COMPOST FOR ACID LOVING PLANTS Feature Diamond Sponsor – Bark Unlimited

Did you know that some plants prefer acidic or “sour “soil and other love ‘’sweet” or alkaline soils? In this article we will be focusing on acid loving plants and explain the difference between acid and alkaline soils. 


First let me explain what acidic or alkaline means and how it is measured.

The measure pH (power of hydrogen) is used on a scale from 0-14 to indicate how sweet or acidic soil is. Before we get to scientific, just remember that a pH7 is neutral, anything above is alkaline (pH8) and anything below is acidic (pH6). If the pH goes too high or too low certain elements in the soil becomes unavailable to our plants and will cause nutrient deficiencies. Although most plants grow very happily in soil with a pH7 – pH8 there are some exceptions that need acidic soil with a pH6 or even lower. These are plants like Azalea, Rhododendron, Camellia, Zantedeschia, Brunfelsia, Gardenia and Hydrangeas of which the latter’s colors can be manipulated by raising or lowering the pH of the soil. Blueberries and roses also appreciate acidic soil.

How can I lower the pH of my garden soil? 

It is much more difficult to lower the pH of soil than it is to raise it. A few natural ways are to use your discarded coffee grounds, Oak leaves, or Pine needles. Layer these on top of the soil and do not dig them in as it will rob the soil of nitrogen once it starts decomposing. This must be applied to the soil on a regular basis as soil tends to revert back to pH7 or neutral. Should you not have these items readily available or save yourself the hassle of collecting it, you can always go to your local garden center and purchase a couple of bags of Acid Compost.

May in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

Be a winter-winner, get your May maintenance in check, sow cool-season seeds, and grow with the flow as we enter our last month of autumn. We’re celebrating our adaptable green fingers by also highlighting Africa Month and all our glorious indigenous glory. The party doesn’t stop there – say hello to Phlebodium, the perfect indoor plant baby to gift to the woman you adore this Mother’s day!


Crispy blooms to plant

Bulb up: Honour our African heritage with a jive of colour from Sparaxis (Harlequin Flower), ixia, and Tritonia. Try also these perennial bulbous plants: Sweet garlic (Tulbaghia fragrans), Weeping anthericum (Chlorophytum saundersiae), Red-hot poker (Kniphofia praecox).

Bush out: Pork bush (Portulacaria afra) is a lekker local hero hedge. Good as a barrier plant, tolerates frequent pruning, extremely drought-resistant, and fast-growing.

Succ in: Aloes are in full swing, oh yeah Try Peri-Peri, Sea Urchin, and Porcupine.

The 4 P’s: Get down to your local GCA Garden Centre and start planting with the 4 P’s - poppies, pansies, petunias and primulas.

Rose bed revival: Long-stemmed roses can be picked now. If the plants are in full leaf, continue with your spraying programme but reduce watering. Plant winter-flowering annuals like pansies, poppies, or compact snapdragons, around rose bed edges to give them a revived burst of colour (and hide bare branches).

Split & divide: If the following perennials have stopped flowering, they’re ready for the operating table: Japanese Anemones (Anemone japonica) and Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana).

Be wise, fertilise: Annual stocks and larkspurs benefit from extra nitrogen to promote good growth and flowering throughout winter. Consult your GCA Garden Centre expert for advice on liquid fertilisers and other plant food.


Eat like a winter-winner 

Eye candy: Add rows of ornamental (and inedible) kale between other winter vegetables.

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.