Posts Tagged ‘ herbs ’

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

Posted on: March 20th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi
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

Hydroponics And Beyond Workshop at HomeGrowers Edenvale

Posted on: March 20th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi

Live and on site at HomeGrowers Edenvale
Welcome to another incredible HomeGrowers Hydroponic workshop.
During this workshop you will be exposed to the following:
1. What is Hydroponics?
2. Why hydroponics?
3. What can I grow in Hydroponics?
4. Is Hydroponics for me?
5. What are my options when considering a hydroponic system?
6. How do I manage my hydroponic system?
7. How to manage my nutrients and pH levels.
This workshop is offered FREE OF CHARGE.
We will cover most of the systems available from HomeGrowers so that you’re able to get a real life view of how herbs and vegetables are grown, produced and harvested.
RSVP
Contact: 061 103 7121

Taste n Tour Herbs at HomeGrowers Edenvale

Posted on: March 19th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi
Wow. Let HomeGrowers of Edenvale take you on a tour of our magical herbs. Experience scent and taste like no other. Learn how best to use these herbs in your every day life.
We will be offering a FREE taste sample.
This workshop is held FREE of charge.

Get your garden into shape January Checklist

Posted on: December 7th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

Get your garden into shape and looking snazzy for the new year. There’s a lot to look forward to and a huge selection of flowers and edibles to be planted now. A little maintenance goes a long way in neatening up your garden’s appearance, so be sure to check out our handy hacks.

 

Sow a salad

What better way to get your garden and health back on track then by sowing nutritious leafy greens for those summer salads. The following edibles can be sown now:

  • Lettuce
  • Rocket
  • Spinach and Swiss Chard
  • Beetroot (baby leaves are delish)
  • Kale

 

Top tip: Leafy greens are very easy to grow and will reward gardeners best if you pick the leaves regularly and pinch out flower buds later in the season. Be on the lookout for cutworm, snail and slug damage to plants.

Lettuce
Swiss chard
Beetroot
Kale
Plant a paradise

January is always a good time to plant up areas with colourful annual seedlings. The heat is on so brighten up beds by planting these sun-worshippers.

  • Salvias flower throughout summer and autumn. Their upward-pointing sword-like blooms range from fire engine red to purple, deep blue and other powdery colour variations. They are waterwise and easy to grow in pots too.
  • Snapdragons offer striking colours and multiple blooms that stand to attention and are simply charming. Dwarf varieties are great as pot or hanging basket fillers. Keep plants moist while young and they’ll reward you by continuing to flower into winter.
  • Petunias don’t need special treatment or a lot of water either. Flowering increases as they grow, putting on a spectacular show of colour when mature. Petunias love the mild winter months too and will carry on growing in this time.
Plant Salvias
Plant Snapdragons
Plant Petunias
Plant petunia night sky
Indoor peace parade
  • The peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallesii) can grow in low-light conditions, which effectively means that it can thrive almost anywhere in the home. It has large, glossy green leaves, is very forgiving when not pampered, and has large, flag-like white blooms that brighten any room with an air of sophistication.
  • The peace in the home plant (Soleirolia) requires bright light and regular watering. They can be combined with other plants in a mixed bowl, will be happy in a terrarium, or simply simply thrive in a pot on their own.
Spathiphyllum Peace lily
Peace in the home
Pest alert!

Be on the lookout for yellow patches appearing suddenly on your lawn from early January. This is a sure sign of the night-time foraging lawn caterpillar (also known as army worm). To be sure, place a moist bag or cloth on the patch in the evening and check underneath in the morning. If it is caused by army worms, they would be crawling under the cloth thinking it is still night.  Ask your local GCA Garden Centre for the correct treatment method.

 

Power up plants

A good option is a 8:1:5 fertiliser or if you prefer the organic alternative, they are both available. Your garden and pots will benefit tremendously from a January booster. Remember to fertilise between the plants on moist soil and to water over the fertiliser afterwards.

 

Pruning and rose care
  • A light summer pruning is recommended for roses in January. We know that it feels difficult to prune a plant that may still be flowering but it will help to extend quality flowering into winter. Cut back stems by up to one-third of their length.
  • Continue using a cocktail rose spray i.e. a combination of a fungicide and insecticide every two weeks to avoid leaf drop. Fertilise monthly and add mulch or top up the existing mulch. Now all that is left to do is to continue deep watering and enjoy your blooming success over the coming months.

 

Shaping up

Give your Fuchsias a facelift by cutting back the stem tips after flowering. By cutting the stems back up to 5 or 10cm from the tip, you will allow it to bush out and give the plant more vigour to see the season through.

Lawn Caterpillar Army worm
Fuchsia
Inland gardening maintenance
  • Mulch to beat the heat, to save water, and to give the plants a cooler root run. A good, thick layer around the plants will do wonders for them.
  • Keep a lookout for fungus diseases encouraged by several rainy days in a row. Take samples of leaves from any affected plants (in a zip-lock bag) to your local GCA Garden Centre and get a remedy to spray with.
  • The rainy season is upon us. Try to harvest as much rainwater as possible and even consider joining a pipe from a roof gutter outlet into the pool when it requires a top-up.

