Companion planting means growing certain plants close together for their mutually beneficial effects, such as pest protection or growth enhancement. Bedding besties allow you to have your cake AND eat it – your desired harvest flourishing gogo-free and eco-friendly with little other effort required from you. Mother Nature is clever like that – she knows what’s up. Here’s what to plant and reasons why your veggie needs a bestie. Life is a Garden, let’s optimise yours!
We often think of a veggie garden as produce sown in neat rows, exposed soil, and clear of any other plants not on the menu. Well, it might just be the time to revise this idea. There is so much to benefit from including other herbs and flowers to the veggie garden, which take care of pest control, weeds, water evaporation, poor soil conditions, composting, barren spaces and of course, pollination. Consider the idea of a starting a “mixed masala patch”, if you will, and let’s venture beyond the concept of a “vegetables-only” party.
Although we’re going for a “mixed masala patch”, it should be mentioned that not all plants like each other, and some can be pretty picky about who they bunk with. Your GCA Garden Centre guy will be able to advise you on the best buddy for your baby, but for now, here are some general friends of the veg with no-strings-attached benefits:
As mentioned earlier, some plants are incompatible while others are the perfect match. We’re helping gardeners avoid any regrettable flings this autumn by equipping you with a swipe-right (good), swipe-left (bad) companion planting guide. Here is a list of greens to sow now to get you started on your bedding romances. Cool-season vegetable seedlings are also available at your GCA Garden Centre.
Swipe right: Basil, chives, lettuce, onions, and peas.
Swipe left: Broccoli, cabbage, dill, fennel, and potatoes.
Swipe right: Beetroot, beans, cabbage, celery, and green peppers.
Swipe left: Grapes, potatoes, and sage.
Swipe right: Beetroot, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, and maize.
Swipe left: Dill, fennel, and all members of the onion family.
Swipe right: Beans, broccoli, cabbage, leeks, and tomatoes.
Swipe left: Nothing, this one’s easy.
Swipe right: Beetroot, celery, chives, dill, and onions.
Swipe left: Mustard plants, strawberries, tomatoes, and grapes.
With Mother Nature in your corner, a couple of flowers in your hair, and fragrant herbs by your side, companion planting is made simple and super effective. Avoid harsh chemicals and keep your garden’s eco-system flourishing and beneficial to the entire food chain. Reinventing the veggie patch is easy when you choose the best friends for your farming-fam goals. Remember, dear green fingers, Life is a Garden, so create yours with consideration.
Your garden has so many benefits. It improves your mental and physical wellbeing while adding value to your property and providing a tranquil escape from a busy lifestyle. But even greater than all of this is the benefit that your garden brings to our planet. That’s right, by taking care of your garden you are contributing to the greater environment and helping to make a difference to our world.
Here are some of the benefits that gardening brings to our planet and a few things that you can do to make a difference to our world, after all, there is no planet B!
Plants are the planet’s air purifiers as they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. This is vital for animals and humans as we rely on oxygen to survive. In addition to this, plants remove chemicals and bacteria from the environment which has added benefits for us as it makes our environment healthier and cleaner.
While all plants clean the air, there are a few that are better air recyclers than others. For the benefit of our environment, consider planting indigenous plants that are better suited to our climate and opt for air purifiers such as Aloe (Aloe Vera) or Spekboom (Portulacaria afra). These plants require minimal maintenance, consume less water and provide maximum air cleaning benefits.
Growing fruits and vegetables can reward you in several ways including saving you money and providing nourishing and flavoursome foods. More than this, growing your food can have a significant benefit to our environment. Commercially grown fruits and vegetables rely heavily on pesticides and chemicals to prevent damage to the harvest, while households may rely on repellents to prevent damage to homegrown products, these are often used more sparingly, minimizing the impact on our environment.
In addition to the chemical component, commercially produced products need to be transported to various outlets for retail purposes which adds to air pollution. By growing seasonal vegetables you can provide sustainable fruits and vegetables for your family throughout the year at a more affordable cost and with greater benefit for our environment.
Our plants are only as good as the soil they are grown in and as such, we need to keep the soil in tip-top shape to maximise the benefits of our efforts. While plants suck up carbon dioxide from the air, they also take in chemicals and other harmful elements from the soil and this can impact on their growth. To keep your soil at its best, plant indigenous plants that will change according to the seasons. These plants often lose their leaves in the winter which decay to nourish the soil and the plants that grow in it.
To make sure your plants are getting sufficient nutrients throughout the year, consider creating a compost heap. This is a great way to use your garden and kitchen waste to put valuable nutrients back into the ground where they can help your plants grow lush and beautiful.
