Essential oils for beginners Botanical Boss

Natural Medicine, Essential Oils, DIY Essential Oils, Garden Remedies, Gardening For Health, Herbal Medicine, Plant-Based Healing, Garden Therapy, Green Medicine, Holistic Health, Herb Garden, Aromatherapy, DIY Garden Essentials, Healing Herbs, Nature Cures, Self Sufficiency, Herbal Remedies, Wellness From The Garden, Sustainable Health, Garden To Table, Herbology, Life is a garden

If you’re looking to take your homegrown pharmacy to the next level, essential oil making opens a whole new, exciting gardening doorway. Like all new adventures, trial and error is what learning is all about, so don’t be afraid to try something new. Life is a Garden, with help from industry experts at  Amorentia Estate & Nursery have provided an epic beginners guide to essential oil gardening for the whole family to benefit from. 

 

Get started: Choose a carrier oil

When using essential oils, it is important to dilute them with a carrier oil such as jojoba, rosehip, baobab, marula, almond, or coconut oil before applying to the skin. It is also recommended to do a patch test on a small area of skin before using a new essential oil to check for any allergic reactions. Essential oils are used in low doses because they are extremely potent, and safety should also be researched for medical conditions as well as pregnancy and breastfeeding. There are many other applications for essential oils like candle burners, room sprays, steaming, and bathing.Lauren Strever

Natural Medicine, Essential Oils, DIY Essential Oils, Garden Remedies, Gardening For Health, Herbal Medicine, Plant-Based Healing, Garden Therapy, Green Medicine, Holistic Health, Herb Garden, Aromatherapy, DIY Garden Essentials, Healing Herbs, Nature Cures, Self Sufficiency, Herbal Remedies, Wellness From The Garden, Sustainable Health, Garden To Table, Herbology, Life is a garden
Natural Medicine, Essential Oils, DIY Essential Oils, Garden Remedies, Gardening For Health, Herbal Medicine, Plant-Based Healing, Garden Therapy, Green Medicine, Holistic Health, Herb Garden, Aromatherapy, DIY Garden Essentials, Healing Herbs, Nature Cures, Self Sufficiency, Herbal Remedies, Wellness From The Garden, Sustainable Health, Garden To Table, Herbology, Life is a garden

Get growing: Top plant picks

1. Rosemary is one of those mighty medicinal powerhouses! This plant helps to alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, promote hair growth, act as an antifungal, antibacterial, and antispasmodic. When inhaled, rosemary is effective against respiratory infections because of its antiseptic properties.

2. Lavender is well-known for its calming and relaxing properties. These plants have been used for centuries to help to reduce stress and anxiety, promote restful sleep, soothe headaches, and even keep bad vibes away. It is also a great anti-inflammatory, insect-repellent, antifungal, and remedy for a huge variety of skin ailments.

Natural Medicine, Essential Oils, DIY Essential Oils, Garden Remedies, Gardening For Health, Herbal Medicine, Plant-Based Healing, Garden Therapy, Green Medicine, Holistic Health, Herb Garden, Aromatherapy, DIY Garden Essentials, Healing Herbs, Nature Cures, Self Sufficiency, Herbal Remedies, Wellness From The Garden, Sustainable Health, Garden To Table, Herbology, Life is a garden
Natural Medicine, Essential Oils, DIY Essential Oils, Garden Remedies, Gardening For Health, Herbal Medicine, Plant-Based Healing, Garden Therapy, Green Medicine, Holistic Health, Herb Garden, Aromatherapy, DIY Garden Essentials, Healing Herbs, Nature Cures, Self Sufficiency, Herbal Remedies, Wellness From The Garden, Sustainable Health, Garden To Table, Herbology, Life is a garden

3. Cape jasmin (Gardenia augusta) is known in perfumery to be one of the most well-balanced oils and can be used as a top, middle, or base note.

Scale down and glam up gran’s garden

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Reduce effort and increase beauty 

If your grandparents have been living in their home for many years, their garden is likely high-maintenance and possibly a tad out of date. Ease the burden by removing water- and time-demanding plants and replacing them with our suggestions below. 