 

Coastal gardening maintenance
  • Plant more chives, oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage, and coriander. Remember to plant your first crop of potato seeds for an early winter harvest.
  • Remove or prune back low branches of trees if more sunlight is required for lawn or bedding plants below trees.

 

Splurge on your beloved garden a little this January and help get it back into shape. Garden centres are stocked with amazing succulents and seasonal gems for you to sneak home. Have a flower-filled summer and show-stopping start to your year. Life is a Garden, so dig in and indulge!

The super-fun summer garden December Checklist

Posted on: November 10th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

It’s holiday season, and a jolly good reason to celebrate! Live life to the fullest surrounded by the ones you love and a gorgeous garden to host them all in. Life is a Garden’s got a fully loaded, super fun summer entertaining and planting guide to get you in the spirit of things this December.

Warm welcomes

Wet vines from the garden can be transformed into gorgeous decorative wreaths, which you can secure onto your front door. Try ivy varieties, grapevine, and big num num (Carissa macrocarpa) with ornamental grass strands that’ll maintain colour for longer too. Add to the friendly vibes by adding a textured welcome mat available from your GCA Garden Centre.

Try this: Once you’ve gotten a solid run from your wreath, tie it onto a tree branch and hang some birdseed feeders from it.

Christmas Wreath
Christmas Wreath
Eternal sunshine

Solar lights are the best-kept fun secrets this summer. Light up your pathways with lanterns, accentuate your trees with spiralled fairy lights, and make the patio pop with spotlights highlighting your gorgeous container beauts. Solar jars are also a sure win, to which you can add glass stones for extra sparkle. Solar jars look super magical when added to fairy gardens and scattered around beds.

Always lit tip: Wrap battery-operated fairy lights around your front door DIY wreath for added evening ambience as guests arrive.

Solar lights
Fairy lights
Inquisitive kids

Keep the kids entertained and educated with a ‘Find that bug’ quest. You can easily create a printable worksheet for your kids and their friends listing the goggas to be discovered in your garden. Alternatively, there are several local apps to be downloaded, which kids can use to identify their discoveries. Why not get them all to give a fun little presentation about the bugs afterwards!

 

Happy house plants

Consider playing with poinsettia (Christmas star) and amaryllis (Christmas flower) as part of your festive décor prep. Fill your house with cut hydrangea flowers (Christmas rose) if you have lots in the garden. Pick mature flowers (all the little florets must be open) and then scrape about 5cm of bark off the bottom of the stem. Leave them overnight up to their necks in cold water for max bloom power before you arrange them in vases.

Indoor garden tip: Make sure your windowsill/countertop crops are stocked with lekker herbs for braai and cocktail garnish. Pots and seedling trays are available from your GCA Garden Centre.

Poinsettia
Amarylis
Hydrangeas
Mature flowers
Good time edibles

Plant: Melons, sweet potatoes, cucumber, eggplants, peppers and the last tomatoes for the season.

Harvest: You can now finally feast on the watermelons and sweet melons sowed in August. A large watermelon is ripe if it feels a little bumpy when you stroke it. When sweet melons are ripe, a small crack appears at the point where the fruit attaches to the vine.

Tomatoes
Watermelon
Pests NOT invited to the party

Dash down to your GCA Garden Centre for effective pest control solutions and don’t allow any uninvited guests to your super-fun summer.

Look out for:

  • Scale on citrus trees
  • Orange Dog caterpillar on citrus trees
  • Tip-wilters on the soft tips of roses, dahlias and abelias
  • Amaryllis caterpillar on crinums and other bulbous plants
  • Mildew on roses, dahlias and cleomes
  • Whitefly on beans and fuchsias
  • Rust on hollyhocks
  • Pear slug on peaches, cherries prunus and ornamentals
  • Outbreak of red spider mite during hot, dry weather

 

Quirky container combos

Plant these instant annuals for pots dripping with life, colour, and nutrition. Seedlings and seedling trays are available from your GCA Garden Centre now.

  • Tomato, parsley and petunia
  • Basil, eggplant and petunia
  • Euphorbia (soft white) with red petunias
Petunias
Parsley
Basil
Eggplant
Red Petunias
Euphorbia hypericifolia
Fun-filled, sunny gift ideas for gardeners
  1. A birdbath, bird feeder and a packet of wild birdseed.
  2. A potting bench for dad.
  3. A garden bench for ouma.
  4. Trays of flowering seedlings and a bag of compost.
  5. A concrete rabbit or frog and other garden ornaments.
  6. Instead of the conventional festive stocking, use gumboots, garden clogs, or a watering can.
  7. Wrap gardening gloves, seed packets and a trowel in a flowery tea towel.
  8. For the diligent weeder, a good choice would be a kneeling pad and good quality hand tools.
  9. A garden diary or calendar so that the gardener can plan and record seasonal plantings and blooming habits of plants.
  10. Top edibles to use as gifts are chillies. There is a wide variety available from hot to very hot. One thing to remember is that some of them can reach up to 2m tall and so are not ornamental. Also think about ‘berry delicious’ in the form of strawberries and blueberries.
Garden Ornaments
Garden Chair

Smash out your holiday in the sunshine and have THE funnest summer garden parties! Life is a Garden, and it’s always better when shared with family and friends.

