Posts Tagged ‘ seeds ’

Plant Moms Botanical Boss

Posted on: April 26th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi No Comments
life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

Plant Mom Addition 

May is for the plant moms! Embrace becoming a botanical boss and dig your way into the world of plant parenting with confidence. Celebrate Mother’s Day with a new addition to the family or gift mommy dearest something to help with that empty nest. Follow Life is a Garden’s guide to successful indoor gardening.

life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

Seasoned plant moms

If you’re looking for a plant that says “this isn’t my first child”, these three high-maintenance favourites will glamorously show off your expert parenting skills. 

  1. Moth orchid

Tantrums about: could be anything but especially overwatering.  

Bribe it with: patience, loose bark potting mix, indirect sunlight, humidity, scheduled watering. 

  1. Maidenhair fern

Tantrums about: not being able to watch you shower. 

Bribe it with: misting, dappled light, and humidity. Also, some time outdoors where it can see the sunset. 

  1. Calathea

Tantrums about: being the only child and open spaces.

Bribe it with: bright, indirect sun, well-draining soil, lots of friends to increase humidity, and a shallow container (short-root syndrome). 

life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

First-time plant parents 

When gifting or homing a plant as the first indoor offspring, go for these three easy greens that don’t always need to be the centre of attention. 

  1. Snake plant 

May give glares when: irritated by too many water kisses. 

Give pocket money and: only one or two waterings during winter and almost any light condition. 

 

  1. Spider plant 

May give glares when: it’s too hot to play inside  

Give pocket money and: well-drained soil, indirect light, occasional pruning of playful spiderettes.

  1. Pothos (Epipremnum)

May give glares when: grounded and unable to go anywhere. 

Give pocket money and: a hanging basket or trellis, a little pruning, and a chance to dry out between watering. 

 

Indoor growing guide

Regardless of what you are planning to grow, here are our top tips for successfully raising your bundles of joy indoors. 

  • Adoption: purchase plants and seedlings from our quality approved GCA Garden Centres, ensuring that your new greens have already been given the best head start in life. 
  • Containers: always choose a container with many drainage holes, and don’t forget the saucer! Purchasing a small watering can with a long spout is also a great idea. 
  • Repotting: potted plants will eventually outgrow their containers. You’ll know it’s time to repot them when there is more root than soil left inside the pot. Upgrade your pot size and replenish the soil with fresh potting mix and a splash of fertiliser. Ask your garden centre assistant for help on which plant food and soil mix to use for your particular plant. 
  • Journaling: to help organise feeding, watering and pruning times, begin a diary for your indoor plants where you can schedule your playdates properly. A journal will also help future babysitters and prevent them from accidentally doing damage to your hard work while you are away. 
  • Maintenance: to keep your plant children looking and performing their best, use a damp cloth to remove any dust from the leaves. Dust prevents plants from absorbing adequate light and clogs their stomata – the holes which they need to breathe. In addition, deadheading spent blooms will encourage more flower power while pruning promotes lush regrowth. 

 

The benefits of plant babies 

Indoor gardening is a fabulous hobby! You could start an Instagram page to promote your plant-parenthood journey and let the world celebrate those special growth milestones with you. In addition, gardening of all kinds promotes a connection with nature, increases happiness, improves air quality, and is really fun (and slightly addictive).

 

From conversation starters to filling an empty nest, there’s always a reason to get a new plant or five! Remember to check the growing instructions of your new addition and make sure you can provide the perfect place for optimal growth. Life is a Garden, and plant moms are awesome!

life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

Biodiversity – All things that Fly and Crawl

Posted on: April 26th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi No Comments
Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden

Life is a Garden invites you to become eco-custodians to South Africa’s heralding wildlife, right from your backyard! Reap the rich rewards and fall in love with our vibrant biodiversity that flies, swarms, and crawls with life.

Local is the lekkerste: Growing indigenous plants means more habitat creation for our local wildlife, while also increasing our native plant species reduced by urbanisation and deforestation. SA’s critters and greens have a lekker advantage of being naturally adaptive to our environment, meaning less maintenance and more life in your garden!

Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden

Bring in biodiversity by

  • Planting for pollinators: Attract bees, butterflies, birds, and eco-barometers like frogs and lizards by planting salvia, borage, lavender, and antirrhinum.
    • Companion planting: Get your edibles elated, your flowers flourishing and seeds spreading by adding pentas, echinacea, marigolds and sunflowers to the veggie patch. 
    • Organic pest-control: Naturally repel a variety of pests by planting basil (for flies), citronella grass and rosemary (for mozzies), as well as chrysanthemum (for spider mites).
    • Helpful predators: Avoiding pesticides attract natural predators such as ladybugs, spiders, dragonflies and praying mantises who make quick work of mealybugs, aphids, scale, and more.
    • Wonderful water: Give your garden critters a drink with water features and birdbaths. Enjoy watching all your favourite friends come to visit. 
    • House wildlife: Install bird, bat, bee, and owl houses around your garden for fewer rodents, mozzies, and locusts. Become a beekeeper and harvest your own honey too! 
    • Indulge in indigenous: Clivias, vygies, African lily (Agapanthus spp.), crane flowers and salvias attract colourful indigenous flyers for your viewing pleasure. 
  • Evade the invasive: Remove invasive plant species from your garden. Aliens may overconsume water, negatively transform the land, and hinder our local biodiversity. 

Happy soil = happy plants: Make sure you’ve got good drainage, use compost, mulch up, and fertilise.

Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden
Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden

Remember to visit your favourite GCA Garden Centre where you can purchase all sorts of wildlife accessories and gorgeous gogga-attracting plants. You’ll find all the compost and fertiliser you need too, as well as some very stylish birdbaths and cute garden décor. 

 

Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden
Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden

Poppies and Petunias Balcony Besties

Posted on: April 26th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi No Comments
poppies, petunias, life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

As the sun sets to welcome the evening sky in all its colourful glory, sit back and relax on the balcony with some potted poppies and petunias for company. These lovelies are the perfect choice for all-year-round charm and vibrance. Here is Life is a Garden’s guide on how to successfully grow and care for your new patio and balcony besties.

Cute petunias in containers

 

Petunias are available in a range of colours, each as bright as the next. Position them in a mostly sunny spot and ensure they are never completely dry. Perform the finger test to see when to water petunias as you would rather want to underwater than overwater these babes. 

 

Soil:

Petunias require well-draining, aerated and slightly acidic soil. Potting soil mix works well, especially if you combine it with a little peat moss to lower pH levels. 

 

Fertiliser:

These ladies love lots of food. Most potting mixes have the right amount of nutrients but to be sure, use a slow-release fertiliser after planting. Alternatively, compost will give Petunias the feeding they need, just remember to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the soil’s drainage abilities. 

 

Deadheading:

This encourages plants to direct their energy into creating more flowers, rather than wasting it on already fading blooms. Deadheading also keeps your plant looking neat and tidy. Simply remove flowers that are beyond their prime by pinching them off from just below their base.

 

Perfecting potted poppies 

 

Poppies are a timeless classic. They might not be the easiest flower to grow but their vibrant colour and sweetness is certainly worth the extra care. Poppy varieties that grow well in pots include oriental poppies, Iceland poppies, California poppies, and Shirley poppies. Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule) provide an incredible, colourful show during winter.

 

Planting:

Poppies dislike being transplanted. As such, we recommend purchasing poppy seedling trays along with a little booster food to help with the transplant shock. You can get all these from your GCA Garden Centre. Place containers in a full sun position and be sure to water the seedlings gently as they have very delicate roots. Once in flower, poppies need to be deadheaded to increase the number of blooms. 

 

Soil:

Poppies enjoy a neutral to slightly acidic pH. They require excellent drainage but rich soil. A loamy, well-draining potting mix will be perfect. 

 

Water:

Poppies enjoy minimal water during and before their flowering season. They can be watered every day but ensure not to overwater each time you do. When they’re about to flower, and throughout their flowering period, water moderately, maintaining excellent drainage. 

