Its Garlic time

This is the time that we start to look for garlic bulbs to plant and get them in well before Autumn before the soil freezes and harvested in late spring.

We used to be able to plant the garlic bulbs that we buy in the supermarket but because most of our garlic now comes from China it is irradiated so will not grow when planted.

Buy your bulbs from suppliers like or and then you will be sure to get a good healthy crop of garlic. Hadeco sell bulbs in early March.

They can be grown really closely together, leaving enough space for the bulbs to mature and can easily be grown in containers of sufficient depth. They make pretty flowers and are wonderful as companion plants amongst roses and other perennials. They grow in a wide range of soil conditions and PH levels but do like a good amount of compost.

There is quite a lot of folklore about garlic and medical information. My own father used to make a sandwich of garlic layered on brown bread before he went into the bush. They would sleep under the stars so needed to be sure he did not pick up a cold and believe, he never had cold. He also had his friends at arms length because the smell of garlic was overbearing.

This is the time of the year when we start to think of harvesting the summers bounty. Be it veggies, fruit and even our ordinary plants. So don’t forget to take some envelopes and go into the garden and start collecting seed. Don’t put seed into plastic as it ferments and they will die. Use paper. Newspaper folded into an envelope, will be fine but remember to label and date the seed. Do this every week or two as the different seed ripen. Seed is best ripened on the plant. I also keep empty glass bottles and fill these with seed.

If you have too much of a particular veg or herb, preserve them for the winter months.

Basil and Rocket – make pesto and freeze in ice trays.

Make tomato sauces and relish with tomatoes.

Preserve all the beans that grow so quickly with a lovely curry, garlic and chillies. Delicious as a cold salad.

Bottle peppers and layer them in bottles with lots of oil.

Also a good time to take cuttings of certain roses, lavender, hydrangea, fuchsia, daisies, geraniums, salvia’s, etc.

Time now to look for SWEET PEA seeds and get ready to plant these.
Recipe to follow next week.

ICELAND POPPIES – they are such a superb sight in spring and really easy to grow from seed. Do not cover the poppy seeds. Just sprinkle over the top of your ‘germination mix’.

PRIMULA – chill the seeds in the bottom of the fridge for about a week which will assist in speedy germination . Really easy to grow from seed and you should get them into seed trays right now.

STOCKS – as your stock plants grow and you would like to have double ones then remove all dark-leaved seedlings. Apparently, “doubleness” is linked to plants with light green leaves and grown in temperatures below 10 degrees. Interesting!!

LARKSPUR – these also need chilling for about a week in the bottom of the fridge. Once you have them in the garden they should continue year after year. Just let them go to seed in ‘situ’ and when you pull them out at the end of the season, shake the seeds off. Mine have come back in the same place for many years.

There is still time to throw in some seeds of Zinnia or Marigolds to fill in the gaps and have a bit of late summer fun. Also sow another batch of Rocket, basil and coriander.

Please be careful of pesticides that are harmful and toxic. Rather look for the “Natural” products that are becoming more available and use them more frequently. I think the use of harmful and toxic chemicals should be abolished.

The Jacarandas are late!

It has been so cold this past week that it is hard to believe we are into November when we should be having lovely sunny days with warm evenings and here I am sitting with a jersey on. Surely this is not normal??

Talking about normal. There have been a few queries about why some Jacarandas have come into leaf without flowering this year and why some are flowering beautifully in the Northern parts of Gauteng and yet in the Southern parts they are not. Apparently, in Pretoria they are also late.
I guess it is because our early summer weather has been quite different. Otherwise I really have no explanation.

The second alarming story going around the gardening world is the still not positively identified “Agapanthus Borer“. This borer was noticed late last year in the Western Cape where it attacks the bud of the plant and moves into the stem and down into the rhizome where eggs are laid and the whole cycle begins again. The leaves go a mushy brown and the plant virtually dies. So far it is believed that it is a relative of the Crinum borer. It is a yellowish colour with black spots. Mr. Mike Picker in the Cape is working on how we can control this borer. As yet, there is no treatment available to eradicate the borer but removing them manually seems to be the only way. Obviously, using potent poisons is not a good idea as the whole plant and soil will be poisoned and not necessarily effective. So if anyone is interested you can google “Agapanthus Borer” and find out more about this problem which seems to be more prevalent in the Cape but has been seen up here in Gauteng.