Down to Earth Feature Diamond Sponsor - Culterra

Posted on: October 20th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments
Getting to grips with when & where to use what soil…

When it comes to gardening and growing, “down to earth” is not just a compliment - it’s a necessity! We all know that healthy gardens start with healthy soil, but different plants also have different requirements. Do you know which bag of soil to select when faced with the wide range available at your local garden centre? Don’t worry - we have a few simple tips to help you get your “soil’s worth” next time you invest time and money in your garden!

You’re starting from seed …

Use Professional Germination Mix.

This lightly blended, soilless mix is carefully formulated for optimal seed germination. Fill your trays with this delicate mix, sow your seed and watch the space!

 

You’re planting out seedlings …

Use Seedling Mix.

Transplant seedlings from Germination Mix directly into Seedling Mix for cavity trays, flower boxes or window boxes. This will ensure that you grow healthy and resilient transplants with strong root systems.

Germination mix
Seedling Mix
You’re planting lawn …

Use Compost. Dig compost into your existing garden to enrich the earth before laying down instant lawn or sowing your choice of grass seed.

 

You’re feeding an existing lawn …

Use Lawndressing. Usually done in spring, scarify your lawn and apply a layer of organic lawndressing to transform your dull grass into a lush meadow of green!

 

You’re adjusting soil levels …

Use Topsoil. A good quality topsoil is best for filling holes in your lawn or adding height to flower beds. It can also be used in large raised beds, mixed with compost, to create better growing conditions.

You’re planting in a container …

Use Professional Potting Mix

This is the “just right” soil of the gardening world. It’s suitable for most plants so fill your pots and plant directly. Potting soil has added fertilizer and the correct amount of raw material to maintain the ideal water retention/ drainage balance and retain enough water to keep your plants healthy.

 

You’re planting new plants in the garden …

Use Compost or Landscapers Mix. Use either compost mixed with existing garden soil, or landscapers mix - a ready-to-use topsoil/ compost blend. Both contain organic materials and add beneficial microbes, micronutrients and macronutrients to your soil.

 

You’re planting acid-loving plants like Fynbos, Azaleas, Camellias and Hydrangeas …

Use Acid Compost. Before planting out acid-loving plants be sure to mix acid compost into your garden soil. Use this combination for acid-loving pot plants as well. For seasonal feeding simply mix acid compost into the top layer of soil around the plants and water well.

 

You’re planting out veggies … 

Use Compost.

Vegetables require large amounts of nutrient-dense soil to produce healthy edibles. Mix a generous amount of compost into your vegetable patch each year. Consider adding a little Kraal Manure and Vermicompost to produce an award-winning crop!

Potting Soil
Herb mix
You’re repotting your beloved Orchid …

Use Orchid Mix. This is usually done every one to two years, after flowering. Remove the plant, knock out any of the old mix and cut away dead roots. Then replant directly into Orchid Mix which contains organic fertilizer to nourish the annual bloom, as well as charcoal to maintain a moist but healthy root environment.

 

You’re planting succulents …

Use Succulent Mix

Succulents require a well-drained medium to thrive. Plant your aloes, crassulas and other succulents directly into this mix for the best results. Remember to provide plenty of sunlight and do not over-water.

Orchid Mix
Orchids
Succulent Mix
Succulent
You’re planting herbs …

Use Herb Mix. Whether you’re planting herbs into pots, containers or boxes, this is your top choice. Plant seedlings directly into filled containers. The extra fertilizer in Herb Mix will enable your herbs to flourish for at least three months before you’ll need to supplement with liquid fertilizer.

 

You’re planting Bonsais …

Use Bonsai Mix. Due to a lack of space and nutrients, bonsais need repotting fairly regularly. Do this before the growing season and use Bonsai Mix to resupply your tree with essential nutrients, while still ensuring sufficient drainage. After three months start to liquid fertilize or top with a slow release fertilizer.

Herbs
Herbs
Bonsai mix
To check out Culterra’s complete range of products visit their website: http://culterra.co.za

Goeie Goggas and Glam Growing November Checklist

Posted on: October 19th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

How delicious it is to be in full spring swing! The November garden is a thrilling spectacle of goeie goggas and the perfect season to begin glam growing. Flyers and pollinators are your best friends (for free), with the lacewing bug leading the pest control pack. Also, we’re really spoilt for choice in the edible sow zone with some extravagant crops to show off with. Pink is popping at the moment too, so be sure to check out Life is a Garden’s selection of blush-worthy trees.

 

Eco-warrior wall of fame: Lacewings

Dynamite comes in a small package with these extraordinary helpers. They are excellent additions to the garden for pest control and prevention. Adults feed on pollen, nectar, and honeydew, while the larvae are active predators of soft-bodied pests such as aphids, thrips, whitefly, leafhoppers, spider mites and larvae, caterpillars, nymphs, mealybugs and more! After feasting for 2-3 weeks, lacewing larvae spin a cocoon and emerge as adults 10-14 days later. After such a carnivorous upbringing, adults lacewings are converted to veganism, enjoying nectar and helping us by pollinating crops.

