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This is a very decorative shade plant that offers a combination of both attractive foliage and showy flowers. Used in a mixed planting with broad-leaved plants and fine-textured ground-covers, Crocosmia aurea can easily become a focal point.
Bush Violet (Barleria Repens) is a pretty Autumn flowering ground cover. Fast-growing and wonderfully easy-going, Barleria repens will adapt to a number of situations. Plant it in a large container, or on top of a low wall, where its foliage and flowers can cascade down and show to advantage. Mass plant it in partial shade under trees to form a groundcover, or plant along the edge of an informal border, or in a lightly shaded rockery.
The flowers attract insects which, in turn, become food for insect-eating birds such as bulbuls, orioles, bush shrikes, thrushes and boubou shrikes.
athletes foot, brinjals, companion plant, Cymbopogon citratus, fleas, food, gardening, herbs, home grown, insect repellant, lemon grass, marinade, Mosquitoes, organic, plants, skin ailments, stirfries, sweet potatoes, Thai cooking, ticks, tomato
Lemon grass originates from Southern India and Sri Lanka. It has long been characteristic of Far Eastern Cuisines. It has found it’s place in Gourmet dishes as well as fragrant toiletries around the world. Apart from culinary and cosmetic uses, Lemon grass has an array of medicinal properties.
To increase your stock of Lemon grass, divide it by pulling apart sections. Potted Lemon grass should be divided every two years. It makes a good companion plant with sweet potatoes, peppers, brinjals and tomatoes. Lemon grass requires full sun.
- Delicious as a tea.
- The chopped base of the leaf cluster is used in Thai cooking.
- Delicious with cheese, egg and fish dishes
- Flavouring for marinades, oils, sauces and stir fries.
- Lemon grass stimulates cell regeneration.
- Soothes intestinal infections
- A strong infusion can be used as a deodorant.
- Soothes fever, colitis, digestive upset, muscular pain,poor circulation,skin ailments and stress related conditions.
- Useful for treating most skin ailments.’
- Athlete’s foot
- foot bath and massage.
- Essential Oil diluted in carried oil, will deter mosquitoes, ticks, fleas.
- Lemon grass insect repelling spray can be used on insect infected plants.
- Watered over beds where seeds will be sown, to protect them from predators.
- Soak pea and bean seed in Lemon grass tea to have bumper crops.
- Rub the inside of your hive when baiting bees.
The Spur flower (Plectranthus) family is a real treat in the Western Cape at the moment. It is the largest South African genus in the mint (Lamiaceae) family, with 44 natural species. Among the South African members of the genus we have some of the showiest garden plants providing a mass display of colour in late summer and autumn. Colour selections range between pink, purple and white and many shades in-between. Plectranthus are noted for their aromatic leaves when crushed or even brushed against.
Plectranthus are easily cultivated and require little extra attention or special treatment. They enjoy well-composted soils, and as rule thrive in semi shade or cool positions on south facing aspects. They are ideally suited to growth under the shade of trees. They are generally shallow rooted and enjoy adequate water but they do store water in their stems and are resistant to prolonged periods of drought. Plectranthus are often grown for their attractive foliage, flowers or both and vary in their growth forms from dense prostrate ground covers to sub-shrubs and large shrubs.
The flowers on an individual plant last less than one month, but nearly all the plants will come into bloom at the same time in the late summer. They are equally distributed as a terrestrial or epiphytic. When planted in the ground, they quickly create large clumps, and when planted at the base of a tree, will slowly climb the trunk.
Rocket has undergone a huge revival in popularity, even though it has been cultivated since the Middle Ages. It is native to the Mediterranean and was prized among the Romans and Persians. It fell out of use for 200 to 300 years. It only in the 1990s that the Italians started using it in ‘designer salads” that it regained its popularity. Medieval Monks were not allowed to grow Rocket in the cloister gardens as it was considered an Aphrodisiac.CULTIVATION
Rocket is a fast growing annual. It will often reseed itself 3 times in the Summer. It demands little attention and will thrive in full sun on compost and regular water.PROPAGATION
Collect seeds from dry pods. Sow from early Spring until mid Autumn. They can be sown in trays and planted out. Once planted out do not move them.HARVESTING
Pick the leaves and flowers often. The more you pick the more it produces.
