There are few things nicer than walking in your garden, soaking up the sun, smelling all the different fragrances of the flowers and hearing the bees humming away. One specific plants comes to mind when picturing this image, and it is the lovely Lavandula dentata ‘Elegans‘.
As they dance in the wind with their long dainty stems topped with a vibrant purple, we now understand why bees absolutely love these shrubs!
Lavendula dentata ‘Elegans’
A bushy shrub with fragrant dark green leaves and dark purple flowers from spring to summer, they love to be planted in the sun where they can cope with all the shine in your garden! The Lavendula dentata ‘Elegans’ grown by Malanseuns is excellent to use for cut flowers and can be used as pot-pouri as well.
When you think of planting lavender, don’t limit its use to garden beds bedding – use the lavender as a fragrant hedge in your driveway or try it in a beautiful pot on your patio to enjoy.
What benefits would you enjoy from this delicate perennial?
Lavendula dentata ‘Elegans’ is a very versatile plant that can be used for cooking, for decorating and for aromatherapy apart from using it in your garden. We would say yes to choosing this plant for all these wonderful reasons!
Bringing the lavender fragrance indoors
Savouring the Lavendula dentata ‘Elegans’ in your food is a treat, from baking with lavender to savoury dishes or making a soft lavender ice-cream – lavender brings a floral-earthiness-minty type of flavour and aroma to food. How delicious!
If you’re not sure how to use lavender in your food, always choose to use it sparingly because its scent can be a little overwhelming, like vanilla. We suggest to rather start mixing a little bit with your dish, along with other great pairing herbs such as thyme and rosemary, and as you get used to the taste explore with different combinations. You can use freshly picked lavender or ground dry buds that you can keep as spice in your cabinet, for you to explore with in the kitchen.
Easy chicken and lavender recipe:
We found this easy and delicious chicken recipe for you to try. Thank you www.sumptuousspoonfuls.com for this recipe! Enjoy readers.
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
3 – 4 chicken leg quarters (or other chicken pieces)
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon honey
10 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
Several sprigs of fresh lavender leaves
1 lemon, cut into slices, rind and seeds (mostly) removed
Seasoning of your choice, including freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Heat an oven-proof pan over medium heat, then add the olive oil and swirl around to coat the bottom of the pan.
Fry the chicken till the skin is golden brown on both sides (not to cook the chicken, just to brown it).
Remove the chicken from the pan, drain the excess fat, add the wine and honey, and swirl around to deglaze the pan.
Arrange the chicken pieces in the pan, sprinkle with pepper and other seasoning, then sprinkle with lots of lavender leaves and add the lemon slices on top.
Set the pan in the oven and set a sheet of aluminium foil on top for 20 minutes.
Remove the foil and let cook for another 20 – 25 minutes or until the juices of the chicken run clear when poked with a knife.
Add some fragrance to your garden
Next time you visit Plantland, remember to add the Lavendula dentata ‘Elegans’ to your trolley: you will be amazed as to all the astounding things you can do with this perfect lavender.
How many times have you walked past a house in a lovely neighbourhood, and all you could smell was the aroma of the food being cooked that almost makes you feel like asking for a seat at that dinner table. It is as if the herbs and spices they’ve used are calling you, and your stomach begins to growl.
We don’t know about you, but we always aim to fill our homes with the comforting smell of food, and we also know for sure that fresh herbs add extra love and delight to any meal.
Benefits of growing your own herbs
Fresh herbs in your garden mean meals packed with much more flavour. There is nothing that can beat the fresh taste in your infused water or the stew you plan to make for Sunday lunch.
Adds variety to your meals
Having a broad variety of fresh herbs allows you to experiment with different flavours. When you are looking at doing a leg of lamb, the best herbs would be thyme, rosemary and even a little basil. We bet you can smell it already!
Herbs are a good option when looking at living a healthier lifestyle. Most herbs are packed with antioxidants that help to clean your liver.