Birds, bees and other insects have an important role to play in our ecosystem and environment as butterflies, bees and many birds are key players in pollinating our plants. To attract these creatures to your garden, plant some colourful, fragrant flowers and you’ll have a hive of activity taking place around you as the birds and bees spread seeds around your garden and neighbourhood to grow more plants and contribute to a healthier environment for all of us.
We all have a role to play in conserving our environment and it couldn’t be easier than starting with your garden. Visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre to find out which plants are best for your climate and start planting your way to a cleaner, healthier planet.
Gardening is incredibly rewarding as what you put in, is what you get out. If you’ve been tending to a vegetable garden or growing fruit trees, you’re likely to have a variety of homegrown goodness at your fingertips. Often you end up with an abundant supply of fruits and vegetables that is far more than you need to feed your family. This is the ideal opportunity to share your harvest with friends, neighbours and those in need.
Fresh produce is often enjoyed for its full flavour over store-bought products. As such, friends and neighbours would be delighted to receive fresh, homegrown produce to include in their meals. Pack a basket with some surplus produce that you’ve grown and deliver it to your friends, family and neighbours to share in your harvest.
Often fresh produce has a limited shelf life but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your surplus produce for longer. Fill jars with homemade pasta sauces, relishes and pickles that can be enjoyed for months after you’ve harvested your vegetables. Make homemade jams in a variety of flavours and treat your taste buds well after the last fruit has been picked for the season. You can also share your homemade delights with friends and family to spread the bounty even further.
Fruit and vegetables are jam-packed with nutrients that are beneficial for your health. However, often poorer families will skip the vegetable aisle and opt for foods that are high in fats and carbohydrates as these can stretch further and keep them fuller for longer. These families would greatly welcome your donation of surplus fruits and vegetables to help add some nutrients to their families table.
For the many elderly and homeless people soup kitchens provide the comfort of a cooked meal. Often these kitchens need ingredients to keep the supply of soup available for those who depend on them to fill their tummies.
You can donate fresh produce to a variety of food banks, soup kitchens or churches across South Africa that offer soup kitchens to the community.
Nothing is better than enjoying your homegrown fruits and vegetables except for sharing the bounty of your harvest so they can enjoy the flavour and goodness of your produce too. Growing your own food is a rewarding experience that allows you to share the rewards with others. So keep your harvest growing and share your bounty with those that will enjoy it as much as you do.
For more veggie garden inspiration and visit your favourite GCA Garden Centre for supplies to keep your fresh produce growing abundantly.
Your garden is your happy place. It provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of a busy life, gives you space to express your creativity and shows appreciation for the time, effort and love you put into it by rewarding you with a luscious landscape. There are so many reasons for you to love your garden this love month, and because gardening is a pure form of love it will bring you happiness in so many ways.
Gardening teaches us how to nurture little seedlings that are filled with hope and potential, into boastful plants, shrubs and trees. It teaches us to love life in various forms and what you put in is what you get out. Gardening teaches us to be patient and enjoy every moment as we tend to the needs of our newest seedlings through to our established plants that need tending to regularly. Spending time caring for plants helps us to find happiness in the smallest blessings when the first leaf sprouts to the largest blessing of a beautiful, tranquil paradise.
Your garden is living proof of all the love, care and effort you put in. But it doesn’t have to stop there, you can also bring some of the love and happiness of the outdoors indoors with houseplants. There are so many varieties of indoor plants that will transform your home into a living space and bring with it the added benefit of cleaner air, more oxygen and some decorative charm. Whether you have an empty corner or a bare shelf that needs a little something extra, a plant will add life and colour to any area.
Your garden is your happy place and planting a few beautiful flowers and plants on Valentine’s Day is a gift that just keeps on giving. While digging and planting will provide you with hours of happiness just as a benefit of spending time outdoors, your garden and balcony will show appreciation for your time and efforts with bursts of colour dotted all around the garden followed by a sweet, lingering fragrance that delights your senses.
There are health and emotional benefits of spending time in the garden. When digging in the soil you are exposed to a soil microbe called Mycobacterium vaccae which has been proven to make you happier. According to research studies, this bacterium stimulates serotonin production which gives it a similar effect on the brain as Prozac, but without the negative side effects. So, when you need a little boost, grab your spade and head to the garden for your dose of joy.
The birds singing, bees buzzing and the gentle sound of leaves swishing in the wind are all familiar sounds you’ll hear when you spend time in your garden. While these sounds may conjure up happy thoughts, bird songs, in particular, have been proven to improve our mental and emotional health and make us happier and healthier. If you want to keep your mood elevated, add a birdbath to your garden, place a bird feeder in the tree and sit back and let the cheerful vibes kick in.
In the words of Arthur Smith, “If you want to be happy forever, take up gardening.” We couldn’t agree more. So go to www.lifeisagarden.co.za for your latest gardening inspiration,
Visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre for gardening supplies and get digging this love month.