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Gardening in South Africa

Tatsoi grows so rapidly that fully mature plants can be harvested in just 45 to 50 days!

TatsoiTatsoiIf you’re a fan of pre-washed, pre-packaged mixed baby greens, chances are you have come across tatsoi, and in many stores you can also buy whole plants. This beautiful looking Asian green will certainly grab your attention with its thick, lustrous green leaves which are spoon-shaped and arranged in a beautiful rosette of regular, concentric circles, and once you have sampled its soft creamy texture and subtle yet distinctive mild mustard flavour, you will certainly be hooked on this little plant.

Colour your garden warm this winter and spring.

Dianthus Bouquet Purple. Picture courtesy Ball Horticultural CompanyDianthus Bouquet Purple. Picture courtesy Ball Horticultural CompanyDoes your summer flower garden start to fizzle out as soon as the cooler weather arrives? If so, you need a new plan to keep your beds blooming, and one which doesn’t cost a fortune either! It’s very hard not to get carried away at the garden centre when confronted with all those trays of delightful flowering seedlings, but please take a deep breath and stick to your original plan. Also, remember that no prize-winning flower garden can be created in the first year and a bit of planning beforehand will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Cosmos is a lovely non-toxic flower which is recommended for children’s gardens and safe around cats and dogs.

Sonata Mix Cosmos. Picture courtesy Ball Horticultural CompanySonata Mix Cosmos. Picture courtesy Ball Horticultural CompanyCosmos are beautiful summer flowering annuals native to Mexico, where most of the species occur, as well as the United States, as far north as the Olympic Peninsula in Washington; and Central and South America, as far south as Paraguay. One species, the commonly called “Mexican Aster” (Cosmos bipinnatus) escaped gardens and naturalized itself across much of the eastern United States and eastern Canada, growing abundantly on disturbed land besides roads, and in fields and waste areas. It is also widespread over the high eastern plains of South Africa, where it was introduced via contaminated horse feed imported from Argentina during the Anglo-Boer War. In South Africa they flower religiously around Easter time, transforming open fields and roadways with their masses of flowers, and the flowering can continue until the first frosts.

Spanish priests grew cosmos in their mission gardens in Mexico, and it was their perfect, evenly placed petals which led them to christen the flower "Cosmos," the Greek word for harmony or ordered universe. Although there are 20 known species of cosmos, two annual species, the commonly called Yellow Cosmos (Cosmos sulphurous) and the Mexican cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) are most familiar to home gardeners, and easy to tell apart.

Traditionally mid to late summer is the time to sow vegetable crops that enjoy growing in the intermediate to cool seasons.

Broad Beans with white Primulas in frontBroad Beans with white Primulas in frontWant to save money on the family budget this year? Vegetable prices are very high right now, so why not try growing your own - it's really easy and nothing beats the flavour of home grown veggies. Also, if you practice organic gardening you will have peace of mind, knowing that your veggies are truly fresh and packed with vitamins and minerals, and do not contain unhealthy chemical residues.

Vegetables are more nutritious if they are consumed as fresh as possible and fruiting vegetables, like beans, tomatoes, peppers and sweet corn, have the best flavour if they are eaten as quickly as possible after harvesting. Growing your own veggies also gives you a wider choice, and unusual varieties are sometimes difficult to obtain in grocery stores, but are easily grown in the home garden.

Many vegetables like frilly lettuce and 'Bright Lights' spinach are also very ornamental and can be grown for their good looks as well as their produce.

This little birdfeeder is worth its weight in gold.

People love attracting birds to their gardens because they bring life, movement, bird song, and hours of joy. Here the Red Bishops and the little Cape Sparrows vie for space, but somehow they all manage to get their share.

There are many types of bird feeders available, so select those you prefer - they all work well. It is incredible how quickly the birds find the food, it can be within hours, or perhaps a day or so at the most, but once they discover it you will find them returning time and again for their free smorgasbord! I don’t feed every day in summer because it becomes very expensive and they do still need to forage for their own food, but in winter I give a regular supply.


Gardening in the Shade

shade book

Growing Vegetables in South Africa

Growing Bedding Plants in South Africa

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