With Easter just around the corner, get the kids excited and outdoors with this DIY Ravishing Radish growing project. Did you know? Radishes are ready to harvest in only 25 days! Making them the perfect hiding spot for those secret treats and treasure quests. Radishes are also loaded with fabulous vits and mins. When transformed into candy radish apples, they become the perfectly disguised veggie sweetie.
Top tip: Pull younger radishes for crisp roots and a milder flavour. After 20 days, pull one out and test it for yourself. Radishes left in the ground too long will be very hot and pithy in taste.
Candy Radish Recipe
*Top tip: Pick young radishes for a mild zing that will complement the sweet candy coating nicely. Small radishes can also be made into sweet-zesty candied lollies on a stick.
Enjoy sowing ravishing radishes, reinventing the candy apple, and Easter treasure hunts in the garden! Radishes are a great snack for the Easter Bunny and make super hiding spots for chocolate eggs. This DIY is a great opportunity to show kids that having green fingers is cool and sweet. Pulling their own radishes from the ground offers an exciting reward to the young gardener, who will certainly be telling the family that THEY did it all on their own – how awesome!
Do plants have stomachs and teeth? How are they able to catch prey like other carnivores if they can’t run? And when they catch insects, where do they go? These are mind-baffling questions indeed and certainly worthy of a little hands-on investigation! Scientists, biologists, and creepy-crawler lovers, are you ready to find out what happens when love bites this February? Eeeeew!
Did you know?
Carnivorous plants, also known as insectivorous plants, are those which get their nutrition by catching and digesting insects. How cool is that? Carnivory in plants is owing to centuries of evolution, driven by pure instinct to survive in areas with nitrogen-poor soil. There are over 600 known species of insectivorous plants around the world, time to get yours!
The deadliest devils
Here are a few carnivorous contenders that will make the perfect dissection specimen.
The dissection process:
A meaty-must-know: Make sure you know how your deadly devil likes their soil so that you can home them for good and keep adding to the collection. They flourish in “poor” moist soil with some acidity that activates their instinct to source nitrogen from insects.
This experiment is loaded with opportunities for exploration, discovery, and independent learning for the hungry young mind. Inspire your child to get in the garden and show them how awesome the natural world can be. Caring for a carnivorous plant is like having an exotic pet and requires much more attention than your average pot plant. Investing in one of these for the kids is a fantastic long-term project with countless “oh my word, it just ate a… coooool!”. #TeamGreenIsWinning
Who says back to school can’t begin with a little fun? This DIY experiment is science on rainbow steroids and will intrigue both boys and girls. Learn about plant anatomy, enjoy a little magic, and become the inventor of a whole new flower species. Transform white blooms into any colour you like, here’s how:
Any white flowers should work well for this experiment. Here are some top picks that are currently in bloom, either in the garden or at your local GCA Garden Centre.
You will need:
The science of how plants drink:
Out in the wild, plants soak up water from the ground through their roots. The water then travels through the stem and into the flower petals. Although we have removed the roots of our flowers in this experiment, the stems are still able to soak up the coloured water and defy gravity! Plants are super intelligent and use capillary action to drink upsidedown – pretty impressive, right?
Consider this – food for thinkers.
If plants are so easily affected by what goes into their water, imagine what polluted water does to them! Similarly, consider the possibilities of adding other liquids to the water and how this would affect the colour of the blooms. Here are some ideas to spark your imagination:
Enjoy showing off your hybrids, kids! Go back to school with an awesome story to tell about how you invented a flower this holiday. And don’t forget to tell your friends about the importance of clean water for our flowers and their gravity-defying superpower.
The holiday season is a gardener’s time to shine, an opportunity to show off the goods, and the perfect occasion to “uithaal en wys”, as they say in Afrikaans. This month, you’ve got full bragging rights, so make sure you’re ready to be the gardening host with the most! It’s time to let those home-grown veggies and herbs take the spotlight.
With the family on their way and the charcoal ready – it’s braai time with some buddies from the garden to bring out the flavour of your food. Highlight your hard work by making veggies and herbs the hero of your dish. Here are some tantalising ideas to please every pallet:
*Match your meat: Pair the flavour profile of your veggie dishes with your chosen meat for a well-balanced, complimentary dish.