Wow-worthy facts

  • Known also as aphid lions or wolves, lacewings can gobble up to 100 nasty aphids in a day.
  • Grey lacewing larvae are super smart oaks! They camouflage by carrying devoured prey carcasses on their backs.
  • Adult lacewings have ears at the base of their wings, allowing them to hear bats’ echolocation signals. They avoid being eaten by closing their wings and appearing smaller.
  • Lacewing larvae kill their prey by injecting lethal digestive juices into their meal, dissolving their insides, and then providing our hero with a nutritious, sappige smoothie – lekker!

 

Welcome lacewings by  
  • Planting indigenous.
  • Offering a variety of pollen and nectar-rich flowers to choose from (suggestions below).
  • Learn how to identify them to avoid accidental harm to these heroes.
  • Providing a safe hibernation home during the winter, such as log piles and dense hedges (check out our Hedge-tech article here for inspiration that’s shearously worth it).
Green Lacewing
Brown Lacewing
Plants for critters that guard the garden

Lacewings, butterflies, birds, bees, and ladybugs will all come to work when adding these sweet additions to the garden now:

  • Wild dagga
  • September bush
  • Pentas lanceolata
  • Star jasmine
  • Flowering hibiscus
  • Nasturtiums are highly recommended to make your garden come alive.
September Bush
Pentas lanceolata
Star Jasmine
Nasturtiums
Glam growing

These flowers, plants, and trees are stunning spring showstoppers. Seedlings and seed packets are available at GCA Garden Centres now. Don’t forget your compost, potting soil, and fertilisers!

To sow for show

  • Full sun flamboyance: Carnations, cornflowers, dianthus, felicia, helichrysum and hollyhocks.
  • Semi-shade sassiness: Impatiens, foxgloves, candytuft, and Canterbury bells.
  • Fast-growing glories: Marigolds, cosmos, ageratums, petunias, and portulacas.
Cornflowers
Hollyhocks
Candytuft Flower
Canterbury bells
Marigolds
Portulacas

To grow for fragrance

  • Inca lilies, aquilegias, rudbeckias, dahlias, gaura, echinaceas, gardenias and bougainvilleas.

To plant for pretty

  • Summer bulbs: Hippeastrum (amaryllis), dahlias, lilium oriental, zantedeschia, and gladioli.
Aquilegias
Gardenias
Hippeastrum (amaryllis)
Gladioli
Blush-worthy trees and shrubs

Your heart, cheeks, and garden will be filled in blushing shades of pink when planting these indigenous tickles now.

  • Trees: Cape chestnut (Calodendrum capense), and Mountain hard pear (Olinia emarginata).
  • Shrubs: River indigo (Indigofera jucunda), Pink mallow (Anisodontea scabrosa), and Forest pink hibiscus (Hibiscus pedunculatus).

 

Top tree tip: Before planting, consider the following important factors.

  1. Size: How big will the tree get and is its size suited to your garden?
  2. Roots: What type of root system does it have, and will it damage infrastructure where you want to plant it?
  3. Water: Water-wise and indigenous is always best for our local biodiversity and water shortages.
  4. Region: Can the tree survive in your specific garden conditions within your region?

 

Pink mallow (Anisodontea scabrosa)
pink hibiscus (Hibiscus pedunculatus).
Extravagant crops

Sometimes, size matters, and these impressive crops are sure to give you plenty of show-off fuel. Take your abundant harvest to the next braai or post on social media for the world to see!

  • Big shows: Sweetmelons, watermelons, African cucumbers (horned melons), pumpkins, maize, and sweetcorn.
  • Abundant grows: Beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, lettuce, okra, peppers, radish, squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes, and turnips.
  • Heralding herbs: Basil, coriander, chives, chamomile, echinacea, oregano, parsley, rocket, and thyme.

Grow zone top tip: Our country has been through a lot and we’ve got many hungry tummies. Share your harvest with those in need and let’s spread some lurve, gardener style!

Pumpkin
Sweetcorn
Celery
Okra
Chamomile
Oregano

Your November glam growing is sorted, and with the lacewing on your side, there’s nothing that can stop you. Remember to prune your leucospermums, buchus, ericas and proteas now as you head off into the garden for your sowing extravaganza. Life is a Garden, so make yours extraordinary this spring!

March in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

Posted on: February 16th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
March Gardening Checklist

As the last month of summer comes to an end, it’s time to start preparing the garden for autumn and winter growing. March presents ideal conditions for sowing seeds as the day temperatures are still warm enough, while night temperatures begin dropping gradually. This is also a great time for cool-season seed germination varieties, and let’s not forget that much-loved gardening maintenance.

