The garden in November is usually filled with a rich colour palette of late spring blooms. The bold and beautiful Hydrangeas are part of this glorious mix and never fail to wow us, year after year. Their local name is Krismisroos and they remind many people of the coming holiday season. Conveniently, Friday 27 November is Black Friday - a day where many shoppers look forward to buying bargains as Christmas gifts. Look out for specials at your local GCA Garden Centre and enjoy getting ready for the festive season. Life is a Garden, so go ahead and decorate yours!
Here are some planting tips for your beetroot seedlings:
Tip: Fertilise lightly with a 2:3:2 or equivalent organic fertilizer i.e. that is not high in nitrogen as too much nitrogen will encourage mostly leafy growth. Water sparingly since overwatering encourages leafy growth and bolting (flowering and not producing a vegetable). Beetroot also grows well in combination with blood sorrel Rubus sanguineus.
Neat to know: A century-old companion planting method used by the Iroquois, an American tribe, was called the Three Sister’s planting. The Three Sisters planting technique utilises corn, climbing beans, and squash or pumpkin. Each plant serves a purpose in this design. The corn or mielies provide the climbing (pole) for the beans and the beans add nitrogen to the soil. The squash or pumpkin protects all the sisters by using its large leaves to shade the soil, to reduce weeds and keep the soil moist. Try it for yourself!
Mole crickets are very destructive pests that tunnel below the surface of the lawn and cause widespread root damage.
An important part of pest control is to correctly identify the pest. Mole cricket can be heard chirping at night when they are most active. The adults are golden brown and about 2,5 to 3,5 cm long with large mole-like front claws combined with oversized, lobster-like heads and bodies similar to common brown/black crickets. The nymphs, or babies are about 1cm long and are miniature look-alikes of the adults.
Tip: An easy soap water drench helps confirm mole cricket activity. Mix 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid with 5 litres of water and soak the damaged area with a watering can. Mole cricket adults and nymphs will come to the surface as the soapy water penetrates their tunnels.
Signs and damage: Although the damage starts in spring it is often only noticed in summer when dead and dying patches appear on the lawn as the grass turns brown.
Control: The hard work is over. Now that you have identified the pest you can visit your local GCA Garden Centre for more advice and organic control solutions.
NB: Once you have the treatment, always read the product labels and follow the instructions carefully, including guidelines for pre-harvest intervals in edible gardens.
Crotons have striking leaf colours, which makes them very popular as landscaping and hedging plants in frost-free coastal regions. Indoors, their bright colours are sought after and add a distinctly vibrant, young tropical flavour. They require bright light and do well on a sunny window sill.
Tip: Allow the soil to dry out between watering as they do not like to be over-watered and enquire at your local GCA Garden Centre for an appropriate plant food.
Celosia, or cockscomb, is one of the most vibrantly coloured summer annuals. If you like to be bold and playful in the garden, cockscomb is made for you. There are two types of celosia, one with an arrow-like feathery plume for a flower and the other resembling the almost heart-shaped hump of a cock’s comb. Both are lots of fun and create a lovely tropical green backdrop around a pool or entertainment area where they can enhance a vibey party atmosphere.
Tip: Celosia is generally a non-fuss plant that is easy to grow.
In most regions, roses are or should be sprouting for their second flush in November. In cooler regions of the country and in the Western Cape, they are at the height of their beauty. Regular dead-heading not only provides a neat look in the garden, but it encourages quality new sprouting. A monthly application of fertiliser brings even more blooms. .
Edging rose beds with dwarf marigolds is another option of keeping pests away from the roses as their roots have an anti-nematode action.
Watering should never be neglected at this time of rapid growth.
Lawn: If you want a green lawn for the holiday season, now’s the time to fertilise. This should be done every six to eight weeks in the growing season.
Garden: Remember to water in the early morning or late afternoon – we need to be sustainable water-wise gardeners. Start mulching the beds to keep the water at root level cool.
As the humidity increases, look out for an increase in fungal diseases such as the different mildews on susceptible plants. Spray accordingly or visit your local GCA Garden Centre for organic advice.
White Aloe Scale is a pesky and resilient species of armoured scale insect. This means that they produce a hard outer coating covering the body, which protects them from external influences such as diseases and pathogens.
If your Aloes have small grey ridges or bumps forming on the leaves it probably indicates an infestation of scale insects. They seldom kill the plants they infest, but nonetheless, are definitely not a problem that will go away on its own.
They attach to the plant and suck the juice, damaging the vitality of the succulent and causing discolouration and stippling. If left untreated, aloes will begin to lose vigour, ending up covered in what a appears to be a white, fluffy waxy deposit.
Take a picture or sealed sample to your local GCA Garden Centre and allow them to recommend a spray that will not burn the tender, succulent Aloe leaves. For scale insects on other plants, spray with a recommended organic spray dilution.
TIP: Avoid spraying the soft, new leaves of ferns and tree ferns as some sprays can damage them.
This month, we’re all about celebrating spiders! When we think about these little arachnids in our homes, some of us tend to resort to certain squishing tendencies. Spiders in the garden, however, are a different matter and they have an important job to do (besides creeping you out). In the garden, it’s best to allow them to go about their business undisturbed, as their main job is to keep your garden pests in check., Most garden spiders are a means of pest control but there are some which are harmful to plants such as red spider mites. For the most part, these guys are great!
World Pest Day will be held on June 6, to help spread awareness on the importance of eco pest control.
Spiders are arachnids ranging from scorpions, mites, and ticks. Spiders come in all shapes and sizes. Generic spiders have eight small eyes, closely grouped with eight legs. Most spiders that we see during daylight hours are unlikely to cause harm to humans. They prefer gardens and grassy areas, anchoring their webs among twigs and stems.
In the garden, spiders create flat webs between plants, across garden paths, along with windows or even door frames. The size and shape of spider webs vary across species. Some webs are orb-shaped, while others are funnel-shaped.
Overall, garden spiders are very beneficial because they help keep insect populations in check. Spiders in gardens serve a predatory role, eating only insects that eat plants. Therefore, spiders are harmless to your garden and in fact, sustain the health and lifespan of your garden. However, their large orb webs can be troublesome to people near walkways, gates, or windows.
Suggested actions include World Pest Day, Catching Spiders and safely relocate spiders. Carefully consider if it's necessary to kill the spiders in your garden as they aid in eliminating the various harmful insects that reside in your garden. If it's an issue of bites or an uncontrollable fear, you could consistently remove spider webs to encourage the spiders to move on from your garden. Additionally, you could reduce their food supply, forcing them to migrate.