 

Waterwise, evergreen, indigenous plant picks for big beds

1. Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata): quick-spreading shrub, pest-resistant but attracts pollinators, pretty blooms year-round, fertilise in spring, full sun to semi-shade. 

2. Bird of paradise (Strelitzia spp.): large growth, dramatic tropical-looking flowers, attracts birds, hard frost sensitive, fertilise in spring, ideal for morning sun to semi-shade.

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Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran

3. Confetti bush (Coleonema pulchellum): aromatic leaves with masses of starry pink blooms in winter and spring, attracts pollinators, coastal thriver, good cut-flower/foliage, full sun.

Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran
Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran

Easy and everlasting plant picks

1. Spekboom as a green succulent that cleans the air, looks pretty and needs little maintenance is high on our list for greening spaces for the elderly.

2. Geraniums are nostalgic and easy colour to bring back loads of gardening memories, which is particularly important for older gardeners as they age. The new varieties are even less prone to disease when they are overwatered.

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Listicle, Life is a garden, greenery, garden, gardening, birds of paradise, spekboom, salvias, plumbago, easy plants, greenery, green, backyard, gardening for gran

3. Salvias are always festive and vibrant. Easy, almost no maintenance and certainly showy. From bedding plants to perennials, one can’t go wrong adding them into the garden.

4. In winter, the Namaqualand daisies as indigenous, waterwise and tough annuals for colour are a winner for older gardeners. Especially if on a limited budget, sowing seeds is an easy way to get colour over as bigger patch.

5. Roses, especially Iceberg, bring plenty of joy to older gardeners. Cutting stems to bring them indoors or to give a friend makes them even more special.

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grandams garden, life is a garden, greenery, begonias, clivias, daisies, tomatoes, geraniums,camellias, gaura, flowers, plnts, gca,beauty, LIAG

The Autumn Harvest

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It’s Autumn, and probably the last opportunity to soak up a lovely warm-ish day in South Africa before the winter chill sets in. Why not arrange some outdoor time on your patio with friends and family and surprise them by preparing some dishes, almost exclusively from your garden? Get your preserve recipes ready and let’s fill some bags with produce to share with those in need. 

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Pick me

A tasty host of herbs to be picked now include thyme, parsley, marjoram, and mint. Veggies like squash, zucchini, eggplants, peppers, chillies and, beetroot are also ready for the lunch buffet. Juicy fruit such as melon and tomato will be coming to an end now as well. 

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fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery

Harvesting tips

  • Prolong your lettuce harvest by only picking the larger, outer leaves each time, allowing the inner leaves to keep growing.
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fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
  • Tomatoes are ready to be picked when they’re uniformly red – just before they soften. Spray preventatively against various fungal diseases.
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fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
  • Lemons, depending on variety and care should be available to harvest pretty much all year round. Keep your tree well-watered, prune when necessary and protect it from pests to keep your bounty flowing.
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fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
  • Peppers are a Catch-22 harvest. If you want volume you should pick them frequently and before they mature since they’ll keep trying to produce viable seed but if it is flavour you’re after you need to let them reach maturity before harvesting knowing you’ll have less but tastier fruit.
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fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery

Preserve your bounty

Fresh produce has a limited shelf life but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your harvest for longer. Fill jars with homemade pasta sauces, relishes, and pickles that can be enjoyed for months after you’ve harvested your vegetables. There are some stunning preserve recopies out there, not to mention fire ciders and other health conics you can create.

Green-ovate your bathroom Bathroom Plants and Garden Checklist

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Green-ovate your bathroom with these moisture-loving, humidity-seeking plants.

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Indoor bathroom beauties

Landscaping indoors is a great way to both extend and create a theme. In addition, the bathroom doubles as a sweet little greenhouse for all your favourite indoor lovelies. Consider the style of the plant to inspire your container shape and colour choice. 

Tropical vibes:

Croton plants (Codiaeum variegatum) come in a large variety of foliage shapes and sizes as well as different colour variations. In general, the more variegated and colourful the croton plant, the more light it will need. They do not like the cold and will likely go through a shock period once brought home or moved. A tad fussy, but so worth it!

