The bokashi bucket is an easy and effective composting system that allows for ALL types of kitchen waste to be transformed into nutrient-rich compost. With a few simple adaptations to the standard compost bucket system, you will now be able to add food like meat, dairy, and fish to your compost. Grab the fam and let’s get started!
How it works
The bokashi bucket is different to a standard composting bucket method in the way that the decomposition process is stimulated. Food waste, along with an inoculant, is layered inside the bucket and then left tightly sealed for three weeks to ferment. Traditional composting requires oxygen for decomposition, while the bokashi system utilises fermentation, which is an anaerobic process that allows sugars and starches to be converted to alcohol and acids. Through this clever process, previously labelled un-compostable foods can now be wonderfully transformed into food for the whole garden.
You will need
- 2x medium to large buckets with matching, tight-fitting lids (buckets need to fit inside each other)
- Your chosen inoculant such as organic grain, bran, rice, dried leaves, sawdust, or wheat mill run. This layer is what prevents the food from smelling as it ferments and assists the breakdown process
- A drill or utility knife for making drainage holes
- A brick
- Kitchen waste
1. On the bottom of bucket 1, drill about 10 holes or use the utility knife to cut out pieces of the plastic.
2. Place the brick inside bucket 2, and then place bucket 1 with the holes on top of the brick inside the bucket.
3. Remove the brim of one of the lids to use as a tool to push down your kitchen waste when needed.
4. Add a layer of inoculant to bucket 2 and then a layer of your food waste.
June: Indoor winter maintenance and scale control
Follow Life is a Garden’s indoor winter checklist for happy and healthy plants. As we enter the depths of winter, bringing the garden indoors adds a warming touch of greenery while much of the backyard goes into hibernation. If given the right growing conditions and care, your indoor plants will reward you with year-round living décor and joy. Watch out for scale!
Indoor maintenance checklist
- Fertiliser: Indoor foliage plants go into semi-dormancy during the winter, so it is not necessary to fertilise them. However, winter is the growing season of spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and hyacinths and plants such as cineraria, cyclamen, poinsettias, chrysanthemum, and begonia. Feed these plants every two weeks with a liquid fertiliser and water every two to three days.
- Light and air: Most houseplants require good, indirect light – not direct sunlight, particularly damaging is sunlight striking them through glass. The light should be balanced and if not, turn the plants once a week to prevent them from becoming lopsided. Do not place plants near south-facing windows (they will feel the chill rather badly in cold areas). A north-facing window screened by a net or voile curtain is a good position.
- Temperature: Many indoor plants originate in the tropics and therefore prefer to be kept in warmer temperatures. In cold areas and rooms heated by heaters and fireplaces, the plants will need extra humidity to keep them happy. Plants should therefore be misted with tepid water regularly to counteract the effects of reduced humidity.
- Water: Use tepid or lukewarm water. Your plants will be able to absorb the water easier and avoid sending them into a state of shock. Reduce the watering schedule of indoor foliage plants but never let them become bone dry. A dose of warm or lukewarm water every 10 days is quite sufficient for most indoor plants as they go into semi-dormancy during midwinter.
Father’s Day DIY: Table Pot Platter
Dad’s day is coming up and that means DIY gift time for us gardeners! Give that special father figure in your life something from you and the kids that’s both practical and brag-worthy. This DIY requires no power tools, making it an easy activity for children of all ages to enjoy. Life is a Garden is bringing the outdoors to dad’s desk, here’s how:
A trio of awesomeness
Your table pot platter essentially consists of three smaller pots (square or round) arranged inside a larger circular container (pot saucers work well). Pot one will home your hardy focal point plant and pots two and three will be filled with dad’s favourite snacks (like biltong, nuts or candy). All three smaller pots need to fit well inside the larger platter container, so be sure to keep sizes in mind when out shopping.
Top snack tip: Find a sealable container that fits inside your snack pot so that treats can easily be sealed when dad’s not around. If dad is home-based, get the kids to top up the snack pot with more surprises and yummies throughout the day.
You will need
- Three smaller pots
- One large round saucer
- A hardy indoor plant (suggestions below)
- Pebbles, bark shards, or wood chips
- Dad’s favourite snacks and drink
Pot platter assembly
Evergreen indoor plants, containers and raised pot stands of all shapes and sizes are widely available at your GCA Garden Centre. This DIY is ideal for the office or workshop table in need of some decorative greenery and homeliness. Simply transplant dad’s new plant into the focal point pot, water well and allow to drain fully. Then, arrange all three of the smaller pots inside the larger round saucer. Fill any gaps inside the main container (around the smaller pots) with pebbles or wood chips for a further ruggedly trendy look, or leave as is for a neat finish
Try this: If you’ve got a funky dad, get the kids to paint the outer container for a colourful, heartfelt touch that will make dad ever so proud to show off his handmade gift.