 

Flowers and foliage

The autumn climate is well-suited for planting as new roots get a chance to establish themselves before spring. Try sowing these lovelies now for a brilliant flush of colour and fragrance:

  • African daisy (Dimorphoteca) to beautify beds, borders, and containers.
  • Livingstone daisy, known also as Bokbaai vygie (Mesembryanthemum) are colourful customers.
  • Virginian stocks (Malcolmia maritima) as an enthusiastic and cheerful bloom.
  • Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) to keep pests at bay in the veggie patch.
  • Blue Felicia bush (Felicia amelloides) for fast-growing, striking sky-blue flowers.
African daisy (Dimorphoteca)
Livingstone daisy
Virginian stocks
Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) to keep pests at bay in the veggie patch.
Blue Felicia bush
Sweet peas

Before sowing sweet peas, prepare their new home by digging deep trenches and working in some nutritious compost from your local GCA Garden Centre. Bonemeal (if you don’t have dogs) and super-phosphate are excellent choices to assist in creating your sweet pea sanctuary. Remember to soak the seeds overnight in lukewarm water before sowing directly into the ground.

Roses

Roses are a simply spectacular sight in autumn! To ensure quality blooms into winter, continue with regular preventative treatments/spraying for black spot, beetles and bollworm. As the days get shorter, the roses start to go dormant and withdraw food from their leaves. To compensate for this and to provide enough food for new growth and flowers, fertilise with rose food – your GCA Garden Centre guy can advise you on the best option. Regular watering is very important if there is insufficient rainfall.

Sweet pea
Rose care

Tree tip: Plant new fruit trees from mid-March onwards in temperate regions to ensure a good spring and summer harvest. Your GCA Garden Centre has a tasty selection of fruits to grow, go check it out.

Veggies and herbs

Winter veggies are ready to be planted for delicious soups and stews to enjoy during the chilly nights. Remember that your GCA Garden Centre supplies both vegetable seeds and seedlings to get you started. Sow/plant these cool-season sensations now for an autumn/winter harvest:

  • Cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • Broad beans, Brussel sprouts, and onions
  • Spinach, leeks, celery, and peas
  • Gooseberries, beetroot, and garlic
  • Oriental veggie varieties available at your GCA garden centre

Bedding bestie tip: Do companion planting with wild garlic, yarrow, comfrey, and Marigolds to assist with soil nutrition and natural pest control.

Cabbage
Brussel sprouts
Leeks
Gooseberries
Herb preservation

For an on-demand homegrown supply of fresh herbs during winter, start harvesting and preserving your greens now. Chop mint, parsley, basil and lemon balm, place them in an ice tray, fill with water, and pop them in the freezer. Aromatic herbs such as oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage, bay leaf, and rosemary, are better air-dried. Continue to feed herbs monthly with a half-strength liquid fertiliser and water regularly.

Must love maintenance

March is a month of maintenance, for which you’ll be gloriously rewarded as we move into winter. Give the garden a little extra TLC in preparation of the changing season. A little goes a long way in terms of the overall appearance and fertility of your beds, plants, and harvest.  Start these maintenance jobs now:

  • Work in about 30cm of compost into beds with a handful of bonemeal or super-phosphate to ensure plants have all the nutrition they need for winter.
  • Trim ground covers like sutera (bacopa) that may have taken strain during the hot summer months. They’ll produce fresh new growth and will thicken up nicely.
  • Give fynbos plants like confetti bush, a light trim to shape them up before their winter flowering.
  • Protect grapes this time of year and prune back excessive leaves to allow more sunlight into the crop.
  • Once nectarines, peaches and plums have finished fruiting, prune to shape and remove any dead or diseased branches.
  • Remember to reduce the amount of water given to houseplants.
Sutera bocopa
Confetti bush
Grapes
Nectarines

Although summer has loved and left us, autumn has come with its own wonderful variety of sowing opportunities. There’s always a flower, fruit, and veggie in need of a home, roses looking for a pruning, and a little maintenance to make all the difference. Enjoy March in the garden and tick off your to-do checklist with the help of tools, accessories, and seeds available at your GCA Garden Centre.

There’s a garden on my stoep!

Posted on: December 22nd, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Patio Gardening

Be bold and go bedless! Perfect your potting skills and never leave your patio without plants again. Here’s how you can easily bring the garden to your stoep with creative containers, vertical planters, colour wheel play, and a few bloomingly beautiful flowers. Life is a Garden, even on your balcony!

Creative containers

Using different sized and shaped containers add height and variety to the space, while also giving you an opportunity to experiment with different styles. Try using cute teapots or gumboots as planters to add a little character and fun to your space. You could even upcycle cans to use as pots and decorate as desired to suit your existing décor.

Top tip

Ensure your planting containers have good drainage to avoid root rot.

Let it all hang out

Utilising hanging baskets is another simple way of adding greenery to areas with limited space. Using woven baskets (instead of plastic) with spikey foliage will bring in some lovely texture. Vines cascading down a pillar is a fresh break in between bricks and concrete. Your local GCA Garden Centre has a variety of hanging baskets waiting for you!

