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Organic Gardening


Many people wonder what organic gardening is. The answer is that organic gardeners do not use chemical based/synthetic fertilizers or pesticides on their plants. Gardening organically is much more than what you don’t do. When you garden organically, you think of your plants as part of a whole system within the environment that starts in the soil and includes the water supply, people, wildlife and even insects. An organic gardener strives to work with natural systems and to minimize and continually replenish any resources the garden consumes. Organic gardening, then, begins with attention to the soil. You will regularly add organic matter to the soil, using locally available resources wherever possible. Everyone has access to the raw materials of organic matter, because your garden, lawn and kitchen produce them daily. Decaying plant wastes, such as grass clippings, leaves and vegetable scraps from your kitchen, are the building blocks of compost, the ideal organic matter for your garden soil. If you add compost to your soil, you’re already well on your way to raising a beautiful, healthy garden organically.

The other key to growing organically is to choose plants suited to the site. Plants adapted to your climate and conditions are better able to grow without a lot of attention or input; on the other hand, when you try to grow a plant that is not right for your site, you will probably have to boost its natural defenses to keep it healthy and productive.

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How to Plant a Tree

Steps for successful tree planting:-

  • Choose your spot carefully taking into account the eventual mature size of the tree.
  • Get advice on what type of tree you require. Consider the following:
    • Wind
    • Evergreen/Deciduous
    • Shape i.e. Canopy
    • Screening/Windbreak
  • Choose a healthy specimen:
    • Free of disease
    • Free of pests
  • Dig a square hole 1m x 1m and 1m deep.
  • Prepare a mixture of the excavated soil and well-rotted compost and backfill the mixture into the hole.
  • Dig a 70cm wide and 50cm deep hole in the centre of the prepared plant hole.  Add a cup of bonemeal to the soil in the bottom of the hole and mix well.
  • Fill the hole with water and check that the water drains away.
  • Gently remove the plastic bag from the root ball – if necessary, cut the sides of the bag without damaging the roots.
  • Immerse the roots in half a bucket of water for 10 minutes.
  • After soaking the roots, carefully move your fingers underneath the root ball so that some of the roots become loose. Do not damage the roots.
  • Position the tree at the correct depth (trunk level must be the same as it was in the bag) in the centre of the now drained hole and fill the hole with the prepared soil mixture.
  • Compact soil slightly to prevent air pockets.
  • Stake the tree if necessary.
  • Create a dam around the stem of the tree or shrub about 1 metre wide for watering.
  • Add mulch.
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Waterwise Gardening

Some useful tips to make your garden more waterwise:

1) Choose indigenous, drought tolerant, disease resistant plants where possible.

2) Declare war on weeds as they complete with plants for water.

3) When laying out new beds, group plants according to their water requirements.

4) Water and fertilise plants only when needed because this promotes strong root systems. Too much water results in weak growth and increases the need for pruning.

5) Plant low-maintenance perennial herbs e.g. rosemary, thyme, lavender, sage and lemon grass.

6) Plant grasses like Cape restios (Elegia spp).

7) Condition your beds with compost. Soil that is rich in organic material retains water longer.

8) Use plenty of mulch.

9) Plant sun-loving thirsty plants in east facing beds where they will get morning sun and will stay moist for longer.

10) Water trees and large shrubs directly by installing a pipe that runs through the soil and down to the roots.

11) Build up the edge of garden beds to prevent water run-off.

12) Make sure your garden is benefiting from rainwater by channelling the water from drives and paved areas into the garden beds.

13) When planting add water absorbent granules.

14) Create windbreaks with plants to conserve water in windy areas.

Plants suitable for water-wise Gardens.