Greenovate, Bathroom, greenery, plants, vegetables, harvest, checklist, pests, apricots, apples, bamboo, beetroot, staghorn fern, croton plants, guzmania flower, thyme, rosemary, life is a garden, february
Greenovate, Bathroom, greenery, plants, vegetables, harvest, checklist, pests, apricots, apples, bamboo, beetroot, staghorn fern, croton plants, guzmania flower, thyme, rosemary, life is a garden, february

For good feng shui:

Sculptural and intriguing, the lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is a good choice for beginners. They enjoy filtered sunlight and a drop of liquid fertilizer once a month. You can even grow this plant in a vase of pebbles and water, just be sure to refresh the water every week. In addition, stalks can be trained to grow in special twists and turns. 

Striking and strange:

Guzmania flower bracts will captivate you all year round. As they tend to be top-heavy, place a stone at the bottom of containers. Plants prefer bright light, no direct sun, and an orchid mix soil base that is kept moist. Place them at eye level where you can enjoy their evergreen foliage and most unusual flowers.

Greenovate, Bathroom, greenery, plants, vegetables, harvest, checklist, pests, apricots, apples, bamboo, beetroot, staghorn fern, croton plants, guzmania flower, thyme, rosemary, life is a garden, february
Greenovate, Bathroom, greenery, plants, vegetables, harvest, checklist, pests, apricots, apples, bamboo, beetroot, staghorn fern, croton plants, guzmania flower, thyme, rosemary, life is a garden, february

Top tip: Remember to rotate your plants every two weeks for even, straight growth. 

Top tip: Avoid fungal disease and ensure fresh air circulation by always airing out the bathroom after showering/bathing. 

Try this:

Mount the staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) against a stunning piece of driftwood on a windowsill with indirect sun. As part of the epiphyte family, these Tillandsia (air plants) thrive by absorbing moisture through their leaves. 

Eat your heart out healthily Become a Botanical Boss this January

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New Year’s resolutions and gardening go hand in hand, especially considering the amount of healthy food we are able to grow in virtually any space. Whether you’re going for low-calorie, low-carb meals, or high fat intake and intermittent fasting, raw and purely organic or vegan – the harvest is on your side! Fuel your body for less with this mostly summer edible selection and grow guide from Life is a Garden. 

Top tip: If you missed last month’s article, click here for expert advice on how to set up a vertical hydroponic system for all-space produce growing: 

 

Calorie-conscious, nutrient-dense crops to grow

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Your farming responsibility 

As gardeners, we have a direct impact on our environment, which comes as a sweet blessing because this means we CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Sustainable water practices are an essential part of gardening and we cannot ignore how precious and finite this resource is. We saw the huge impact of day 0 in the Western Cape, and the rest of the country is not immune to this possibility either. Here are some simple and effective practices from our industry expert, Charles Oosthuizen from Tuberflora Nursery.

  • “MULCH, MULCH, MULCH - why are South Africans so hesitant about this practice? We see this in so many gardens - barren, hard-baked soil raked neatly clean on a weekly basis. This is not the way forward in terms of sustainable watering practices at all.
  • Drip irrigation is the future as it is cost-effective, low maintenance and saves a lot of water.
  • Water only in the late afternoon or early in the morning.
  • Water very well only once or twice a week instead of a little bit every day.
  • Add water-retaining gel to your pots and containers.
  • The more compost and other organic material in and on top of the soil the more water retention the soil will have.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Delicious Produce Trees & vines for homegrown abundance

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January’s topic: Eat your heart out healthily
Theme: Delicious produce-producing trees and vines 
Industry expert: Charles Oosthuizen
Grower: Tuberflora Nursery based in Muldersdrift, Gauteng: https://www.tuberflora.co.za/  

Life is a Garden met with expert grower, Tuberflora, to find out about the latest edible hybrids and delicious fruit tree varieties available this summer at your GCA Garden Centre. With serious water restrictions experienced across the country recently, are you equally mulch-serious yet? Come get some professional growing advice and choose the perfect produce-producing tree for gardens and patios of all sizes. 