Tending to your own herb garden will help you get rid of the stress built up during the week, being one with nature and learning about the benefits the different herbs have to offer.
Growing herbs from Starke Ayres seeds is good for intermediate gardeners who know a little more about sowing seeds and the requirements, and there is the wide variety on offer by Starke Ayres. There is also an option to choose from Plantland’s seedling varieties, which enables you to plant a seedling that has gone through all the growing pains and is ready for you to enjoy. Herb seedlings are good to start off with if you are a beginner gardener.
Choosing the perfect pot
It helps to know where you want to plant your herbs; by your kitchen windowsill or in pots outside your kitchen, or wherever would work best for your needs and setting. Once you have the perfect spot for your herbs, you will need to pick the perfect pot. We absolutely love the Tuscan style a terracotta pit gives, or if you are more a herb-crate type of gardener, Plantland has all the styles you could dream of! If you are creative, you could always create or paint your own pots. There are endless possibilities.
Introduce herbs to your everyday lifestyle
Whether you are a beginner herb lover or an expert herb gardener, we encourage you to explore with herbs. Use them in your teas or when you cook, and you will have a whole new culinary world to escape to.
When you’re ready to buy herb plants, check Plantland’s online store where you can shop for your favourite herbs from convenience of your own home.
Herbs are the quickest, simplest, and tastiest way to elevate your dinners from ordinary to mind-blowing. They are even more vital in winter when hearty roasts and homey veggies need a sprig of rosemary or a topping of parsley to bring a meal together. Unfortunately, as gardeners know, there are few plants that grow well in areas with cold South African winters, but luckily, there are several herbs on that list. While they won’t grow exceptionally quickly, and you may have to watch how much you harvest, these herbs are ready to withstand winter weather and keep your kitchen stocked all season long.
Thyme is a kitchen classic and an essential part of any herb garden. Its pleasant savoury flavour is ideal for soups, roasts, or vegetables. We even added some thyme to our cupcakes to balance the sweetness and sour lemon in this video:
There are many thyme fragrances to choose from, including lemon-scented thyme which is ideal for winter cold-fighting teas. As a Mediterranean plant, it thrives in full sun and high heat, but will hold out over winter with some protection from frost. Place a frost cover over the plant in extremely cold weather so you can continue sneakily harvesting under the blanket over winter. Be sure not to harvest more than one-third of the plant and it will be sure to grow back come springtime.
Drought and frost resistant, sage is the ideal cold-hardy herb. In fact, sage thrives in a range of conditions, including in poor soil. Grow it in a full sun position almost anywhere in your garden and it will be happy. Plus, you’ll be happy to have a consistent supply of sage in your kitchen. The fresh fragrance is ideal for chicken stuffing or pasta sauces. Any sore throats from winter ailments can also be kept at bay with a sage tea – steep some dried leaves in boiling water, add a pinch of salt, and gargle every few hours.
Mint is known for being aggressive. With the right care, it will continue that trend – even in cold weather. While the tops will eventually die back in very cold weather, in most regions of South Africa it will hold out and you can continue your harvest all year long. Mint is a great addition to the classic cold-fighting drink, hot toddy. Alternatively, throw a few leaves in some boiling water on their own for a refreshing, garden-brewed tea.
Like thyme, rosemary is a winter kitchen staple. Its savoury aroma is synonymous with cold weather – just the sight of rosemary is likely to trigger memories of traditional winter roasts and flickering fires. Rosemary can withstand cold weather with some protection provided, as long as it remains in a full-sun position throughout the day. While frost-hardy, it doesn’t grow as vigorously in winter as it does in spring. A light hand in harvesting is essential to keep the plant healthy until growing starts up again.
Stock your kitchen cabinets (and your medicine cabinets) with these essential winter herbs harvested straight from your garden. They are sure to make the cold, gloomy winter months in the garden far more bearable.