Medicinal: Rocket has been used to treat bruises and sprains. Crushed seeds are spread on top of a warmed flannel bandage and holding against the skin without allowing the seeds to touch the skin. Crushed petals are made into a paste to treat skin blemishes. In Medieval times the flowers and green seeds were crushed and mixed with honey to treat coughs. Rocket is an invigorating tonic taken when tired or anxious. To make the teas, use 1/4 cup rocket and 1/4 cup parsley, pour over 1 cup boiling water, allow to steep for 5 minutes, strain and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Drink slowly.
Cosmetic: Rocket juice is used as a facial cleanser for oily skins. It is often used to treat itchy inflamed spots, bites and rashes. Rocket seeds, pounded and mixed with Olive oils is used to treat broken nails and calluses.
Culinary: Rocket is used in many Italian dishes and designer salads. Steam the leaves and make a rich white sauce, and use over baby potatoes of leeks. Rocket pesto is also a firm favorite.
Place all ingredients in food processor, blend until smooth, more Olive oil may be added to make into a creamy paste.
Bottle and enjoy with all your favorite pesto meals.
Propagation is the term used to describe the process of plant reproduction. There are two categories of propagation, i.e. seminal and vegetative. Seminal propagation results from sowing seeds. Plants grown from seed are entirely unique and may differ from each other and from the parent plant. Vegetative propagation embraces all other techniques of reproduction such as cutting, grafting and layering and plants propagated in this manner are identical to their parents i.e. they are clones.
The terms softwood, semi-ripe and hardwood are to plant life the equivalent to the stages of infant, teenager and adult life in humans.
Softwood – is taken very early in the growing season, before there is any sign of hardening of the new shoots. They are green, both at the tip and base.
Semi-ripe – is taken at the end of the growing season when the tip of the stem is soft and green, but the base is hardening, going brown and starting to become woody.
Hardwood – is taken in the winter when the stem has become hardened and woody throughout its length.
Other terms used in cutting jargon are heel, stem and tip. These refer to the part of the stem that is being used for the cutting.
Heel cutting – the stem is torn off in a way that retains a portion of the parent branch – a heel – at its base. Heel cuttings are most often made from softwood or semi-ripe wood. They are normally about 3 to 15 cm long.
Stem cuttings – most often used for hardwood cuttings. They normally include 20 to 30 cm of the stem to provide a reservoir of nutrients so that the cutting can survive through the winter until growth begins in spring.
Tip cuttings – short portions 3 to 15cm long taken from the tips of the stems. These parts are used for softwood and semi-ripe cuttings.
The reason for the different types of cuttings is that some species will propagate more readily from a stem cutting than a root cutting. There are, however, many plants that will reproduce from more than one type of cutting.
Cuttings are encouraged to grow roots and to this end they require moisture, light and a clean, free draining soil. A dusting hormone in the form of rooting powder may be used to help cuttings take root. It is advisable to strip most of the leaves from the cutting in order to reduce the amount of moisture lost through transpiration, while the remaining leaves will add to the food reserves through photosynthesis.
This is the quickest way to increase perennials that have a spreading rootstock and produce new shoots annually from the crown. Division is best carried out when the plant is dormant. Lift the parent plants and shake off excess soil from the roots. Separate the plants into sections using a garden fork, a spade or a sharp knife. Ensure that each plant has a good root system. Discard old or damaged pieces and replant the segments at the original depth of soil. Examples of this type of division include Agapanthus, Clivia, Iris, and Shasta Daisy.
Most seed is best sown as soon as ripe. If necessary, soak fruits in water first, then extract seeds by rubbing the flesh and leave to dry. Hard-coated seeds may need soaking or scarification before germination. Soak in recently boiled water from between 10 minutes to 72 hours, depending on the species. Viable seeds will swell and should be sown immediately in situ or in a tray or seedbed. Soil should be kept moist. Lightly cover the seeds with compost or soil. As a general rule, cover seeds with about their own depth of soil. Mix fine seeds with a little dry river sand, trickle them over the compost and do not cover. Ensure that the seeds are kept moist.
Stored in a dry place most seeds remain good for 2 to 3 years but germination rates gradually decline.
Layering, suckers and grafting
Layering is a simple method for increasing plants with stems that will produce roots if wounded. The stem is pegged into the ground and left to form roots, while still attached to the parent plant.
Suckering plants, such a Tecomaria, Wisteria and Plumbago, naturally produce suckers that may be detached and inserted as ready-rooted plants.
Grafting involves taking the stem of one plant and uniting it with the rootstock of a closely related plant. Roses and fruit trees are propagated in this way. Grafting is best left to the specialists.