Eat your heart out healthily Become a Botanical Boss this January

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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

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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.

Celebrating Citrus Landscaping and decorating with citrus

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citrus, bonsai, life is a garden, citrus bonsai, green, flowers, plants, greenery, July, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, naartijies, mini citrus, winter, delicious, healthy, juice, cooking

Topic: Celebrating Citrus
Theme:
Landscaping and decorating with citrus
Industry Expert:
Dane Montana
Garden Centre:
Montana Nurseries - https://www.montananurseries.co.za/

 

If you are looking to begin a citrus growing journey, come and learn some trade secrets, exclusively shared by our industry expert, Dane from Montana Nurseries. Incorporating these vibrant and versatile fruit trees as part of your landscaping design is easier than you may think. Check out Dane’s recommendations for which trees to grow in your province and get the best head start on your juicy journey.

1. What made you first fall in love with citrus growing? Why are citrus trees so special?

My dad, Alan Ross, started Montana Nurseries and began growing and farming citrus trees in our nursery. I have grown up with citrus and have always loved the variety of lemons, oranges, naartjies, and limes. Citrus trees are very rewarding and there’s always something happening, whether it be a new flush of sweet flowers or delicious fruit.

 

2. What are some of the reasons why gardeners should be growing citrus at home? Are there any benefits/advantages?

The main benefit is their juicy produce that’s loaded with vitamins. Citrus can be eaten as is or used in cooking or oils. The leaves of some varieties, such as the Thai lime, are used to create many fragrant and zesty dishes. The flowers are wonderfully scented too.

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citrus, bonsai, life is a garden, citrus bonsai, green, flowers, plants, greenery, July, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, naartijies, mini citrus, winter, delicious, healthy, juice, cooking

3. Besides utilising citrus trees for their produce, how could gardeners incorporate trees as part of their backyard landscaping design?

Citrus trees make great feature plants, either in the ground or in containers. There is a wide variety of cultivars with different coloured leaves, flowers and fruit. The ornamental types such as calamondins and chinotto are more of a shrub, whereas the commercial types such as lemon eureka and navels grow more like trees.

Lemonade super-boost juice July DIY

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With so much citrus in season now, you may be looking for some inspiration on what to do with your harvest. Life is a Garden invites you to get seriously super with your lemons this July and juice up a nutritious storm in your kitchen. Re-invent the lemonade with this zesty booster juice DIY. 

Lemonade super-boost juice recipe

Aren’t we lucky to have Mother Nature on our side as we enter the last stretch of winter! Your lemon harvest, herbs, and spices are talking – do you know what they say?

Ingredients

- 2x peeled lemons for a flush of Vitamin C and multiple essential minerals and plant proteins

- Half a finger of fresh, peeled ginger for respiratory system clearing and protection

- 1x celery stalk for detoxification and opening of the toxin release pathways of the body

- Half a teaspoon of raw, organic turmeric to reduce inflammation 

- A quarter cucumber for rehydration and cholesterol-lowering properties

- A handful of parsley as a systemic anti-fungal and gland health ally

- 2x tablespoons of raw honey for holistic antibacterial support (place your honey in lukewarm water before juicing to ensure it will dissolve well inside your juice)

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Method

There is a difference between a smoothie and a juice: a smoothie contains all the pulp and fibres of the chosen ingredients whereas a juice contains only the liquid gold. You can use the recipe above as a smoothie if you’re looking for something more meal-like, or you can extract the liquid from the ingredients as a potent super shot or juice for the family. Juices are generally gentler on the digestive system as the absence of plant fibres allows for easier absorption of all the goodness. 

Option 1: Nut milk bag

A bit of effort will go a long way when using a hand-operated nut milk bag, which you can purchase at almost any health store. 

The Secret To Citrus Success Botanical Boss

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If you are reading this, somewhere inside you there is a special place that longs to uncover the secrets of the mighty citrus. Life is a Garden invites you on a juicy journey to the epicentre of this stunning fruit. Learn about ornamental varieties, decorating, utilising leftovers, citrus for your province, and gossip-worthy growing hacks. Let’s go! 

 

What’s so great about growing your own? 