 

Fertiliser:

Fertiliser should only be applied during the growing season. It is best to apply a slow-release fertiliser when you first plant them. If you didn’t, a balanced liquid feed, every two weeks will provide potted Poppies with the nutrients they need. 

 

Pests:

Be on the lookout for aphids and water regularly to avoid red spider mite damage. Ensure you choose a good-quality potting mix to avoid root rot.

 

If you’re looking to enjoy sunsets in the city, you simply can’t go wrong with these balcony besties. A wide selection of pots and hanging baskets will further help to highlight your new additions, so be sure to consider the style of your chosen containers when planning your new living décor.

Trendy Very Peri

Posted on: April 26th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi No Comments
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple

The Pantone colour of the year is Very Peri – a courageous, statement-making violet-blue that generates creativity and inspiration in the garden. Cultivate some confidence and curiosity this autumn by incorporating planting a striking variety of purple Veri Peri stunners. Here is Life is a Garden’s grow guide for 2022. 

 

Eternal purple bliss

According to the trend-setters at Pantone, “17-3938 Very Peri is a dynamic periwinkle blue hue with a vivifying violet-red undertone that blends the faithfulness and constancy of blue with the energy and excitement of red”. In addition, this colour represents:

  • Newness
  • Mending and healing  
  • Courageous creativity 
  • Imaginative expression 
  • The power of manifestation 

With such passionate connotations connected to this colour, there really is only one thing left to do – GCA Garden Centre here we come! 

 

trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple

Elated tasty edibles  

Did you know? The health benefits of purple food include anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Anthocyanidins are responsible for the purple pigment in our edibles and also helps to boost the immune system. 

  • Fruit: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, red grapes, figs, plums, and passion fruit. 
  • Veggies: Beetroot, eggplant, red cabbage, purple cauliflower, and sweet potatoes. 

 

Idyllic indoors for 2022

Did you know? Having shades of purple plants around the house helps to invoke peace and happiness. There’s a lot going on in the world, so if you’re looking to reap a little more optimism for the new year, grow these:

  • Calatheas, cyclamen, orchids, and rubber tree plant (Ficus elastica).

 

Top tip: Remember to check the sowing and growing season chart on all seed packets, seedling trays, and pots for the best time to introduce your new purple splendours to the garden. 

 

trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple

The most brilliant bulbs

Did you know? When looking at these Veri Peri inspired bulbs, the warmer red-purples are seen as more energetic to the human eye, while the subdued blue-purples are seen as peaceful and contemplative.

  • Plant crocus, hyacinth, allium, tulips, liatris, dahlia, anemone, and agapanthus.

 

Anything but ordinary annuals 

Did you know? Pairing these Veri Peri annuals with hues directly across the colour wheel, such as lime greens and yellow, will create a dynamic contrast in the garden that brings out the best of both extraordinary colours. 

  • Plant heliotrope, petunia, poppy, verbena bonariensis, ageratum, nierembergia, verbena, bachelor’s buttons, statice, calibrachoa, torenia, scaevola, morning glory, and sweet peas.

 

Peaceful (but popping) perennials

Did you know? You can create an analogous hue bed by grouping your red-purple and blue-purple perennials together. Experiment with hot and cool-coloured pallets around the garden for a popping landscape this season. 

  • Plant clematis, baptisia, lupine, iris, campanula, salvia, asters, phlox, Russian sage, perennial geranium, viola, lavender, aconitum, nepeta, delphinium, aquilegia, echinops, platycodon, and pulsatilla.

 

Remember that

Perennial plants regrow every spring while annuals only live for one growing season. The advantage of perennials is that they don’t often need replacing (if well looked after), while annuals reward the garden with unique seasonal charm.  

 

trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple

Show-stopper shrubs

Did you know? Of all the colours, purple is most associated with rarity, royalty, magic, and mystery.  Back in the day, some Roman emperors even forbid their citizens from wearing purple or they would face the death penalty! 

  • Plant buddleia, lilac, wisteria, hydrangea, vitex, ceanothus, azalea, rhododendron, and Texas sage., and rose of Sharon.

 

Cool-season annuals to inspire you NOW  

Begin your Veri Peri adventure this month by planting these chilled out, charismatic lovelies in beds and pots for a little upliftment as we head into shorter days and longer nights. You can purchase these plants along with fertilisers, compost, and other gardening accessories from your favourite GCA Garden Centre. 

  • Alyssum 
  • Vygies
  • Pansies and violas 
  • Petunias 
  • Primulas
  • Antirrhinum (snapdragons)
  • Delphinum (larkspur) 
  • Phlox
  • Lobelia 
  • Dianthus

 

Become part of the trendy gardening vibe-tribe and have fun playing with the Pantone colour of the year. Bring in excitement, courage, and joy by growing some of these truly gorgeous plants. Life is a Garden, and it’s a purple party! 

trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
vERY peri
Life is a Garden

Tiptop Topiary

Posted on: March 29th, 2022 by Loyiso Mamahlodi No Comments
Tiptop Topiary

Show off your champion gardening skills with stunning topiary plants, pruned to sophisticated perfection. Follow Life is a Garden’s topiary style guide and get the look this autumn!  

Top tip: Most evergreen shrubs can be trained to grow into any shape or direction. All you need is some imagination and a good set of shears.  

Get the look

Lollipop: Choose a tall, bushy plant with a strong main stem. Stake the plant well to help it grow upright. Start shaping the head by cutting back stems to about 2 to 3 nodes and clearing the main stem of all other growth. Plant picks: Abutilon, anisodontea, brunfelsia, and Murraya exotica.

Poodle-cut: Go for a slim but bushy plant and stake it securely. Visualise where the dense leaf growth will form the three ‘poodle-cut’ spheres. Shape your balls beginning at the base and clear all other growth. Plant picks: Duranta 'Sheena's Gold', cherry laurel, Cypress, and pittosporum.

Spirals: Choose a slim conifer and challenge yourself with this design. You will need a long, strong stake around which the plant will be twisted, creating the spirals. Complete the look by cleaning around the twists to maintain their spiral shape. Plant picks: Juniperus scopulorum ‘Skyrocket’ and all other pencil conifers. 

Try these topiary styles: Parterres, mazes, labyrinths, knot gardens, espalier, frames, hedging, shapes, and cute animals. 

Topiary colours April garden gardening plants shrubs flowers sow trim
Topiary garden plant flowers shrubs greenery trim design environment april

More terrific topiary plants

Foliage-dense for pruning: Duranta gold, syzygium paniculatum, ficus varieties, ligustrum undulatum, as well as lemon and lime trees. Feed plants monthly with a 2:1:2 fertiliser and mulch around the base with organic plant material. 

Flowering bushes for shaping: Solanum, fuchsias, freylinia, hibiscus, and westringia. Feed plants monthly with a 3:1:6 fertiliser. As soon as they start shooting new branches, cut them back to give them a fuller, more compact shape.

Try these topiary styles: Parterres, mazes, labyrinths, knot gardens, espalier, frames, hedging, shapes, and cute animals.  

Tiptop Topiary
Tiptop Topiary
Tiptop Topiary
hIBISCUS
Tiptop Topiary
FUCHSIA

If you’re new to the world of topiary, you could always practice your shaping skills on fast-growing and affordable rosemary bushes in containers. If you love the look but have a busy lifestyle, why not go for life-like, maintenance-free, faux topiaries as patio and indoor décor. Have fun styling your plants and experimenting with different shapes!  

April in the garden Everything is awesome in April

Posted on: February 28th, 2022 by Cassidy No Comments
April Checklist Gardening Greenery Flowers Plants Colour Health

Happy second month of autumn, gardeners! Although it’s getting colder, the landscape is truly warmed up by the rich colour pallet around us. With many plants going into hibernation, cool-season flowers are only just waking up and getting ready to treat us to their colourful charm. It’s time to sort out some pre-winter maintenance and prep the veggie patch for soups and stews.  

Awesome flowers to plant 
  • Towards the end of April is the perfect time to plant striking indigenous bulbs like watsonia, freesia, ixia, chincherinchee and Sparaxis. For non-indigenous bulbs, try daffodils, irises, tulips, and hyacinths.
  • For colour and charm, go for primula, poppy, pansy and gazania seedlings, as well as perennials such as lupins, Shasta daisies, and aquilegias. 

