Posts Tagged ‘ seed ’

Paul Vonk – do’s and Don’t of sowing flower and grass seed

Posted on: March 26th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi
Failure with seeds – we’ve all experienced it. Paul Vonk of Mayford Seeds speaks about common errors when planting veggie, herb, flower and lawn seeds.
He also chats about combination planting and combining flower bulbs and flower seeds.

Strawberries from Seed – A First for RSA Feature Diamond Sponsor - MayFord Seeds

Posted on: October 20th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

Rich red in colour and silky sweet to taste, few fruits are as quintessential of a sunny summer’s day as are strawberries. If it is taste and packed in goodness you are after, we all know that nothing beats growing your own.

Known for being at the forefront of innovation and always happy to oblige, MayFord Seed will be offering strawberry seed to gardeners around the country, a South African first. And not just any strawberry. This is a high quality, world class strawberry variety that wouldn’t be out of place in the Royal Box at Wimbledon.

Strawberry ‘Florian’ offers up delightful, bright pink blooms that are followed by a heavy crop of perfectly sized, aromatic, red fruit with a distinct Japanese style flavour to them. Be ready to be amazed as the sheer volume and quality of the fruit, coupled with the unbelievable taste will blow you away. Sow in spring and harvest the delicious fruits from early summer right through until autumn.

Strawberry 'Florian' is an ever bearing variety that forms a compact plant just 35cm wide. The plants are ideally suited to being grown outdoors, either in their own row in a veg garden, or because their flowers and fruit are so attractive in your garden beds. If space is limited, you don’t have to miss out; ‘Florian’s’ compact form makes it perfect for container planting on a sunny patio. Because it fruits from its runners as well as the main plant, 'Florian' is ideal for growing in hanging baskets.

Top Tips
  • Sow from early spring in seed trays using coir/peat or seedling mix.
  • The seed is very small so cover lightly, press down and keep moist.
  • Be patient as germinations takes up to 3 weeks.
  • After about 8 weeks or when they are large enough to handle, the seedlings are ready to be planted out.
  • Plant the strawberries in full sun in fertile, moist, well-drained soil and spaced 35cm away from each other.
  • Keep the plants well-watered, particularly if they are potted up and feed every 2 weeks with a liquid fertiliser.
  • To keep your plants neat, remove the runners from time to time. These can be planted in other parts of the garden.
  • As the fruits develop, place dry straw or mulching material underneath them to stop to ensure unblemished fruit.
  • If you have a healthy and hungry bird population in your area, it’s a good idea to put netting over the young fruit.
  • Strawberries are ready to harvest as soon as they turn red and are slightly firm to the touch.
  • When harvesting, cut, rather than pull, the berries off at the stem.
  • For those with a sweet tooth, the Dutch put a little powdered sugar on strawberries to make them taste even better.
  • Once the growing season is over, cut the foliage back and mulch around the plants.

MayFord strawberry seed are available from all good garden centres and selected chain stores. To check out MayFord’s complete range of products visit their website

Spring Zing September Checklist

Posted on: August 23rd, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments
September Checklist

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! 


‘n Spekkie for thought 

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: 

  • Environment: They help to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by acting like a handy carbon sponge, thereby improving the quality of air we breathe. 
  • Firebreaks: This plant is used in fire-prone areas as a perimeter hedge – good to know! 
  • Food: Spekboom leaves are edible and add interesting texture and flavour to salads. They are high in Vitamin C with a juicy, sour taste – definitely worth a try!  
  • Soil: A good soil binder that helps to prevent soil erosion – wind and slopes beware! 
  • Versatile: With so many varieties available, spekkies are excellent groundcovers, look spectacular in hanging baskets, add a vibe to mixed succulent containers, are super hardy trees, cute bonsais, and are just overall an awesomely easy addition to the garden.  
  • Easy to please: Prune them to shape or let them grow wild, feed them or forget about them, mulch them or munch on them. 

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.

  • Tom Thumb: a small-leaved, compact variety that makes an excellent bonsai.
  • Longstockings: also small-leaved but with a distinctly vertical growth form.
  • Macrophylla: a giant-leaved variety, very sculptural in the garden or in pots. 
  • Also try: Limpopo (most common), Prostrata, Aurea, Foliis variegate, Medio-picta, Variegata, Tricolor, and Cork Bark.
Tom Thumb
Portulacaria afra Prostrata
Portulacaria afra Medih-picta
Portulacaria afra variegata
Fired-up flowers 
  • Plant Alyssum in garden beds or hanging baskets in full to partial sun. They tolerate dry soil and will flourish with frequent deadheading. Alyssum are ideal as attractive edge borders, framing flower beds, as well as adding vibrancy and texture to window boxes. 
  • Also plant clivias, salvias, begonia ‘Dragon Wings’, verbenas, penstemons, camellias and azaleas for a splash of happy spring colour. 
  • Warm-season bulbs like tuberous begonias, dahlias and amaryllis can also be planted now. For summer bedding colour, include masses of petunias, dianthus, gazanias, and Zantedeschia hybrids. 
  • Perennials to plant with your spring collection include columbines, angel wings (Gaura), Limonium perezi (giant statice), Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’ (cornflower), and Viola odorata ‘The Czar’ (sweet violet). 
  • Sow bold sunflowers, zinnias, and portulacas to reap the rewards in a few weeks.