The Amaryllis caterpillar will become evident now in the Clivia and Amaryllis so be aware and again eradicate manually or with Oleum BUT remember to REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT.

The roses have been late but flowering much longer than usual so the weather has been ideal for them.

Get some veggie plants in now and also some seeds. Remember don’t use all the seeds at once. Divide the packet by 6 and plant every month so that you have a constant supply of whatever your choice is. Beetroot, carrots, bush beans are a good example. Try some cucumbers as they are not difficult to grow.

If your Clematis have finished flowering, cut back to the first, second or third bud and the plant will bush up and give you another flush of flowers before Christmas. This does not apply to Clematis Montana as this is the rampant one that covers a huge area. Only highbred Clematis gets pruned after flowering.

Feed Hydrangeas with 3:1:5 and keep them well mulched. If the leaves are yellow, apply some epsom salts to get their leaves a nice dark green. Acid Compost around their roots also makes for strong healthy plants.

Look up into your trees and see if there are any branches that could be cleaned up and give the tree a better looking canopy. Enhance their beauty with good maintenance.

Things to do in the garden now:

Give your garden a good ‘foliar feed’ like ‘Multifeed’ or ‘Seagrow’. If you do this at least once a month you will be amazed at how happy the plants are.

Prune the shrubs and plants that are getting a bit wild.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your plants as they respond when you compliment them and even if you are cross because they have not performed, tell them. You’ll be amazed!!! Personally my opinion is, if Prince Charles has such success with his plants by talking to them, then I am going to do the same.

Just some comments that had me amused in the past few weeks:

“We have never had mushrooms in our garden before. Why did you plant them and what should I do?”

“What does a rosebush look like?”

“Please find me an Avo that is 2 metres tall and bearing immediately”

“What has happened to my Azalea, it has stopped flowering?”

So you see … I am always there to assist you when you have a garden related problem. Email me your problems, or other, and I will gladly help.

Happy summer gardening.

Early Summer

This is such a lovely time of the year. My favourite because the greens are still so fresh and pretty and all the summer flowers that have started look so bright after the dull winter months.

We have had strange weather conditions to the beginning of our summer with some days being quite chilly and other days really hot. Who knows what summer will bring. Whatever it is, I am sure we are all happy that summer is here.

Unfortunately the hail we have had in early spring and this past weekend caused havoc in so many gardens and our beautiful climbers like Wisteria had all their flowers knocked off so the show this year was not a good one. However, many other lovely climbers are putting on a fabulous show. Clematis, Petrea and Climbing roses. When the Banksia rose has finished flowering, cut back harshly as it is a rather rampant climber. In fact, after all the climbers have finished flowering cut back well because they do not like to be pruned in winter.

Prune spring flowering shrubs like Cape May, Mackaya Bella, Duetzia, Philadelphus, etc.

This is the time to pop down to the nurseries and get your fill of gorgeous summer colour. I treated myself to some Begonias, Petunias (for pots) and lots of seed packets so my garden is going to be a riot of colour this summer.

I have seeds dwarf Liliput Zinaa’s, Candytuft,’Love in the Mist’ (Nigella), Cornflowers, Fluffy Sunflowers, Lupins, Allysum and Nasturtiums. Seeds are inexpensive and go a long way to filling the garden and giving lots of cheerful colour. Don’t forget to collect seed at the end of summer so that you can share with friends or just use in your own garden.

I have also got a variety of perennials which will help to fill blank spaces. I have planted DayLilies, Alstroemeria, Centranthus (Valerian) Scabious and a selection of Salvias.

Now to settle back and enjoy summer.

Summer bulbs like Gladioli, Dahlias, Lilies, will be in the nursery and these bulbs will continue to give you pleasure in the garden for years to come so a good investment.