Planting new roses now will allow them to ‘settle in’ during winter and gain a head start in spring. Continue to spray your roses against fungal diseases such as mildew and black spot.

Cold Winter Autumn Hyacinths season garden gardening coulour plant flower life is a garden
chincherinchee flowers plants garden autumn april greenery
Biodiversity, love your garden, birds, plants, flowers, hydrangeas, animals, life is a garden
aquilegias.

Awesome plants to sow 

  • Flowers that can still be sown are osteospermum, mesembryanthemums, winter scatter packs and the indigenous scatter pack mix. Individual varieties include Virginian stocks, calendula, and Felicia.
  • Veggies to be sown now include peas, parsnips, carrots, onion Texas Grano (short day variety), beetroot Bulls Blood, and broccoli.
  • For a winter production of healthy herbs, start sowing seeds in windowsill containers. High light is all that’s needed for a good crop with a reasonable indoor temperature. 

Top tip: Guard against leaving containers on windowsills overnight as cold glass may harm plants.

Awesome to spray 

  • Aphids will still be around this time of the year, although their numbers will be less than in spring. Give your flowers a close inspection and if there are still a few around control with Plant Protector.
    • Snails and slugs devastate leaves on plants and ruin their appearance. Snailban and Snailflo are just two of the products which you can purchase from your GCA Garden Centre as a solution. 
  • Scale is a sap-sucking insect that can cause severe damage to many types of plants in the garden. They can be eradicated by spraying with Malasol or Oleum in the cooler months.
  • Autumn is the peak season for leaf miners, causing twisting and curling on new leaves. Control with regular applications of Eco Insect Control SC.

Top tip: Watch out for ant movement - the main culprits for transferring disease around the garden. Sprinkle Ant Dust around their holes and along their trails.

mesembryanthemums garden greenery beautiful bright colours life is a garden
Garden Colour Plants Flowers Greenery Gardening Soil Autumn April Easter

Awesome feeding 

  • Feed your winter-flowering plants such as hellebores to encourage a dramatic winter show later in the season when little else is brave enough to flower.
  • When cyclamen buds start to appear on last year’s plants, start feeding them every second week.
  • Add fertiliser to aloes and flowering succulents now.
  • Help your lawn along by feeding with 2.3.2
  • Give sweet peas a boost with liquid fertiliser and train them up onto a net or lattice.
  • Feed citrus trees with a general fertiliser and a handful of Epsom salts per tree.

 

broccoli food greenery health garden autumn gardening life is a garden environmental
April Gardening Food Veggies Cold Easter Garden Green Greenery Plants Flowers

Awesome maintenance 

  • In frost-prone areas, remember to grab some protection from your GCA Garden Centre and be ready to cover up before you’re caught off guard. 
  • Mulch up to the max with living groundcovers and plant materials.
  • Containers are ready for a new layer of potting soil. Remove about one third from the top and replace it with the new soil.
  • Any container plants that need repotting can also be done now. Help them adapt with a liquid fertiliser after transplanting. 

 

If you’re unsure about which fertilisers or sprays to use, remember to ask your knowledgeable garden centre advisors for help. Any other plants that need transplanting can also be done now, giving them a chance to adjust so that come springtime, they are blooming with life.

Hellebores garden food flowers beauty colour autumn growth life is a garden plants greenery green environment
Cyclamen Buds Flowers Environment Health Green Greenery Plants Garden Autumn April Soil Colour

A hot and handsome February February Checklist

Posted on: January 10th, 2022 by Cassidy No Comments

The heat is on this Feb and that means three things for the summer gardener:

  1. Mulch-up to the max
  2. Smart water-wise gardening 
  3. Exciting heat-loving plants to grow 

Life is a Garden has all you need to help you beat the heat and ensure your beloved plant children not only survive, but thrive in our African summer sun. Take care of your lawn, feed and spray, sow and grow, and keep your containers hydrated. 

What’s so magical about mulch? Leaves bark chips, macadamia shells, compost, and pebbles are all considered mulch. The magic of mulch is that it keeps the soil and plants’ roots cool, thereby decreasing evaporation and increasing water retention. That’s less water consumption for the Earth and less time spent on watering for you! #winwin

 

Sexy veggies 

To sow: Spinach, globe artichokes, parsley, carrots, radish, cauliflower, celery, cabbage, oriental vegetables, sweet basil, coriander, nasturtium, and flat-leaf parsley. 

To plant: Bush beans, onions, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beetroot, and Swiss chard.

To tend to: Remove summer vegetables that are coming to the end of their productive cycle to make space for the next seasonal harvest. Add compost to veggie beds and make sure your soil is nice and loose, and reloaded with nutrition. 

To prep:  It’s time to prepare beds for winter and spring crops. Plant your first crop of seed potatoes for an early winter harvest.

To remember: Don’t forget about companion planting as your secret pest and pollination weapon. Increase your crop yield and utilise the bad-bug-repelling power of flowers. Learn more here.

Radish
Flirtatious flowers

Primetime babes: Bougainvilleas, hemerocallis (daylilies), variegated and green foliage plants are showing off their charm this month. Yours may need some TLC if they’re not popping by now.  

Sweetheart sowing: Amazingly fragrant and fuss-free sweet peas are ready to be sown from seed packets available for your nursery.  Try bush varieties sown in pots and hanging baskets for extra specialness around the stoep and patio. Soak sweet pea seeds in water overnight before sowing for better germination. 

A pretty tip: Although petunias are a firm favourite, they should not be planted twice in the same spot to prevent soil-borne diseases.

The hottest of the lot: Orange hermannia (Hermannia pinnata), marigolds, wild rosemary (Eriocephalus africanus), and Honeybells (Freylinia lanceolata) are heat-lovin’ plants that will thrive in Feb.

Sassy seedling trays: Sow cinerarias, gazanias, Iceland poppies, primulas, violas, pansies, larkspurs, Canterbury bells, columbines, sweet Williams and aquilegias now.

 

Water-wise tips for the lawn
  • Raise the height of your mower blades to about 5cm. Longer grass helps to shade the soil and keep the roots cool. 
  • Water in the evening so that your lawn can benefit from all the water without competing with evaporation, UV rays or wind. 
  • Water deeply (about 15 minutes per sprinkler setting) twice a week rather than watering for frequent  shorter periods. Deep watering encourages the development of strong, healthy roots.

Top water-wise tip: Check the weather report gardeners! You can very easily save time and water by planning your weekly watering in accordance with your areas natural rainfall. 

Be the BEST: Remember to get the buckets and collection containers out during the rain. All the water we have is already on Earth! Conserving as much as we can is essential in playing our part as conscious gardeners. Use your collected rain water instead of the hose pipe to give your pots and beds a drink during this scorcher of a month.  

 

Smart spraying and feeding 
  • Check for red spiders on roses, usually found on the underside of the leaf. Your nursery attendant will be able to recommend the right product for the job. Remember to take photos of pests to assist in the correct identification and control solution. 
  • Feed containers and hanging baskets fortnightly with a lekker liquid fertiliser available from your GCA Garden Centre. 

 

Blazing terracotta pots

Before planting, soak your terracotta pot overnight to saturate the clay and prevent it from stealing moisture from new plants. Place a paper coffee filter inside to avoid losing soil during watering. Heavier pots with thicker walls will last longer and handle frost better too.

 

 

Eco-warrior: The brave Braconid Wasp

Did you know? Wasps are pollinators too, although not as efficient as our fuzzy-legged bees that are able to collect more of the good stuff. However, one particular miniature wasp, the braconid, is the tomato gardener’s best friend. This bad boy loves feasting on the tomato hornworm, a well-known destructive pest.

The braconid wasp very cleverly lays its eggs in a living host, such as the hornworm, thereby ensuring a lifecycle of nutrition. The braconid will entirely consume its host as it progresses through the pupa, cocoon, and adult phases of its life.