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1. Your website lists such a juicy, crunchy, and zesty variety of produce-producing trees. Please give us your top 5 summer must-have fruit trees that our gardeners can look out for at their GCA Garden Centre this season. 

  • Pomegranates (King of fruits)
  • Figs (Queen of fruits)
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Citrus
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fruits, summer, wow, waermelon, blueberries, Kids, fun, tasty, tasty summer, heat, chop, blend, lollies, colour, cool, cold spring, greenery, life is a garden,

2. We love your selection of the more uncommon nut, berry, and fruit tree/plant varieties. For our gardeners looking to grow something special, which trees/plants would you recommend and are there any growing tips to be aware of? 

We are introducing wine grape varieties this year, and although they are small and seeded, they are edible. Grapes are water-wise and thrive in hot, dry weather conditions.

We also sell special heirloom varieties of figs and pomegranates. In fact, Giving Trees grow the biggest selection of figs and pomegranates in the country and their aim is to preserve the huge gene pool of varieties for future generations. Figs and pomegranates are special spiritual plants as they bring good energy to your garden. Figs and pomegranates are tolerant of hot, dry weather conditions as well once they are established. Persimmons are tough, easy to grow and very rewarding.

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fruits, summer, wow, waermelon, blueberries, Kids, fun, tasty, tasty summer, heat, chop, blend, lollies, colour, cool, cold spring, greenery, life is a garden,

3. We recently experienced water restrictions across the country. Are there any water-wise growing/watering methods and practices you could recommend that allow consumers to sustainably grow food?

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).

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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).

Self-parenting plants Botanical Boss

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botanical boss, aloe, plant parenting, sel watering, greenery, life is a garden, gardening, colours, plants, DIY, watering,upcycling, water, growing, hack

We know that the struggle is real when planning a trip – who will look after your plant children and will they get enough water? As such, Life is a Garden would like to help all the plant moms and dads with some DIY upcycling watering hacks and drought-hardy plant picks that will help your garden self-parent while you enjoy a much-deserved holiday. 

 

Short trip bottle watering (outdoors - 3 to 4 days)

  • Suitable for: Larger beds (use multiple bottles) or containers in full sun to semi-shade.
  • Equipment needed: Empty wine bottles or any sturdy bottle with a small mouth. 
  • Preparation: Ensure there is space to place the bottle that won’t damage foliage or roots
  • Method: Fill the bottle with water and then, while covering the opening with your thumb, flip it upside-down and quickly shove the bottle near the base of the plant (removing your thumb just before). Push the neck down to make sure the bottle is secure and reinforce with stones if needed. 

Troubleshooting: If you see that the water is not moving or perhaps your soil is very clay-like, glue a mesh screen over the mouth to prevent soil from clogging the bottle opening.

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botanical boss, aloe, plant parenting, sel watering, greenery, life is a garden, gardening, colours, plants, DIY, watering,upcycling, water, growing, hack

Longer trip bottle dripper (outdoors - 4 to 7 days)

  • Suitable for: Larger beds (use multiple bottles) or containers in full sun to semi-shade.
  • Equipment needed: Plastic water/juice bottles (size dependent on your area/container) and a drill with a thin drill bit. 
  • Preparation: Dig a hole near the plant that will be large enough to bury the bottle up to its neck, take care to avoid damaging roots. 
  • Method: Drill three holes at the bottle of the plastic bottle and 3 holes on each side then pop it into the prepared hole (add more holes for large bottles). Gently level the soil around the bottle and fill it with water.

Hydroponics for the home gardener Sassy, soilless gardening

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Hydoponics, hydroponic growing, vertical growing, vertical farming, gardening, life is a garden, greenery, fruits, vegetables, water, soilless, tank

Make a statement and make a difference, save space and maximise your harvest – how? Hydroponic farming, baby! Life is a Garden has turned up the sass meter this month with expert insight from Timothy Damons, an equally high-spirited soilless enthusiast with a passion for LIFE. Debunk some hydroponic misconceptions, learn how to set up and maintain a system, and be inspired by the flowers and food you can grow. Let’s dig in, or rather, let’s pump up!  

