Posts Tagged ‘ sun ’

Throwing shade at the sun Shade gardening

Posted on: March 10th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments
Wild iris (Dietes grandiflora).

Gone are the days when shady means barren! This month, Life is a Garden is shedding light on darker spaces with a little shade-spiration to bring all areas of the garden to life. There are many flower varieties, shrubs, creepers, and even veggies that will flourish in every type of shade. Let’s begin by understanding the different degrees of shade and how these conditions affect the surrounding soil and plants that can grow there.

 

Full shade

An area that receives no direct sunlight at all is called full shade, known also as deep shade. Underneath a canopy of large evergreen trees or next to tall buildings or high walls is where you’ll typically find full shade and often barren spaces. The soil in such areas can be classified into these two groups below:

 

  • Full shade with wet soil

In these deep shade areas, moisture drainage is poor and the soil appears constantly soggy, boggy, and swampy. Try adding coarse compost mixed with gritty river sand to improve the drainage and quality of the soil in these areas.

Plant picks: Hen and chickens (Chlorophytum comosum), holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum), and forest bell bush(Mackaya bella).

 

  • Full shade with dry soil

Some areas with full shade have dry soil owing to the growth of the trees that once allowed some sunlight in, but have now grown to completely block out direct sunlight. Enrich these areas by loosening the soil, adding nutritious compost, and covering with mulch to assist in retaining moisture.

Plant picks: Bush lily (Clivia miniata), agapanthus, and wild iris (Dietes grandiflora).

Hen and chickens (Chlorophytum comosum)
Forest bell bush (Mackaya bella).
Bush lily (Clivia miniata)
Dappled shade

Also known as filtered shade, this happens as sunlight filters through openings in tree branches throughout the day, shifting the pattern of sunlight trickling in. In these areas, it’s best to plant in accordance with the trees natural growth and shedding phases. In other words, choose plants that flower during the leafless stages of surrounding trees.

Plant picks: Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils (Narcissus), Lachenalia bulbifera, and freesias.

 

*Seasonal tip: Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to discover gorgeous shady babies for cool-season planting and sowing. Checkout what seed trays are available to jumpstart your growing adventure. Keep some new arrivals in their pots to assess how they fair in your chosen area before transplanting.

 

Semi-shade

This refers to an area that receives some sun and some shade throughout the day, as shadows are cast on different parts of the garden. Semi-shade plants tend to do better with morning sun, rather than harsh midday or afternoon sun that may scorch leaves. Keep these areas healthy with good compost and generous mulching to retain soil moisture.

Plant picks: Fuchsia, evergreen azalea (Rhododendron indicum), rhubarb, chives, celery, and even carrots.

Daffodils (Narcissus)
Lachenalia bulbifera
evergreen azalea (Rhododendron indicum)
Rhubarb

There is a plant for every shady part of the garden and even some veggies and herbs that can tolerate semi-shade. Remember to visit your GCA Garden Centre to inquire about different shrubs, ferns, and flowers to best suit the area you would like to see flourish. Garden Centre experts are also able to advise which edibles will work well in your desired space. Life is a Garden, even in the shade, so let’s get every bed and pot shining in the absence of sunlight. A gardener maak ‘n plan, or something like that!

February in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

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

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

FLOWER POWER

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

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

Best for indoors

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

Caring for flowers

 

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

 

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

 

Look out for red spider mites which are problematic in periods of drought and very hot weather. Use the correct insecticides to control these pests on plants such as fruit trees, roses, and shrubs. Red spider mites can also destroy annuals like tomatoes if too heavily infested. Visit your GCA Garden Centre for the best defence against these pesky critters.

 

There’s always something to do in the garden and always a plant child in need of a little TLC. Caring for your crop offers delicious rewards while tending to blooms provides an ongoing stream of colourful delights. Enjoy your February missions, dear gardeners!

Squash
Mulch
Strawberries
Cherry tomatoes
Loose lettuce leaf
Red spider Mite

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.

Hey kids! It’s time to make a sundial!

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

This November, Life is a Garden is helping the whole family get into the spring of things by celebrating our South African sunshine. Here’s an educational, hands-on project all about time, the Earth’s rotation, and our life-supporting sun. Get ready scientists and explorers, time is upon us!

A bit about the sundial

Did you know? The sundial is the oldest known instrument for telling time! This ancient, mysterious doohickey tracks the position of the sun using a gnomon, which is the centrepiece of the sundial that indicates time by the position of its shadow. Up until the early 19th century, sundials were the main instrument people used to tell time. When correctly positioned, sundials can even tell time down to the minute!

 

You will need:

  1. A flat piece of wood: This is going to serve as the body of the clock. You can upcycle an old slab of wood from the garage or the scrapyard, use a tree stump, or even repurpose a tile slab. Your local GCA Garden Centre has as lovely variety of wooden décor slabs to choose from.
  2. Pebbles or stones: These are going to be the hour placeholders. They can be collected during a walk, scavenged from the garden, or purchased from your favourite GCA Garden Centre. We recommend using pebbles with a flatter surface and ones lighter in colour.

Sunny Suggestion: Instead of using pebbles as hour placeholders, you could also use little succulent or cactus pots! Your garden centre has THE cutest variety of mini cactus pots and this DIY is the perfect opportunity to home a couple. If you’re going for the potted look, you could use the underside of a pot as your clock base too!

3. Paint: To paint numbers of the clock onto each stone and decorate as desired.

4. A dell stick for the gnomon: This is the centrepiece of the sundial that when the sun hits it, a shadow is cast onto the wooden clock base indicating time.

5. A compass or Aunty Google: You will need to find true North to accurately position your sundial.

6. Some super glue, a sunny spot in the garden, and an analogue watch.

 

Positioning and assembling your sundial
  • True North, here we come! Did you know? There is even a sundial app for kids to download! They can ask Aunty Google or the App Store for help. If you still have a compass, then get your little explorer out there to pinpoint exactly where Santa comes from.
  • Once you have found true North and are happy with your sunny spot in the garden, position your wooden clock base. Kids can add all sorts of personal touches to their clock base with some paint or even by burning some cool patterns into the wood using a magnifying glass.
  • Paint on the numbers of the clock onto each pebble or stone. Have some fun with different numbering styles. Kids could even go for an ancient civilisation look and paint in Roman Numerals or hieroglyphics.
  • Use the super glue to secure your dell stick in the centre of the clock base. You can also use a pencil or straight stick from the garden.
  • Position your hour place holder pebbles around or on top of your clock base, depending on how large your stones are.
  • By now, kids should see the shadow being cast onto the sundial. Use your analogue watch to see if the shadow and real-time are matching up. If not, make sure the kids really did find Santa’s true home, and perhaps help them to do a little repositioning.

A DIY garden sundial is an excellent opportunity to get kids outdoors, inspire a thirst for exploration, create awareness for the vastness of our universe, and teach a thing or two about the evolution of time and life on Earth.