Let them breed: If you see a hornworm covered in eggs or pupae, leave it alone. This nursery is producing an army of eco-warriors!

 

Enjoy your handsome February garden and never let the weather be too hot for your plants to handle. Remember to mulch up to the max and get water-wise savvy. Life is a Garden, and meant to be enjoyed in the summer!

Growing and caring for clivias Garden Mastery

Posted on: December 7th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

Clivias are one of South Africa’s indigenous super stunners and have become quite the collector’s dream. Luckily, you don’t have to be a horticulturist to grow these distinguished plants, just some garden mastery know-how from Life is a Garden. Learn how to correctly harvest clivia seeds, how to grow them, and how to provide long term care for your elite lovelies.

 

The clivia craze

What’s so special about these plants anyway? For starters, they produce simply exquisite trumpet-like, fragrant flowers with dramatic blooms in sunset shades, both as solid colours and as delightful bi-colour varieties. Owing to their lengthy germinating time (one year from seed to pot) they’ve rightfully earned their place in the professional landscapers garden. Up for the challenge? These beauts can be grown as hero houseplants in a well-lit area, in shaded beds, or in pots on the patio with no direct sunlight. They thrive in rich potting mix with good drainage. Clivias are most active from autumn to spring, but they’ll retain their dainty evergreen foliage all year round.

 

Top tip: Garden centres are stocked with a truly splendid variety of potted clivias to choose from. Ask the friendly nursery attendants for guidance on what soil mixes to use in beds and pots. They’ll also be able to give you recommendations on fertilisers to give your prized clivias that extra boost.

Growing clivias from seed

There are two ways to get your green fingers on some clivia seeds:

  1. Pop down to your GCA Garden Centre and purchase a seed packet.
  2. Wait for established clivias to produce berries, which contain seeds.

When clivia flowers are pollinated they produce large red berries. Pick your berries as they begin colouring then pop them onto the operating table and follow these steps:

  • Use your thumbs to break open the berries and then remove the insides.
  • Clean up the flesh, skin, and membrane surrounding the seeds inside.
  • Once you’ve got the gold, wash all the seeds in a gentle anti-bacterial solution (some dishwashing liquid and water will do). As you’re cleaning the seeds, remove any remaining skin and pop them onto a paper towel.
  • Prepare your growing mixture with equal parts palm peat and perlite, both available from your garden centre. Mix in some water to dampen the soil as well.
  • Fill seedling trays with your super mix and pat the surface. Plant the clivia seeds with the eye nob part facing down. You want to space seeds about 2,5 cm apart with the tops of the seeds still exposed. In other words, when planting clivia seeds do not press them all the way down into the soil.
  • Give all the seeds in the container a good watering and then cover the tray with a plastic bag or glass. Pop your babies in a warm but sheltered area that receives full sun.
  • Check on your babies daily, assessing growth and ensuring the soil remains moist at all times. You’ll know they’re happy when the bottom of the seeds begin to sprout baby green legs.
  • Now for the hard part. Your clivia seeds will only be ready for transplant after a year. They are definitely worth the wait and reward though, so keep up the care and garden on!
Clivia seeds
Clivia seeds
Caring for your clivias

After all that dedication, you want to make sure you give your clivias the best care possible. Here are some handy tips for how to care for established clivias in the garden:

  • Clivias need to be divided every three to four years during spring or early summer. You’ll know it’s time when the rhizomes become overcrowded and the root ball rises above soil level. Always wait until they’ve finished flowering before dividing.
  • To correctly divide your potted clivias, carefully remove the mother plant from the container and shake off the excess soil to better see the divisions.
  • Use a sharp, clean knife to cut the clumps apart or use your fingers to pry them open. You can now transplant separated clivias into new pots for even more patio splendour.
  • To divide outdoor clivias, use a spade and lift the ground around the plant (at least 15cm distance to the stem), taking care not to damage the roots. Once removed from the bed, wipe away excess soil to reveal the root clumps. You can now cut and divide as needed and replant in another shady bed in need of bedazzling.
  • Fertilise your clivias monthly in spring and summer for max blooming power (avoid feeding in winter). Go for a slow-release liquid fertiliser available from your GCA Garden Centre (remember to ask for help when you are there).

Pest alert: Look out for the lily borer! Regularly check your bulbs and especially your clivias for signs of this pesky critter. You’ll notice clusters of tiny eggs underneath leaves, which are laid by a white moth with a 4cm wingspan. Visit your garden centre for the best pest control solution.

High in ornamental value, long-lasting flowering intervals, excellent cut-flowers, and evergreen – clivias are definitely worth it. Go from novice to pro with these sought after bad girls by following the above tips for success. Clivias also make for exquisite gifts so next time you’re on a split and divide mission, pot a few for friends and family.

Protecting trees, shrubs and flowers Feature Diamond Sponsor – Efekto

Posted on: December 7th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments
Pruning and sealing

Not only does pruning promote new growth, but it also increases fruiting powerand capacity, ensuring the health of your plant. Throughout the season, taking your pruning in stages.

In early spring:

Prune grapes beforetheir sap starts to move in.In warmer areas, this may be your last chance to prune (like coastal Durban) but in warmer areas (inland or mountain regions), it can be done as the weather warms.

Top Tip* Avoid pruning peaches, plums and almonds while winter is still lingering because it can spread the silver leaf virus.

In late spring:

Prune back your citrus to open up the framework of the plant. By removing old growth, you are allowing more light into your plant or tree and also remove any diseased or dead wood.

As for your flowers prune back camellias as soon as they finished flowering. For extra assistance for a thorough clip and cut, refer to our pruning guide and arm yourself with Efekto Sterisel.This fungicidal pruning wound paste is designed to assist your pruning projects on all your roses, grapevines, shrubs and fruit trees.

Garden Guru Tip

For this season, in particular, protect your stone fruit treesby spraying with Efekto Virikop to protect them from leaf curl disease, with a once-off application after pruning.

Efekto Steriseal
Protection against mildew, black spot and aphids

Once you’ve clipped back your old growth, it’s time to eliminate any residual pests and stop new ones from moving in. Spray your deciduous fruit trees with a winter clean-up spray, like Efekto Kumulus WG and Efekto Oleum, to remove any overwintering pests and diseases.

Aphids

In warm areas, aphids may begin to appear on fresh new shoots. They can be identified by their small, pearshaped soft bodies, usually green to black in colour.You will notice them in small groups called colonies on leaves and new growth. They are sap feeds, so this means they will cause your leaves to curl and stunt growth. To avoid further damage, control their invasions with Efekto Aphicide. As soon as your pests appear, spray crops with Efketo Cypermethrin 200EC and for the home and garden, use Efekto Malasol.

Roses

If your rose blooms are struggling with aphids or cases of black spot or midew, spray them with Efekto Rosecare 3 or Efekto Rosecase Plus.

Aphids
Aphids on roses
How to identify plant fungus:
Black spot

You will notice black spots with yellow borders on older leaves. The leaves will trn yellow and fall off. To get rid of this fungus, continue spraying weekly until the fungus is controlled. Black spot should be treated preventatively after heavy rain and heat conditions.

Mildew

A greyish-white powdery growth will show on the younger parts of your plants. This fungus causes shunting and shrivelling of leaves.

Black spot
Mildew
To check out Efekto’s complete range of products visit their website: https://efekto.co.za/

Why you should fertilise all year round Feature Diamond Sponsor – Atlantic Fertilisers

Posted on: December 7th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

Like humans and animals, plants require regular feeding throughout the year – at least once a season. Happy, healthy, well-nourished plants are more resistant to pests, diseases, heat stress and frost.

 

Spring and autumn are the more recognised times to fertilise the garden, however summer and winter are just as important. Even though there’s no dramatic plant growth in winter, there is still plenty going on below the ground. Applying an organic fertiliser such as All Purpose or Bio Ocean introduces beneficial bacteria which stimulates activity within the soil, breaks down organic matter, unlocks nutrients and enhances root growth, providing your plants with a head start for spring.