November’s topic: Soilless, sassy gardening
Theme: Hydroponics for the home gardener  
Industry expert: Timothy Damons based in Saldanha Bay on the West Coast  

1. We love finding new members from the eco-tribe! Please share your story with us: What lead you to hydroponics? How did your journey with this growing method begin?  

I adore nature and have always loved gardening. I love being out in the open, taking in the fresh morning air and witnessing all the weird and wonderful things that planet Earth has to offer. Seeing plants growing into something beautiful and nutritious gives me tremendous joy. When I left the corporate world in 2017, I decided to take a hydroponics course with a well-known hydroponicist named John Sandison. I chose hydroponics because I wanted to understand how to grow good quality fruit and vegetables in an environmentally friendly, sustainable way. I also lived in a big city at the time and generally, space for gardening is limited. I wanted to explore how people can grow edibles in the city without the large-scale footprint that our commercial farming methods have. Vertical farming is truly the answer to this conundrum and that is why I decided to pursue it.  

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Hydoponics, hydroponic growing, vertical growing, vertical farming, gardening, life is a garden, greenery, fruits, vegetables, water, soilless, tank

2. The system you have built sounds very interesting and easy for a home gardener to set up. Please give us an overview of your vertical recirculation hydroponic growing station.

Bokashi Bucket DIY

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Bokashi bucket, diy, compost, fruits, colurs, greenery, food, plants, planting, kids, flowers, colours, life is a garden

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
  1. 2x medium to large buckets with matching, tight-fitting lids (buckets need to fit inside each other)
  2. 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
  3. A drill or utility knife for making drainage holes
  4. A brick
  5. Kitchen waste
Bokashi bucket, diy, compost, fruits, colurs, greenery, food, plants, planting, kids, flowers, colours, life is a garden
Bokashi bucket, diy, compost, fruits, colurs, greenery, food, plants, planting, kids, flowers, colours, life is a garden
Assembly

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.

Bokashi bucket, diy, compost, fruits, colurs, greenery, food, plants, planting, kids, flowers, colours, life is a garden
Bokashi bucket, diy, compost, fruits, colurs, greenery, food, plants, planting, kids, flowers, colours, life is a garden

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.

SANA’s 2022 Garden Centre winners! SA’s Best Garden Centres for 2022

gca, winner, nursery, plants, life is a garden, bellville, greenery, competition, colour, beauty

South Africa’s Nursery Association (SANA) hosts an annual GCA Garden Centre competition to present to you, dear gardeners, the cream of the crop! Garden centres and home store garden departments are measured against a set of criteria aimed at assessing and improving product standards and professional service in the industry. Here are the best garden centres in SA! Did your favourite make it?

Stodels Nurseries Bellville – Garden Centre of the year 

 

Address: Eversdale Rd, Bellville 

 

From humble beginnings, Stodels Garden Centres have developed into a household name in gardening in the Western Cape. From the outset, Stodels Garden Centres focused on providing their customers with excellent service, top quality products and affordable prices. Fifty years later, the trio of service, quality and affordability has built a respected and much-loved brand. 

 

Originating from a mail order catalogue and door to door sales, the Stodels brand has grown to its current complement of seven award-winning garden centres today, two of which are based in Gauteng. The company was started by Mr Robert Stodel, in August 1962, when he started selling flower bulbs door to door and from the Parade in Cape Town. A mail order bulb catalogue soon followed and within a few years, Stodels Flower Bulbs became the biggest flower bulb retailer in South Africa, posting nearly 600 000 bulb catalogues to Cape households and importing up to 20 million bulbs from Holland every year.

