5 Top crops that keep giving Plant them once but harvest many times

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

We’re not ready to let go of the festive vibes and generous spirit of the holidays just yet! Life is a Garden would like to extend these good feels with the below list of summer crops that keep on, keep on giving. Plant them once but harvest many times – that’s the way to eat your heart out healthily this new year.

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

Your 5 top crops that keep giving and how to harvest them correctly 

  1. Spinach: Harvest only 1/3 of the plant at a time by cutting your chosen leaves at their base, above the crown (where all stems meet). You don’t have to work your way from outside in, so long as you harvest a mix of new and mature leaves. 
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

2. Fancy lettuce: Apply the same technique as with spinach and remember to mulch around the plants very well. Adequate water and moisture will discourage bolting, which is when the plants go to seed – so perhaps you’d even like to experiment.

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

Top tip: When harvesting leaves, pick them early morning (for crispness) or late afternoon. Avoid the hottest parts of the day to not stress plants unnecessarily. 

3. Tomatoes: If it looks ripe and smells good, pick that bad boy! For a repeated lush harvest, prune back low-lying branches that touch the ground and pinch out smaller suckers that appear below the first cluster of flowers. Also remove any yellow leaves.

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

4. Green peppers: Here’s a bit of a Catch-22. On the one hand, the more you pick, the more produce you’ll get. However, the longer you leave the peppers on the plant, the sweeter they will be and the higher the Vitamin C content – choice is yours!

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

5. Strawberries: No catch of picking in plenty here! The secret lies in an organic fertiliser that will increase flowering, resulting in more fruit, faster.

Hybrid gift giving December perfect plant picks

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Give a living gift this holiday and show off your eco-tribe vibes with a fancy new addition to your loved one’s plant fam. Here is Life is a Garden’s top 5 latest seasonal hybrid plant picks.

1. For bae: The Hannon rose

This new hybrid tea rose has gorgeous deep pink flowers that bloom throughout the season. An added bonus is that they are exceptional cut-flowers, perfect for adding ambience on date night dine-ins. They have a mild perfume as well. 

Planting and perks: Full sun beds or containers, cold and frost hardy + petals used for DIY pot pourri (add essential oils for extra heavenly fragrance). 

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2. For bestie: Hibiscus graff 

Here is the latest hibiscus species that boasts even longer-lasting flowers. Speaking of blooms, hibiscus bushes bear large flowers in bright colours, creating an exotic feel to any space they occupy. Wherever planted – they’ll steal the show. 

Planting and perks: Full sun, plenty of fertiliser, water daily + petals can be brewed to create a simply delish floral tea (good for hair and digestion).

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3. For moms: Hydrangea ‘endless summer’ aka the Christmas rose (but on steroids

Living up to its name, this new hybrid blooms in massive pink or blue mophead flowers on both old and new wood, you guessed it - all summer long.

Planting and perks: Partial shade beds or containers, frost hardy + customisation option by adjusting the soil’s pH to yield different colour blooms (ask Google).

december gifts, december, life is a garden, fruit, festive, greenery, garden, gardening, plants, flowers, beauty, gardening, indigenous,
december gifts, december, life is a garden, fruit, festive, greenery, garden, gardening, plants, flowers, beauty, gardening, indigenous,

4. For rad dads: Pelargonium interspecific ‘rose splash’ 

A real breakthrough in floral genetics, the ‘rose splash’ features large, semi-double flowers with a dark pink centre and lighter pink borders. They reward gardens with outstanding colour throughout summer and are quick growing. 

Planting and perks: Full to partial sun beds or baskets, drought hardy + resilient to a little neglect once established (just avoid frost).

Indigenous fairy tale trees Industry Expert Q&A

life is a garden, tree factor, birds, biodiversity, unique, colour, greenery, bark, leaves, fruit, flowers, vibrant, indigenous, Botanical boss
life is a garden, tree factor, birds, biodiversity, unique, colour, greenery, bark, leaves, fruit, flowers, vibrant, indigenous

September’s Topic: The local magic spring brings
Theme: Indigenous fairy tale trees  

Industry Expert: Brett Hughes
Garden Centre: Tree Factor in Limpopo  

 

Calling all tree-loving landscapers and gardeners – are you ready for a gust of sensational wind through your branches? Our industry expert, Brett Hughes from Tree Factor, has treated us to a simply divine spread of wisdom and passion with an equally magnificent tree selection! Spring is 100% bringing that local magic.  