Patio Gardening
Upcycle can planter
Flower pots
Hanging Baskets
Bloomingly good

Add life to your patio paradise by planting gorgeous, blossoming blooms. A couple of flower pots neatly arranged along the lonely stoep wall or outdoor windowsill makes all the difference. Any available space is an opportunity for flowers to flourish. Get this lush look by using the Thriller, Filler, and Spiller (TFS) concept to create the ultimate flower pot.

Fancy TFS

One upright focal point plant as your Thriller, a mounded plant as the Filler around it, and then something to trail over the edge as your splendid Spiller.

Flower pots
Thriller, Filler & Spiller

Who’s lus for strawberries and cream?

Grow your own reminder of the sweeter things in life and play with the colour wheel in your pots. Incorporate a delicious variety of deep reds and indulgent cream hues to create your own sweet escape in a container. Using the trusty TFS planting method, here’s how to create your desert pot:

  1. Verbena: bright red Spiller
  2. Euphorbia: classic white Filler
  3. Petunia: red Filler
  4. Alstroemeria: creamy white Filler
  5. Dahlia: burgundy red Thriller
  6. Calibrachoa: yellow-white Spiller
Spiller verbena
Filler euphorbia
Filler petunia
filler alstroemeria
spiller dahlia
spiller calibrachoa
Fuchsia Bella, we adore you!

The Fuchsia Bella is simply stunning and makes for a picture-perfect pot plant. They grow as a compact, bushy, and deciduous shrub with ovate, toothed, dark green leaves. You can expect a sensational flower show throughout summer with blooms varying in shades of red, pink and purple. They enjoy sun to semi-shade and grow best in moist, fertile soil.

Vertical victories 

An empty wall is simply an invitation to bring it to life! All you need to do is to secure a few pots against the wall in a symmetrical grid style, leaving a little space between each pot (4 pots across by 4 pots down is a good start). Cascading ferns and creepers take care of the rest and will soon cover the wall or frame windows and doorways beautifully. Vertical planters bring the garden bed to you, are great space savers, and add a modern feel to the space.

 Plant picks

Black-Eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) is an all-time favourite flowering vine. Climbing Snapdragons (Asarina) work well in vertical planters and living walls.

Hooray for herbs

Instead of just using bottled braai spice, imagine snipping some fresh garnish for your guests! Having herb pots around are rather handy for a little fancy flavour and is by far the most nutritious way to spice up your braai.

Fuchsia Bella
Vertical gardens
Black-eyed Susan
Herb planter

There are so many creative ways for you to get the patio in bloom and booming with life. You can still fulfil all your gardening cravings, despite the lack of traditional gardening beds. Day trip to your local GCA Garden Centre for flowers and containers and see where the adventure takes you. For more gardening trends and inspiration, visit Life is a Garden and explore your world!

January in the Garden Checklist January Check List

Posted on: December 21st, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
January in the Garden Life is a Garden

The new year is always a great time to start afresh and get back into the garden. Remove any tired or spent annuals and fill the gaps with new babies that will flower into autumn. Planting fresh herbs and veggies will also help you stick to those healthy New Year’s resolutions. Happy 2021, dear green fingers, and please do remember that your Life is A Garden!

What to do in the January garden
  • There is still enough time to sow Eschsholzia, Lobelia, and Phlox for an abundance of summer and autumn colour.
  • Water regularly during dry spells.
  • Put out snail bait after rainfall or after watering in the evening.
  • If yellow patches appear on the lawn, this is an almost sure sign of lawn caterpillar, also known as armyworm.
January Check list
Snail Bait
Lawn Caterpillar Army worm
January checklist

Tip: Use a thick, moist towel placed over a patch at night. If lawn caterpillars are the culprit, they will still be foraging on the lawn in the morning when you lift the towel. Consult your local GCA Garden Centre for a remedy.

  • Colourful Begonias are available in trays to liven up semi-shade and shady areas.
  • Deadhead hydrangeas and use the beautiful blooms in dry arrangements.
  • A light summer pruning of your roses will help to extend quality flowering into late autumn.
  • Gently prune lavender plants that have stopped flowering to encourage an autumn flush.
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch to beat the heat and save water.
January Checklist
January checklist
What to do in the January veggie garden
  • Most veggies need 60 to 90 days to harvest so if we are sowing in January, we need to think about what we will eat fresh from the garden in March and April. Never sow the whole seed packet at once as it literally contains from around 50 to several hundred seeds, so rather sow in 14-day intervals to achieve a continuous harvest.
  • If your mint, basil or sage is looking tired and leggy, re-sow them now.
  • Plant sweet peppers as seedlings - they are tasty in summer salads and many other dishes.
  • Keep protecting your fruit and veggies from fruit flies.
  • Feed your fruit trees, granadillas and veggies.

Tip: Never fertilise a plant when it is dry.

  • Try some of the decorative edibles in your flower beds for a change. The pretty red, pink, white and yellow stems of Swiss chard are very colourful. The fine-textured, ferny purple leaves of bronze fennel are a wonderful contrast to bolder textured foliage in the garden. Their purple colour is also stunning when placed near shrubs with lime green leaves like Duranta ‘Sheena’s Gold’.
  • Keep the herb garden full by planting chives, oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage and coriander.
January check list
January checklist
January Checklist
January checklist
January checklist
January Checklist

Look out for plants wilting in the summer heat, especially in dry weather. Give plants a deep watering at night and mulch around them. There are also water retention products that you can use – these will be are available at your local GCA Garden Centre. Remember, you can always get great gardening advice at your GCA Garden Centre.