We always say, “you are what you eat”, and most of us think we’re being healthy when we eat five servings of fruit and veg a day. But do we really know what we’re eating? When we buy a punnet of plums or a bag of kale from the supermarket, do we know what they were sprayed with while growing or after they were picked? No we don’t, which is the real benefit of eating plants you planted, nurtured and harvested in your own garden – you can control what goes onto them, and therefore what goes into your body. This is why we all need to be talking more about biological control, or ‘biologicals’.
Simply explained, biological refers to a natural ‘circle of life’ – the predator and prey relationship found in nature, like a lion catching a springbuck. The lion kills something, which is gruesome, but there’s no collateral damage – only the springbok is hurt. With biologicals we take that part of nature and focus it to benefit our gardens – we take the natural enemies of a pest in our garden, and we use them to keep the pest (and only the pest) under control: birds eat caterpillars, ladybirds eat aphids, and beneficial bacteria, viruses and fungi keep other pests and diseases in check.
A biological approach, or biologicals, centres around nature, embracing the synergistic relationships that occur naturally to ensure survival and sustainability. ‘Biologicals’ view nature as being brilliantly creative and diverse – with soil (a living ecosystem) being integrally interconnected with roots and plant health. As an example of the complexity of the soil ecosystem, there are about a million fungal and bacterial organisms in a single teaspoon of soil, each of them playing a part in the natural cycle of life in the garden.
If you want an example of how effective biologicals can be in pest control, look no further than the declining infestations of prickly pears in South Africa. At the beginning of the 20th century prickly pear was a big problem, taking over swathes of agricultural land. Then clever scientists introduced a little cochineal bug, which did its thing and got prickly pear under control. Port Jackson willow is another local biological success story, where a gall-forming rust fungus and a midge have both proven to be effective control agents.
More relevantly to us and our veggie gardens, tomato plants are very susceptible to Phytophthora root rot, caused by phytophthora fungus-like organisms. Inoculating your soil with biologicals like the spores of the Trichoderma asperellum fungus, which colonises root systems and protects them, can control this. The result – no more root rot, and no chemicals needed!
Another problem we all face is the caterpillars that always arrive when we plant cabbages or mustard, or any member of the cabbage family. If you spray your plants with the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) beneficial bacteria, the caterpillars will stop eating and eventually die, and if a bird eats them it’s no problem.
A range of biological pest control products is finally available on local retailer shelves. Keep an eye out for the new EcoBuz brand and the four biological products launched in spring 2019. This exciting new development introduces biologicals: safe, effective pest-control solutions that don’t compromise the health of beneficial insects, birds, pets, people or soils and the environment.
Benefits of Ecobuz biological products, or biologicals, for edible gardeners:
No residuals – this is of great significance with all edible crops as it means applications can be applied right up to harvest. (Each product is unique, so always check the packaging and inserts for specific details.)
Biological product ‘mode of action’ is unique in comparison to chemical counterparts. This makes these products ideal for use in rotation with chemical treatments to prevent and manage pest resistance (where frequent and repeated use of the same chemicals results in a pest no longer being susceptible to its effect).
Thrifty gardeners like to use every part of the vegetable. Why throw away luscious beetroot tops, colourful Swiss chard stems or crunchy broccoli stalks? If you use what everyone else tosses away, then you are a ‘root-to-stem’ gardener. This is the latest trend in a world that’s conscious of waste and the rising cost of food.
Creative gardeners and cooks are taking this trend even further with recipes for carrot-top pesto, radish greens chimichurri and roasted cauliflower steaks.
It has also been discovered that the parts we throw away (hopefully on the compost heap) are just as rich in nutrients, if not richer, than the parts we eat, such as broccoli stems, beetroot leaves and more. There are plenty of summer veggies that can be eaten root-to-stem. Here are our suggestions:
Swiss chard: ‘Bright Lights’ varieties with colourful stems offer the most options. Chopped small, they can be added to soups and stews, sautéed with onions, peppers and other veggies in stir-fries, or steamed and added to pasta, quiche and other baked dishes. Those with the large white rib can be steamed and served with hollandaise sauce, as an asparagus substitute.