1. Your stunning variety of trees and “greening the way” for SA approach is truly inspiring and awesome! Please tell us more about your philosophy and why trees are so important/beneficial?

As a horticulturist for the past 35 years, I have seen the deforestation in our own country today, despite the world’s plight on the current carbon footprint and efforts to plant up highways and urban areas. There are particular points that I would like to make in this regard – not purposefully highlighting the destruction, but in an effort to showcase the undesirability thereof.

 

Firstly, we have organisations like SANRAL – stripping trees on the side of our roads and highways by the kilometre, sometimes only marula trees being kept but destroying all the other hardwoods, which is not desirable. And then we get Eskom who eliminates every single tree within 20-30m of every powerline – that’s millions of trees being taken out annually. There’s also the mining industry, who are not under pressure anymore to rehabilitate like they used to. I think the councils are trying to put their efforts into planting trees, but again, I don’t think government is giving them enough budget to plant trees and to support our industry enough. There is definitely some effort needed to help and put pressure on government to get the local councils involved in tree planting again.

The local magic spring brings September Botanical Boss

life is a garden, tree factor, birds, biodiversity, unique, colour, greenery, bark, leaves, fruit, flowers, vibrant, indigenous, Botanical boss
life is a garden, tree factor, birds, biodiversity, unique, colour, greenery, bark, leaves, fruit, flowers, vibrant, indigenous, Botanical boss

The season of renewal is upon us, bringing in hope and fresh positivity. Spring is Mother Nature’s reminder that even after periods of hardship, the storm will always pass when we embrace and trust in the great cycle of life. Turn to your garden for some uplifting enchantment as we explore the stunning local magic spring brings this September. Life is a Garden, with help from our industry experts - Random Harvest Nursery and Tree Factor, have complied a list of SA’s most unique and unusual plants and trees.  

Indigenous fairy tale trees

 

 Sweet and special - The Snuffbox tree (Oncoba spinosa) 
  • Appropriately named after its local use for snuff making by crushing the edible hard-shelled fruit. The fruit is round and shiny red-brown in colour.  
  • They grow to a height of 3 to 4 metres, have a non-invasive root system, and will flourish in full sun with sandy, loam soil. 
  • Trees are valued for their dramatic white flowers that have a special melon-like scent, making them a perfect choice as a fragrant ornamental too.  
Odd and extraordinary - The Sausage tree (Kigelia Africana) 
  • After treating us to a blood-red/maroon flower show that hangs off branches in long panicles, sausage-shaped fruit are an equally amazing sight. 
  • The smelly flowers, which bloom all night, attract pest-controlling bats that pollinate them. The sausage fruit is actually a huge berry and can grow up to 5m and weigh an astonishing 6.5kg’s! Beware – these sausage berries are not for humans human consumption but many garden visitors will feast on them.  
  • Grow these trees in full sun with composted soil that is slightly acidic to neutral.  

 

“Ultimately, I believe if we don’t start planting trees in urban zones we’ll never catch up. If everyone plants at least one or two trees in their lifespan, it will make a huge difference” – Brett Hughes, Tree Factor.

Boosting your immune system with Herbs and Vegetables for the winter season

Give your health a kick start this Sunday 10am at HomeGrowers Kensington.
Boosting your immune system for winter using vegetables, herbs and medicinal mushrooms.
Join us this Sunday morning to learn all about how you can bolster your immune system in preparation for the flu season and the other illnesses that appear over the cold seasons. We will be discussing a selection of herbs, fruit, vegetables and fungi that can help keep you and your wallet safe from medical expenses this winter and different methods of using these versatile natural remedies to your benefit.
RSVP
Kim: 0824852472

Your nutritious, sweet summer grow guide

The garden is a trove of juicy treasures this time of year with an abundance of deliciousness to be grown. There’s something for even the fussiest of eaters and plenty of brag-worthy produce to harvest. Dash down to your local nursery for seed packets and seedlings trays and begin your nutritious, sweet summer gardening adventure today with Life is a Garden!

 

Starting off on the right root

Remember to use prepared compost and potting soil from your nursery as these products have been treated for bugs and weeds. A wide range of fertilisers for edibles is also available to help your produce grow strong roots and yield more yummies. Always check the back of seed packets for sowing information and the labels on seedling trays and pots for planting instructions.