The importance of organic fertiliser

With inorganic, or synthetic, garden fertilisers so plentiful, it might make a gardener wonder if it’s really all that important to use organic products instead. After all, it’s all about what works right now and makes the garden beautiful, right? Well…this is not the case. In organic gardening, the overall health of the soil and plants is the main concern, so while synthetic chemical fertilisers may do a job today, organic fertilisers ensure the health of the garden tomorrow.

Fertiliser
We’ve highlighted the main advantages of organic fertiliser below:

Organic fertilisers work slowly. For organic fertilisers to work, the soil has to first break them down. This means that both the soil and the plants in it get the nutrition they need when they need it. Chemical fertilisers, although speedy, often overfeed the plant, do nothing for the soil, and can damage plants by burning them.

Organic fertilisers improve the soil. Organic materials and fertilisers improve the soil texture, allowing it to hold water longer, and increase the microbial activity in the soil. So, they not only assist your plants, they help the soil. Chemical fertilisers, on the other hand, deplete the soil of its nutrients, making it unproductive.

Organic fertilisers are safe. Although you won’t want to eat or drink them, you can rest assured that organic fertilisers are safe for the environment, your family, and your pets. Chemical fertilisers require a significant amount of fossil fuels to produce and process and often runoff into nearby water sources like streams and lakes.

Organic fertilisers are easy to apply. Organics are just as easy to apply as their synthetic, non-organic counterparts however organic fertiliser will not burn your lawn or plants if you don’t water after application.

To check out Atlantic Fertiliser’s complete range of products visit their website https://atlanticfertilisers.co.za/

New Mega Packs Feature Diamond Sponsor – MayFord Seed

Posted on: November 10th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

For decades, South African gardeners have looked to MayFord Seed to bring them the newest releases and the best quality seed at affordable prices. This spring we are in for a treat.

MayFord Seed are releasing a Mega Pack range of SA’s 12 favourite flower seeds. 7 spring and summer planting varieties are on the shelves now, with 5 arriving in time for the autumn planting season. This means that gardeners will be able fill their flower beds and patio pots with gorgeous colour without punishing their wallets.

SA's 12 favourite flowering seeds are:

Summer - Meadow Mix, Alyssum 'Carpet of Snow', Marigold 'Sunset Giants', Portulaca grandiflora 'Double Mix', Zinnia 'Sunbow', Eschscholtsia 'Californian Poppy' and Nasturtium.

Winter - Sweet Pea 'Early Multiflora Mixed', Dimorhptheca 'African Daisy Mixed',  Dimorphotheca 'Glistening White', Mesembryanthemum 'Livingstone Daisy Mixed',  Dimorphotheca 'Pastel Shades'.

To help to make sure that you are getting exactly what you are looking for or, if you are not sure exactly what it is you should be planting, MayFord have added insets to the packaging. Icons like ‘Throw & Sow’ indicates easy to grow, ‘Waterwise’ & ‘Indigenous’ means its a low water user, ‘Bee Friendly’ is pollinator friendly, ‘Cut Flower’ lets you know they’re good for the vase and a button showing you just how much space the seed will cover, e.g. ‘Enough for’ 5m².

 

While most gardeners find growing their flowers from seed both economical and easy to do, for those who are just starting on their green, flower filled journey, the instructions on the back of the pack have also been revamped. Borrowing from the highly successful sowing pictograms on their lawn seed packets, you are now shown how to measure out the square metres of the sowing area. Take Alyssum for example. One packet will cover 5 m² and since it’s easy enough to spread seed over one square metre at a time, you are shown you how to decant the seed packet into 5 equal piles (1 pile for each 1m²) onto white paper. This allows you to physically see the seed and then sow one pile onto one square metre at a time.

MayFord’s Mega Pack range of seed are available from all  garden centres and selected chain stores. To check out MayFord’s complete range of products visit their website www.mayford.co.za.

How To Sow Seeds Successfully Feature Diamond Sponsor – Starke Ayres

Posted on: November 10th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

Working from home, for many of us, could well be here to stay and the pros are numerous – increased productivity, less time wasted commuting, lower stress levels and a greater balance between office and family life. On the flipside, there’s the danger of the workday which never ends because your office is right there, in the heart of your home – always beckoning you to check for emails, complete one last document.

The solution: escape to your garden! But, don’t just sit there, get your hands dirty; sow seeds, plant seedlings, feed flowers, fruit trees and lawns and you’ll soon be taking regular healthy breaks from your desk to check on the progress – it’s addictive in the best possible way. Now that autumn has arrived, you’ve got an ideal opportunity to sow and plant in time to take advantage of the winter rains and bask in the glory of your garden’s springtime show.

 

Tips for Vegetable Growing
  • Soil needs to be well-worked, raked through and free of debris, which could hamper the development of roots. Root crops enjoy a more sandy soil as this is best for their development, clay soils in your garden could hinder the development of bulbs and roots, as it is more compact.
  • Use Superphosphate or Bonemeal which are the organic and chemical root stimulants in the soil mixture and a sprinkling of Bounce Back or Talborne on the surface 100g per square meter at planting to ensure success.
  • Root crops enjoy sunny positions or areas which receive a lot of light. Plants should be kept moist during the germination period. Feed with Bounce Back or Talborne at 50g per square meter during the growing phase.
  • When your veggies are ready and have been harvested, remember to place the onions in a cool, dark place to dry. The turnips, beetroot, radishes and carrots will last longer in the refrigerator.

Harvesting tip: Remove tops after harvesting to prolong shelf life.

Lawns

Autumn is the ideal time to eliminate muddy areas. Sow Starke Ayres “Cool Season” lawn grass seed – it germinates easily, helped by winter rainfall, and provides a lush surface for those sunny winter days. Starke Ayres Garden Centre, Rosebank has a wide range to suit sunny or shady areas and staff will be happy to assist you.

Gardener’s tip: 1 x 30dm bag of lawn dressing usually covers 6 – 8m2.

 

Seeds to sow

FLOWERS
Starke Ayres Namaqualand daisies and Bokbaai vygies are indigenous and ideal for water-wise gardens. Improve your germination rate by using Palm peat to help retain moisture in the sowing beds. April and May are the months in which to sow sweetpeas. You can also sow: Violas, poppies, Lobelias, snapdragons, pansies, Delphiniums, African daisies, Cinerarias, Salvias, Scabiosa and Nemesias. Alyssum and Dianthus are always good bets too.

VEGETABLES
This is the time to sow winter veggies such as broad beans, potatoes, turnips, carrots, onions, peas and cauliflower. If you’ve grown chive and garlic chives, divide them and replant in pots using freshly composted or potting soil – place these on your kitchen windowsill for easy access when cooking.

To check out Starke Ayres  complete range of products visit their website https://www.starkeayres.com/home

Figuring out your Fertilizers… Feature Diamond Sponsor – Culterra

Posted on: November 10th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

“We may think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it is our garden that is nurturing us.” Jenny Uglow

 

These words are so true. Gardening is a relationship – a constant exchange of give and take - and like all relationships, it takes a little work to maintain. One of the most important things to provide for your plants each season is nutrients. Strategic use of fertilizers is a simple way to boost your garden and potted plants, and in turn be rewarded with lush greens, delicious edibles and a showier display of flowers each season.

There are so many different types and forms of fertilizer that it can be overwhelming when faced with all the options at your local garden centre. But taking the time to understand the products, their applications and your garden’s specific needs is a worthwhile process!

 

Organic versus Inorganic

 Inorganic Fertilizers are synthetic or artificial forms of plant nutrients and minerals. Simply put, they are man-made. Inorganics are usually faster acting than organics and include fertilizers such as Superphosphate and LAN (limestone ammonium nitrate.)

 Organic Fertilizers come from natural plant or animal sources and are slightly slower acting than inorganic fertilizers. They consist of large molecules that need to be broken down by soil organisms before their nutrients become available. Examples include Culterra’s Bone Meal, Organic Lawn Booster, Organic Seedling Food and Chicken Manure pellets.

Granular versus Liquid

Liquid fertilizers are your plants’ quick fix. They come either in a liquid-soluble powder or a liquid concentrate.Both require mixing with water before application to your plants using either a watering can or spray bottle. These nutrients last only one to two weeks, so you will need to apply it often. The major advantage, however, is that the nutrients are absorbed quickly and thus the positive results are almost instantaneous.