Growing tips: In summer, Swiss chard grows better in partial shade. Water regularly and feed monthly with a nitrogen-rich fertiliser to boost leaf production. Harvest 2 – 3 outer stems at a time from each plant.
Summer squashes like baby marrows and patty pans, as well as winter squashes (pumpkins and butternut), produce edible flowers, and the young leaves can be eaten like spinach, often referred to by people in rural areas as marog.
Cook the leaves as soon as possible after picking because they wilt quickly. Wash well and shred. Sauté an onion and some garlic and add the leaves. Add some water or stock and some chopped tomatoes and potatoes and stew until the vegetables are very tender. The ‘hairiness’ of the leaves diminishes with cooking.
Growing tips: Plant in full sun, in well-composted soil that drains well. Allow enough space for plants to grow (overcrowding may cause fungal disease). Water at the base of the plant and avoid wetting the leaves.
Don’t we all love to snack? Behaviourists, who have studied the psychology of snacking, say it’s not always because we are hungry. We snack to improve our mood (boredom or comfort eating), as a convenient on-the-go meal or energy boost (school and work lunches), and when socialising, watching television or sport.
Despite our best intentions, snacking is here to stay! But what we snack on makes a difference to our health, weight and fitness. That’s why growing our own healthy veggie snacks can help reduce, and maybe even eliminate, the consumption of chips, chocolates and other delicious (but diabolical) treats.
Snacking veggies meet all the criteria of snacks – they are crunchy, sweet or savoury, varied, interesting and easy to eat. They also appeal to the eye, especially the new multi-coloured varieties.
Cherry tomatoes have always been popular as a snacking food, but now there are ‘currant’ and ‘grape’ types that are extra sweet, flavourful and even more snackable. Small-fruiting tomatoes are quicker to harvest than the large fruit varieties and most varieties are suitable for growing in containers and even in large hanging baskets.
Try these for snacking:
Candyland Red is a new currant-type tomato. The dark-red sweet fruit is smaller than the cherry tomato, ready to pop into your mouth straight from the garden. The plant is tidier than other current-type tomatoes and the clusters of fruit are formed on the outside of the plant, making it easier to harvest. These are delicious for snacking.
Baby carrots are another super-crunchy snack, and they are ideal container veggies, especially if the garden soil is heavy. Direct-sow seed into troughs or pots that are at least 20cm deep. Thin to 10cm apart. Use regular, fine potting soil, keep moist during germination and water regularly.
Try these for snacking:
Parisian Round carrots are sweet and round, ideal for lunch boxes. They grow faster than normal carrots because of their shallow root system and are great for poor soil conditions. They can be sown all year round and are ready for harvesting within 50 – 70 days of sowing.
Radishes are the ultimate slimming vegetable because they contain lots of fibre, vitamin C and potassium, and very few calories. Snacking on radishes, rather than high fat or sugary foods, helps fight hunger pangs but keeps weight off. They have also become more colourful.
Try these for snacking:
Rainbow Mix consists of purple, yellow, white and red radishes and Watermelon radish has a whitish-green outer skin, but when cut it resembles a small watermelon with bright pink flesh. The flavour is mild, nutty and slightly sweet. Sow thickly into compost-enriched soil or use a good quality, fast-draining potting soil for container-grown radishes. Keep the soil moist during germination. Use the thinned out small leaves in salads. They are as tasty, but not as peppery as the radish root, excellent for snacking. Water regularly because radishes need to grow quickly if they are to be plump and crunchy.
Control those carbs this festive season by snacking away without feeling guilty.