Time to ditch store-bought lettuce heads and go for leaves that say “festive and fabulous”.
Your garden centre has ready-to-go packs of mixed gourmet lettuce with gorgeous leaves to make the fanciest of salads.
Personalised salad jars are a grand gesture and a sophisticated way to hero your harvest. Find out which greens your fussy eaters enjoy, then layer a medium-sized glass jar with the chosen ingredients. Your guests will not only be impressed by your effort and presentation but will also enjoy tuning over their special salad onto their plate.
*Tip: Make your own salad dressing by blending up mixed herbs, olive oil, lemon juice and love!
Cocktails and mocktails
*Tip: Bruise your herbs to release their full flavour!
Inspirational flower crown ambassadors, a packed calendar of virtual events, and DIY tips for a garden celebration are set to connect plant lovers across South Africa as Garden Day marks the beginning of Spring for the most meaningful Garden Day yet.
On Sunday 11 October, South Africans across the country will celebrate their unique green spaces and gardens in every shape and size. Created by gardening app Candide, Garden Day is a growing movement uniting people in their love for plants and flowers since 2016. From keepers of rolling lawns, community gardens, and vegetable patches to potted window sills, patio planters, and urban rooftops, the annual celebration is calling on plant lovers to put on a flower crown, down tools, and enjoy the fruits of their labour.
This year, Garden Day is especially poignant. Over the past few months, South Africans have turned to their green spaces to find solace and balance. Gardening has been proven to boost both mental and physical well-being and create a sense of belonging and connection. With spring in the air, it offers a chance to pause, reflect, and celebrate a season of new beginnings. From enjoying an outdoor picnic with your family to sharing your green haven with friends online, Garden Day is about taking a moment to celebrate the greenery that brings you joy.
The Happiness Effect of Gardens
According to a recent survey by Candide, 96% of people said they felt happier when spending downtime in their gardens. The findings revealed the most popular garden activities are spending time in a favourite spot admiring plants, listening to birdsong and watching the wildlife, breathing in the fresh air and garden scents, enjoying a cuppa and a chat, taking me time with a quiet bite to eat, playing with the children, reading a book, or lazing on the grass.
“It’s been proven that if you surround yourself with plants and flowers, you’re likely to be happier. I can attest to that,” says Wolseley-based flower farmer Adene Nieuwoudt. “My flowers keep me energised and enthusiastic. Garden Day is the ideal celebration to express this sentiment.”
“There’s an unhurried creativity that comes with gardening,” adds award-winning interior designer Donald Nxumalo. “Typically, I’m racing against the clock, but on my balcony I can let the process evolve slowly. This balances and invigorates me. It inspires my design work.”
Nieuwoudt and Nxumalo are among the 2020 Garden Day ambassadors that will put on a flower crown and lead this year’s celebrations. They are joined by some of South Africa’s favourite flower and plant enthusiasts including landscape designer Joy Phala, Babylonstoren’s floral designer Constance Stuurman and master gardener Gundula Deutschlander, Chef Nti actor, writer and producer Donnalee Roberts, opera singer and television presenter Lynelle Kenned, and visual artist Alice Toich.
Join the movement
To inspire South Africans to celebrate all things green, Garden Day will host a number of virtual events in the run up to Sunday 11 October including flower crown making workshops, so that you can make your own flower crown, the ultimate Garden Day accessory. On the day the movement will host its first Virtual Garden Day Gathering with a host of events, including yoga sessions, garden-inspired gourmet cooking and more via Zoom and Facebook Live. The final programme and details will be released on Gardenday.co.za/Events at the start of October.
Visit Gardenday.co.za/GetInvolved for a handy toolkit to help you plan the perfect virtual celebration, including recipe ideas, downloadable invitations for your virtual celebration and things to do and make with children in the garden. .
Catch news, updates, and inspiration at @GardenDaySA on Candide, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. Tag your posts with @GardenDaySA and #GardenDaySA to share your green celebration with friends, family, and fellow plant lovers online.
Life is a Garden is calling on all the fairies, princesses, queens and creatures of the garden to come out and DIY with us. We’ve got a little something special for the girls this October - drum roll, please… enter the flower crown! In celebration of October rose month as well as Garden Day on 11 October, we’re blushing shades of pink and green to bring you these lovely flower crown ideas using succulents and roses.
