birds
June in the Garden - Fathers Day Bonsai
What to Sow

It is a good time to sow Dianthus spp. also known as pinks,  as their flowers are mostly pink, salmon, dark pink or white with bi-colours of lavender, purple and reds also available. Their flowers have a spicy fragrance and they belong to the same family of plants as carnations. One of the larger Dianthus is the specie we know as Sweet William, (Dianthus barbatus) which has bigger flowers and a spicy fragrance with hints of cinnamon and cloves. Sweet William is available in both single and double blooms and are biennial (flower in the second year) and self-seeding.

Pinks need at least 6 hours of sun per day and prefer to be watered on the soil, as water on the leaves may cause mildew spots.

October in the Garden Celebrating Gardening

With the 9th of October being ‘Garden Day’ and October being ‘Rose month’ – what an opportune month to celebrate gardening!

Rose month

Your roses should be producing their first flush of perfect blooms and the sun is still not too scorching – allowing the blooms to last longer. Spring is also the ideal time to select and plant new rose bushes in your garden. These are some of our favourites:

  • Ingrid Bergman POULman unfading red
  • Memoire KORfuri   unspoilt white, fragrant
  • Zulu Royal DORient mauve, fragrant
  • King David TANmarsal bronze
  • South Africa KORberbeni golden

Pop in to your nearest GCA Garden Centre for more inspiration and supplies.

 

What to Sow

As soon as the soil warms up in mid spring, you can start to sow all your summer veggies, including beans, sweetcorn and tomatoes. Two of your main “must haves” for your summer salads are cucumber and celery.

  • Cucumber seeds should be sown in composed enriched soil in a sunny site. When flowers start forming, feed with potassium-rich organic fertiliser. Support plants well so they can climb upwards, even when the cucumbers get large. This also protects the cucumbers from slugs. Harvest /cut the cucumbers off the plant when they are still quite young, avoiding the skin becoming hard. Regular harvesting encourages a more continuous production of
  • Celery needs rich, moisture-retentive soil which is achieved by digging in plenty of compost. Sow in shade or semi-shade. Feed weekly liquid feed in mid to late summer. Plants should be spaced 20cm apart and kept moist. You can cut stems frequently as required.
What to Plant

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) - one of the easiest and most rewarding bulbs to grow, amaryllis produce showy, trumpet-shaped blooms that add a flamboyant touch to your garden or home. Often referred to as the Christmas flower because they typically bloom around five weeks after being planted (during the warmer months).