Pots of flavour in small spaces Container Gardening

Posted on: December 31st, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

You don't need acres of garden to grow fresh salads and veggies. All you need is a balcony, patio or a postage-stamp of a garden, some good-quality terracotta pots, the right growing medium and a watering can, and you're A for away.  Life is a Garden offers these tips to assist you in creating the perfect container garden.

Why terracotta?

Whenever we're asked what containers to use on a patio, we tend to recommend a nice big terracotta pot or a matching set of terracotta pots. Why terracotta and not plastic? Terracotta pots are made of clay, and natural materials like clay tend to work better with plants. Terracotta pots can breathe, allowing air and even moisture to move through the walls, keeping plants healthier and helping to prevent fungal root disease.

Plants don't like sudden changes in temperature, and terracotta pots act as insulation, slowing down variations in temperature.

Weight is also an advantage – terracotta pots are heavier than plastic or wood, which is great when you've got a cat that keeps rubbing itself against your veggie pots and knocking them over!  Finally, terracotta pots get better and better with age, weathering and developing a beautiful patina that cannot be replicated.

What to plant?

Choosing what to plant can be overwhelming when you're starting out. Our first rule of thumb is to plant what you eat! There's not much point in growing coriander if the flavour offends your very being. But if you love cooking with other herbs, start by planting things like rosemary, thyme, mint and origanum.

Another thing we suggest is to mix things up a bit – don't be boring and grow only edibles. Beautiful ornamentals can do well in containers alongside their edible bedfellows, and some have the added benefit of being edible too. Viola flowers can be tossed in a salad, while the flowers of lavender and calendula have a range of uses.

A good base

The key to potting success is a growing medium that can fulfil a plant's nutritional needs.

Whenever we're getting ready to plant up containers, we start by mixing up a big batch of potting medium. To do this, we mix four parts good-quality potting soil, 1 part palm peat (soaked in water beforehand) and a big handful of pelletised organic plant food. Prepare the medium in a big bucket so that you've got enough for all the pots you'll be planting up.

When planting, place a handful of gravel or stones in the bottom of the pot, to ensure proper drainage and prevent the drainage holes from becoming blocked. Then fill the pot with potting medium to about 2/3 full, place the plants in the pots and fill up the pots to a few centimetres below the rim.

Keep them hydrated!

Plants will put up with a lot, but you can't expect them to survive without water. Containers have a limited water-holding capacity, which is why we add water-retentive materials such as palm peat to our mix.

Check if the soil is dry by pushing a finger into the first inch or so – if it is dry, add water. In hot weather, you'll need to water your containers daily, in the morning before it gets too hot. Check again in the afternoon and water again if necessary. In cooler weather, especially in seasons when plants aren't growing as fast, you can get away with watering pots about 2 – 3 times a week.

Remember that overwatering can be as bad as underwatering, so always do the finger test before watering.

Care

Container-grown plants need regular care, including feeding, as the nutrients in the limited quantity of soil get depleted.

You will find a great selection of pots and all the other supplies you need to get your container garden started at your nearest GCA Garden Centre.

Click here for more gardening tips and trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Pots of flavour in small spaces

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

You don't need acres of garden to grow fresh salads and veggies. All you need is a balcony, patio or a postage-stamp of a garden, some good-quality terracotta pots, the right growing medium and a watering can, and you're A for away.  Life is a Garden offers these tips to assist you in creating the perfect container garden.

Why terracotta?

Whenever we're asked what containers to use on a patio, we tend to recommend a nice big terracotta pot or a matching set of terracotta pots. Why terracotta and not plastic? Terracotta pots are made of clay, and natural materials like clay tend to work better with plants. Terracotta pots can breathe, allowing air and even moisture to move through the walls, keeping plants healthier and helping to prevent fungal root disease.

Plants don't like sudden changes in temperature, and terracotta pots act as insulation, slowing down variations in temperature.

Weight is also an advantage – terracotta pots are heavier than plastic or wood, which is great when you've got a cat that keeps rubbing itself against your veggie pots and knocking them over!  Finally, terracotta pots get better and better with age, weathering and developing a beautiful patina that cannot be replicated.

What to plant?

Choosing what to plant can be overwhelming when you're starting out. Our first rule of thumb is to plant what you eat! There's not much point in growing coriander if the flavour offends your very being. But if you love cooking with other herbs, start by planting things like rosemary, thyme, mint and origanum.

Another thing we suggest is to mix things up a bit – don't be boring and grow only edibles. Beautiful ornamentals can do well in containers alongside their edible bedfellows, and some have the added benefit of being edible too. Viola flowers can be tossed in a salad, while the flowers of lavender and calendula have a range of uses.

A good base

The key to potting success is a growing medium that can fulfil a plant's nutritional needs.

