Posts Tagged ‘ plant ’

Why your veggies need friends Companion Plants

Posted on: February 16th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Sweet Pea, companion plants

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!

 

Reinventing the veggie patch

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.

 

Friends with benefits

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:

  • Natural pest controllers: Plants such as lavender (for fleas), basil (for flies), citronella grass and rosemary (for mozzies), as well as chrysanthemum (for spider mites), repel a variety of insects owing to their essential oil compounds and deterring scent. You can sporadically plant these in and around the veggie garden as long as they are in close range of the greens.
  • Essential pollinators: Your harvest needs the bees and they need us. Create a flower border around your veggie garden and bring in the friendly flyers to pollinate and spread seeds. Try marigolds, alyssum and cool-season vygies, as well as allowing all herbs to come to flower. Remember to include a freshwater source for our helpers with a way to get in and out too.
Lavender
Basil
Citronella Grass
Chrysanthemum
Marigold
Alyssum
  • Soil structure activists: Champion companion plants also help improve poor soil conditions by adding lacking nutrients. Comfrey (Symphytum) roots break up heavy clay and create channels for aeration and better water absorption, while also releasing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium into the soil. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a valuable compost heap activator, while also stimulating the soil’s nutrient value as leaves fall off and decompose in the veggie patch (it also has pretty white flowers, yay!).
  • Beauty filters: Veggies on-the-grow are already such a lovely sight, as is each one of the above-mentioned budding besties. For super-charged gorgeousness + pollination benefits + insect repellent power, try cosmos, nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus), sunflowers, and sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus). Make space for these beauties in preparation for spring/summer planting.
Comfrey
Yarrow
Cosmos
Nasturtium
Sunflowers
Sweet pea
Autumn flings

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.

  • Carrots

Swipe right: Basil, chives, lettuce, onions, and peas.

Swipe left: Broccoli, cabbage, dill, fennel, and potatoes.

  • Swiss chard 

Swipe right: Beetroot, beans, cabbage, celery, and green peppers.

Swipe left: Grapes, potatoes, and sage.

  • Beans

Swipe right: Beetroot, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, and maize.

Swipe left: Dill, fennel, and all members of the onion family.

  • Celery

Swipe right: Beans, broccoli, cabbage, leeks, and tomatoes.

Swipe left: Nothing, this one’s easy.

  • Cabbage

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.

Companion Plants
Companion Plants
Companion Plants
Companion Plants

February in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

Posted on: January 14th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
February in the garden check list

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.

FLOWER POWER

Blooms to sow
  • Plant tough annuals such as Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) and Gazania Rigens to fill gaps in beds and provide gorgeous colour for the months ahead.
  • Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) is your best bet for pots with full sun. They boast striking pink, red, cream, or orange blooms that’ll bring any patio to life.
  • Begin sowing these winter and spring-flowering gems that need a bit of time to mature in seedling trays: cinerarias, gazanias, Iceland poppies, primulas, violas, pansies, larkspurs, Canterbury bells, columbines, and aquilegias.
Sow Sweet William
Gazania rigens
Iceland poppies
Planning ahead

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.

Best for indoors

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.

Caring for flowers

 

  • Keep azaleas and camellias well-watered to ensure a good show of flowers during winter and spring.
  • Keep deadheading your spent blooms to promote faster regrowth with more flowers.
Love Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
Deadhead
 Rose TLC
  • Deadhead and dis-bud your babies.
  • Water well 3 times a week.
  • Fertilise BUT remember that a heap on the surface is not optimal. Fertiliser is only of use when it is dissolved by water and carried to the roots.
  • Spray fortnightly against black spot, beetles and bollworm with organic pest control solutions available at your GCA Garden Centre.

 

 ALL ABOUT EDIBLES
Greens to sow and plant
  • Sow spinach, globe artichokes, chillies, parsley, carrots, radish and rocket.
  • Sow your first round of potato seeds for an early winter harvest.
  • Plant Chinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) if you enjoy Asian-style cooking. This aquatic vegetable forms tufts of bright green with straw-like leaves that spread rapidly.
Spinach, February checklist
Globe Artichoke, February checklist
Chillies, February check list
Rocket, February checklist
Chinese Water chestnut
Tending to the harvest
  • Pinch out tomatoes and surplus squashes to get fewer but bigger vegetables.
  • Remember to keep mulching your beds to suppress weed growth, keep roots cool, and conserve water.
 Garden centre treasures
  • Buy ready-to-plant strawberries, which you can hang in baskets or transplant into containers. Feed and water regularly to enjoy their beauty, even after fruiting.
  • Your local GCA Garden Centre has the latest, fully grown, dwarf veggies that are ready to harvest, even while still in the car’s boot. These varieties include: chillies, cherry tomatoes, and fresh loose-leaf lettuce varieties. Take advantage of these time-saving greens that’ll give you some goodness to eat while waiting for other crops to mature.
Pesky critters

 

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!

Squash
Mulch
Strawberries
Cherry tomatoes
Loose lettuce leaf
Red spider Mite

October in the Garden October Check List

Posted on: September 23rd, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
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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.