Here’s a step by step to creating your upcycle can masterpiece.
You will need:
The first thing our DIY fairies need to decide on is whether they would like to decorate an existing Alice-band or if they would like to create a crown from scratch. Secondly, have a look in the garden at what kind of succulents, roses, and other vine-type plants are available. Head off to your local GCA Garden Centre for those special flowers and vinery you may want to add. Gather your arts and crafts goodies and prep your creation station.
Preparing your headband
If you are using an existing Alice-band, we recommend you choose one that is a little wider to give you more of a surface on which to stick and wrap your goodies. Alternately, if you’re creating a headband from craft wire, we recommend using at least two strands of wire together for more stability and also for more surface area to work with.
Breathing life into your creation
Terrific tip: Use a whip-like stem from a willow tree, or similar sort, to make a bow. Intertwining the stem will hold your flowers in place nicely.
Terrific tip: Store your living floral crown in the fridge to keep it fresh. Lightly spray your blooms before you wear it to pucker them up a little.
This DIY floral crown is a fabulous opportunity for the girls to engage with the garden and get some hands-on education about crafting with flowers. The best part is - there’s no right or wrong, just the perfection of creativity married with the flawless creations of Mother Nature. Life is a Garden, so create away!
This month, Life is a Garden is taking part in the important global conversation about the need for urgent bee conservation. Like you, we are gardeners on a mission! And this month our mission is to #PolliNationSA and gather all the green fingers we can to join us in creating nation-wide, bee-friendly backyards. Here’s how you can help our crop crusaders by planting their faves, making small adjustments to your current garden, and even building homes for these hard workers.
Let’s speak bee
We are inviting gardeners to awaken their inner eco-warrior and consider the bee as an essential service to mankind! The balance of Mother Nature and Her creatures are in a delicate little dance with humanity, with the bees playing an ever-important role in sustaining the following:
Planting for bees
Welcoming honey-makers into your garden is easier than you may think. Once you know how to cater for bees, planning your next flower pot or gardening project becomes super easy. Similarly, a few simple additions to your current garden could make all the difference. Here’s what you can plant for bees:
Buzzing advice: Bees love most flowers but they are especially fond of blue and purple buds. Read more about bringing blue hues into your garden here: http://bit.ly/2TUs1N4
The bee’s knees
If your garden is all planted up, not to worry, you can still be the bee’s knees by boasting your pro-pollination garden. Become a bee-warrior, make your mark, and do your bit for the bees by including the following into your garden:
Buzzing advice: Your local GCA Garden Centre has a full range of products for all your bee gardening needs – from spades and rakes to soil and seeds!
Roses are a bee’s best friend
Roses, specifically those with more open blooms, are available in almost every colour imaginable! Roses invite bees with a great variation of scents, flowering for most of the year, and ranging from miniature, bushes and shrub roses, to enormous gorgeous climbers.
How to home bees
Out of all the bee species, the solitary bee is probably the most family-friendly as they pollinate flowers and they don’t sting. These guys are different from honeybees although they look very similar. You can home the solitary bee by building your very own bee hotel. Now that’s a sure win for team-bee! We’ve got step by step instructions for you here: https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/family-fun-in-the-garden-make-a-bee-hotel/
You may also wish to home some honeybees in an organic hollowed out tree stump. We love this idea as the wood is close to home for the little guys. There are several ways you can go about setting up a natural beehive at home, as well as many DIY ways you could build one. Google is your friend, dear gardeners, and your local GCA will help you bring your idea to life!
Join us, gardeners of all sorts, and lets #PolliNationSA loaded with green thumbs and hearts that beat and buzz for the bees. Let’s get planting, building, and using our resources to make every day a bee-conscious occasion and every backyard a bee-friendly safe-haven. WE can make a difference, and the difference lies in what we can make together. Life is a Garden, how will you sustain yours?
We love upcycling almost as much as we love gardening – and that’s like, allot! For this month’s DIY, Life is a Garden is inviting you to accept our eco-friendly, trash to treasure project, all about cans, creativity, and décor. If you also get that funny feeling whenever you throw away a can, that’s probably because: A – you care about the environment and just can’t bear the thought of a turtle choking on baked beans packaging, and B – like us, you can see the exciting, uncharted, open canvas of that baked beans tin that just screams “decorate me”.