Use liquid fertilizer when your plants’ energy demands are at their highest. This is typically during flowering, fruiting and active growing. Liquid solutions are popular for pot plants and hanging baskets where nutrients are quickly leached out of the soil. Liquid fertilizers are also a great supplement to granular fertilizers as the slow and rapid release elements complement each other by providing a more continuous supply of nutrients.

Liquid fertilizer in the liquid concentrate form is usually organic. Culterra’s Multikelp is manufactured from natural kelp products and is a must for foliar feeding your fast-growing, leafy green vegetables. It’s also great for orchids and germinated seedlings as it is a soft fertilizer that does not burn. It promotes microbial activity and although organic, is still super-fast acting.

Granular Fertilizers consist of solid granules that are sprinkled around plants and then worked into the soil. For new gardens, dig them into your beds before you start planting. Because the granules need to break down this isn’t a fast-acting option, but with good watering and a few days’ patience you will start to see amazing results. Standard granular fertilizers are your most common form of fertilizer and may be applied every six weeks during the growing season.

Slow-release Granular Fertilizers (SRFs) are specifically designed to release nutrients gradually over a prolonged period of time. Culterra’s SRF is a urea formaldehyde product, which relies on microbes for decomposition and release. The microbial activity of soil is dependent on several environmental factors including soil temperature, moisture, pH and oxygen. Although slightly more expensive than standard granular fertilizers, the long duration of action of SRFs makes them more economical.

To conclude, remember that gardening is a relationship and every plant in your garden is an individual. Just as each of your relationships with friends, family and colleagues requires different amounts of time and energy, so do your green companions. So when next it’s time to boost your garden’s nutrients, take an extra minute to select the best fertilizer for the job!

To check out Culterra’s complete range of products visit their website http://culterra.co.za

DIY Pot-posh Birdbath

Posted on: September 22nd, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

We’re obsessed with birds – watching them frolic in the garden, discovering new species in the area, looking forward to returning friends, and enjoying the feeling of fulfilment from helping to care for our wildlife. This DIY is an easy, economical solution to a fancy birdbath, allowing you to go as sophisticated or simple as your budget allows. In addition, Life is a Garden’s pot-posh birdbath gives the DIY enthusiast a real time to shine as there are so many ways to play, design, and decorate. Before we begin, let’s talk about the fabulous featured elephant in the room – birds!

 

Birds with benefits
  • Conservation is everything: First and foremost, as gardeners, we have the power to take conservation into our own hands. Become a wildlife warrior and eco-ambassador by providing a much-needed safe oasis for our flyers threatened by loss of habitat.
  • Pest control: Certain bird species will enjoy a tasty snack after their drink. Aphids, scale, mozzies, spiders, flies and other insects are easily taken care of by local heroes such as white-eyes, chats, barbets, thrushes, robins, warblers, shrikes, woodpeckers and hoopoes.
  • Pollination deluxe: Some flyers are excellent pollinators, helping to produce even more flowers in your garden, which in turn attracts other essential pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Our indigenous sunbirds, sugarbirds, and Cape white-eyes are at your service.
  • Weeds away: South Africa’s waxbills, finches, fire finches, canaries and bronze manikins are seed-snacking winners.
  • Property plus: Add value to your property by boasting a colourful variety of wildlife. A bird-attracting garden makes your property more appealing and increases investment value.
  • Education: With so many friendly flyers around, take the opportunity to research your local bird species. Educate yourself, loved ones, and the kids!
  • Stress relief: Be it morning, midday, or at sunset – watching the birds is always a pleasing and calming activity that promotes well-being and decreases stress.
BIRDBATH
Essentials and instructions for your Posh-pot Birdbath

Your selection of pots and saucers are the first items on the list. These need to be varied in size, depending on the look you are going for. You can either:

  • Create a 2 - 4 tier bath by using the same-sized large pots. The bottom pot goes upside down, the second pot goes right way up, on top. The 2 pots must align at their base, or at their opening, depending on how many tiers you have. Place a large saucer on top of the final pot as the actual bath area for the birds.
  • Go for a multi-stacked look by using extra-large to medium pots, all stacked upside down inside the previous container. Place a suitable sized saucer on the top of the last pot. Sticking with this stacked look, you could even add another smaller saucer inside the larger one. The many-layered pot rims create lots of room for creative designs.
  • Create a fountain theme, beginning with 2 same-sized large pots with their bases together, pot number 2 on top of pot number 1. Place a large saucer on top of the second pot with a medium pot upside down, on top of the saucer. Add a smaller saucer on top of the medium pot, and then place a smaller pot on top of that. You can continue this cascading fountain look using as many descending pot and saucer sizes as you like. See how small you can go for fun!

Superglue, a glue gun, or cement to secure the bases/openings of the pots together. This will add structural integrity to your design and prevent the pots from sliding off one another.

Sand or pebbles to fill your pots where possible. Add some weight to your birdbath and half fill right side up pots with your chosen filler. This will also help protect against strong winds.

Paint and decorations! The kids will enjoy painting pots and having a little creative time outdoors. You may also want to go super pot-posh and use mosaic tiles, glass pebbles, cute stencils for painting, other pot plants, or incorporate rustic elements like driftwood.

Top tip: Visit your GCA Garden Centre and let your creative juices flow. The selection of pots will inspire fun ideas of how you could go about stacking the containers to create unique shapes and eye-catching architecture. Experiment with different pot styles and think ahead of what patterns or pictures you could paint on later that would suit the theme of your chosen structure. Are you a vine-guy or flower girl? A kids’ art exhibitioner or a modern, sophisticated Sally?

DIY BirdBath
DIY Birdbath
DIY Birdbath

Enjoy bringing the birds to your backyard and have some fun with this Pot-posh DIY. Your GCA Garden Centre also has a selection of bird feeders to add to your flyer’s pit stop. Increase birdlife even more by ensuring your garden is pesticide-free. Nurseries are stocked with eco-friendly solutions that won’t deter or harm your friendly garden visitors. Life is a Garden after all, so take the balance into your own hands and watch as your space come to life!

 

Dissecting Flowers Experiment

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

Besides adding beauty and colour to the garden, flowers play an essential role in our ecosystem; they feed our pollinators who in turn feed us. In fact, our bees help produce one-third of all the food on Earth! It’s safe to say that behind every successful crop is a good flower, so let’s get the kids up and close and personal with Mother Nature’s gems. Check out this DIY flower dissection experiment that teaches kids about plant anatomy, the importance of flowers, and gives them a blossoming good reason to enjoy the September sun. 

 

Blooming benefits

Flowers are so much more than just pretty faces. They help maintain your garden’s delicate biome balance and bring in all sorts of benefits that enrich other plants, while also sustaining the friendly creatures that live there. 

  • Critter food: The pollen and nectar produced by flowers feed birds, bees, butterflies, and other essential insects. With full tummies, these handy helpers pollinate our crops in return as well as help to spread seeds. 
  • Human food: Bees also use pollen to make honey, and what would the world be without this sweet delicacy! Also, flowers from edible plants indicate that the fruit or veg is on its way and can also be cooked in a stew or added to salads. 
  • Pest control: Having a variety of flowers is the easiest way to combat pests in the garden. They attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs, wasps, prey mantises and many more, who feast on all the aphids and lice that damage the garden. 
  • Reproduction: The flower is the reproductive organ of a plant. Seeds are produced in flowers, which mean that more of that plant will grow. In the case of edibles, flowers are essential as this is where our food comes from. 

Did you know? The Archaefructus Sinensis, known also as the Mother of All Flowers, is believed to be the world’s oldest flower. Discovered by archaeologists in a fossil back in 2002, it was believed to bloom more than 125 million years ago in China.

 

Bring in the beauts 

Here are some epic pollinator attractors that you can plant to help feed the bees and improve your own garden’s ecosystem, pest control, and gorgeousness! 