If leaves of Mackaya Bella, Hydrangea, Gardenia, etc, are looking yellow, give them a dose of Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulphate) and repeat this in about 8 weeks.

Roses are now coming into the first flush which is just the best of all. Start summer pruning roses now. This is done by ‘nipping’ out about a quarter of the flowers on the bush so that the process of new flowers will start on these stems and you will have a continued flowering period. Otherwise at the end of this flush there will be a period of no flowers so by nipping makes sure you have roses right through. Works well! Fertilise roses again at the end of the month with 5:1:5 and mulch well.

Fertilise lawn with slow release fertiliser. Watch out for lawn crickets and use ‘soap’ to kill them. Dissolve some Omo in a bucket and pour over the holes that the crickets make. They come to the surface as the soap kills them. Continue to do this every 3 weeks to break the cycle.

Last year I spoke about Compost Tea so would like to remind you all how good this is for your plants and so easy to do. If you have a spare ‘wheelie bin’ or a large 100lt container you will be able to have a good supply for summer. Make a hessian bag and fill with kraal manure. Tie this up at the top and drop it into the drum of water. The manure will go into the surrounding water and create fertiliser which you pour on to your plants.
After about a month, dip your water can in and fill it half with compost tea and half with water. Pour this over pot plants and special seedlings. Super way to feed plants and costs next to nothing. Just takes a bit of effort.

Kruger Park September 2012

Summer has started and almost all the trees have been clothed in their glorious greens, reds and yellows. Just the Jacarandas to come through at the end of October. A truly beautiful sight.

My husband Barry and I have just spent a relaxing wonderful week in Kruger National Park.

We stayed in Olifants camp which was still a bit dry but driving to Satara and then down to Berg ‘n Dal, the grasses had come through and there had been quite a bit of rain so the animals were very busy eating the juicy new shoots. The park and animals are looking happy and healthy.

I took many pictures of the stunning trees we saw on our outings and I shall share some of these with you.

But what I really would like to share is a wonderful story that we read in the paper just before we went away.

A young Argentinian couple (Herman and Calendaria Zapp) met at the age of 10 whilst still at school and years later married. They dreamed of traveling from Afganistan to Alaska . About 5 years into their marriage they decided to fix a 1928 Graham Paige car they had standing in the garage. After several months of getting this old girl mobile they set off on their travels.

They have been traveling the world for 12 years. In this time they have had 4 children.

So here we are in Satara camp and as we stopped at the shop this glorious old car pulls up next to us and out fall a tiny mother and 4 children in a hurry to get a quick drink before leaving the park as they only had an hour to make the Orpen gate.

Naturally I went up to Herman Zapp and told him I had seen the article in the paper and was so thrilled to actually meet him. What friendly people they are. I took a photograph which is included here and then he proceeded to tell us about his old car.

The wheels have wooden spokes and the tyres need to be specially made. When asking him what they do about spares, he said “ we have faith “.

We bought his book ‘Spark a Dream” which tells of their travels and they have written 8 editions.

An inspirational story which says to us all “Spark your dream”.

In the garden - SEPTEMBER 2012

This is arbor month and a perfect time to plant a tree or trees.

Johannesburg is one of the most ‘tree-ed’ cites in the world and there is no doubt that green spaces have a wonderful way of making us happy.

The tree of the year is SYZIIGUM CORDATA (Waterberry). Actually a very lovely tree as it has large greyish leaves with bunches of fruit that the birds love. It can be a bit sensitive to our colder winters so it would need a warm spot in the early years. In perfect conditions (with moist feet) it can grow to a large 8 to 10 meters high so not a good idea for a small garden but it has a longish shape which is good for screening.

The trees that I use for various reasons because I find them to successful in this area as well as suitable to most gardens.

These choices are all indigenous:

• Small gardens

+Bauhinea Tomentosa
+Diospyros Whyteana

• Larger gardens

+Scotia Brachypetala
+Bolusanthus Speciosa
+Dombeya Rotundifolia
+Combretum Kirkii

In many of the older gardens in Johannesburg you will find the various Oak species and they grow to huge proportions so it is always a good idea to do a bit of research before you choose a tree for your garden.