 

 

Find out more: https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/stodels-bellville/   

Stodels. gca, winner, nursery, plants, life is a garden, bellville, greenery, competition, colour, beauty
Stodels. gca, winner, nursery, plants, life is a garden, bellville, greenery, competition, colour, beauty
Stodels. gca, winner, nursery, plants, life is a garden, bellville, greenery, competition, colour, beauty
Stodels. gca, winner, nursery, plants, life is a garden, bellville, greenery, competition, colour, beauty

Garden Pavilion Eckards – Runner up 

 

Address: 101 Boeing Rd East, Bedfordview, Germiston 

 

Eckards is a well-established garden centre that received a new lease on life in 1993. Along the way it became a Garden Pavilion and has continued to move with the times, maintaining a traditional feel with modern influences. Eckards prides itself on a high level of service, quality plants and helping gardeners and growers alike.

Plant Moms Botanical Boss

life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water
life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

Plant Mom Addition 

May is for the plant moms! Embrace becoming a botanical boss and dig your way into the world of plant parenting with confidence. Celebrate Mother’s Day with a new addition to the family or gift mommy dearest something to help with that empty nest. Follow Life is a Garden’s guide to successful indoor gardening.

life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

Seasoned plant moms

If you’re looking for a plant that says “this isn’t my first child”, these three high-maintenance favourites will glamorously show off your expert parenting skills. 

  1. Moth orchid

Tantrums about: could be anything but especially overwatering.  

Bribe it with: patience, loose bark potting mix, indirect sunlight, humidity, scheduled watering. 

  1. Maidenhair fern

Tantrums about: not being able to watch you shower. 

Bribe it with: misting, dappled light, and humidity. Also, some time outdoors where it can see the sunset. 

  1. Calathea

Tantrums about: being the only child and open spaces.

Bribe it with: bright, indirect sun, well-draining soil, lots of friends to increase humidity, and a shallow container (short-root syndrome). 

life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

First-time plant parents 

When gifting or homing a plant as the first indoor offspring, go for these three easy greens that don’t always need to be the centre of attention. 

  1. Snake plant 

May give glares when: irritated by too many water kisses. 

Give pocket money and: only one or two waterings during winter and almost any light condition. 

 

  1. Spider plant 

May give glares when: it’s too hot to play inside  

Give pocket money and: well-drained soil, indirect light, occasional pruning of playful spiderettes.

  1. Pothos (Epipremnum)

May give glares when: grounded and unable to go anywhere. 

Give pocket money and: a hanging basket or trellis, a little pruning, and a chance to dry out between watering. 

 

Indoor growing guide

Regardless of what you are planning to grow, here are our top tips for successfully raising your bundles of joy indoors. 

Biodiversity – All things that Fly and Crawl

Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden
Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden

Life is a Garden invites you to become eco-custodians to South Africa’s heralding wildlife, right from your backyard! Reap the rich rewards and fall in love with our vibrant biodiversity that flies, swarms, and crawls with life.

Local is the lekkerste: Growing indigenous plants means more habitat creation for our local wildlife, while also increasing our native plant species reduced by urbanisation and deforestation. SA’s critters and greens have a lekker advantage of being naturally adaptive to our environment, meaning less maintenance and more life in your garden!

Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden

Bring in biodiversity by

  • Planting for pollinators: Attract bees, butterflies, birds, and eco-barometers like frogs and lizards by planting salvia, borage, lavender, and antirrhinum.
    • Companion planting: Get your edibles elated, your flowers flourishing and seeds spreading by adding pentas, echinacea, marigolds and sunflowers to the veggie patch. 
    • Organic pest-control: Naturally repel a variety of pests by planting basil (for flies), citronella grass and rosemary (for mozzies), as well as chrysanthemum (for spider mites).
    • Helpful predators: Avoiding pesticides attract natural predators such as ladybugs, spiders, dragonflies and praying mantises who make quick work of mealybugs, aphids, scale, and more.
    • Wonderful water: Give your garden critters a drink with water features and birdbaths. Enjoy watching all your favourite friends come to visit. 
    • House wildlife: Install bird, bat, bee, and owl houses around your garden for fewer rodents, mozzies, and locusts. Become a beekeeper and harvest your own honey too! 
    • Indulge in indigenous: Clivias, vygies, African lily (Agapanthus spp.), crane flowers and salvias attract colourful indigenous flyers for your viewing pleasure. 
  • Evade the invasive: Remove invasive plant species from your garden. Aliens may overconsume water, negatively transform the land, and hinder our local biodiversity. 