  • Borage, butterfly bush, coneflower, cow parsnip, dahlias, daisies, dandelions, goldenrods, lavender, marigold, milkweed (the Monarch butterfly’s fave for breeding), snapdragon, and sunflowers.

Top tip: All friendly critters will appreciate a drink of freshwater after a hard day’s work. Help them out by providing a water source nearby with a way in and out for your friends. While you’re at it, why not upcycle a 2l bottle into a hanging bird feeder. 

 

Butterfly bush
Milkweed
Snapdragon

Dissection time!

Send the kids outdoors with a container and a pair of scissors. They need to collect at least 3 large flowers for maximum learning and supercharged fun. 

You will need 

- Any 3 large flowers in bloom now

- A magnifying glass

- Some paper plates

- A marker 

- A phone or tablet with internet connectivity 

 

 Begin the division

  1. Examine the flower closely under the magnifying glass and see how many parts you can identify on your own.
  2. Use your marker to write down the flowing plant parts on the paper plates. To limit wastage, try fitting three labels per plate. 
    a)  Leaf    b) Stem c) Seed d) Petal e) Stigma f) Fruit/bud g) Stamen h) Ovary i) Pollen
  3. Begin dissecting your first flower by carefully removing all the parts. Place the ones you know on the paper plate under the correct label. 
  4. Kids can use a phone or table to research the rest of the plant’s anatomy. Find out where/what each part is and then correctly identify and label the remaining flower pieces. 
  5. With your flower anatomy nicely sorted and understood, it’s time for the next challenge. See if you can reassemble your flower and remember the name and function of each part.
  6. Repeat this process with the two other flowers. Dissecting and labelling should be much easier the second and third time around and will certainly help kids with memory recall. 
  7. Time for show and tell! Give kids the opportunity to showcase their work and pretend to be little scientist, giving a talk about the fascinating parts of a flower. Get them to show you their anatomy collection and ask them questions about all the different functions. 
  8. When you’re done, add the plant parts to the compost heap or dip them in water paint and make some pretty flower impressions on paper or on a card as a gift. 

 

Dissecting flowers
Flower Dissection
Dissecting flowers
Dissecting flowers
Flowering fun facts

Certain flowers have special markings on their petals to guide the right pollinators to the good stuff. 

  • Iris flowers have bright yellow markings near the base of the petals (called signals), that literally point the way for bees to land. These landing strips can also be marked out in ultraviolet on otherwise plain flowers invisible to the human eye, but oh so alluring to bees.
  • Gazania flowers employ a different strategy - they have conspicuous dark spots near the base of their petals mimicking monkey beetles, as males actively search for female beetles in flowers. 
  • Some orchids have devised particularly devious ways to attract pollinators with their flowers resembling female wasps and even emitting a potent chemical that mimics female pheromones.

Bees can also sense a flowers’ electric field. Bees build up a positive charge buzzing through the air, whereas flowers have a slightly negative charge, helping pollen transfer from the flower to the bee and helping them to sense which flowers have already been visited.

 

Dissecting Flowers

May in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

Posted on: April 12th, 2021 by Cassidy No Comments

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.

 

Eat like a winter-winner 

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.

 

Beetroot
Tricks of the cool-season trade

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!

 

 

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!

Carrots
Radish
Beetroot

Hey kids! It’s time to make DIY Eco seed crackers

Posted on: November 20th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

If you love Christmas, gardening, upcycling, and keeping the kids busy - you’ll be popping over this project! December is about abundance, but sadly a lot of this is waste too. So, dear gardeners, let’s play our part in reducing, recycling and remembering that we can incorporate a little green in everything. Instead of the usual cracker filled with plastic nonsense, which ends up in the bin, imagine an upcycled cracker filled with veggie, herb, and flower seeds to plant for summer! Hooray! Get the kids on board and let’s make eco seed crackers for Christmas.

Get cracking

For this DIY project, you will need:

  • Some empty toilet rolls
  • A few pieces of tissue paper
  • Used eco wrapping paper
  • Twine/string/ribbon/elastic bands
  • A pair of scissors
  • Light duty glue
  • Colouring in goodies
  • Seeds to plant

After the cracker has been cracked, you will need:

  • Soil and compost
  • Some sweet sunshine and water
Selecting seeds

Give your guests something meaningful to take home after Christmas lunch with a stunning selection of summer seeds for you to choose from:

  • Full sun, summer veggies: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, capsicum, cucumber, brinjal, sweet melon (spanspek), pumpkin (flat boer), spinach, tomatoes, and watermelon.
  • Full sun, summer herbs: Catnip, chamomile, chives, coriander, dill, fennel, garlic, paprika, rocket, and sage.
  • Full sun, summer flowers: Alyssum, black-eyed Susan, chrysanthemum, cosmos, forget-me-not, helichrysum, marigold, nasturtium, petunias, and sunflowers.

 

 

Elves at work

Green fingers at the ready! It’s time to assemble our crackers:

  1. Wrap your selected seeds inside a few pieces of toilet paper or tissue. Tie them up with a piece of string. Set aside.
  2. For a personal touch and the enjoyable element of surprise, decorate the toilet roll according to what seed is inside. Kids can draw on veggies, herbs, or flowers and decorate as desired. This also adds to the excitement as guests won’t know what seeds they got until the cracker has popped and they behold your child’s delightful loo roll artwork.
  3. Cut your leftover wrapping paper so that the length is double that of the toilet roll.
  4. Cover the toilet roll with your wrapping paper, making a sort of tunnel. Secure the wrapping onto the body of the toilet roll with a little glue.
  5. Place your seed bundle inside the decorated toilet roll.
  6. There should be enough wrapping paper left on both sides of the toilet roll for you to twist on each end, forming the shape of a traditional cracker.
  7. Twist the ends of the overlapping wrapping paper against the ends of the toilet roll and secure with string around the twisted parts.
  8. Once you have cracked the cracker, guests can then reveal their seed surprises and compliment your child’s fantastic decorating skills! This will make kids feel proud and recognised as important contributors to Christmas lunch, while also getting everyone engaged in a meaningful gardening conversation! Another win for Mother Nature!
  9. Our green Christmas doesn’t stop there. You can also use the toilet paper roll as your seedling tray for the new babies. Top it up with some soil and compost, place your seed inside, sprinkle a little water and seal with a kiss from the sun.

 

There’s always an opportunity to go green and get kids in on the action too. Having everyone around the Christmas table applauding their hard work and discussing their creation is a fantastic way to reward their growing green fingers. Give your guests something meaningful to take home and let’s ditch the plastic this festive season.

Valentine’s Day Cards that Grow DIY Edible wetlands

Posted on: January 21st, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Grow your love even more this Valentine’s day with this DIY seed card

Bring your gifts to life this Valentine’s Day with a personal and unique gift for your loved one. Don’t just send a card, send a card that keeps on giving in the form of herbs, vegetables or flowers. Stand out from the ordinary with this step by step DIY Valentines’ activity by making biodegradable plantable gift cards with embedded seeds in them.

How it works

This DIY activity is fairly easy to make as it does not require any use of special equipment. Seed paper is paper that has small seeds embedded into it. When the paper is placed on soil and watered, the paper decomposes whilst the seeds germinate and sprout seedlings which will grow into mature plants.

Let your Valentine know how much they have grown on you by making them something special.

You will need

  • Assorted types of recyclable paper which may include but are not limited to tissue paper, egg cartons, newspapers and scraps of unprinted paper.
  • Flower seeds
  • Mixing bowl/dish
  • Towel or cloth
  • An old picture frame
  • Pantyhose
  • A tray
  • A blender (Preferably use an old blender)
  • For natural ink/paint consider using beets, carrots, berries, or other strong pigmented fruits/vegetables
  • Ruler/Scissor

Method for activity
Step 1: Prepping your paper

Collect your assorted paper scraps, cut or tear them into small pieces and place them in a covered bowl/dish with hot water. Ensure the level of water does not allow the paper to dry out, and soak for at least 8 hours.

Step 2: Blending

After your paper has soaked, blend it with some of its soaking water until its completely pulp. Should you decide to work with a lot of paper, make sure to blend the paper in batches.