Topic: Living walls
Industry Expert: Ronnie van Voorst
Garden Centre: Impala Nursery
Find out what our industry expert, Ronnie from Impala Nursery, has to say about growing a flourishing living wall for your home, office, or school. Whether you are interested in unique art, employee wellness, environmentalism, or space-saving – vertical gardening has benefits for everyone to enjoy.
1.Could you please describe what a living wall is and is not?
A vertical garden is a wonderfully creative way to showcase nature both in and outdoors. Living walls bring instant calm to the soul while uplifting one’s mood and cultivating overall psychological wellbeing. Also known as green walls, they contain real, living and breathing plants installed vertically against any structure that can support the plants (walls, fences or gates). Living walls are not dust collectors and are not filled with faux plants.
2.What’s all the fuss about vertical growing? What makes a green wall so special?
Going vertical saves on floor space, and when you need more plants in your life, why not go up? It also saves you from weeding and breaking your back while bending over in the garden. Green walls are special as they become living works of art. The different plants grouped together create a stunning vertical tapestry with a personality of its own.
3.What would you say are the most important factors that ensure a healthy living wall?
Make sure you have these inputs in place - water, light, nutrients (food), and air. Firstly, using appropriate plants for the position of the wall. Secondly, watering cycles should match the plants' own requirements - one wouldn’t water a succulent in the full sun the same way one would a fern indoors. Finally, a little bit of love in the form of maintenance, like removing dead leaves to make way for new growth or a sprinkle of fertiliser.
Did you know? Just like we release water vapour through our mouths as we breathe, so do plants through their stomata - tiny, pore-like structures on the surfaces of leaves. Plants use their roots to absorb water and nutrients from the soil, drawing it upwards into their stems and leaves. Some of this water is then returned to the atmosphere by the process known as transpiration.
Why do plants need to transpire?
The loss of water (or transpiration) plays a vital role in maintaining healthy plant growth, water balance, and overall longevity. More specifically, plants transpire for 3 main reasons:
- Nutrient uptake – the rate of transpiration actually determines your edibles’ yield. Turgor pressure keeps the plant cells full and turgid, owing to the transpiration stream of water from roots to shoots. In agriculture, transpiration is essential in producing healthy crops.
- Cooling – to manage heat and drought stress, transpiration rates are crucial as this process brings down the temperature of leaves, the largest plant organ. However, losing too much water can leave plants dehydrated.
- Photosynthesis – water flow efficiency is intricately connected with photosynthesis through the stomata. A lot of the water absorbed from the soil is used for photosynthesis, cell expansion, and growth. A single tree reaching 20 meters high can take up between 10 litres to 200 litres a day!
Clearly, transpiration is a big deal. Get the kids involved and let’s bring this invisible miracle to light.
You will need
- A ziplock bag
- A leafy branch of a tree
Try this: Compare transpiration rates and see how the environment affects plants by conducting separate experiments on both sunny and cloudy days.
Step 1: Find a plant in the garden with a nice leafy branch where your bag will fit over.
Step 2: Cover the section of the branch with the ziplock bag and then seal it tightly with some string around the stem.
Take your gardening skills to new heights with this creative DIY living chessboard! With plants as chess pieces and striking black and white colours, your garden is guaranteed to grab attention, invite engagement, and spark plenty of conversation. In addition, you’ll get to add a couple of really special beauties to your collection that you otherwise may not have considered.
Let’s talk tiles
Get your hands on some large black and white tiles, available at your GCA Garden Centre and local home depo stores. When choosing tile slabs, go for ones that are nice and big as they will need to stand out when your pot plants are placed on top of them. You may also want to consider tiles with a protective layer to prevent scratches, or go for concrete slabs and simply paint them yourself using good quality water and weather-resistant paint.
Top tip: While you’re out, grab an easy clean mop or broom to keep near your chess set to ensure it’s always play-ready and looking neat.
Try this: If you’re strapped on space, you could always create a mini version of this game with tiny pots and succulents. Play on a table or transform the courtyard.
Pots and pawns
Your traditional chess pieces will be pot plants, of course! Go for containers with good drainage made from lightweight materials that won’t be too heavy to move. A lovely selection of pots is available at your GCA Garden Centre with treated compost and potting soil to go with them. If you’re on a budget, you could always go for inexpensive plastic containers and paint them instead. Don’t forget your saucers to avoid messy spillages during watering.
Top tip: To keep track of which plant represents which chess piece, don’t move the pot saucers from their original placement when playing.
