Gardening essentials

For the past few weeks I’ve been working on my garden. Pruning, planting and composting… it’s been a great way to unwind at the end of a long day and reconnect with nature. As part of the process I’ve also investigated different ways to garden in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Here’s what I’ve found:

• Use a push-mower instead of a gas powered mower. You’ll save on fuel, reduce unnecessary greenhouses gas emissions and get a workout at the same time! (for larger gardens, consider an electric mower).

• Use garden clippings as mulch. Leaves, straw, wood chips etc. are a great form of ground cover when placed on the soil, and provide nutrients and protection for plants.

• Be water-wise. Water your garden in the early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are a lot cooler and water evaporation is minimal. Also remember that your lawn only requires 3cm of water each week.

• Buy indigenous flowers and plants and preserve the biodiversity of our local habitats. There are over 22 000 species indigenous to southern Africa including the exquisite African Blue Lily, Spring bulb Freesias and popular Narrow-Leaved Strelitzia which will thrive in our local climate.

• Compost your organic waste. Instead of throwing food leftovers away, consider investing in a worm-farm, to turn them into a rich home-made fertiliser for your soil.

• Learn the basics about organic gardening – the first step is to determine the acidity or alkalinity of you soil with an acidity or alkalinity soil test kit from your local nursery. It is preferable to have a soil pH close to neutral or just on the acidic side. You can balance the pH levels and enrich your soil with compost and organic fertilizer.

• Grow a vegetable and/or herb gardenedible landscaping is an extremely rewarding experience. Not only do plants and herbs add beauty and fragrance to a landscape, but they also provide a valuable food source.