Herbaceous perennials
Anchusa capensis
Arctotis sp
Artemesia afra
Asparagus densiflorus
Asystasia gangetica
Cineraria saxifraga
Cliffortia ferriginea
Dymondia margaretae
Felicia aethiopica
Felicia echinata
Gazania spp
Geranium incanum
Helichrysum argyrophyllum
Helichrysum cymosum
Hermannia pinnata
Hypoestes aristata
Leonotus leonorus
Pelargonium betulinum
Pelargonium cucullatum
Pelargonium peltatum
Pelargonium suburbanum
Pelargonium tetragonium
Pelargonium tomentosum
Plectranthus fruticosum “James”
Plectranthus neochilus
Scabiosa incisa
Scabiosa africanaShrubs
Acmadenia heterophylla
Agathosma ovata
Agathosma serpyllacea
Barleria obtusa
Bauhinia galpini
Buddleja auriculata
Buddleja salviifolia
Carissa macrocarpa
Chrysanthemoides monilifera
Coleonema album
Erica baccans
Erica bauera
Erica versicolor
Erica verticillata
Eriocephalus africanus
Euryops pectinatus
Leucadendron salignum
Nylandtia spinosa
Phylica pubescens
Plumbago auriculata
Polygala myrtifolia
Protea repens
Rhus crenata
Rhus glauca
Salvia africana-caerula
Salvia africana-lutea
Salvia chameleagnea
Strelitzia reginea
Tecomaria capensis
Acacia karoo
Aloe barbarae
Brachylaena discolor
Celtis africana
Cussonia spicata
Dais cotinifolia
Diospyros whyteana
Erythrina caffra
Kiggelaria africana
Olea europaea subsp africana
Rhus pendulina
Sideroxylon inerme
Strelitzia nicolai
Syzigium guineense
Tarchonanthus trilobus
Trichelia emetica
Virgilia oroboides
Widdringtonia cedarbergensisBulbs
Agapanthus praecox
Aristea major
Babiana spp
Brunsvigia orientalis
Clivia miniata
Freesia alba
Gladiolus alatus
Haemanthus sanguineus
Kniphofia linearifolia
Lachenalia aloides
Ornithogalum thrysoides
Veltheimia bracteata
Watsonia borbonica

Chondropetalum tectorum
Thamnocortus insignis

Aloe arborescens
Aloe ferox
Aloe ciliaris
Aloe dichotoma
Aloe plicatilis
Aloe striata
Aloe tenior
Bulbine latifolia
Bulbine frutescens
Cotyledon orbiculata
Carpobrotus edulis
Crassula coccinea
Crassula multicava
Crassula ovata
Drosanthemum speciosum
Delospermum spp
Lampranthus spp
Portulacaria afra
Sanseviera pearsonii

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Sandy Soil

Bauhinia galpinii
High: 2m
Wide: 3-4m
Full sun

A beautiful spreading shrub, or small tree producing large orange flowers in early autumn, followed by seed pods. This shrub will grow in any soil and is very low maintenance. It can be grown as a hedge/screen or a focal point in the garden. It does best in full sun. Feed with a Slow Release 3:1:5 fertiliser, organic or chemical.

Cineraria saxifraga
High: 30cm
W: 40cm
Sun to semi-shade

This groundcover does well in hanging baskets with is small leaves and its bright yellow daisy-like flowers. To encourage all year flowers, deadhead regularly. Like most plants it appreciates regular watering but avoid overwatering. Feed with a Slow Release 3:1:5 fertiliser, organic or chemical.

Gazania rigens
High: 20cm
Wide: 40-50cm
Full sun

A fast growing groundcover with lush thick green leaves. Low maintenance plant that produces a carpet of floral beauty. During the warmers months of the year it blooms a bright yellow daisy flower which opens during sunshine and closes as the sun sets. This plant does not mind any attention and responses well to watering and regular feeding to encourage best results. Feed with a Slow Release 3:1:5 fertiliser, organic or chemical.

Leucodendron “Safari Sunset”
High: 2m
Wide: 1,5m
Full sun

The African sunset is well represented in this one plant. The red bracts at the end of each branch create a fiery display. It does great for those sandy soils as these plants do not want to stand in water. Provide well drained soil and avoid overwatering. It’s a great plant to use as a focal point or to cover a large area in the garden. Feed with an organic fertiliser towards the end of summer-beginning winter.

