Garden centre haul: May 2015 autumn

by Lala

The cooler temperatures mean great weather for leafy greens like lettuce and rocket, and all sorts of brassicas (plants from cabbage family). I popped down to the Plant Mecca nursery on Old Johannesburg road (across from the Airforce Museum & Gymnasium), in Centurion to get my winter plant fix.

As usual, I left with a bit more that I planned to get, but I was restrained enough not to buy big concrete pots and fruit trees out of season.

The winter greens and brassicas I got are:

Rocket (red veined type)
Green in Snow Mustard (Shi-Li-Hon aka Brassica juncea)
2 types of Bok choi (Brassica rapa var chinensis)
Red baby cabbage
Bright lights (red & yellow) spinach /Swiss chard

Cauliflower book choi Chinese cabbage south africa

With the exception of the old favourite Bright Lights, I haven’t grown any of the above before. I was really looking forward to finding some kale seedlings but there was only ornamental kale. I read that it is edible, but not tasty at all.

I also got:
– A mature looking Habanero plant (all chillies picked off by the garden centre guys, according to the gent who was helping me)
– 4 more of the small, purple leafed chilies in one pot marked way down(labeled Capsicum annuum Calico, not Count Dracula, as I thought from the one I got at Tarlton Flower Palace)
– A curry plant
– Perennial basil
– Lengana, a traditional herb used for colds and flu (artemisia afra)

I don’t think I’ve forgotten to mention anything. I also bought compost & it all came to just over R400, which I was quite impressed with. Getting the plants at an “off peak” time of year for gardeners, like autumn does make a difference at the till.

All of the leafy greens have been planted, with a few extras in the trays which I’m keeping for one of my fellow gardening nut friends. My major concern is the ever increasing number of chili plants I’ve got going that still haven’t been repotted. The three beautiful pots I got at Tarlton need drainage holes drilled, which we haven’t got round to doing. One of them is really suffering in its current pot, so I need to do something about that this weekend.

The price of plastic pots is insane in terms of their relative size to concrete pots. I’m told most of the plastic plant pots are imported into South Africa & the concrete pots are made locally, hence the very odd price discrepancy.

Winter square foot garden vegetables
Above: Winter vegetables fenced off, with strawberries, granadilla (passion fruit), hazelnuts & marigolds.

Currently, I don’t see a way of getting around the destruction caused by the dogs short of fencing more areas off, which is just too much effort. I’m going to have to bite the bullet soon and just get more concrete pots, perlite, potting soil, manure, bark chip mulch and be done with it. This set-up & growing medium has worked incredibly well for my blueberries (I really need to to an update on them) and requires infrequent watering. I’m so bad at keeping up with watering the small pots and they dry out all too easily.

Marigolds companion planting
Above & below: The fenced off area includes a lot of marigolds that I’ve decided to keep there as companion plants for pest control. I’ve recently learned that the petals / flower heads are great to add to chicken feed, as they make the yolks more yellow and can help with internal parasites.

Marigolds in fenced off square foot garden South Africa

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