 

Fruit to fall in love with

Nurseries are stocked with a selection of fruit trees, seedlings, and seed packets for you to sow and plant now. Stay hydrated this summer by growing these water-rich, nutrient-dense fruits:

  • Tomatoes – 94% water and high in lycopene, which helps protect cells from damage.
  • Watermelon – 92% water and soaked with nutrients, antioxidants, and amino acids.
  • Strawberry – 92% water, sodium and cholesterol-free, packed with fibre and low on calories.
  • Cantaloupe melon (spanspek) – 90% water and 100% of the recommended daily vitamin C.
  • Papaya – 88% water, aids digestion, helps with weight loss, and is loaded with vitamin A.
Tomatoes
Cantaloupe Melon
Strawberry smoothie
Super-charged veggies to chomp

Sow from seed or grow from seedling! These health-boosting, hunger-busting veggies are ready to go into the ground now:

  • Beetroot - rich in folate (vitamin B9), which helps cells grow and function well.
  • Capsicum - loads of vitamin C that’s important for the absorption of iron in the body.
  • Leeks - low in calories and high in nutrients such as magnesium and vitamins A, C, and K.

DIY Frozen Suncatcher Mobile A DIY for kids

With winter in full chilly swing, let’s catch some sun kids! Besides, the Grinch stole Christmas so we’re sure that borrowing the sun for a while will be in order. Life is a Garden is inviting kids of all ages to come and explore the curious science of water, temperature, and the sun. Time to turn liquids into solids and make a glistening frozen art piece for the garden.

 

Sciencey things

Before we get started, here are some chilled frozen facts for your kids to think about:

  • Water can occur in three states: solid (ice), liquid that you drink, or gas (like steam).
  • The freezing point for water is 0°C, while the boiling point is 100°C.
  • Water freezes when the liquid molecules get so cold that they slow down enough to “hold” onto each other, forming a solid crystal, which we call ice.
  • Dry ice isn't made of water, it is actually frozen carbon dioxide.

Try this: For the next really cold day, you can make instant snow form by throwing boiling water into the air.

You will need:
  • Treasures from the garden such as fruit slices, herbs, flowers and interesting leaves (citrus and rosemary are in-season sensations now).
  • Shallow, round containers in which your water will freeze, such as lids or flat plates. These discs will become the main features, so you may want to use different sizes to enhance the visual intricacy and appeal of your mobile.
  • A medium-sized stick or wooden rod to hang your frozen discs from. You can get fancy here and cross two sticks/rods for a traditional mobile look.
  • Any colour food colouring (optional).
  • Pieces of string or twine.
  • A pair of scissors, winter gloves, and water.

Top tip: Visit your GCA Garden Centre for gorgeous cool-season flowers and citrus trees. Take the little ones for an outing and let them choose their blooms to use in the ice discs of their suncatcher.

June in the Garden Checklist for the outdoor artist Gardening Checklist

Consider the June garden as an inviting blank canvas, welcoming you to paint with a rainbow of winter blooms. For your cool-season muse, Life is a Garden has gathered a few vibrant beauts to plant-paint with, as well as some artsy edibles to inspire your soups. Learn how to defend your plant babies against black frost and enjoy our handy maintenance tips. Embrace the cold and plant on!

 

Chilled thrills in the Western Cape
  • Have faith in your fynbos and head over to your GCA Garden Centre to checkout new protea hybrids and visit some old faves too. Leucospermums (pincushions) and leucadendrons are stunning choices you can go bos with in the garden. Remember, proteas grow in pots too!
  • Aunt Gale’s wind is always around the corner so make sure all ties and stakes supporting young trees and roses are super secure. You may also want to check your garden furniture and make sure that nothing will end up in your neighbour’s yard.
  • Avoiding flooding at home by clearing drains and gutters of old plant material.
  • Begin winter pruning on vines, peach, plum, and apricot trees. Visit your GCA Garden Centre for products to spray on dormant trees after pruning.
Plant flowers from Wonderland
  • Pansies and Violas: These annuals are perfect to plant as borders and edgings, in window boxes and containers. Position them where they receive full sun in winter but partial shade in spring and early summer, to give them a longer lifespan. They like fertile, composted soil with good drainage and regular watering.
  • Snapdragons: These short-lived, yet super-cute perennials are ideal in mixed border gardens, flower boxes, and as potted patio décor. Bright snapdragon flowers will bloom profusely all winter long in full sun to partial shade. Begin germinating seeds indoors and when they’re ready, pop them into nutrient-rich soil that drains well.

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.

Delicious Tomato and Basil Salad

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.