  • Health wealth: The high quantity of Vitamin C boosts the immune system and keeps skin smooth and elastic. Citrus are also loaded with B vitamins, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, and copper. Tending to your trees is a super stress reliver and a chance to get active in the sunshine. 
  • Year-round food: Growing a variety of cultivars that fruit at different times of the year allow you to spread out and extend your harvest window. With the right cultivars and planning, you can grow citrus almost all year round! 
  • Organic & eco-friendly: Growing your own has the added benefit of product control. If organic produce and eco-friendly growing is top on your list, a citrus plantation is definitely for you. 
  • More money, more C power: Most citrus trees begin producing fruit even as adolescent plants. Once established, their large yields will save your family and the community a significant amount of money, while also providing possible forms of income, depending on what you choose to do with your harvest (resell or jam making, for example).  

 

Garden jargon check: The word ‘cultivar’ refers to a plant within that specie that has been specifically developed through controlled plant breeding. A citrus cultivar is therefor a specifically bred variation of this plant ‘created’ to deliver a special purpose, such as to produce more fruit or grow smaller. 

 

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Ornamentals on the patio

These sweet trees are the ideal patio décor asset!

Landscaping and decorating with citrus INDUSTRY EXPERT Q&A

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citrus, bonsai, life is a garden, citrus bonsai, green, flowers, plants, greenery, July, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, naartijies, mini citrus, winter, delicious, healthy, juice, cooking

Topic: Citrus
Theme: Mini citrus trees for the patio
Industry Expert: David Seewald
Garden Centre/Grower: Heuers - www.heuers.co.za 

Are you ready to be inspired and educated? Our Life is a Garden readers are in for a zesty treat this month! David from Heuers Nursery has juiced out the full scoop on everything you need to know about growing a citrus tree on your patio. Check out his dwarf recommendations, maintenance hacks, grow guide, and personal journey with these special fruits.

1. What made you first fall in love with citrus growing? Why are citrus trees so special?

I always had an interest in citrus from since I joined the family business. In early 2017 I had a chance to visit some citrus growers in the Cape region and that’s when I decided to actively pursue my dream of growing citrus. In 2019 I had the good fortune to visit the top grower of dwarf citrus in the world. This opened my eyes to what could be done with citrus trees grown on a dwarfing rootstock.

What makes citrus trees so special is the wide range of citrus fruits. They each have their own flavour characteristics and uses, be it in the garden or the commercial sector. Citrus trees are also special because they have a global appeal and are grown almost everywhere.

2. What are some of the reasons why gardeners should be growing citrus at home? Are there any benefits/advantages?
Besides the satisfaction of growing and harvesting citrus from your own trees, there are other benefits related to growing your own citrus namely:

- Citrus fruit has many health benefits and is filled with vitamins, minerals, and essential fibre.

- You have control over which method of pest control to use on your trees. Many people have concerns around chemicals being used on the fruit they buy.

Trees in pots for the small garden

Life is a Garden - Trees in pots

Life is a Garden! But we know that not all backyards can accommodate large trees. Lucky for all the small space and patio gardeners, this month we’re going back to basics with trees in pots! You can still enjoy a number of tree varieties, even some of the edible ones such as juicy citrus and fig trees. Some classics like the olive and holly tree are also perfect potted treasures that you can grow, regardless of how limited your space may be. Here’s some guidance to get you going. 

 

The perfect pot for the job 

Choosing your container is an important part of your tree-growing journey. Ultimately, you want a pot that’s large enough to fit the root ball of your tree. The size of your container will determine how big your tree will grow and gives you the advantage of being able to manipulate its size. Drainage is super important to factor in as well, so ensure your pot has many holes for excess water to flow out. Trees don’t tolerate water build-up and this will negatively affect their growth, harvest, and flowers. 

Top pot tip: Before planting your tree, secure the container above ground if possible, then and add a layer of stones or terracotta shards inside the pot for maximum drainage efficiency. Your GCA Garden Centre has an assortment of large containers to choose from as well as handy advice on how to choose the best pot for the job.  

 

Pots
Plant in pot
Good soil saves lives 

Now that you’ve been upgraded to potted tree-guardian, it’s your duty to maintain the nutrient integrity inside the container. Soil-based potting mix with an annual slow-release organic fertiliser will work wonders. Refresh the soil each spring by removing the top layer and replacing it with a new layer of enriched compost.

Kitchen Gardening

Bring your gardening passion to the kitchen with hydroponic growing, indoor composting, fruit trees, and air-purifying plants. Harvest yummy rewards and add a refreshing splash of greenery to space you spend so much time in.   

*Lighten up your kitchen by installing LED grow lights to revive dark areas and get all your greens flourishing beautifully. 