  • Pour your pulp into a mixing bowl and add enough water to make it settle 10 centimetres deep.
  • Add your natural dye to your pulp,(we chose to use beetroot juice) and stir well.
  • Sprinkle about a teaspoon of flower seeds into the mixture. DO NOT BLEND! Stir them only.
Step 3: Prepping the Frame

Clean your old frame by removing any excess material like glass, staples or any nails carefully. Take your pantyhose and stretch 1 leg over the frame. Stretch and adjust it until it's tightly and evenly pulled across the frame. Tie a knot to keep it in place.

Step 4: Forming the paper
  • Sprinkle a few more seeds on onto your screen then pour the paper pulp over the screen.
  • Use your fingers to spread the paper around into a rough rectangular shape. How thick you make the paper is up to you. Keep in mind that the thicker it is, the longer it will take to dry. If it takes too long to dry, there's a chance your seeds could sprout or get ruined.
Step 5: Absorb the excess water

Place a towel underneath your screen and firmly press down on the back of the pantyhose to further remove excess water.

Step 6: Allow the paper to dry

Now leave these to dry completely! This takes different lengths of time, depending on how hot and humid it is where you live. Once your paper is dry, peel it off the screen. You may need a knife or other thin object to help get the edges started.

Step 7: Make your card

Using a ruler to help crease these makes it a lot easier to fold, since they're thick and sometimes have seeds in the way of the crease. Trim the edges as desired using a scissor or ruler. Decorate the card as desired and share the wonder of seed paper & reduced paper waste.

Growing your card

To grow the card: Dig a hole large enough for the card to be flat. You can tear the card into pieces to fit smaller areas such as a pot.  Water the card thoroughly, cover with soil, and then water again. The paper will compost into the soil and help hold moisture until the seeds start to grow.

Depending on your what seeds you used, you should start seeing sprouts within 7- 14 days and flowers after 8- 12 weeks.

Benefits of plantable gift cards

Seed-embedded paper has both social and environmental benefits.

Socially, seed paper plays a pivotal role in creatively changing the way people think of trash. Plantable paper is a sustainable means of reducing waste and repurposing used products.

Environmentally, seed paper is made from recycled materials, making it biodegradable with zero waste. It also encourages people to start planting home gardens and improves soil quality be it in the garden or in a small pot.

Visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre for advice on what seeds would work best for this DIY activity, for more gardening trends and inspiration visit the Life is a Garden website www.lifeisagarden.co.za

December in the Garden Let the festivities begin

Posted on: November 16th, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

After a year of “busyness” and hard work, there is nothing better than relaxing with friends and family over the holidays. Let your guests appreciate your garden with you as you soak up the sun and enjoy a braai or two.  Many of your seeds that you sowed in August will be ready to harvest, including watermelon which is fantastic to incorporate in your festive entertainment menu.  Get creative with the flowers that are blooming in your garden by making your own table arrangements – make an extra one to give your guest as a gift to take home.  Visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre for some great ideas and supplies.

What to Sow:

Carrots are a great option to sow during December.  They are fairly easy to grow and do best in deep sandy loam or loamy soils with a loose structure.

  • Sow the seeds directly in the beds
  • Make small furrows one fingernail (1cm) deep and about two or three hand widths (20cm to 30cm) apart
  • Sow the seeds about 2cm apart in the furrows
  • Water the beds well after sowing
  • In hot, dry weather, cover the rows with a thin layer of grass clippings until the seeds emerge after seven to 14 days
  • Remove the grass and spread thinly between the rows

What to Plant

Barberton Daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) originate in South Africa and are found in many different bright colours from hot pink to orange to white.

  • They are best grown outside, favouring direct sunlight and sandy soil.
  • They grow well in both pots and garden beds and should be fertilised monthly from September until March.
  • They make excellent patio plants and also work well as an indoor plant to brighten up your living space.

Eggplant (Solanum melongena), also known as aubergine or brinjal, come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours.

  • The most common of these edible fruit used in our homes is the Black Beauty.  Some other varieties are the White Star Eggplant – which produces shiny, white fruit that are ideal for use in Italian meals, and Mini Thai Moon Eggplant – which produces fruit similar in size to a tomato and are white in colour with a few green strips.
  • They are the ideal accompaniment to Thai and Asian recipes. Eggplants are best grown in full sun, in fertile and well-drained soil.

What to Feed:

Lawn fertilisation is essential in December due to it being a very hot month. Use a nitrogen-rich fertiliser which will encourage leaf development. Remember to water your lawn fairly after fertilising.

What to Spray:

  • Protect strawberries from snails and slugs. Harvest the fruit regularly.
  • Spray a non-selective weed killer on all weeds in your paving. Non-selective weed killers have no residual action in the ground and work through the chlorophyll of the leaves

What to Pick:

You can now enjoy the watermelons and sweet melons that you sowed in August. A large watermelon is ripe if it feels a little bumpy when you stroke it. When sweet melons are ripe, a small crack appears at the point where the fruit attaches to the vine.

Bedding Besties

Gazanias (Gazania species) are fantastic for low maintenance gardens. They produce cheerful blooms with bursts of colour which are complimented by their dark green glossy foliage. There are also gazanias with silvery foliage, which is always a nice contrast to have in the garden.

  • They grow easily and neatly and do their best in hot, dry weather.
  • They are low growers (they reach a height of between 20 cm to 25 cm and work well as edgings for beds, in rockeries, in containers and in hanging baskets that are in hot, sunny positions.
  • They need full sun and can tolerate most types of garden soil if there is good drainage.

Marigolds (Tagetes) are a favourite, no-fuss annual that can bring the colour of sunshine to your garden, as well as butterflies, bees, ladybugs, and other beneficial insects.

  • They love full sun and well-draining soil and will produce abundant blooms.
  • Marigold seeds germinate quickly, within just a few days, and bloom in about 8 weeks. This quick sense of satisfaction makes them a great first-time gardening project for kids and garden newbies.
  • Marigolds are a great companion in your vegetable garden and can help protect your veggies from predators and pests. If you don’t want to plant seeds and would rather have instant colour

Pop into your nearest Garden Centre GCA and pick up some marigold seedlings.

Rose Care

Watering: Continue to water 3 times a week, or more depending on rain fall.  During dry, hot spells daily watering may be required.

Fertilising: If you are going away – only fertilise on your return.

Pest and disease control:   Continue with fortnightly spraying for black spot, mildew, aphids, beetles and bollworm. Keep a look out for brown, night-active chafer beetles which chew away on leaves. Ask your local Garden Centre GCA for the correct insecticide to use.

Other tasks:  Remove spent flowers and disbud hybrid teas by removing the side buds so the main bloom develops into a good quality flower. When picking roses for your home, only remove 50 percent of the blooms; this ensures a good balance of leaves on the bush and does not put too much pressure on the roots.

Inland Gardening

(Gauteng, Free State, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo)

  • Check and treat your pool for algae growth and clean up the paved surrounds. Check for any loose paving and repair.
  • To avoid blight on tomatoes and mildew on cucumbers, squash and pumpkins, water them early in the morning to allow the leaves time to dry off before nightfall.
  • Give citrus trees their mid-season feed of granular fertiliser.
  • Planting seed potatoes in December and January will produce a harvest in April and May for storing and eating during winter.

Coastal Gardening

(Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal)

  • Weed the garden – after weeding, place a layer of organic mulch over every last inch of soil. Mulching not only saves water and time when you’re busy entertaining family over the festive season, but will also provide a professional and well-cared-for look and will display existing plants to their best advantage.
  • Refresh your garden furniture by giving them a fresh coat of paint. While your paint brush is out, give your garden shed, picket fences and pots a fresh coat too. Make new slipcovers for scatter cushions or treat yourself to some new soft furnishings for your garden.
  • Summer pests are prevalent now, so keep a watch out and treat quickly with the correct formula suggested by your local Garden Centre GCA

Life is a Garden wish you a very happy holiday. Enjoy your garden and share it with family and friends this holiday season.

For more gardening tips and information, visit Gardening trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.