Homemade chia man is an excellent way to teach your child how to care for a plant of their own. Chia seeds grow well indoors and create a lovely green “hairstyle” for your child to enjoy.
Easter comes early this year and with it, a couple of public holidays – the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time at home with family and friends. And if the weather play’s along – a good excuse to get stuck into adding some colour to your garden.
Just like The Easter Bunny and the egg, verbenas and lobelias are destined companions. Both plants are prolific bloomers, providing a wonderful array of colours in what could otherwise be a dull spot in your garden. As companions, they work well together in pots or hanging baskets, especially the trailing varieties, which are particularly striking along patios or entrance-ways. Verbenas bloom in vibrant shades of pink, purple, mauve or red, which are tempered by the lovely lobelias’ more pastel hues of blues, pinks and lilacs.
Verbena’s tick all gardeners’ boxes; they are fruitful bloomers, hardy, heat-tolerant and importantly, low maintenance.
Are you tired of buying over-priced herbs? Why not start your own herb garden at home? Herbs are some of the easiest and most satisfying plants to grow yourself. Follow these useful guidelines and you will have a beautifully fragrant herb garden in no time.
Plan ahead: There is no point in planting herbs that you will never use. Take some time to check through your kitchen herbs and select the ones that you use the most often. Favourites include basil, rosemary, mint, parsley, coriander, lavender, thyme, sage and oregano.
Shop, but don’t drop: Some herbs (like basil, chives, lemongrass, parsley and thyme) do best when they are bought as seeds. Others, like mint, rosemary and tarragon, are better bought as actual plants. Check with your local nursery if you are unsure.
Claustrophobia: Spacing your herbs the correct distance apart is very important, as overcrowded plants can go hungry. Speak to someone at your local nursery about how much space each type of herb needs around it. Herbs in general do not need a lot of space. As a rule, one square metre is enough for about ten plants.
Compost is the single most important supplement that you can give your garden soil – it is like the vitamin C of the earth. Many of us know this, but do you actually know and understand why and how it works?
What is compost?
In a nutshell, compost is the product resulting from the biological decomposition or “rotting” of organic matter under controlled conditions. It is made through the stock piling of ageing organic matter and/ or by adding agents to this matter which assists with the fermentation process. Composting involves the consumption of carbon, oxygen and water by micro-organisms as they feed on the organic decaying matter, which leaves a natural by-product called humus, rich in nutrients for plant growth.
How does it work?
The decomposition process is fueled by millions of microscopic organisms (bacteria and fungi) that take up residence inside the pile of organic matter, continuously devouring the materials and recycling them to produce a rich organic hummus that is a valuable nutrient for plants. For this process to happen efficiently, the microorganisms need heat, moisture and air.
Compost contains nutrients that your plants need for optimum growth, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It is also an especially good supplier of micronutrients that are needed in small quantities such as boron, cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc. The more varied the materials used to make the compost, the greater the variety of nutrients the compost will provide.
When you drive through the KZN Midlands and Durban area, you could be excused for disbelieving we are experiencing the worst drought in many years. Don’t be fooled, underneath all of that greenery, there is very little water, not nearly enough for a thirsty garden.
From channelling waste water into garden beds to showering over a bucket to capture a little run-off water for outside, if you are willing to make the effort, there are ways to maintain a garden during the drought. Another option, more sustainable than the rest, is to turn your garden into a drought-proof zone, with these simple suggestions:
The echeveria succulent, better known as a “rock rose” adds a decorative element to any garden. When planted in groups or rows, they create an eye-catching living rockery. While they’re not indigenous to South Africa, this drought-resistant plant species is a popular choice for water-wise, low-maintenance gardens. What’s more, succulents are easy to love and practically fool-proof.
Is your garden full of dying, thirsty shrubs? Replace them with “spekboom”, also known as portulacaria afra – a hardy indigenous succulent that grows to between two and four meters in height and can survive on as little as 250ml to 350ml of water a year. Spekboom is also easily propagated – simply cut or break off a piece, stick it in the ground, water every few days and you’ll soon have a new spekboom plant.
Companion planting is based on the principle that certain plants can attract or repel insects or provide beneficial support to other plants. It can also work the other way around where one plant can be detrimental to anothers growth.
Radishes – best planted with lettuce and nasturtiums. The lettuce helps to tenderize the radishes and the nasturtiums improve the flavour of the radish.
Marigolds – help to stimulate vegetable growth and also help to deter squash bugs, potato bug, aphids and bean beetles.
Eggplants – plant with nasturtiums and beans. The nasturtiums attract the pests away from the eggplant and the beans deter potato bug.
Squash – plant with nasturtiums and marigolds to keep the dreaded squash bug away.