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GARDENING: Beauty on a budget

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Colour up the spring garden with annuals and plant seeds now for an endless summer show that is easy on the pocket

Are you looking for a cost-effective way to spruce up your spring garden? Consider colourful annuals. With a good garden structure of trees, shrubs and perennials, annuals provide the “icing on the cake”. Annuals can be planted in the front of a border or in containers close to a patio or entertainment area.

Marvellous Marigolds

Marigolds are one of the easiest annuals to grow from seed or seedlings for the spring and summer garden. They can be used to edge a border or as a protection in the vegetable garden. Marigolds make wonderful companions for beans, strawberries and tomatoes, keeping unwanted flying pests at bay. 

French marigolds (Tagetes patula) are common in dwarf varieties, while the tall African marigolds (Tagetes erecta) are perfect for planting at the back of the border. Marigolds come in a variety of colours from bold gold and sunny yellows to vibrant or rusty orange and bi-colour varieties.

Plant portulaca for a pretty edge at the front of the border. Picture: Lukas Otto

The new Starke Ayres Marigold “Eskimo” is a creamy, white variety that will be making a bold entrance at the Johannesburg International Flower Show (October 30 to November 3) at Waterfall City, Midrand.

Malanseuns are currently growing “Eskimo” seedlings to be used in a display by acclaimed floral designer, Jill Manson, at the entrance to the show. “Eskimo”, is a long-stemmed marigold that can also be used in cut flower arrangements.

Planting seedlings and sowing seeds

Johan ‘Panda’ du Preez, brand ambassador for Starke Ayres, provides top tips for sowing seeds. Picture: Supplied

Johan “Panda” du Preez of Starke Ayres says seedling trays are a good option for instant spring colour. With proper care you can get the most out of seedlings. “Always purchase a bottle of Kelpak, an organic seaweed concentrate, with your seedlings,” says Du Preez.

“It will help to prevent plant stress when you plant out them out in the garden.” Now is the time to sow seeds for colour in October and November. Consider alyssums, celosia, zinnias, nasturtiums, cosmos, impatiens and dianthus (pinks). Also lookor seed mixes in pinks or purples or tall or dwarf mixes, suitable for a mixed border.

How to get the best from the seeds and seedlings

Prepare the ground by digging to a depth of at least 15cm and break up clumps. Add compost and dig in well, along with a good general fertiliser. Water well the day before planting.

For seedlings

  • Water the tray when you get home and place it in a shady spot.
  • “Pour half Kelpak and half water into a container and as you take the seedlings out the tray, dip the roots into this mix before you plant out,” advises Du Preez. “This will help the seedling to survive the transplanting stress.”
  • Plant the seedling at the same depth as it was in the tray. Cover with soil and press down gently.
  • Water well after planting and feed your seedlings with a suitable fertiliser once a fortnight or as recommended by the manufacturer. Keep the soil moist as the seedlings establish, but don’t over water.

For seeds

  • Purchase your seed packs, taking care to consider the location of the flower bed and whether it enjoys full or partial sun.
  • Panda says it’s important to bulk up fine seed to ensure an even spread over the bed by mixing seed with palm peat before sowing.
  • After planting, rake over the bed and use a watering can with a fine spray rose to water.
  • Keep the bed moist as seeds germinate. 
  • Sow summer veggies

Think about your summer menus and sow seeds for a scrumptious crop of vegetables. Get your children involved. The garden is nature’s classroom.

Starke Ayres have launched a “Kidz” seed range, with Tom the Tomato, Bart the Bean and Carl the Carrot, aimed at encouraging the young ones to get gardening.

What guidelines should you follow for growing vegetables this summer?

  • “Place the seed pack in a plastic container in the fridge for seven days. Then sow the seeds into a tray of palm peat to keep them moist.”
  • Once the seedlings reach 10cm height, you can thin out and plant them into your vegetable patch.
  • Before transplanting, prepare the soil with compost and a good fertiliser before you transplant the seedlings. Pick a spot that gets at least six hours of sun per day. In summer rainfall regions, you can sow lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, runner beans, beetroot, celery, cucumber, brinjal, peppers, pumpkin, hubbard squash, spinach, sweet corn, tomatoes and turnips.
Before you sow carrot seeds, till deep and add compost to ensure a light and airy soil. Picture: Supplied

Those in winter rainfall areas can sow runner beans, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, pumpkin, hubbard squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and turnips.

McGregor hosts Magic Garden Festival 

The sunken Reservoir Garden in Church Street, McGregor boasts impressive acoustics and will feature live musical performances during the festival. Picture: Supplied

Consider a trip to the heritage town of McGregor, 150km east of Cape Town, for the McGregor Magic Garden Festival from September 21 to 23.

There are more than 30 private gardens to view, including community gardens in this semi-arid Karoo village, watered with mountain rain water fed through a lei system to the village. Festival sponsors are supporting local community gardens for education and upliftment.

The festival’s programme includes expert talks on gardening topics, guided walks, workshops and live music. Refreshments and meals are available at local restaurants and at the garden market.

Cost: Garden market only R25pp; festival VIP ticket R120 (two people); programme features – from R30pp. Bookings on Quicket: McGregorMagic1.

For more info, call 0236251954 or see the Facebook page: McGregorMagic


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