Here’s a step by step to creating your upcycle can masterpiece.
You will need:
How to decorate:
Décor tip: You could always decorate half of the can one way, and the rest with a different accessory. For example, try decorating the base of the can with pebbles or shells, and the top half with moss or twine. This will give you added texture and bonus points for creativity!
Upcycling cans is all the talk of the town and for good reason. There are infinite ways you could go about decorating cans to use as pot plants and other DIY projects too. We’d love to see how you turned your trash into treasure. Share your creations with us on our Facebook and Instagram pages and join the Life is a Garden community.
No doubt some of you organised and de-cluttered over lockdown, but there are some items that we just cannot bear to part with. We’ll show you how to transform your sentimental doll into something functional with a new look to exhibit the beauty of the memories. After all, it’s not considered clutter if it brings you joy.
For this upcycle planter project, you will need:
Start by mixing the cornstarch and the glue. Add the vinegar, body lotion and glycerine, keep mixing. Warning: it will be messy! But mission on, the texture will improve the more you combine the ingredients. If you find at this point that the mixture is too flimsy, add a little extra cornstarch until the mixture is smooth, soft and squishy. Prepare a clean countertop with a little cornstarch and spread out the mixture. Knead it as you would dough for bread.
Top Tip: dust your hands with a little cornstarch to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands. Once the clay mix is firm but still soft and pliable, you can cover it with plastic and set it aside while you prepare the doll.
Wipe the doll clean and remove any clothing or accessories. Take a craft knife and cut the head open. Make sure that the doll you choose can sit upright without any help, otherwise the planter might be too top-heavy and topple over.
Once the doll is prepped you can now cover it with thin layers of clay. We’ve covered the one side and let it dry overnight before we flipped the doll over and covered the other side. The drying time is about 12 hours but may be more depending on the thickness.
Let the clay dry completely. We’ve let ours dry over a weekend before we painted the doll with white spray-paint. This is optional, but it gives the finished product a bit of shimmer.
Top Tip: Cover the doll with one or two coats of clear varnish. This will ensure that the planter is more durable and water-resistant.
We’ve planted Sedum Little Master, a hardy succulent that makes for an excellent spiller plant. Their beautiful heart-shaped leaves with red edges give our doll a trendy green hairdo. Sedums are low maintenance and will thrive in a sunny spot. Be careful not to over-water them. Only water when the soil is completely dry.
Other beautiful spiller plants to consider are String-of-Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus), Hen and Chickens (Chlorophytum comosum), also known as the Spider plant. For a more whimsical look, try Peace-in-the-Home (Soleirolia soleirolii). This delicate-looking, evergreen loves low to medium light areas. Keep the soil moist, so find a spot where you see them often such as the kitchen or bathroom.
As we try to minimise our plastic waste, upcycling has become the cool new norm. We would love to see what you’ve done with your old toy collection. Show us your creation by sharing photos to our Facebook or Instagram pages. Have fun!
Our gardeners from Life is a Garden conducted this family-friendly, insightful little seed germination experiment during the lockdown days. Our gardeners set out to grow some spinach in a glass jar, allowing them to enjoy every step of the growing show, from above to below ground. Our gardeners watered each jar differently to determine how much water is too much, too little, and just right. The results may surprise you!
What you need:
STEP 1: Get your little-handed scientist to assist you here, by folding and scrunching up a few pieces of kitchen roll. Place the folded kitchen roll inside the perimeter of the glass jar, then stuff the scrunched pieces into the middle.
STEP 2: Carefully push seeds down into the paper towels around the edge of the jar so they can still be seen. Make sure they are firmly held in place.
STEP 3: Gently water your seed jar to wet the paper towels. Be careful not to flood it as this spells certain disaster for our seeds.
Our gardeners wanted to see how much water would be best for the spinach seedlings. They set up their three jars and measured the same amount of water to be given to each jar. The water quantities were the same; however, the frequency of watering is what made all the difference:
As you can see folks, the spinach seedling grew the most when watered only once a week, with twice a week watering coming in second place. In jar 3, there was half the growth and the roots were over-watered, beginning to rot.