Happy soil = happy plants: Make sure you’ve got good drainage, use compost, mulch up, and fertilise.

Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden
Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden

Remember to visit your favourite GCA Garden Centre where you can purchase all sorts of wildlife accessories and gorgeous gogga-attracting plants.

Poppies and Petunias Balcony Besties

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As the sun sets to welcome the evening sky in all its colourful glory, sit back and relax on the balcony with some potted poppies and petunias for company. These lovelies are the perfect choice for all-year-round charm and vibrance. Here is Life is a Garden’s guide on how to successfully grow and care for your new patio and balcony besties.

Cute petunias in containers

 

Petunias are available in a range of colours, each as bright as the next. Position them in a mostly sunny spot and ensure they are never completely dry. Perform the finger test to see when to water petunias as you would rather want to underwater than overwater these babes. 

 

Soil:

Petunias require well-draining, aerated and slightly acidic soil. Potting soil mix works well, especially if you combine it with a little peat moss to lower pH levels. 

 

Fertiliser:

These ladies love lots of food. Most potting mixes have the right amount of nutrients but to be sure, use a slow-release fertiliser after planting. Alternatively, compost will give Petunias the feeding they need, just remember to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the soil’s drainage abilities. 

 

Deadheading:

This encourages plants to direct their energy into creating more flowers, rather than wasting it on already fading blooms. Deadheading also keeps your plant looking neat and tidy. Simply remove flowers that are beyond their prime by pinching them off from just below their base.

 

Perfecting potted poppies 

 

Poppies are a timeless classic. They might not be the easiest flower to grow but their vibrant colour and sweetness is certainly worth the extra care. Poppy varieties that grow well in pots include oriental poppies, Iceland poppies, California poppies, and Shirley poppies. Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule) provide an incredible, colourful show during winter.

 

Planting:

Poppies dislike being transplanted.

Trendy Very Peri

trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple

The Pantone colour of the year is Very Peri – a courageous, statement-making violet-blue that generates creativity and inspiration in the garden. Cultivate some confidence and curiosity this autumn by incorporating planting a striking variety of purple Veri Peri stunners. Here is Life is a Garden’s grow guide for 2022. 

 

Eternal purple bliss

According to the trend-setters at Pantone, “17-3938 Very Peri is a dynamic periwinkle blue hue with a vivifying violet-red undertone that blends the faithfulness and constancy of blue with the energy and excitement of red”. In addition, this colour represents:

  • Newness
  • Mending and healing  
  • Courageous creativity 
  • Imaginative expression 
  • The power of manifestation 

With such passionate connotations connected to this colour, there really is only one thing left to do – GCA Garden Centre here we come! 

 

trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple

Elated tasty edibles  

Did you know? The health benefits of purple food include anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Anthocyanidins are responsible for the purple pigment in our edibles and also helps to boost the immune system. 

  • Fruit: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, red grapes, figs, plums, and passion fruit. 
  • Veggies: Beetroot, eggplant, red cabbage, purple cauliflower, and sweet potatoes. 

 

Idyllic indoors for 2022

Did you know? Having shades of purple plants around the house helps to invoke peace and happiness. There’s a lot going on in the world, so if you’re looking to reap a little more optimism for the new year, grow these:

  • Calatheas, cyclamen, orchids, and rubber tree plant (Ficus elastica).

 

Top tip: Remember to check the sowing and growing season chart on all seed packets, seedling trays, and pots for the best time to introduce your new purple splendours to the garden. 

 

trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple

The most brilliant bulbs

Did you know? When looking at these Veri Peri inspired bulbs, the warmer red-purples are seen as more energetic to the human eye, while the subdued blue-purples are seen as peaceful and contemplative.

Tiptop Topiary

Topiary garden plant flowers shrubs greenery trim design environment april
Tiptop Topiary

Show off your champion gardening skills with stunning topiary plants, pruned to sophisticated perfection. Follow Life is a Garden’s topiary style guide and get the look this autumn!  