Protea repens
H: 2,5m
W: 1,5
Full Sun

Indigenous to the western and southern cape this protea is familiar to the harsh growing condition of this area. It is a large bushy shrub available in a range of colours such as white, cream or pink flowers. They can be grown in pots so as to avoid complications during the growth of the plant as these plants are very particular. When buying a protea for pots it is recommended to get a Protea Mix as this mix has been specially blend for the needs of the protea. Should feeding be necessary lightly feed with a Slow Release 3:1:5 organic fertilisers during the end of summer-early autumn.

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Howling South Easter

A strong South Easter is a common occurance in the Far South. Wind resistant shrubs are a must for any garden. A wide range of wind resistant plants can be found in the garden centre including the following selected plants.

Agathosma capensis
Height    50cm
Width    40cm
Exposure    Full sun

A neat small shrub with scented foliage. Their small, dainty white flowers attract many bees and butterflies to the garden. Indigenous to the slopes of the Cape it enjoys well mulched soil with an organic 3:1:5 Slow Release fertiliser every 3-4 months. Plant in a sunny position as well as in well drained soil to accomplish best results.

Aloe maculata
Height    50cm
Width    50cm
Exposure    Full sun

Grown for its blotchy/speckled leaves this Aloe is a great addition to a rockery or succulent bed in the garden. Often grown in pots, it makes for a great display when its bloom spikes out from the central growth point. The flowers, dark red/reddish yellow, add a flavour of colour to the garden through the cooler dull months of the year. Also a great plant for bird gardens as birds are attracted to the nectar of its beautiful flower. Feed yearly with kraal manure or similar feed for a healthy plant and a successful floral display. Avoid overwatering!

Erica baueri *Pink
Height    1m
Width    80cm
Exposure    Full sun

An excellent cut flower plant that will be able to withstand the harsh, windy conditions of the Cape. The flowers are pink tubes long lasting throughout the flowering season. To accomplish best results water regularly and mulch every 5-6 months. Feed with an organic fertiliser for example Bounce Back. Do not fiddle with the roots of this plant as this may lead to stunted growth or complete loss of the plant!

Helichrysum petiolare
Height    30cm
Width    1m
Exposure    Full sun

Often used in dry flower arrangements this hardy groundcover does well in any garden. Its fluffy grey leaves are great for creating contrast in the garden. Its scented leaves and puffy cream flowers will add extra excitement to any ordinary garden. To ensure healthy growth deadhead flowers and avoid watering on the leaves. Feed with rich compost every 6 months or any organic fertiliser.

Rhus crenata
Height    2-2,5m
Width    2m
Exposure    Sun, Semi-shade

An evergreen shrub perfect for a hedge/screen or wind barrier in the garden. Its attractive glossy foliage and small red-black berries is an asset to any bird garden. Clip to shape as wished for the more formal garden or allow it bush out freely for a more informal garden. It grows well in semi-shade to full sun and regular watering. For best results feed 2:3:2 organic or chemical fertilisers throughout the year to establish a greener, stronger plant.

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Dry Shade

A dry, shady spot in the Western Cape garden can often be a problem area. Try these shrubs and groundcovers to fill your troubling dry shade.

Asparagus densiflorus ‘Meyersii’ – Cat’s Tail
Height    40cm
Width    50cm
Exposure    Semi to full shade

A very hardy fern resembling a cat’s tail. Tiny white flowers are followed by red berries. Does well in hanging baskets or in clumps around trees. Roots can become invasive making it best to grow in pots. It has adapted itself to grow in dry conditions making it perfect for those dry shady areas in the garden. To get a continuous dark green foliage feed with a Slow Release 2:3:2 organic or chemical fertilisers every 3-4 months.