You can also try growing sunflower seeds, peas, and beans in a glass jar. Try out this little experiment for yourself and get to know your greens up-close and personal. You could also investigate whether seeds need water at all to germinate by setting up 3 jars and measuring how much water goes into each so that one is fully wet, half wet and one has no water.
Good luck and happy experimenting!
For more fun DIY projects, click here.
This Father’s Day, we’re taking dads back to their childhood with a superhero bat box, DIY style! Give dad a heartfelt, handmade gift with this fun activity for the whole family. It’s time to get out those tools, that leftover paint, a couple of nails, and a little bravery if needed.
This project will require some basic carpentry skills. It’s a good idea to get dad involved in helping you build his gift.
Then, attach the bottom half of the front plate, leaving a 2 cm gap between the top and bottom halves for ventilation.
Wait at least 30 mins for caulk to dry.
These shelters need to be placed in a mostly sunny location. East-facing is usually best, where it will get morning light while being protected from afternoon sun. Position your bat house at least 5 metres off the ground to protect them against predators. A water source nearby would be super so that mommy bat doesn't have to leave her young for too long.
Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than a hand-crafted, Mother's Day gift. Brush up on your knotting skills because the sassy 70's décor is back, baby! Try making this DIY macramé plant hanger for your mamma and gift her something genuine, from the heart.
Sweatheart Creepers (Philodendron scandens oxycardi) can be identified by their unique heart-shaped leaves. They are fast-growing climbers and one of the most popular foliage plants used as room or conservatory decor. This plant is adaptable, tolerates low levels of light for long periods, and thrives in summer or winter room temperatures. Click here to find your local GCA Garden Centre for more indoor plants suitable for this project.
Begin your DIY macramé plant hanger by cutting the pieces of the cottob macramé cord. You will need four, 2-meter cords and two, 30 cm long cords.
Fold the four, 2-meter cords in half and loop it through the bass ring.
Next, secure your cords in place by using the wrapped or ring knot. This is a simple knot that has a sophisticated, finished look. You will need your 30 cm piece of cord for this knot.
And that's it! We will be using this knot again later for the tassel.
Next, hang your rig on either a hook, door knob, or a friend’s finger. Group your eight cords into groups of two and tie the cords together using a simple knot. Continue this until you end up with four separate knots and make sure they are all the same distance from the top.
Now, you will continue to your second row of knots. Take two adjacent knots and one cord from each knot and tie the cords together. Repeat this until you have four knots and make sure they are the same distance from your first row of knots.
Make sure your pot plant fits, and if it does not fit, adjust the second row until you feel your pot plant is secured and will not fall through the knots.
To finish off your DIY Mother's Day macramé plant hanger, you will need to tie all of the cords together with one final knot. End off with a wrapped or looped knot.
To finish off your DIY Mother's Day macramé plant hanger, you will need to tie all of the cords together with one final knot. End off with a wrapped or looped knot.
Trim off the excess cord to create a tassel finish.
Insert your plant with care. Carefully arrange your plants' branches between the groups of cords and make sure that the hook you hang the plant from is secure and able to handle the plant's weight.
You can create your own wetland at home and produce delicious edibles at the same time.
World Wetland day is celebrated annually on the 2nd February and we at Life is a Garden think that a beautiful way to support and celebrate these habitats is by creating container wetland gardens to add as a design element to your garden. Many water loving plants are also edible, so be sure to include some of the edible varieties in your wetland masterpiece. This will be something different to your usual herb garden edibles.
A wetland is found where the land is wet enough (saturated or flooded) for long enough to be unfavourable to most plants but are favourable to plants adapted to anaerobic soil conditions. It is important that we understand and protect the incredible biodiversity of these beautiful and vital South African habitats. Not only do wetland ecosystems support a host of animal and plant life - but they are critically important for the survival of humans too, from the modification of climate change to the protection of human settlements from floods. If we protect wetlands, we also protect our planet and ourselves.
Here is an easy step by step tutorial on making a container water garden that is simple and inexpensive.
What you will need:
Choosing a Container
When choosing a container for your water garden, keep in mind that technically, anything that holds water will work. Make sure however that it is not porous. Choose a container large enough to comfortably hold at least three or four water plants. A 60 cm wide container will be a perfect start. We chose a beautiful, stylish powder blue glazed pot.