Whenever we're getting ready to plant up containers, we start by mixing up a big batch of potting medium. To do this, we mix four parts good-quality potting soil, 1 part palm peat (soaked in water beforehand) and a big handful of pelletised organic plant food. Prepare the medium in a big bucket so that you've got enough for all the pots you'll be planting up.

When planting, place a handful of gravel or stones in the bottom of the pot, to ensure proper drainage and prevent the drainage holes from becoming blocked. Then fill the pot with potting medium to about 2/3 full, place the plants in the pots and fill up the pots to a few centimetres below the rim.

Keep them hydrated!

Plants will put up with a lot, but you can't expect them to survive without water. Containers have a limited water-holding capacity, which is why we add water-retentive materials such as palm peat to our mix.

Check if the soil is dry by pushing a finger into the first inch or so – if it is dry, add water. In hot weather, you'll need to water your containers daily, in the morning before it gets too hot. Check again in the afternoon and water again if necessary. In cooler weather, especially in seasons when plants aren't growing as fast, you can get away with watering pots about 2 – 3 times a week.

Remember that overwatering can be as bad as underwatering, so always do the finger test before watering.

Care

Container-grown plants need regular care, including feeding, as the nutrients in the limited quantity of soil get depleted.

You will find a great selection of pots and all the other supplies you need to get your container garden started at your nearest GCA Garden Centre.

Click here for more gardening tips and trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Festive escape in your garden An abundance of gifts from your garden

Posted on: November 18th, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

It’s December and gift giving and celebrations are the highlight of the month. This often requires spending time searching for parking spots at busy shopping centres and wandering endlessly through crowded stores in search of the perfect gift to show appreciation to those you love.

This year, why not give a heartfelt and special gift that you’ve spent months growing in your own garden? And while you’re enjoying the outdoors, invite your friends and family over to soak up the sun and enjoy the season in your festive garden.

Gifts from your garden

Our gardens flourish in December, often producing more than we need. This is impeccable timing to give gifts from your garden. These gifts are not only kinder on your wallet, they are also more personal and are greatly appreciated for their thoughtfulness.

Herb jars with herbs grown from seed are an ideal gift for those who love to cook. Herbs are a great addition to any meal, particularly fresh herbs that are bursting with flavour.  If you have someone special in the family who loves to spend time creating delicious dishes, give the gift of fresh herbs.

Use fresh vegetables that you are growing in your vegetable garden to make some fresh pasta sauces, pickled vegetables or relishes. Place in glass bottles with personalised gift labels and include them in a gift hamper. These will be enjoyed for weeks after they’ve been received. Homemade pamper products are a real treat and often suitable for even the most sensitive skin. Make a body scrub from sea salt or raw sugar, mix it with an oil of your choice, add some lavender, mint or rose petals picked from your garden and place into a jar for hours of pampering and grateful, glowing skin.

Flowers are always a welcome gift for every occasion. Pick an array of flowers from your garden and arrange them in a beautiful bouquet before placing them into a vase as a gift for friends and family to brighten up their day and their home.

Festive gardens for great festivities

Summer is in full swing and the garden is a wonderful escape from the indoors. With flowers in full bloom, the combination of bright colours and delightful, delicate aromas is an invitation to spend more time outdoors.

Add some festive cheer to your garden with red and white flowers that can be grown in pots and flower beds around the garden. Decorate trees with festive coloured fairy lights which will not only look dreamy in the evenings it will also add some ambience while entertaining. Complete your festive garden look by placing red, white and green floating candles and flowers to water features and pools and dotted around the garden for a beautiful, tranquil setting.

Let the festivities begin

‘Tis the season to be festive and we are blessed with wonderful hot summer days and warm evenings. Invite your friends and family over, put a table under the trees and decorate it with red and white flowers from your garden to add some festive cheer. Be sure to use some of the flowers to create a Christmas wreath for the door and delight your guests when they arrive. As long lazy afternoons roll into the evening almost unnoticed, scatter some red and white cushions onto seats around the garden to keep your guests lingering for longer and enjoy hours of each other’s company.

For more inspiration and ideas on Christmas gifts and garden entertainment, pop into your nearest GCA Garden Centre. Join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Herbs Galore Potted garden

Posted on: November 2nd, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Nothing solves a no space in my garden problem like a potted garden.

If you have limited space, poor soil quality in your garden beds or dogs that like to dig – the solution to all these problems is to have a potted garden. Great herbs to include in your potted garden are:

  • basil
  • sage
  • rocket
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • chives
  • mint and coriander

Container herbs should get at least five hours of sun per day. The more sun they get, the better their flavour, health and resistance to pests and disease. Potted herbs should be watered more frequently than garden herbs because containers can lose moisture quickly, especially in the summer heat.

Herbs grow incredibly well in pots and having fresh herbs on hand, especially when entertaining is always a win. Imagine how handy it would be when you are serving homemade pizzas, whipping up a salad or offering a refreshing gin to your guests – to be able to wonder over to your potted herb garden and have all the fresh ingredients right there.

Click here for more gardening tips and trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.