In the bloom prune zone: Mayflowers, banksia roses, hibiscus and poinsettia are ready for a snip. Deadhead pansies and violas now too.

Angel wings
Scabiosa columbaria
Edible spring zingers
  • Plant strawberries, asparagus, tomatoes, chillies, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, cabbage, beetroot, spinach and chard.
  • Sow seeds of tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, beans, beetroot, eggplants, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, mealies, pumpkin, dwarf beans, runner beans, maize and sweetcorn.
  • Trees to plant are olives and almonds, yummy!
  • Herbs to plant include dill, chervil, origanum, borage, mustard, caraway, coriander, mint, Pennyroyal, rosemary, fennel, basil, anise and summer savoury.

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.

Trees for your troubles 

Wildlife-attracting, shade-providing, and spring-blooming trees to plant now are: 

  • Paperbark acacia
  • Fever tree
  • Pom pom tree
  • Forest elder 
  • Cape chestnut
  • Dombeya rotundifolia (wild pear)

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! 


Paperbark acacia
Get your lawn lush 

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. 


Pesky pest alert

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. 

  • Leaf gall on azaleas (small swellings or knobs on the leaves, stems, and flowers).
  • Thrips on gladioli (spottings on flowers and yellow speckled areas on leaves).
  • Citrus psylla on lemons (raised, pocket-like swelling on leaves). 
  • Impatient fungus (yellow-green discolouration of leaves, often curling downwards). 
  • Snails and slugs around newly planted seedlings.
  • Cutworms on the roots and foliage of new growth.


Maintenance incoming 
  • Refresh, top-up or replace pebbles and gravel around the garden, especially between paving stones where dust and mud accumulate to spoil the effect.
  • Check for algae and moss on paving. Scrub down with a solution of copper sulphate or use a moss killer.
Leaf gall
Black Thrips

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.

Growing a Veggie Garden for Beginners Fundamentals of Gardening - Back to Basics

Posted on: January 11th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Growing a veggie garden for beginners

Welcome, novice farmers! We are delighted to see your green fingers in bloom, exploring the world of homegrown goodness. Experience for yourself what all the hype is about by starting your own little veggie garden or edible pot. There is something truly special about fresh greens from the Earth – their incredible flavour loaded with nutrients, the direct connection with Mother Nature, and the unbeatable sense of pride from harvesting the fruits of your labour. Find out how to start your own edible journey below.

Humble beginnings

For your first growing quest, we recommend starting small. Think about whether you would like to use containers, plant straight into the ground, or if you would like to make raised beds. Consider your space and available time to guide your growing style. Sowing a couple of seeds in an empty space in your flower bed is as good a beginning as any.

Top tip: Be careful not to overpopulate your space. Your veggies will increase in size and need room to grow and climb. Planting too close together will also cause veggies to shade one another. Refer to your seed packet or handy GCA Garden Centre guy for advice.
Planting in containers
Planting in the ground
Planting in raised beds
Bean growth
Location, location, location

With the idea of starting small in mind, where you choose to grow is an equally important factor to consider. Veggies love the sun and will flourish in open areas that receive as much sunlight as possible with no big trees throwing shade on your new babies. Examine your space through eco-eyes: take note of the sun’s movement, surrounding foliage, and expansion space needed as your greens grow.

Top tip: Location is also important in terms of watering. Make sure your veggies are in reach of the hosepipe or irrigation system, and remain uncovered to receive as much rainfall as possible. If you’re planning to grow on the stoep, make sure your containers have good drainage and expect to have some water flowing out from under the pots, which is something to consider when placing them.


Choosing the best veg 

Your first go-to is Google where you can access all the LIAG articles on what to sow and when. Seasonal veggies (meaning the ones to plant for that season) are your best bets for success as these greens are naturally adapted to the climate of the given time. Also, consider how the plant grows – some grow like ground covers (pumpkin) and need plenty of space, while others like to climb (beans) requiring support structures, some veggies also need deeper soil (potatoes) and appear more bush-like on the top.

Did you know? Your GCA Garden Centre is fully loaded with seeds and seedlings for herbs, fruit, and veg.Enjoy a day trip out with the family and find your perfect edible with the help of friendly garden centre staff.
Ground covers - pumpkin
Climbers - beans
Soil growers - potatoes
Feb/March sowing suggestions:
  • Gauteng: spinach, lettuce, beetroot, and carrots.
  • Kwa-Zulu Natal: cabbage, broad beans, turnips, and radish.
  • Eastern Cape: spinach, beans, beetroot, and carrots.
  • Western Cape: cauliflower, celery, peas, and onions.


Top tip: Remember that compost maketh the crop! Visit your GCA Garden Centre for a variety of nutritious and organic fertilisers to keep your veggies growing for gold.


There’s always time and space, even for a single vegetable to be sown. Pick your favourite and plant it, it’s that simple, and the reward is marvellous! Gain a deeper appreciation for the food you eat by watching it grow and observing all the different phases of the life of a veggie – now that’s nature’s magic at its best!