When choosing water plants for your container, keep in mind to choose based on the size of your container. Huge plants in a tiny container will just look like a wet jungle and too many tiny plants in a large container will just look like clutter.
Choose your types of plants much the same way you would design a regular garden bed. Use different shapes and textures of plants to add contrast, and to set each plant apart. We suggest using at least three. First a tall spiky plant, then a broader leaved plant, and finally, a floating option such as water hyacinths, or even a single water lily.
Arranging Your Water Garden
Arranging the plants in your water garden is easier than planting a garden bed. If you don’t like the arrangement, you just pick them up and move them, because you never remove the water plants from the nursery pot.
Displaying your container water gardens
Place your water garden where it gets at least 6 hours of sun every day. Make sure the water level is topped up regularly. If the roots are exposed for any length of time, you will likely damage, if not lose the plant. We suggest you overflow the top of the container with water every couple of days, just to make sure no mosquitoes are using your new garden as a breeding ground.
Enjoy making your own container water garden! Water is a restful element to add to any garden, and can attract birds, frogs and butterflies as well. Not to mention, water plants themselves are beautiful, and can be fragrant in addition to being low maintenance.
Sadly, 50% of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed. Without suitable wetland habitat, many species could soon be homeless. Here are 11 reasons why you should care about wetlands:
December holidays are great for getting creative with your kids. Here are 7 easy steps to make your own staghorn mount reindeer decoration.
Like orchids, the staghorn fern (Platycerium) is an epiphyte, which means they do not require soil to grow but attach to and gain nutrients from other plants, while not harming the host plant. They have two sets of leaves that grow, sterile and fertile. The sterile leaves usually form a flat shield that covers the roots and helps it attach to a support. While they might look like they are dead — they aren’t. Do not pick these leaves off! The fertile leaves emerge from the centre of the shield-like leaves and form the staghorn ‘antlers’ that gives this fern its name.
After just a short trip to your local GCA Garden Centre, you can make this gorgeous mounted reindeer staghorn fern to add some holiday cheer to your home this Christmas. Why not make more than one? They are stunning as gifts.
All you will need is the following:
Mounting A Staghorn Fern
First things first, you will want to set the hook that will attach to the wall. Whatever you decide to use is up to you and the mounting piece you decide on, but begin with placing that before anything else. We used two nails and a piece of twine, but you may prefer a picture frame hook.
Next, grab your nails and hammer in 4 to 6 small nails in a square or circular shape where you will be mounting the staghorn onto your chosen piece of wood. This will secure the plant on the mount.
Before you place the plant, it is important to loosen and prune the roots some. This helps better absorb moisture in its new environment as well as adapt to the new surface it will call home. After pruning make sure to water the plant.
Once you have pruned the plant, place the fern in the middle of the circle of nails. We also took into account the direction of leaves. By considering these details it will make the final presentation feel right. There is no wrong way, but sometimes one side of the plant will look better than another.
Now, grab the moss and pull apart a chunk, soak it slightly and make sure to squeeze out any drippy moisture. Wrap the moss around the base of the plant to contain the dirt and roots of the fern.
Once fully wrapped, cut a long piece of twine and tie a knot on a nail. Criss-cross the twine over the base of the plant and wrap it around the tops of the nails with each cross. This will be the only security the plant and moss have so make sure to hit every nail and wrap around the heads well. You could also use fishing line or wire. Choose whatever fits you and your style. You may need to secure some of the leaves together at the base and angle them in the correct position to look most like reindeer antlers
Once the plant is well secured it will almost be ready to hang…. but first you need to add the reindeers face. Colour, decorate and assemble your chosen reindeer face, and/or eyes and nose. Now secure the face in the best location on your staghorn mount board so that the leaves of the fern resemble the reindeer’s antlers. We used pins and double-sided tape to secure our reindeer face and/or eyes and ball ornament nose.
Hang your reindeer staghorn mount in a prime position in your home to add holiday cheer.
To keep your plant healthy, check the moss every so often to make sure the moss is moist. The dryer your home, the more often you will need to water it. Make sure to also place it in a brighter room to allow enough sunlight, however it should not have direct sunlight. When you do water, spray them to give them a rain-like experience (be careful not to spray your reindeer face).
World Teachers day is on the 5th of October. Here is an awesome gift idea that you can make for your favourite teacher to show them your appreciation during October.