Micro is all the buzz, although cell phones seem to get bigger, food portions are getting smaller. Just visit any well-run restaurant and you will see. Big plates filled with small dots and brushes of liquified coloured concoctions, baby peas resting on a slice of pink salmon, sprinkles of micro greens of all types of vegetables. You definitely don’t need to be a foodie, or spend a fortune to taste these little micro greens that have taken over the culinary world – and to understand their value. You can grow your own and turn that drab plate into something spectacular! And get all the nutrients!
We all know our gardens slow down considerably in the colder months, but there is no need for our veggie patches to slow down. There are many vegetables that can tolerate cold and be classified as winter veggies, yes even minus degrees and light frost. With a few simple measures, you can have veggies all year around. And if you are a salad loving person, don’t fret, even your lettuce will survive with a little help. Protecting these with frost cover cloth or cloches, even plastic 2l bottles (cut the bottoms off and whalla! Or “Voila!” if you’re French), will ensure that your salad bowl is never empty. Just remember to remove the protection during the day so that these little guys can soak up the sun.
What about severe cold?
Should a severe cold spell be predicted, artichokes, beets, carrots, cauliflower and celery can be protected in the same way. If your cabbages have formed heads, no worries, they are now strong enough and the frost will not be a problem. Luckily for you, all other brassicas, garden peas, spinach, turnips and leeks can withstand heavy frost. Plant away!
How to lay frost cover (and how not to!)
When laying frost cover over your veggies, make sure that the cloth does not touch the vegetables. This creates a barrier between the cold and your greens. If the cloth does touch your veggies, you are sure to have frost burns on the plants. Save yourself a lot of disappointments and do it right the first time. Sticks and wire make an easy simple frame for you to drape your cloth over. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to build a frame! Bloudraad (wire) is as strong as an ox. Bend it to form small wire hoops and lay across your veggie beds. Cover with frost cover cloth. Ideally you should remove the cover every morning after your first cup of coffee, to allow sunlight. If the weather is dreary for a couple of days, keep it on. No one likes being outside in winter without a jacket. Taller plants? Use sticks. Place you sticks around the plant and wrap it with frost cover. You can leave the top open only if the frost cover is higher than the plant. Should the top opening be big enough for the plant to receive sunshine, you can leave it standing throughout winter.
Don’t forget to watch the weather closely
Frost occurs when temperatures reach zero or fall below, this also depends on dew and wind factors. Very cold winds can cause black frost. Following the weather man can save you a lot of trouble in trying to predict the weather yourself. Tune in and keep watch. Should you live in an extremely cold area, there is still hope of watching your winter crop grow. Plastic tunnels can be made by digging down in your beds and using wire hoops and plastic. Dig a trench on either side of your bed and place the hoops. Fill back the soil after you have placed the plastic over the frame. Remember to keep a side open for easy access to your growing veg. This will act as a mini greenhouse. Your spinach, beetroot and cabbage will thrive in this little greenhouse.You can even sow your salad vegetables in trays and place them in your greenhouse, germination guaranteed! Microgreens are jam packed with goodness and need little space to be successful. Mix up your lettuce, baby spinach and even herbs like rocket and coriander seeds.
Talking about little space…pots, pots and more pots
Plant up with thyme, parsley, oregano, chives and more coriander. Keep them in a warm, draught-free area. Pick at hearts content for those lovely winter stews. Beds that don’t receive enough sun in winter should be left to rest. Keeping some beds empty, allows for early planting in spring, especially in winter rainfall areas where the soil stays too wet. Simply cover with mulch and wait for the goodness to happen.
Autumn is a good time to grow vegetables in containers. The milder days are less stressful for the veggies than the blistering heat of summer. Looking ahead to winter, containers can be shifted into sunny, sheltered areas, especially if the veggie garden is draughty or doesn’t get enough winter sunshine.
Position: Autumn and winter veggies need 5 – 6 hours of sun a day and there should be good air circulation. Move the pots around to make the most of the sun.