Top tip: Most evergreen shrubs can be trained to grow into any shape or direction. All you need is some imagination and a good set of shears.  

Get the look

Lollipop: Choose a tall, bushy plant with a strong main stem. Stake the plant well to help it grow upright. Start shaping the head by cutting back stems to about 2 to 3 nodes and clearing the main stem of all other growth. Plant picks: Abutilon, anisodontea, brunfelsia, and Murraya exotica.

Poodle-cut: Go for a slim but bushy plant and stake it securely. Visualise where the dense leaf growth will form the three ‘poodle-cut’ spheres. Shape your balls beginning at the base and clear all other growth. Plant picks: Duranta 'Sheena's Gold', cherry laurel, Cypress, and pittosporum.

Spirals: Choose a slim conifer and challenge yourself with this design. You will need a long, strong stake around which the plant will be twisted, creating the spirals. Complete the look by cleaning around the twists to maintain their spiral shape. Plant picks: Juniperus scopulorum ‘Skyrocket’ and all other pencil conifers. 

Try these topiary styles: Parterres, mazes, labyrinths, knot gardens, espalier, frames, hedging, shapes, and cute animals. 

Topiary colours April garden gardening plants shrubs flowers sow trim
Topiary garden plant flowers shrubs greenery trim design environment april

More terrific topiary plants

Foliage-dense for pruning: Duranta gold, syzygium paniculatum, ficus varieties, ligustrum undulatum, as well as lemon and lime trees. Feed plants monthly with a 2:1:2 fertiliser and mulch around the base with organic plant material. 

Flowering bushes for shaping: Solanum, fuchsias, freylinia, hibiscus, and westringia. Feed plants monthly with a 3:1:6 fertiliser. As soon as they start shooting new branches, cut them back to give them a fuller, more compact shape.

Try these topiary styles: Parterres, mazes, labyrinths, knot gardens, espalier, frames, hedging, shapes, and cute animals. 

April in the garden Everything is awesome in April

April In the Garden
April Checklist Gardening Greenery Flowers Plants Colour Health

Happy second month of autumn, gardeners! Although it’s getting colder, the landscape is truly warmed up by the rich colour pallet around us. With many plants going into hibernation, cool-season flowers are only just waking up and getting ready to treat us to their colourful charm. It’s time to sort out some pre-winter maintenance and prep the veggie patch for soups and stews.  

Awesome flowers to plant 
  • Towards the end of April is the perfect time to plant striking indigenous bulbs like watsonia, freesia, ixia, chincherinchee and Sparaxis. For non-indigenous bulbs, try daffodils, irises, tulips, and hyacinths.
  • For colour and charm, go for primula, poppy, pansy and gazania seedlings, as well as perennials such as lupins, Shasta daisies, and aquilegias. 

Planting new roses now will allow them to ‘settle in’ during winter and gain a head start in spring. Continue to spray your roses against fungal diseases such as mildew and black spot.

Cold Winter Autumn Hyacinths season garden gardening coulour plant flower life is a garden
chincherinchee flowers plants garden autumn april greenery
Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden
aquilegias.

Awesome plants to sow 

  • Flowers that can still be sown are osteospermum, mesembryanthemums, winter scatter packs and the indigenous scatter pack mix. Individual varieties include Virginian stocks, calendula, and Felicia.
  • Veggies to be sown now include peas, parsnips, carrots, onion Texas Grano (short day variety), beetroot Bulls Blood, and broccoli.
  • For a winter production of healthy herbs, start sowing seeds in windowsill containers. High light is all that’s needed for a good crop with a reasonable indoor temperature. 

Top tip: Guard against leaving containers on windowsills overnight as cold glass may harm plants.

Awesome to spray 

  • Aphids will still be around this time of the year, although their numbers will be less than in spring. Give your flowers a close inspection and if there are still a few around control with Plant Protector.
    • Snails and slugs devastate leaves on plants and ruin their appearance. Snailban and Snailflo are just two of the products which you can purchase from your GCA Garden Centre as a solution.