Eat your heart out healthily Become a Botanical Boss this January

figs, berries, harvest, life is a garden, delicious garden, delicious, greenery, colour, taste, fruits, abundance, harvest, farming, agriculture, horticulture, summer gardening, summer, gardening, fruit trees, vines, January gardening, produce-producing trees, produce, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, citrus
figs, berries, harvest, life is a garden, delicious garden, delicious, greenery, colour, taste, fruits, abundance, harvest, farming, agriculture, horticulture, summer gardening, summer, gardening, fruit trees, vines, January gardening, produce-producing trees, produce, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, citrus

New Year’s resolutions and gardening go hand in hand, especially considering the amount of healthy food we are able to grow in virtually any space. Whether you’re going for low-calorie, low-carb meals, or high fat intake and intermittent fasting, raw and purely organic or vegan – the harvest is on your side! Fuel your body for less with this mostly summer edible selection and grow guide from Life is a Garden. 

Top tip: If you missed last month’s article, click here for expert advice on how to set up a vertical hydroponic system for all-space produce growing: 

 

Calorie-conscious, nutrient-dense crops to grow

figs, berries, harvest, life is a garden, delicious garden, delicious, greenery, colour, taste, fruits, abundance, harvest, farming, agriculture, horticulture, summer gardening, summer, gardening, fruit trees, vines, January gardening, produce-producing trees, produce, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, citrus
figs, berries, harvest, life is a garden, delicious garden, delicious, greenery, colour, taste, fruits, abundance, harvest, farming, agriculture, horticulture, summer gardening, summer, gardening, fruit trees, vines, January gardening, produce-producing trees, produce, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, citrus
figs, berries, harvest, life is a garden, delicious garden, delicious, greenery, colour, taste, fruits, abundance, harvest, farming, agriculture, horticulture, summer gardening, summer, gardening, fruit trees, vines, January gardening, produce-producing trees, produce, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, citrus
figs, berries, harvest, life is a garden, delicious garden, delicious, greenery, colour, taste, fruits, abundance, harvest, farming, agriculture, horticulture, summer gardening, summer, gardening, fruit trees, vines, January gardening, produce-producing trees, produce, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, citrus

Your farming responsibility 

As gardeners, we have a direct impact on our environment, which comes as a sweet blessing because this means we CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Sustainable water practices are an essential part of gardening and we cannot ignore how precious and finite this resource is. We saw the huge impact of day 0 in the Western Cape, and the rest of the country is not immune to this possibility either. Here are some simple and effective practices from our industry expert, Charles Oosthuizen from Tuberflora Nursery.

  • “MULCH, MULCH, MULCH - why are South Africans so hesitant about this practice? We see this in so many gardens - barren, hard-baked soil raked neatly clean on a weekly basis. This is not the way forward in terms of sustainable watering practices at all.
  • Drip irrigation is the future as it is cost-effective, low maintenance and saves a lot of water.
  • Water only in the late afternoon or early in the morning.
  • Water very well only once or twice a week instead of a little bit every day.
  • Add water-retaining gel to your pots and containers.
  • The more compost and other organic material in and on top of the soil the more water retention the soil will have.

February in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

February in the garden, checklist
February in the garden check list

Nurture your darling garden this month of love by sowing delicious edibles and magnificent flowers. Remember to give your roses some TLC and maintain your existing crops for an abundant harvest. Life is a Garden – here’s what to do with yours this February.

FLOWER POWER

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

Many summer-flowering annuals start coming to the end of their flowering season and need to be removed. As such, collect ripe seeds from flowers you wish to grow for next season and begin preparing seed and flower beds for autumn planting.

Best for indoors

Adorn the indoors with your very own Love Palm (Chamaedorea elegans). They are small, slow-growing palm trees, reaching a full height of approximately 1 meter. Celebrated for their attractive foliage, compact shape and decorative cluster form, Love Palms are ideal indoor beauties that thrive in low to moderate light.

Caring for flowers

 

  • Keep azaleas and camellias well-watered to ensure a good show of flowers during winter and spring.
  • Keep deadheading your spent blooms to promote faster regrowth with more flowers.
Love Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
Deadhead
 Rose TLC
  • Deadhead and dis-bud your babies.
  • Water well 3 times a week.
  • Fertilise BUT remember that a heap on the surface is not optimal. Fertiliser is only of use when it is dissolved by water and carried to the roots.

Growing Spinach in a Jar Experiment

Our gardeners from Life is a Garden conducted this family-friendly, insightful little seed germination experiment during the lockdown days. Our gardeners set out to grow some spinach in a glass jar, allowing them to enjoy every step of the growing show, from above to below ground. Our gardeners watered each jar differently to determine how much water is too much, too little, and just right. The results may surprise you!

What you need:

  • Large spinach seeds
  • A glass jar
  • Kitchen roll
  • Water
Setting up your seed experiment:

STEP 1:  Get your little-handed scientist to assist you here, by folding and scrunching up a few pieces of kitchen roll. Place the folded kitchen roll inside the perimeter of the glass jar, then stuff the scrunched pieces into the middle.

STEP 2:  Carefully push seeds down into the paper towels around the edge of the jar so they can still be seen. Make sure they are firmly held in place.

STEP 3:  Gently water your seed jar to wet the paper towels. Be careful not to flood it as this spells certain disaster for our seeds.

 

What do you see in your seed jar?
  • You are looking for a root to pop out of the side of the seed.
  • Next, you are looking for roots to push down into the towel.
  • Also, you are looking for root hairs.
  • Next, you are looking for the seed to push up while the root hairs push down.
  • Lastly, you are looking for the shoots to come up.
Our watering findings:

Our gardeners wanted to see how much water would be best for the spinach seedlings. They set up their three jars and measured the same amount of water to be given to each jar. The water quantities were the same; however, the frequency of watering is what made all the difference:

  • Jar one: Watered once a week.

June in the Garden Midday gardening with monsters, berries and birds

June in the garden – Midday gardening with monsters, berries and birds.

Winter has arrived, but luckily our days are still blessed by lovely, lunchtime sunshine in most parts of the country. This is the perfect time for a little midday gardening and a braai with the family.  For an enticing entertainment area plant seedlings like fairy Primulas for a dazzling flush of colour. Hanging baskets are back and add a wonderful variety of vibrant texture to your patio. When the party moves indoors, dragon trees and delicious monsters are a great choice.

Friday 5 June is World Environment Day. Celebrate your surroundings by thinking about our feathered garden friends. Birds often find it difficult to source food in the colder months, but we can lovingly assist them by putting out bird feeds. Beautiful seed feeders, suet, fruit feeders and even bird pudding can be found at your nearest GCA Garden Centre. Nesting logs will encourage Barbets to nest in your garden. In addition, any of these would make an ideal gift for Father’s Day on Sunday 21 June. You could also consider a bonsai plant and bonsai accessories as a Father’s Day gift.

June in the Garden feed the birds
June in the Garden - Fathers Day Bonsai
What to Sow

It is a good time to sow Dianthus spp. also known as pinks,  as their flowers are mostly pink, salmon, dark pink or white with bi-colours of lavender, purple and reds also available. Their flowers have a spicy fragrance and they belong to the same family of plants as carnations. One of the larger Dianthus is the specie we know as Sweet William, (Dianthus barbatus) which has bigger flowers and a spicy fragrance with hints of cinnamon and cloves. Sweet William is available in both single and double blooms and are biennial (flower in the second year) and self-seeding.

Pinks need at least 6 hours of sun per day and prefer to be watered on the soil, as water on the leaves may cause mildew spots.