Sow edibles

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:

  • Lemon sun squash is a patty pan that produces sweet and tender fruits on vigorous plants. The male flowers are also perfect for frying.
  • Easy pick gold and easy pick green squash are smooth textured no-fuss zucchinis.
  • Butterbaby squash is a small, sweet butternut that can be grown up a trellis to save space.
  • Honeynut squash is another mini butternut that has exceptionally sweet fruit, is easy to germinate and produces high yields of fruit.
  • If you want to try something funky then sample the vegetable spaghetti squash. It has unique flesh that separates into long, clear strings, which resemble pasta. It has a slight crunch with a mild squash flavour and can be used just like spaghetti. It’s the ideal way to get small children into eating veggies and also the perfect vegan spaghetti.

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.

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Sow edibles

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.

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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.

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Life_is_a_Garden_OCT-InTheGarden-Feed

Bedding plants

Look out for:

  • Shade: Beacon Impatiens or busy lizzies this spring since they are Downy Mildew resistant.
  • Semi-shade: Harmon New Guinea Impatiens. They produce vast numbers of beautiful flowers in exquisite shades, including some bi-colours. They are very floriferous with the plants being covered in bloom all season long. They will be very eye-catching in focal areas, containers and hanging baskets.
  • Semi-shade to full sun: Sunpatiens are strong and less prone to disease and are able to tolerate high heat and humidity, rain and adverse weather conditions.

Tip: Sunpatiens like other impatiens require regular watering.

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Rose Care

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:

  • Princess Charlene de Monaco: A beautiful Hybrid Tea rose, which has very fragrant double flowers, light apricot to shell pink in colour. It has excellent disease resistance and a good choice for use as a cut flower.
  • Thuli Madonsela rose: This novel rose is vigorous, with strong roots, and disease-resistant leaves, able to thrive despite climatic stresses – just like her name suggests.  The striking two-tone pink and white blooms have a perfect hybrid tea shape but carried in abundant clusters. The colour is prominent, feminine pink and white for purity. Grows to about 1.4m high.
  • Anneli van Rooyen rose: An extremely free-flowering hybrid tea that loves when the sun brings out its exquisite colour - a blend of deep cream to coral. Grows to shoulder height.
  • Patricia Lewis rose: A family favourite that’s even thorn free rendering excellent cut flowers. The medium sized, pointed buds open slowly, spiralling to exhibit perfection. The glowing colour lingers between deep pink and red. A healthy & energetic grower.
  • Elize Cawood rose: It's love at first sight and you won’t have to act impressed with these babies. The shimmering pearl white carries ever-so subtle undertones of soft pink. Every bloom is of a flawless Hybrid Tea shape – perfect for picking as cut flowers.
  • Rina Hugo rose: A faithful rose donning classically shaped, pointed buds. It develops into full and elegantly shaped deep magenta-pink blooms. Grown to be vigorous, healthy and strong carrying its large blooms in rich abundance.
  • People’s Princess rose: Named after Diana, the Princess of Wales, who was widely loved by people. The pointed, green-hued buds develop into large, firm petalled blooms; deep silk pink, the colour of pigeons’ breasts flows from the tips of the petal edges towards the centre of the high pointed, exhibition shaped flowers.
  • Hannon rose: Named after Hannon - the Glam Guru. A new variety of Hybrid Tea rose with deep pink flowers! It blooms and flushes throughout the season and makes the perfect and most stunning cut flower. Grows to about 1m high.
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Inland Gardening

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.

 

Coastal Gardening

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.

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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!

Make your own teacher appreciation gift DIY Kids Activity

Posted on: September 27th, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

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.

What you will need:
  • Plant of your choice (we chose a beautiful yellow Gerbera)
  • Plastic plant pot and saucer. Choose the correct size for your chosen plant to fit into. (Ours looked best in a white 20cm pot)
  • Self-adhesive chalk board labels
  • Chalk or chalkboard pen
  • Craft glue
  • Tape measure
  • Creative craft embellishments (We found some gorgeous butterflies)
  • Newspaper
  • Potting soil

Heres how to make it:
  1. Lay out newspapers over a table or surface where you’ll be working so you don’t get anything dirty.
  2. Put craft glue around the rim circumference of your plastic pot and stick the tape measure around the rim. Cut off excess tape.
  3. Next, stick a self-adhesive chalk board label in the middle of one side of the pot.
  4. Decorate the rest of the pot with your chosen craft embellishments.
  5. Write your message on your chalk board label, using chalk or chalkboard pen. We chose to write “Thank you for helping me grow”, as a special message for a teacher.
  6. Plant your flower in your pot. Fill a quarter to half way with potting soil and place your plant into the pot. Top up with some more potting soil. Water well.
  7. Your gift is now ready to give to your teacher.

You can purchase your pot, plant and potting soil, as well as get helpful advice from your local GCA Garden Centre. Stay up to date with all your garden care and inspiration. Join the conversation on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lifeisagardensa.