If you love Christmas, gardening, upcycling, and keeping the kids busy - you’ll be popping over this project! December is about abundance, but sadly a lot of this is waste too. So, dear gardeners, let’s play our part in reducing, recycling and remembering that we can incorporate a little green in everything. Instead of the usual cracker filled with plastic nonsense, which ends up in the bin, imagine an upcycled cracker filled with veggie, herb, and flower seeds to plant for summer! Hooray! Get the kids on board and let’s make eco seed crackers for Christmas.
For this DIY project, you will need:
- Some empty toilet rolls
- A few pieces of tissue paper
- Used eco wrapping paper
- Twine/string/ribbon/elastic bands
- A pair of scissors
- Light duty glue
- Colouring in goodies
- Seeds to plant
After the cracker has been cracked, you will need:
- Soil and compost
- Some sweet sunshine and water
Give your guests something meaningful to take home after Christmas lunch with a stunning selection of summer seeds for you to choose from:
- Full sun, summer veggies: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, capsicum, cucumber, brinjal, sweet melon (spanspek), pumpkin (flat boer), spinach, tomatoes, and watermelon.
- Full sun, summer herbs: Catnip, chamomile, chives, coriander, dill, fennel, garlic, paprika, rocket, and sage.
- Full sun, summer flowers: Alyssum, black-eyed Susan, chrysanthemum, cosmos, forget-me-not, helichrysum, marigold, nasturtium, petunias, and sunflowers.
Elves at work
Green fingers at the ready! It’s time to assemble our crackers:
- Wrap your selected seeds inside a few pieces of toilet paper or tissue. Tie them up with a piece of string. Set aside.
- For a personal touch and the enjoyable element of surprise, decorate the toilet roll according to what seed is inside. Kids can draw on veggies, herbs, or flowers and decorate as desired. This also adds to the excitement as guests won’t know what seeds they got until the cracker has popped and they behold your child’s delightful loo roll artwork.
This November, Life is a Garden is helping the whole family get into the spring of things by celebrating our South African sunshine. Here’s an educational, hands-on project all about time, the Earth’s rotation, and our life-supporting sun. Get ready scientists and explorers, time is upon us!
A bit about the sundial
Did you know? The sundial is the oldest known instrument for telling time! This ancient, mysterious doohickey tracks the position of the sun using a gnomon, which is the centrepiece of the sundial that indicates time by the position of its shadow. Up until the early 19th century, sundials were the main instrument people used to tell time. When correctly positioned, sundials can even tell time down to the minute!
You will need:
- A flat piece of wood: This is going to serve as the body of the clock. You can upcycle an old slab of wood from the garage or the scrapyard, use a tree stump, or even repurpose a tile slab. Your local GCA Garden Centre has as lovely variety of wooden décor slabs to choose from.
- Pebbles or stones: These are going to be the hour placeholders. They can be collected during a walk, scavenged from the garden, or purchased from your favourite GCA Garden Centre. We recommend using pebbles with a flatter surface and ones lighter in colour.
Sunny Suggestion: Instead of using pebbles as hour placeholders, you could also use little succulent or cactus pots! Your garden centre has THE cutest variety of mini cactus pots and this DIY is the perfect opportunity to home a couple. If you’re going for the potted look, you could use the underside of a pot as your clock base too!
3. Paint: To paint numbers of the clock onto each stone and decorate as desired.
Gardening naturally stimulates our senses: the smell of wet soil, the sound of a cooing dove in the distance, the feeling of warm sun kisses on our skin, and early morning dew drops so fresh we can almost taste it! Children, however, may need a little more encouragement to engage with nature in this way. Luckily, Life is a Garden is bringing you some inspiration this August to create an indulging sensory experience for your kids, filled with adventure and exploration. We’re talking all about stimulating your child’s senses through a natural playscape environment in your own backyard or school playground.
Sight: A great attention grabber is through striking visual stimuli. A garden that looks visibly interesting with a variety of colours, textures, and a few intriguing items should get their curiosity going. Create an obstacle course by incorporating different sized tree stumps or rocks as stepping stones over some dangerous lava looking succulents and spikey grass. An outdoor dollhouse or treasure chest under a tree may further inspire imaginative play.
Plant picks: Rooiblaarplakkie (Kalanchoe sexangularis) is a hardy succulent, perfect as a lava substitute. Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are big, bold, and beautiful cut-flowers. Starlight grass (Anthericum) brings in strong texture and contrast for the rugged garden warrior.
Sound: Incorporating both natural and man-made sound stimulation is easier than you may think. A DIY hand shaker project with some dried seeds or stones inside empty spice bottles may motivate the kinesthetically inclined child to engage their sense of sound. Wind chimes will become an ambient focal point during the August winds too. A water feature may help to encourage more gentle playtime and promote an awareness of subtle and calming sounds. Alternatively, you could even start a buzzing bee hotel for the gogo-loving garden explorer!