Posts Tagged ‘ rosemary ’

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

December in the Garden December Check List

Posted on: December 1st, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Happy holidays is the theme and sentiment this month across much of the world. December, for some, is a time for relaxing and taking in the beauty of their summer gardens, while for others it means time to have fun giving TLC to their indoor, patio and garden plants. It is exciting to spruce up the home, patio and garden during this season of family time. Ask your family for gardening gifts that you may have eyed at your local garden centre. Plants are living gifts that will last for years in the garden – the type of gift that keeps on giving! Life is a Garden, so get the family in on it too!

Edibles

Add some zing to your cuisine these holidays with the following herbs:

Mint: A sprig of mint foliage is currently an all-the-rage addition to mojito cocktails, gin, other home-made cordials, as well as other trendy sundowners. Mint has very fragrant leaves with a fruity, aromatic taste.

This easy-to-grow groundcover prefers well-drained soils and good, regular watering. They are prized in the kitchen and as a landscaping plant in the garden.

There are many mints to choose from, here are some popular ones:

  • Spearmint for savoury dishes
  • Peppermint for desserts
  • Apple mint for drinks
  • Chocolate mint with liquors
  • Garden mint in salads, with lamb, peas, zucchini, fresh beans, marinades, fruit salads, cold soups, cheese and more.

Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to see these and other mints available.

Tip: For those of you that like spicy dishes there is even a “Hot mint”, which is also called Vietnamese coriander.

Neat to know: Young leaves are tastier than old leaves. The key to keeping the plant healthy will be to harvest sprigs regularly to stimulate new young shoots.

Did you know?: Although best eaten fresh, sprigs can be left for a few days in water, mint leaves can be frozen or air-dried.

Rosemary: A favourite herb! Many of us would use much more rosemary in our food if we had a plant or two growing in the garden. Rosemary can be used in a multitude of dishes including roast vegetables, poultry, lamb, stews and soups. In addition, this herb also adds a lovely savoury flavour to vegan and vegetarian dishes.

Tip: Use sprigs of rosemary fresh or hang up bunches and allow them to air-dry and then store them in an airtight container in the cupboard.

Neat to know: Rosemary is a beautiful evergreen shrub with blue flowers. There is the unusual prostate Rosmarinus officinalis ‘McConnell’s Blue’ and the upright Rosmarinus Tuscan Blue or braai rosemary.

Dill: Dill Anethum graveolens is a landscaping winner due to its fine feathery texture. It is a favourite in European and Asian cuisines and a must when paired with fish on the braai. Dill is commonly used to enhance the flavour of salmon, potatoes, stews, soups, with green beans and yoghurt-based sauces, and for pickling. Try adding some dill to your next summer salad and enjoy a little exotic taste!

Tip: Sow seeds every few weeks into early summer. In this way, if you are planting dill to use for pickling, you will have an on-going supply for when you harvest the veg you wish to pickle!

Something amazing! Dill is a host plant for the caterpillar of the Black Swallowtail butterfly and also attracts beneficial insects like wasps and other predatory insects to your garden. Dill for the win!

Elf on the shelf

Let’s go gardening with Elfie:

Poinsettia hammocks: Take two poinsettias and sling a DIY hammock between their pots. Elfie can use this to relax and enjoy watching you and the family during the holidays (while also keeping an eye out for naughty behaviour).

Harvesting your watermelons: Yes, if you sowed your seed early, you should have watermelon ready to be picked, hooray! Hello, healthy dessert for Elfie and all!

Climbing up Amaryllis: Let Elfie see how far up the flowering stalk of your Amaryllis he can climb. Apparently, he’s quite an agile fella!

Dare to be different this Christmas

Everyone is welcome at Christmas, regardless of religious affiliations, and even if you simply enjoy the sentiment of gift-giving, there is a tree for you! Besides, what’s more awesome than enjoying the look on your child and loved one’s face when you finally nailed it! There are both large and small artificial and living Christmas trees to choose from. We don’t always need to choose a traditional Christmas tree, so let’s have a look at some of the options:

  • The indigenous bushveld gardenia (Gardenia volkensii) is a shrub with glossy green foliage and an interesting, arching branching pattern. Sweetly-scented white flowers open at night with attractive egg-shaped fruit. They are slow-growing and therefore wonderful focal plants for small gardens, patio pot plants or even as bonsai specimens.
  • Henkel’s yellowwood (Podocarpus henkelii) is an indigenous tree with dark green needle-like drooping leaves and a fairly pyramidal shape, making it a popular choice as a multi-purpose tree.
  • For those of you that prefer a smaller, table-top tree, the gold crest conifer or Cupressus ‘Gold Crest’,is a striking indoor or patio Christmas tree that can later be planted out into a sunny spot in the garden or left to grow in a pot for next year. They enjoy a sunny spot in the garden or patio.

Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to view the various Christmas trees available. You may even be surprised to find tree lights and décor at some of them.

