Posts Tagged ‘ edibles ’

February in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

Posted on: January 14th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
February in the garden check list

Nurture your darling garden this month of love by sowing delicious edibles and magnificent flowers. Remember to give your roses some TLC and maintain your existing crops for an abundant harvest. Life is a Garden – here’s what to do with yours this February.

FLOWER POWER

Blooms to sow
  • Plant tough annuals such as Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) and Gazania Rigens to fill gaps in beds and provide gorgeous colour for the months ahead.
  • Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) is your best bet for pots with full sun. They boast striking pink, red, cream, or orange blooms that’ll bring any patio to life.
  • Begin sowing these winter and spring-flowering gems that need a bit of time to mature in seedling trays: cinerarias, gazanias, Iceland poppies, primulas, violas, pansies, larkspurs, Canterbury bells, columbines, and aquilegias.
Sow Sweet William
Gazania rigens
Iceland poppies
Planning ahead

Many summer-flowering annuals start coming to the end of their flowering season and need to be removed. As such, collect ripe seeds from flowers you wish to grow for next season and begin preparing seed and flower beds for autumn planting.

Best for indoors

Adorn the indoors with your very own Love Palm (Chamaedorea elegans). They are small, slow-growing palm trees, reaching a full height of approximately 1 meter. Celebrated for their attractive foliage, compact shape and decorative cluster form, Love Palms are ideal indoor beauties that thrive in low to moderate light.

Caring for flowers

 

  • Keep azaleas and camellias well-watered to ensure a good show of flowers during winter and spring.
  • Keep deadheading your spent blooms to promote faster regrowth with more flowers.
Love Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
Deadhead
 Rose TLC
  • Deadhead and dis-bud your babies.
  • Water well 3 times a week.
  • Fertilise BUT remember that a heap on the surface is not optimal. Fertiliser is only of use when it is dissolved by water and carried to the roots.
  • Spray fortnightly against black spot, beetles and bollworm with organic pest control solutions available at your GCA Garden Centre.

 

 ALL ABOUT EDIBLES
Greens to sow and plant
  • Sow spinach, globe artichokes, chillies, parsley, carrots, radish and rocket.
  • Sow your first round of potato seeds for an early winter harvest.
  • Plant Chinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) if you enjoy Asian-style cooking. This aquatic vegetable forms tufts of bright green with straw-like leaves that spread rapidly.
Spinach, February checklist
Globe Artichoke, February checklist
Chillies, February check list
Rocket, February checklist
Chinese Water chestnut
Tending to the harvest
  • Pinch out tomatoes and surplus squashes to get fewer but bigger vegetables.
  • Remember to keep mulching your beds to suppress weed growth, keep roots cool, and conserve water.
 Garden centre treasures
  • Buy ready-to-plant strawberries, which you can hang in baskets or transplant into containers. Feed and water regularly to enjoy their beauty, even after fruiting.
  • Your local GCA Garden Centre has the latest, fully grown, dwarf veggies that are ready to harvest, even while still in the car’s boot. These varieties include: chillies, cherry tomatoes, and fresh loose-leaf lettuce varieties. Take advantage of these time-saving greens that’ll give you some goodness to eat while waiting for other crops to mature.
Pesky critters

 

Look out for red spider mites which are problematic in periods of drought and very hot weather. Use the correct insecticides to control these pests on plants such as fruit trees, roses, and shrubs. Red spider mites can also destroy annuals like tomatoes if too heavily infested. Visit your GCA Garden Centre for the best defence against these pesky critters.

 

There’s always something to do in the garden and always a plant child in need of a little TLC. Caring for your crop offers delicious rewards while tending to blooms provides an ongoing stream of colourful delights. Enjoy your February missions, dear gardeners!

Squash
Mulch
Strawberries
Cherry tomatoes
Loose lettuce leaf
Red spider Mite

Get the look – Food for Thought Must Love Gardening

Posted on: September 23rd, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
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This gorgeous edible garden makes you think twice about traditional row sowing. Why not create a stylish veggie garden that serves not only as a functional food source but also as a relaxing chill space where you can share and enjoy your edibles with friends.  The best part is that you too can easily get the look, here’s how.