 

Hydroponic planting 

Experiment going soil-free and dare to be different with an intriguing water-based, edible garden. Hydroponic planting gives you complete control of the environment, minimises pests, boosts plant growth, and enables multiple veg varieties in one space. 

Try planting lettuce, spinach, strawberries, blueberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumber (remember to grow according to season). 

*Consult your garden centre advisor for different installation options, DIY hydroponic beginner kits, and nutrient formulas.  

There are also self-watering vertical gardens for elegant and eye-catching living décor.

 

Kitchen composting 

You don’t need a backyard to be a compost-pro. Turn your kitchen waste into eco-gold by setting up a bucket or bin system with tight-fitting lids. Compost buckets fit neatly in a cupboard and provide easy, quick solutions to organic waste disposal. Worm farming kits are also handy kitchen helpers and can be purchased from your local garden centre. 

Growing from scraps and soil-free try these:  

  • Leafy veggies such as celery and lettuce.
  • Bulbs such as onions and leeks.
  • Root veggies such as beets and ginger. 
  • Fruits such as Key limes and avocados.

 

Lovely lemons 

A lemon tree in the kitchen is a happy reminder to always make lemonade from life. These trees like high-light spaces (also substitutable with LED grow lights) and perform best in porous clay pots, which allow natural water evaporation and prevent water-logging issues (unlike plastic pots). The Eureka Lemon (Citrus Lemon ‘Eureka’) and the Lemon Meyer (Citrus x Meyeri) are perfect for the kitchen or patio and will bear fruit all year round, hooray! 

Pesky Psylla Gogga of the Month

Citrus trees provide a bounty of health benefits as well as beautiful sweet-smelling flowers, that compliment your garden space be it small or big. However, these tree’s may sometimes look unsightly as a result of the psylla pest, whose infestation results in the swelling (forming of bumps) on the upper leaf caused by the presence of the psylla underneath the leaf.

Description

The adult psylla is light yellow and is similar in size to an aphid with transparent wings. Their bodies are pointed with an oval-shaped abdomen. Psylla may be found on the edge of young leaves and shoots where they lay their yellow eggs which cause cavities in the leaf tissue, appearing as bumps on the upper surfaces.

Identification

Yellow eggs on the edges of young leaves accompanied by swelling bumps on the upper side of the leaf are a sign of psylla infestation. In the case of severe infestations, young growth can be severely malformed as a result of psylla activity.

What does this mean for me and my plants?

Citrus pyslla cause yellowing of the leaves, as well as malformed fruit. Half the side of the fruit may not develop normally and remain small, resulting to deformed fruit. If the plant is not seriously infected the leaves may turn yellow and the growth maybe stunted. Serious infestation can have dire consequences and may even lead to the tree dying. 

Suggested Action

The tree should be treated with a registered systemic insecticide. The instructions on the pack must be followed.

Visit your local GCA Garden Centre for the best expert advice on the best method of use to get rid of this pest. Click here for more gardening tips and trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

 

December in the Garden Let the festivities begin

After a year of “busyness” and hard work, there is nothing better than relaxing with friends and family over the holidays. Let your guests appreciate your garden with you as you soak up the sun and enjoy a braai or two.  Many of your seeds that you sowed in August will be ready to harvest, including watermelon which is fantastic to incorporate in your festive entertainment menu.  Get creative with the flowers that are blooming in your garden by making your own table arrangements – make an extra one to give your guest as a gift to take home.  Visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre for some great ideas and supplies.

What to Sow:

Carrots are a great option to sow during December.  They are fairly easy to grow and do best in deep sandy loam or loamy soils with a loose structure.

  • Sow the seeds directly in the beds
  • Make small furrows one fingernail (1cm) deep and about two or three hand widths (20cm to 30cm) apart
  • Sow the seeds about 2cm apart in the furrows
  • Water the beds well after sowing
  • In hot, dry weather, cover the rows with a thin layer of grass clippings until the seeds emerge after seven to 14 days
  • Remove the grass and spread thinly between the rows

What to Plant

Barberton Daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) originate in South Africa and are found in many different bright colours from hot pink to orange to white.

  • They are best grown outside, favouring direct sunlight and sandy soil.
  • They grow well in both pots and garden beds and should be fertilised monthly from September until March.
  • They make excellent patio plants and also work well as an indoor plant to brighten up your living space.

Eggplant (Solanum melongena), also known as aubergine or brinjal, come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours.