The season that needs no introduction – it can only be spring! This is an exciting time for gardeners filled with blossoms, blooms, and renewed beauty after the winter. This month, Life is a Garden loves the spekboom, and we’ve got some special varieties to share. The veggie garden is every home grower’s dream, so check out our edible zingers for September. Perennials and bulbs are also ready to crank up the heat in the garden, so let’s dig and plant right in!
Portulacaria afra (elephant's food, elephant bush, or spekboom) is an indigenous superstar in our South African climate. They tolerate high humidity, high rainfall or drought, heat, desert sun or well-lit indoor spaces. They are frost-tender but will bounce back quickly. Not prone to pests or disease either, the spekkie boasts the following fabulous benefits:
Did you know? Spekboom provides 80% of an elephant’s diet and can live up to 200 years.
Plant these Portulacaria afra varieties now in well-drained soil with a dash of organic fertiliser available from your GCA Garden Centre.
In the bloom prune zone: Mayflowers, banksia roses, hibiscus and poinsettia are ready for a snip. Deadhead pansies and violas now too.
Top tip: Remember to head over to your GCA Garden Centre for organic fertilisers to help you get the most from your greens. Seed packets are the cheapest way to grow your own food and are widely available at nurseries and supermarkets.
Wildlife-attracting, shade-providing, and spring-blooming trees to plant now are:
Our perfect pick: The indigenous Kiggelaria africana (wild peach) is a showy must-have for the critter-loving gardener. This beauty is drought-tolerant, evergreen, fast-growing, ideal for screening/hedging, costal safe (salt and wind), suitable for containers and small gardens, has minimal waste shedding, and the best part – this tree hosts the Acrea Horta butterfly and several other species too, including some stunning moths. Diederik and Red-chested Cuckoos feast on these caterpillars, keeping the numbers in check and sustaining your garden’s essential food chain. The fruits are not edible but trees will reward your garden with colour, charm, and an abundance of life!
Plant new lawn grass seed or grass plugs now. September is the best time for establishing new lawns as conditions give roots the perfect opportunity to settle down before the summer feet come rolling in. Fertilise and begin watering the lawn regularly and fix bare patches with a top-dressing of fine compost or commercial lawn dressing. Your GCA Garden Centre is fully stocked with all your lawn essentials, go check it out.
Watch out for these nasty guys that are as excited about spring as we are. Charge down to your nursery for eco-friendly pesticides that’ll make quick work of these pesky pests.
Enjoy your zesty, zinger of a spring and plant your heart out. The rains will soon be coming to give all your new babies some TLC, followed by warm, early wake-up calls for the sun. September is a party in the backyard when your Life is a Garden filled with blooms, edibles, and trees like these.
Bring your gardening passion to the kitchen with hydroponic growing, indoor composting, fruit trees, and air-purifying plants. Harvest yummy rewards and add a refreshing splash of greenery to space you spend so much time in.
*Lighten up your kitchen by installing LED grow lights to revive dark areas and get all your greens flourishing beautifully.
Experiment going soil-free and dare to be different with an intriguing water-based, edible garden. Hydroponic planting gives you complete control of the environment, minimises pests, boosts plant growth, and enables multiple veg varieties in one space.
Try planting lettuce, spinach, strawberries, blueberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumber (remember to grow according to season).
*Consult your garden centre advisor for different installation options, DIY hydroponic beginner kits, and nutrient formulas.
There are also self-watering vertical gardens for elegant and eye-catching living décor.
You don’t need a backyard to be a compost-pro. Turn your kitchen waste into eco-gold by setting up a bucket or bin system with tight-fitting lids. Compost buckets fit neatly in a cupboard and provide easy, quick solutions to organic waste disposal. Worm farming kits are also handy kitchen helpers and can be purchased from your local garden centre.
Growing from scraps and soil-free try these:
A lemon tree in the kitchen is a happy reminder to always make lemonade from life. These trees like high-light spaces (also substitutable with LED grow lights) and perform best in porous clay pots, which allow natural water evaporation and prevent water-logging issues (unlike plastic pots). The Eureka Lemon (Citrus Lemon ‘Eureka’) and the Lemon Meyer (Citrus x Meyeri) are perfect for the kitchen or patio and will bear fruit all year round, hooray!
Tree tip: Feed citrus trees with a general fertiliser and a handful of Epsom salt per tree.
*Maintain your indoor pot plants by replacing one-third of the topsoil with new, nutritious potting soil.
There’s even space in the kitchen garden for gogga-inspired greenery. Try planting these now:
Be a winter-winner, get your May maintenance in check, sow cool-season seeds, and grow with the flow as we enter our last month of autumn. We’re celebrating our adaptable green fingers by also highlighting Africa Month and all our glorious indigenous glory. The party doesn’t stop there – say hello to Phlebodium, the perfect indoor plant baby to gift to the woman you adore this Mother’s day!
Crispy blooms to plant
Bulb up: Honour our African heritage with a jive of colour from Sparaxis (Harlequin Flower), ixia, and Tritonia. Try also these perennial bulbous plants: Sweet garlic (Tulbaghia fragrans), Weeping anthericum (Chlorophytum saundersiae), Red-hot poker (Kniphofia praecox).
Bush out: Pork bush (Portulacaria afra) is a lekker local hero hedge. Good as a barrier plant, tolerates frequent pruning, extremely drought-resistant, and fast-growing.
Succ in: Aloes are in full swing, oh yeah Try Peri-Peri, Sea Urchin, and Porcupine.
The 4 P’s: Get down to your local GCA Garden Centre and start planting with the 4 P’s - poppies, pansies, petunias and primulas.
Rose bed revival: Long-stemmed roses can be picked now. If the plants are in full leaf, continue with your spraying programme but reduce watering. Plant winter-flowering annuals like pansies, poppies, or compact snapdragons, around rose bed edges to give them a revived burst of colour (and hide bare branches).
Split & divide: If the following perennials have stopped flowering, they’re ready for the operating table: Japanese Anemones (Anemone japonica) and Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana).
Be wise, fertilise: Annual stocks and larkspurs benefit from extra nitrogen to promote good growth and flowering throughout winter. Consult your GCA Garden Centre expert for advice on liquid fertilisers and other plant food.
Eye candy: Add rows of ornamental (and inedible) kale between other winter vegetables. Companion plants include beetroot, violas and pansies (both have edible flowers), onions, nasturtiums, and spinach. Ornamental kale makes an unusual but stunning winter option for colour.
Mixed masala: Interplant leafy winter veggies and root crops with herbs like lavender, thyme, oregano, parsley, yarrow, and comfrey.
Cuppa’ your own Joe: The coffee plant (Coffea arabica), which is actually a TREE, will earn you kudos from coffee snobs if you can manage to grow it successfully in a high-light indoor area. Imagine grinding home-grown beans? Count us in!
Un-gogga your cabbage: Pull up old sweet basil plants, chop them up, and then use them as a natural insect repellent mulch around your cabbages – fancy, na?
If it’s yellow, it ain’t mellow: Prevent disease by removing all yellow leaves from brassicas such as Brussel sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, and broccoli.
Fruitful advice: Feed avocado trees with 3:1:5 and mulch ‘em up. Plant litchis and citrus, while also keeping mango trees dry before their flowering starts. In coastal and lowveld areas, feed granadillas with a nitrogen and potassium combination fertiliser. Seek advice from your local GCA Garden Centre.
Prevent pests: Prevention is better than cure! Remember that good soil + good drainage + mulch + fertilising/feeding = a healthy plant with more flowers, more fruits, and more veg!
Spray away: Keep spraying those conifers with insecticide.
Rake it, baby: Rake fallen leaves off the lawn to prevent them from blocking out sunlight, and then pop them on the compost heap. Coastal gardeners can still apply one more dose of fertiliser before winter sets in.
Freeze alert: Make sure that you don't water too early or too late – wet plants will freeze, haai shame!
Like the calm before the cool, winter preparations are smooth sailing this month with Life is a Garden’s crisp April checklist. Gardening during the cooler months definitely has its own challenges, but also so many exciting flowers and veggies to look forward to. Did someone say spring bulbs already? Head over to your GCA Garden Centre and let’s plant right in!
Enjoy your time chilling out and ticking off your April checklist. Ride the wave of cool-season thrills and all that’s up for grabs in the garden. Whether you’re maintaining, sowing, planting, or pruning, there’s always something to do in the backyard. Life is a Garden – welcome the refreshing autumn breeze into yours.
Companion planting means growing certain plants close together for their mutually beneficial effects, such as pest protection or growth enhancement. Bedding besties allow you to have your cake AND eat it – your desired harvest flourishing gogo-free and eco-friendly with little other effort required from you. Mother Nature is clever like that – she knows what’s up. Here’s what to plant and reasons why your veggie needs a bestie. Life is a Garden, let’s optimise yours!
We often think of a veggie garden as produce sown in neat rows, exposed soil, and clear of any other plants not on the menu. Well, it might just be the time to revise this idea. There is so much to benefit from including other herbs and flowers to the veggie garden, which take care of pest control, weeds, water evaporation, poor soil conditions, composting, barren spaces and of course, pollination. Consider the idea of a starting a “mixed masala patch”, if you will, and let’s venture beyond the concept of a “vegetables-only” party.
Although we’re going for a “mixed masala patch”, it should be mentioned that not all plants like each other, and some can be pretty picky about who they bunk with. Your GCA Garden Centre guy will be able to advise you on the best buddy for your baby, but for now, here are some general friends of the veg with no-strings-attached benefits:
As mentioned earlier, some plants are incompatible while others are the perfect match. We’re helping gardeners avoid any regrettable flings this autumn by equipping you with a swipe-right (good), swipe-left (bad) companion planting guide. Here is a list of greens to sow now to get you started on your bedding romances. Cool-season vegetable seedlings are also available at your GCA Garden Centre.