Burchelia bubalina
Height    1,5m
Width    1m
Exposure    Semi to full Shade

A small ornamental tree with dark glossy green leaves. Large bright orange flowers are in bloom during the warmer months of the year. Can be grown in a pot plant on a patio. For best result throughout the year, feed with Slow Release 2:3:2 organic or chemical fertilisers.

Crassula multicava
Height    70cm
Width    50cm
Exposure    Semi-shade

A groundcover succulent with small rounded leaves. It is great for shady areas in the garden. It creates quite a fairy show to any shady patch when in full bloom. During the flowering season, around mid autumn, this plant blooms its tiny pink star-like flowers turning the carpet into a pretty display. A very hardy plant needing little to no care. Feed with a Slow Release 3:1:5 fertiliser, organic or chemical to encourage more flowers and healthy growth.

Pelargonium fragans ‘Nutmeg’
Height    40cm
Width    30cm
Exposure    Semi to full shade

Like all Pelargonium’s this Nutmeg scented one is great for patios in pots. Its dainty white flowers make this plant a perfect edging plant as well as the fact that it is very neat. Its greyish-green leaves create a striking eye-catcher in a flowerbed. Prune to keep neat and feed regularly with an organic or chemical 3:1:5 Slow Release fertiliser as well as composting every 5-6 months.

Plectranthus madagascariensis ‘Variegated’
Height    30-40cm
Width    50cm
Exposure    Semi to full Shade

All Plectranthus plants are relatively easy to grow as long as they are in their correct positions. This species is best suited for shady areas. Its variegated foliage is great to create some lighter sections in a fairly dark area. For best growth feed with rich compost every 4-5 months and don’t be shy to water every now and then.

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Coastal Gardens

Try these plants in your coastal garden. All available at Harry Goemans Garden Centre.

Agathosma ciliaris
Height    40cm
Width    30cm
Exposure    Sun

Bearing fluffy white flowers during winter, this Buchu along with the others does great in scented gardens. Growing into a neat small shrub, it makes a beautiful show when planted in groups of three or five. It will tolerate pruning to encourage a more bushy growth. Treat with a regular organic feed every 10 to 12 weeks as well as mulching once to twice a year.

Barleria sp
Height    1m
Width    2m
Exposure    Sun to Semi-shade

An easy, fast growing groundcover that will bring colour to any coastal garden. Available in a range of eye-catching colours. In full flower these plants give a spectacular display. Tolerant of most soil conditions it is a first choice amongst gardeners to fill a big area quickly. To ensure a beautiful display during its flowering time in autumn feed with an organic or chemical 3:1:5 Slow Release fertilisers at the end of summer.

Chondropetalum tectorum
Height    2-2,5m
Width    2m
Exposure    Full sun

An excellent focal plant that is low maintenance. Requires a large space to spread, making it perfect for large gardens. Easy growing and requiring little watering, it does great along coastal gardens and used inwater wise planting. Feed with a Slow Release 2:3:2 or organic fertiliser to produce healthy plants

Rhoicissus digitata
Exposure    Sun or Shade

A fast growing climber great for pergolas. Bearing black berries this climber does well in a bird garden. Should a climber not be necessary it can suffice as a groundcover. Well drained, composted soil is recommended for this plant as well as an organic or chemical feed of 3:1:5 Slow Release fertilisers every 6-8 weeks of its growing season.

Salvia chamelaeagnea *Blue
Height    1,5m
Width    50cm
Exposure    Sun

Indigenous to the Western and Southern Cape all the way to the Karoo, this tall hardy Salvia is superb for any coastal garden. Their beautiful bright blue flower is inviting in the garden, complimented by its lush light-green leaves. Plant in a sunny position with regular watering it is bound to give a colourful display. Feeding before the flowering season, with organic or 3:1:5 Slow Release fertilisers, will support the plant to boost its growth and flowering. Once flowering has ended prune and mulch to prepare for the next season.

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