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  • Vertical landscaping elements, such as the gazebo, provides that homely outdoor room feel. With a comfy bench, this can become a favourite spot to sit and relax. The gazebo also offers the ideal structure to grow a climbing rose. The wooden tee-pees also add to the vertical element and will be very useful for many climbing plants. You could use any other pillar or frame you like to achieve some height in the space. . In this garden, the tall Tuscan rosemary has been used to fill the tee-pees and is a refreshing new twist to sculptured gardening. Beans, peas, tomatoes and many more edibles would also work wonderfully.
  • The different levels in the design offer a clever way of making any space look larger and more interesting.
  • The strong blue colour on the back wall is very dramatic and contrasts with the lime coloured gazebo and tee-pees. It also shows up the plants in the garden, especially the architecturally shaped grey-leaved artichokes in the bed against the wall. The blue flowering plants connect with the wall while the patches of yellow and gold pop brightly. The pink chandelier and cushion are striking and draw the eye to the seating area.

Tip: Repetition is a strong design principle that is often overlooked. Notice how the tin and terracotta pots are repeated amongst the wooden planters. This repetition throughout the design helps to enhance the overall look.

 

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Get the look with some of the edible plants in this landscape that you may or may not have tried:

  • Did you know that roses are closely related to apples, apricots, pears and peaches? They are almost completely edible and some parts even downright yummy. Don’t let those thorny stems fool you, they too are edible. When using the fresh rose petals you mostly only need to remove some of the older petals and not completely strip the flower. Petals can be used as:
    • Colourful dessert garnish or added to a salad.
    • Candied and then used as a tasty garnish.
    • Chopped into a summer sorbet or frozen in ice cubes.
    • Used in syrups, jellies, perfumed butters and sweet spreads.
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  • Braai rosemary, otherwise known as Tuscan Blue rosemary. Rosmarinus officinalis 'Tuscan Blue' is an upright rosemary that grows to between 1.2m and 1.5m high. They can be planted in obelisks or tee-pees of about the same height or shorter as a fun way of growing them. The reason they have adopted the name ‘braai rosemary’ is because they have tall, strong upright stems that are amazing to cut and strip as braai kebab skewers. This is a fun project to try with the kids. Whether you use meat and veggies or melon and strawberries, the flavour of rosemary infuses subtly into the food from the skewers. Visit the following page to learn more about this family fun idea:

https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/rosemary-kebab-for-braai-day/

Fresh rosemary leaves or stem tips with young leaves, can be used in many dishes – here are just a few:

  • With potatoes and roast veggies
  • Chicken, game, lamb and veal
  • Biscuits
  • Salad dressings, sauces, herb butters and oils

Tip: There are also pink and white flowering upright growing rosemary plants, a creeping rosemary, and the old favourite ‘McConnel’s Blue’.

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  • Although fennel is not new to Italian cuisine it is trending as the go-to vegetable and herb to be used in many dishes, from appetisers to desserts. The leaves, flowers, seeds and its bulbous base are all edible. Eaten raw or cooked, it is savoured for the subtle aniseed and liquorice notes. In the landscape, fennel or Florence fennel Foeniculum vulgare, is a gorgeous plant with fine, ferny foliage and tiny bright yellow flowers. The ferny foliage is a wonderful contrast to large-leafed plants. It is easy to grow and is often planted among roses to keep the aphids off the roses since they are a host plant to aphids.

Tip: Bronze fennel has an exquisite purply colour, which is a fabulous colour to use in the garden and in your food.

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Edible faves: An edible garden wouldn’t be complete without basil in the summer and violas in the winter. There are so many delicious new basil varieties that can be sown or purchased in October. Make sure you keep some open spaces and pots ready for this versatile herb.

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The striking little flowers of Viola hederacea are beautiful as an edible garnish. Lastly, the amazing Meyer lemon is a dwarf variety that is ideal for small gardens or large pots.

Take inspiration from “Get the Look” and add your own creativity to the design – Life is a Garden, so live it to the full.

Pictures courtesy of Garden World – Show Garden by Strylitzia Landscapes.

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October in the Garden October Check List

Posted on: September 23rd, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
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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. If you have not started or are unsure of what to use, consult your local GCA Garden Centre.

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Sow edibles

The seed racks at your local GCA Garden Centre will be filled with a full summer range of flower, herb and veggie seeds to be sown now.

Tip: Remember to sow your watermelon seeds in early to mid-October if you want them ready to eat at Christmas. They are usually ready to harvest 70 to 85 days after sowing.

 

What to Plant

Plant amaryllis bulbs now if you want them to be in flower for December. They flower 8 to 10 weeks after planting.