Swipe right: Basil, chives, lettuce, onions, and peas.
Swipe left: Broccoli, cabbage, dill, fennel, and potatoes.
Swipe right: Beetroot, beans, cabbage, celery, and green peppers.
Swipe left: Grapes, potatoes, and sage.
Swipe right: Beetroot, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, and maize.
Swipe left: Dill, fennel, and all members of the onion family.
Swipe right: Beans, broccoli, cabbage, leeks, and tomatoes.
Swipe left: Nothing, this one’s easy.
Swipe right: Beetroot, celery, chives, dill, and onions.
Swipe left: Mustard plants, strawberries, tomatoes, and grapes.
With Mother Nature in your corner, a couple of flowers in your hair, and fragrant herbs by your side, companion planting is made simple and super effective. Avoid harsh chemicals and keep your garden’s eco-system flourishing and beneficial to the entire food chain. Reinventing the veggie patch is easy when you choose the best friends for your farming-fam goals. Remember, dear green fingers, Life is a Garden, so create yours with consideration.
Nurture your darling garden this month of love by sowing delicious edibles and magnificent flowers. Remember to give your roses some TLC and maintain your existing crops for an abundant harvest. Life is a Garden – here’s what to do with yours this February.
Many summer-flowering annuals start coming to the end of their flowering season and need to be removed. As such, collect ripe seeds from flowers you wish to grow for next season and begin preparing seed and flower beds for autumn planting.
Adorn the indoors with your very own Love Palm (Chamaedorea elegans). They are small, slow-growing palm trees, reaching a full height of approximately 1 meter. Celebrated for their attractive foliage, compact shape and decorative cluster form, Love Palms are ideal indoor beauties that thrive in low to moderate light.
Look out for red spider mites which are problematic in periods of drought and very hot weather. Use the correct insecticides to control these pests on plants such as fruit trees, roses, and shrubs. Red spider mites can also destroy annuals like tomatoes if too heavily infested. Visit your GCA Garden Centre for the best defence against these pesky critters.
There’s always something to do in the garden and always a plant child in need of a little TLC. Caring for your crop offers delicious rewards while tending to blooms provides an ongoing stream of colourful delights. Enjoy your February missions, dear gardeners!
October is the month of flowering profusion with the queen of flowers, the rose, putting on a glorious first flush of blooms in the Highveld. Roses have also become synonymous with Garden Day, happening on Sunday 11 October this year. Since Life is a Garden, let’s spend some quality time celebrating our green sanctuaries on Garden Day, regardless of their size – potted window sills and patio planters deserve a little celebration too.
The “grow to eat” concept of shortening the food chain time from soil to plate is growing in popularity. Edible gardening is easy and fun, regardless of the size of your space. Life is a Garden, so if gardening means a few potted plants, so be it!
It’s always exciting to try out new varieties. Here are a few amazing new squashes to tempt you:
Tip: Don’t forget to include a South African favourite, the gem squash or squash Rolet or Little Gem. Continue spraying for fruit flies and codling moth. If you have not started or are unsure of what to use, consult your local GCA Garden Centre.
The seed racks at your local GCA Garden Centre will be filled with a full summer range of flower, herb and veggie seeds to be sown now.
Tip: Remember to sow your watermelon seeds in early to mid-October if you want them ready to eat at Christmas. They are usually ready to harvest 70 to 85 days after sowing.
What to Plant
Plant amaryllis bulbs now if you want them to be in flower for December. They flower 8 to 10 weeks after planting.
What to Spray
Powdery mildew, thrips and mites are active at this time of year. Contact your local GCA Garden Centre for assistance on how to combat them if you see signs of them in your garden.
What to Feed
If you want to get the most out of your Hydrangea’s flower colour, feed them with either pink or blue hydrangea food accordingly. Blue Hydrangeas require an acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 or lower. Pink Hydrangeas require more neutral to alkaline soils with a pH of 6.5 and higher.
Look out for:
Tip: Sunpatiens like other impatiens require regular watering.
October is pink month or Breast Cancer Awareness month. In honour of pink, here are some stunning pink Celebrity roses that you may want to have in your garden:
It’s always a good time to assess where you can add to the atmosphere of your garden with the soothing sound of running water. There are loads of different water features that are both decorative and natural in style. Most attract birds and frogs to the garden with the bubbling pot features doubling up as a bird bath. To create movement and add life to your garden, visit your local GCA Garden Centre and see the inspiring range of aquatic peace-makers they have on offer.
Get your garden December ready. Whether you are staying at home or having visitors, now is the time to plant up some extra colour or to add that long-awaited extension to the herb and veggie garden.
Tip: Don’t let your fresh plants be eaten by snails and slugs. Place snail and slug bait in the planted areas. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre for more advice.
October is a busy gardening month with highveld gardens full of spring colour and the Cape coastal areas bidding farewell to the rainy season and getting stuck into summer planting. Life is a garden no matter where you live!
World Teachers day is on the 5th of October. Here is an awesome gift idea that you can make for your favourite teacher to show them your appreciation during October.