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.

November in the Garden November Check List

Life is a Garden – November in the Garden November Gardening Check List

The garden in November is usually filled with a rich colour palette of late spring blooms. The bold and beautiful Hydrangeas are part of this glorious mix and never fail to wow us, year after year. Their local name is Krismisroos and they remind many people of the coming holiday season. Conveniently, Friday 27 November is Black Friday - a day where many shoppers look forward to buying bargains as Christmas gifts. Look out for specials at your local GCA Garden Centre and enjoy getting ready for the festive season. Life is a Garden, so go ahead and decorate yours!

Edible - Planting beetroot

Here are some planting tips for your beetroot seedlings:

  • Since beetroot mature underground, they do not like to compete with a heavy clay soil. If you have clay soil, dig compost into the top 15cm layer.
  • For almost continuous harvesting, plant every 14 days.

Tip: Fertilise lightly with a 2:3:2 or equivalent organic fertilizer i.e. that is not high in nitrogen as too much nitrogen will encourage mostly leafy growth. Water sparingly since overwatering encourages leafy growth and bolting (flowering and not producing a vegetable). Beetroot also grows well in combination with blood sorrel Rubus sanguineus.

What to Sow in November
  • Bright, flirty and fun - marigolds are one of the easiest seeds to sow. Find a sunny place to scatter the seeds. Cover them with a fine layer of soil and water gently for the first week to two, making sure that the soil does not dry out. If you have planted the seeds too closely, thin the seedling out when they are about 4 to 6cm high. Marigolds are great companion plants in veggie gardens.
  • Chrysanthemums are fresh and cheerful. Chrysanthemum paludosum, or creeping daisy, has beautiful white petaled flowers with a bright yellow centre which are loved by butterflies and bees.

October in the Garden October Check List

Life_is_a_Garden_OCT-InTheGarden-Cover
Life_is_a_Garden_OCT-InTheGarden-Hero

October is the month of flowering profusion with the queen of flowers, the rose, putting on a glorious first flush of blooms in the Highveld. Roses have also become synonymous with Garden Day, happening on Sunday 11 October this year. Since Life is a Garden, let’s spend some quality time celebrating our green sanctuaries on Garden Day, regardless of their size – potted window sills and patio planters deserve a little celebration too.

Sow edibles

The “grow to eat” concept of shortening the food chain time from soil to plate is growing in popularity. Edible gardening is easy and fun, regardless of the size of your space. Life is a Garden, so if gardening means a few potted plants, so be it!

It’s always exciting to try out new varieties. Here are a few amazing new squashes to tempt you:

  • Lemon sun squash is a patty pan that produces sweet and tender fruits on vigorous plants. The male flowers are also perfect for frying.
  • Easy pick gold and easy pick green squash are smooth textured no-fuss zucchinis.
  • Butterbaby squash is a small, sweet butternut that can be grown up a trellis to save space.
  • Honeynut squash is another mini butternut that has exceptionally sweet fruit, is easy to germinate and produces high yields of fruit.
  • If you want to try something funky then sample the vegetable spaghetti squash. It has unique flesh that separates into long, clear strings, which resemble pasta. It has a slight crunch with a mild squash flavour and can be used just like spaghetti. It’s the ideal way to get small children into eating veggies and also the perfect vegan spaghetti.

Tip: Don’t forget to include a South African favourite, the gem squash or squash Rolet or Little Gem. Continue spraying for fruit flies and codling moth.