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What to Spray

Powdery mildew, thrips and mites are active at this time of year. Contact your local GCA Garden Centre for assistance on how to combat them if you see signs of them in your garden.

 

What to Feed

If you want to get the most out of your Hydrangea’s flower colour, feed them with either pink or blue hydrangea food accordingly. Blue Hydrangeas require an acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 or lower. Pink Hydrangeas require more neutral to alkaline soils with a pH of 6.5 and higher.

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Bedding plants

Look out for:

  • Shade: Beacon Impatiens or busy lizzies this spring since they are Downy Mildew resistant.
  • Semi-shade: Harmon New Guinea Impatiens. They produce vast numbers of beautiful flowers in exquisite shades, including some bi-colours. They are very floriferous with the plants being covered in bloom all season long. They will be very eye-catching in focal areas, containers and hanging baskets.
  • Semi-shade to full sun: Sunpatiens are strong and less prone to disease and are able to tolerate high heat and humidity, rain and adverse weather conditions.

Tip: Sunpatiens like other impatiens require regular watering.

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Rose Care

October is pink month or Breast Cancer Awareness month. In honour of pink, here are some stunning pink Celebrity roses that you may want to have in your garden:

  • Princess Charlene de Monaco: A beautiful Hybrid Tea rose, which has very fragrant double flowers, light apricot to shell pink in colour. It has excellent disease resistance and a good choice for use as a cut flower.
  • Thuli Madonsela rose: This novel rose is vigorous, with strong roots, and disease-resistant leaves, able to thrive despite climatic stresses – just like her name suggests.  The striking two-tone pink and white blooms have a perfect hybrid tea shape but carried in abundant clusters. The colour is prominent, feminine pink and white for purity. Grows to about 1.4m high.
  • Anneli van Rooyen rose: An extremely free-flowering hybrid tea that loves when the sun brings out its exquisite colour - a blend of deep cream to coral. Grows to shoulder height.
  • Patricia Lewis rose: A family favourite that’s even thorn free rendering excellent cut flowers. The medium sized, pointed buds open slowly, spiralling to exhibit perfection. The glowing colour lingers between deep pink and red. A healthy & energetic grower.
  • Elize Cawood rose: It's love at first sight and you won’t have to act impressed with these babies. The shimmering pearl white carries ever-so subtle undertones of soft pink. Every bloom is of a flawless Hybrid Tea shape – perfect for picking as cut flowers.
  • Rina Hugo rose: A faithful rose donning classically shaped, pointed buds. It develops into full and elegantly shaped deep magenta-pink blooms. Grown to be vigorous, healthy and strong carrying its large blooms in rich abundance.
  • People’s Princess rose: Named after Diana, the Princess of Wales, who was widely loved by people. The pointed, green-hued buds develop into large, firm petalled blooms; deep silk pink, the colour of pigeons’ breasts flows from the tips of the petal edges towards the centre of the high pointed, exhibition shaped flowers.
  • Hannon rose: Named after Hannon - the Glam Guru. A new variety of Hybrid Tea rose with deep pink flowers! It blooms and flushes throughout the season and makes the perfect and most stunning cut flower. Grows to about 1m high.
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Inland Gardening

It’s always a good time to assess where you can add to the atmosphere of your garden with the soothing sound of running water. There are loads of different water features that are both decorative and natural in style. Most attract birds and frogs to the garden with the bubbling pot features doubling up as a bird  bath. To create movement and add life to your garden, visit your local GCA Garden Centre and see the inspiring range of aquatic peace-makers they have on offer.

 

Coastal Gardening

Get your garden December ready. Whether you are staying at home or having visitors, now is the time to plant up some extra colour or to add that long-awaited extension to the herb and veggie garden.

Tip: Don’t let your fresh plants be eaten by snails and slugs. Place snail and slug bait in the planted areas. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre for more advice.

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October is a busy gardening month with highveld gardens full of spring colour and the Cape coastal areas bidding farewell to the rainy season and getting stuck into summer planting. Life is a garden no matter where you live!

Delicious Tomato and Basil Salad

Posted on: September 2nd, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

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! 

What you will need
  •   Cocktail tomatoes 
  •   Basil leaves 
  •   Mozzarella
  •   Black pepper 
  •   Salt 
  •   1 tablespoon of olive oil
  •   1 and a half teaspoon of Balsamic Vinegar
Step 1 

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. 

Step 2

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!

Step 3 

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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