Container size: The bigger the better, because larger containers hold more soil (which doesn’t dry out as quickly). The shape of the container, round or square, doesn’t matter, provided the plant has enough space for its roots and top growth.
Broccoli, cabbage, kale:One plant per large plastic pot (35 – 43cm diameter). Baby cabbage can be grown in 20 – 35cm pots.
Spinach, lettuce –One plant per 20 – 35cm plastic pot or three plants in a 50cm pot or trough. Space 10cm apart.
Baby carrots, radishes, beetroot –Direct sow seed into troughs, window boxes or pots that are at least 20cm deep. Thin to 10cm apart.
Plastic pots are used to give an indication of size. Even if the seedling looks a bit silly in such a large pot, it quickly grows to fill the space. Planting too many plants in a small pot reduces yield, and increases pest and disease problems.
Types of containers: The lighter the type of pot the easier it is to move. The Urban Box has castors so that it can be wheeled into position. Terracotta pots are heavy and more porous, which means they need more watering. Dark pots can get very hot because they absorb the sun’s heat. Also steer clear of plant boxes made of treated wood (creosote) as the chemical can end up in the veggies.
Soil mix: Use the best quality potting soil, not ordinary garden soil. However, commercial potting soil does not contain enough nutrients for vegetables. Mix in the following supplements:
Fertilis Earthworm Castings;
Vita Grow 2:3:2 fertilizer;
Vermiculite for good water retention;
Agricultural lime (also called dolomitic lime), which contains calcium and magnesium, as most edibles like a higher level than is present in commercial potting mixes.
Line the bottom of the container with hessian clot or weed-guard fabric to ensure good drainage before filling it.
Made for containers
Broccoli ‘Spring Rapini’ is a sprouting broccoli that produces edible leaves, stems and small heads that can be harvested sooner (50 – 60 days) than conventional broccoli.
‘Vates Blue Curled’ kale is a compact low growing cut-and-come again variety. The first baby leaves can be harvested within 25 days.
‘Sweetheart’ is a tiny Nantes-type group carrot that is only 10cm long, and ‘Parisian’ is a small and sweet, round orange carrot.
Radishes now come in a range of colours. ‘Watermelon’ has a white ‘rind’ and deep pink core (like a tiny watermelon).
Baby beet ‘Rainbow Mix’ can be grown as a sweet-flavoured baby beet or left to mature into larger veggies. The mix provides a lucky packet of colours: deep red, yellow, white, candy-striped and lighter purple-red. ‘Chioggia’ is an heirloom candy-striped beet.
Loose-leaf lettuce doesn’t need as much space to grow as crisp-heads, and individual leaves can be harvested for longer. Plants are not frost hardy but will survive under frost cloth or in a sheltered position.
Swiss chards with coloured stems like ‘Bright Lights’ are just so pretty, and their stems can be chopped into soups and stews.
Endive Chicory ‘Catalogna Bi-colour Blend’ is a salad leaf with an edge. The curly leaves and crispy white stems add crunch and a tinge of bitterness to winter salads. Pick young, before the plant blooms.
Container growing tips
Water often and adjust to changing temperatures as days become cooler.
Spray pests with organic, non-toxic solutions like Biogrow Pyrol, Ludwig’s Insect Spray or Margaret Roberts Organic Insecticide for pest attacks like bollworm, vegetarian ladybird, scale or mealybug, as well as for aphids, white fly and red spider mite.
Starting about a month after planting, feed your vegetables about once a week with a water-soluble fertiliser, like Margaret Roberts Organic Supercharger, or a home-made manure/green tea. Alternatively feed with a slow-release fertiliser like Vita Fruit & Flower 3:1:5 every 3 to 4 months or as per crop requirements.
Don’t forget to add the vegetable container garden soil to your compost at the end of the season. Reusing soil from year to year can spread infections and insect infestations. Scrub the container and rinse with a solution of one-part bleach to 10 parts water, then rinse with clean water and store in a dry spot.
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