What reason do you need to have the tree?


Then do not forget that many trees have invasive roots so consider where you plant your tree as you would not like the buildings foundations or pool area to be destroyed.

Maintenance of trees is so important. As they grow, look into them and watch the shapes. We are able to prune and shape a tree but this takes some expertise and so is best left to the specialists.

There are a few specialist that I use because they really know how to prune and re-shape a tree to suit the area and allow light in without disturbing the canopy.

In our impatient world we want quick results so sometimes large instant trees are planted. Many times these trees basically sulk for a few years whereas if you buy a smaller try of the same type you will get rapid growth and even though it takes longer, can prove to be a better specimen in the long run. Again get some advice from a specialist.

In Johannesburg I use:

URBAN FOREST - Neil – 082 467 5735
TREE WORKS - Julian – 073 330 8733
ARBOR AFRICA - Anton - 083 600 9786

With the arrival of spring how quickly the leaves are showing on trees. Their beautiful fresh green which sparkles in the early sunlight. All we need now is our first spring rain to clear the air and brighten everything up.

Such a busy time in the garden right now. Besides the wonderful show of spring flowers, things begin to grow at an alarming rate so that we almost don’t know which garden ‘chore’ to do first.

Some of the things to do right now:

• Those that have fruit trees should keep their ‘fruit fly’ bait traps going in the trees. Try to put at least two (2) per tree. Make a mixture of water, marmite and sugar and put into the bottom of a empty plastic coke bottle. Puncture tiny holes from the middle to the top just big enough for the fruit fly but not big enough for bees. You can use a hot needle. Tie a piece of string around the neck of the bottle and hang in the tree. Change the mixture every week or two until you do not see anymore fruit flies. They lay their eggs in newly formed fruit. Why not hang a variety of pretty bright ribbons in the trees which will blow about in the wind and also keep birds away.

• Increase watering. If you have an automatic irrigation system change the times to the evening. (after 5 p.m.). This allows water to go down deeply and not evaporate too quickly. Save water!!

• Get stakes ready for Clematis as they are growing rapidly and will be a beautiful show very shortly.

• Don’t cut off the Clivia heads because they will produce lots of seed by the same time next year and you can grow your own as they are so easy to grow. Grow your own Clivia by collecting last year’s seed, take the fleshy covering off and push down into some soil.

• This is the time to go to Nurseries and choose the early flowering plants like Wisteria, Crab Apples, Flowering Peach or Cherries, Magnolias, Camellias.

• There are so many varieties and shades of flowers that it is a good time to make your choice so that next year you too will have this wonderful show. At the moment all these wonderful shrubs, climbers, perennials and annuals are doing their best to outshine each other.

• Watch out for all sorts of pests that will start arriving now. Try to use only ‘natural’ products and avoid the toxin alternative.

• If you have not fertilised the lawn this is a good time to do so. Use a slow release fertiliser before the rains come and then once the rains come you can use a high nitrogen.

• Visit Nurseries and just see all the new plants arriving.

• Hopefully the frosts are gone so you can cut back plants now that have been taken by the frost.

• Roses will be growing strongly and you can apply a granular fertiliser of 5:1:5 and Epsom Salts. Keep watering well and await the wonderful show of roses in early October.

• Feed Hydrangeas with Epsom Salts and a solution of Iron chelate. Give them a good layer of Acid Compost and mulch.

• Clean out water features.


• Plant directly in situ – beans, spinach, turnips, radishes, sweetcorn, baby marrows, gem squash, carrots, beetroot.

• Sow in trays – tomatoes, bringals, peppers and lettuce

• Dig roots of peas into the soil which will enhance the nitrogen in the bed.

• Get seed potatoes from the Nursery and plant these.

• Get fresh herbs in like, basil, rocket, chervil and parsley.

Remember to diarise the 15th September for the annual rare plant sale that the Johannesburg Garden Club will be having. Don’t miss this as you will find the most amazing plants that you usually cannot find in nurseries.