Get creative these holidays

There are many plants that are very useful to make your own fresh décor with. Here are a few easy tips for those finishing holiday spirit touches that’ll certainly impress your guests. family and may make you the envy of your friends:

  • Use the pliable branch ends of our indigenous willow (Salix mucronate) to make a beautiful fresh wreath. Decorate it with pinecones or Christmas décor as a door wreath or eye-catching table centrepiece.
  • The foliage from leylandii conifers (Cupressus leylandii) or butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus) and geraldton wax (Chamelaucium uncinatum) are also great to use as floral décor of any kind. You can make floral arrangements as table runners, candle wreath décor, or add Christmas décor to them.

If you don’t have these plants in your garden, then take a trip to your local GCA Garden Centre. Remember that once you plant them you will have a constant source of fresh plant décor from the growing plant.

What’s cracking at your GCA Garden Centre?

Make good use of the holidays and day trip to your local GCA Garden Centre. Keep an eye out for new colours and varieties of pretty perennials like:

  • Achillea (yarrow) with its fine fern-like foliage and waves of flat multi-blooms.
  • Cape fuchsia (Phygelius capensis) is an indigenous “shady lady” that looks shy due to her gorgeous clusters of hanging trumpet-looking flowers.
  • Cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) is regal and attention-grabbingly tall, ideal for that damp spot in the garden.
  • Penstemon is an easy-to-grow perennial that is so rewarding with stunning flowering spires.
  • Daisies (Argyranthemum) nowadays are so compact and remarkably peppered with hundreds of buds and flowers on one plant – that’s what we call them flower power!

Tip: As with most new things, new plant varieties are often superior to their predecessors in a range of different ways, such as being more disease resistant, flowering for longer, producing larger blooms, or even a new flower colour. Don’t be shy to ask your local GCA Garden Centre salesman to show you all the new plants they have in stock for the season, you won’t regret it!

Let’s assess, yes?

December is an ideal time to consider new directions in the home or garden. You can begin implementing changes and improvements while you are still on holiday, or you can carry them over as New year’s resolution.

Are you getting the best from your garden? Consider who uses the garden the most and what you use the space for. Are you utilising your lawn and planting beds? Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Do you have enough lawn for the kids to play cricket on or for your fur-babies to frolic? Lawns give the garden that wholesome “green” feeling and allow for lots of fun and games in the garden, especially when the family comes together. No kids, no pets? Well, then perhaps you should consider a low maintenance gravel garden instead of a time-consuming lawn.
  • Could you fit a treehouse for the kids, an outdoor dolls house, or a fort? You could decorate the area with fun garden ornaments, a little bridge perhaps, or even get the kids to plant bright flowers and easy-to-grow veggies.
  • Is it time to think about healthy living and extend your edible garden into the main garden? Absolutely! Adding veg like cabbage and spinach into your garden beds makes quite an impact! Olive trees and dwarf citrus lollipop trees are also very trendy in place of ornamentals. Having more veg also means more to cook with AND more to give away to other hungry tummies in need.
  • Is there a spot in the garden that waiting for a cosey bench or hammock? A spot in the shade for reading or facing the sunset for lekker sundowners chats? Ready-made garden arches and cute gazebos are also available to create an intimate garden room feel in both small and large gardens.
  • How about a place for a fire pit? Marshmallow braais, a little drumming and singing under the African sky, and some storytelling and laughs between friends – now that’s what we’re talking about!
  • There’s nothing to match the tranquil and soothing sound of a water feature. Is there a space you’ve always wanted to transform? A little aquatic touch will defiantly do the garden justice. Your local GCA Garden Centre has plenty of models for you to choose from.

Tip: A simple coat of paint on your inner garden walls can have a huge influence on the atmosphere in your garden. A dark olive or dark green paint can make the walls seem to disappear.

Have fun with family and friends in your garden this December! Treasure every moment as though your Life is a Garden, and plant flowers and food wherever you go.

Rosemary Kebabs for Braai Day DIY Kids Activity

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

September is known for a lot of things, but it is mostly remembered for the mouth-watering braais we have on Heritage day. Heritage day is dedicated to celebrating our cultural roots and identity, and our culture is not complete without our friends and family! A good braai creates memories that can be passed on for generations to come.

Next to boerewors - kebabs or sosaties are essential to any braai. Try something new this heritage day with our flavoursome rosemary kebab recipe. You can try this easy, fun recipe with your kids. This will not only be a great bonding moment but also a chance to teach them recipes that can become part of their heritage.

What you will need 
  • Rosemary branches from your garden
  • Chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • Finely chopped basil leaves
  • Sea salt
  • Skewers
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Wooden spatula

Preparing the Rosemary Kebabs Step 1

Cut your chicken breasts into small pieces then use the skewers to make holes through the chicken pieces, so it’s easy to push the rosemary branch through.

Step 2 

Mix the garlic paste with the lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Then add basil leaves and black pepper. Lastly, add the sea salt to taste and leave for 15 mins.

Step 3

Place the chicken pieces into the marinade paste and use a wooden spatula to mix the chicken into the marinade paste. Leave for 30 minutes to an hour. For best results marinade and leave overnight.

Step 4 

Push the freshly picked rosemary branches through the chicken pieces. Then place on the braai and cook to perfection.

Step 5

Share with your family and friends. Enjoy.

For more inspiring garden recipes visit our website https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/ or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top everything gardening https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/signup-to-our-newsletter/