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.
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)
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.
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?
The exciting thrill of a successful watermelon harvest doesn’t end at picking your prized fruit at just the right time. Have you ever wondered how to hero this bootylicious edible even further? These creative carving ideas and mouth-watering recipes from Life is a Garden are sure to help you get all the WOW’s from your watermelon this summer (with no added sugar and vegan friendliness)!
Frozen coco-melon lollies
Ingredients: Fresh watermelon and any other soft ripe fruit of your choice (try berries, kiwi or banana) and a can of coconut milk.
Equipment: A blender and ice lolly moulds for the freezer.
Method: First, blend your second fruit choice, such as blackberries, and fill a quarter of the lolly mould. Pop in the freezer to set. Then, blend your watermelon (remove as many seeds as possible) together with the coconut milk and pour the mix into the mould (on top of your frozen berries) and freeze immediately. Enjoy your double-coloured, homemade lollies!
Try this: Add a handful of fresh garden herbs when blending your bottom fruit mix for a pop of surprise flavour at the end.
Fancy-pants punch bowl
Ingredients: A whole fresh watermelon, a bottle of soda water, lemon/lime slices, crushed ice, and mint leaves.
Equipment: A sharp knife, large spoon, blender, and ladle for serving
Method: Cut your watermelon in half so that you have two halves that can stand on their own. Hollow out the inside flesh and pop all the goodness into the blender, give it a whizz. Then, pour your watermelon blend back into its shell, slowly add the soda water followed by the lemon/lime slices, and then the crushed ice. Give it a gentle stir and add mint leaves to garnish – voila!
Try this: Add a splash of gin or rum to the punch and a tot of passionfruit cordial as an adult’s only option.
The heat is on this Feb and that means three things for the summer gardener:
- Mulch-up to the max
- Smart water-wise gardening
- Exciting heat-loving plants to grow
Life is a Garden has all you need to help you beat the heat and ensure your beloved plant children not only survive, but thrive in our African summer sun. Take care of your lawn, feed and spray, sow and grow, and keep your containers hydrated.
What’s so magical about mulch? Leaves bark chips, macadamia shells, compost, and pebbles are all considered mulch. The magic of mulch is that it keeps the soil and plants’ roots cool, thereby decreasing evaporation and increasing water retention. That’s less water consumption for the Earth and less time spent on watering for you! #winwin
To sow: Spinach, globe artichokes, parsley, carrots, radish, cauliflower, celery, cabbage, oriental vegetables, sweet basil, coriander, nasturtium, and flat-leaf parsley.
To plant: Bush beans, onions, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beetroot, and Swiss chard.
To tend to: Remove summer vegetables that are coming to the end of their productive cycle to make space for the next seasonal harvest. Add compost to veggie beds and make sure your soil is nice and loose, and reloaded with nutrition.
To prep: It’s time to prepare beds for winter and spring crops. Plant your first crop of seed potatoes for an early winter harvest.
To remember: Don’t forget about companion planting as your secret pest and pollination weapon. Increase your crop yield and utilise the bad-bug-repelling power of flowers. Learn more here.
Primetime babes: Bougainvilleas, hemerocallis (daylilies), variegated and green foliage plants are showing off their charm this month. Yours may need some TLC if they’re not popping by now.
Sweetheart sowing: Amazingly fragrant and fuss-free sweet peas are ready to be sown from seed packets available for your nursery.