Winter gardening tips - frost protection

    We are moving into winter time and the past few weeks have brought on spells of really cold weather. Any time there is a threat of frost, you will need to take precautionary measures to protect tender plants from exposure to cold temperatures and subsequent damage.

  • Covering plants - Covering tender garden plants in the evening will help retain heat and protect them from freezing. Almost anything will work, but old blankets, sheets, and even burlap sacks are best. It is important that the covers be removed once the sun comes out the following morning, otherwise the plants may fall victim to suffocation.

  • Watering plants - Another way to protect plants is by giving them a light watering a day or two before the frost is expected. Wet soil will hold more heat than soil that is dry. Light watering in the evening hours, before temperatures drop, will help raise humidity levels and reduce frost damage.

  • Mulching plants - Mulch helps to lock in moisture and during cold weather, holds in heat. When using mulch, try to keep the depth at about 5 - 7cm. Popular mulching materials that can be used include straw, pine needles, bark and loosely piled leaves.

  • Cold frames for plants - Some tender plants actually require over-wintering in a cold frame or indoors. Cold frames can be purchased at most garden centers or built easily at home. For a quick, temporary frame, simply stack baled hay or straw around your tender plants and apply an old window to the top.

  • Raised beds for plants - Cold air tends to collect in sunken areas rather than higher mounds, so raised beds will help prevent frost, and also makes covering plants easier.

    The best way to know what type of precautionary measure you should take for tender garden plants is knowing their individual needs. The more you know the better off your garden and tender plants will be.

    Gardening tips

    Lume collective

    Something very interesting has popped up in Cape Town over the past year - interactive and astonishing light shows performed by Lume Collective's artists Hannah Williams and Egbert Westra.

    This interactive lightshow is an artwork that is being created in realtime by the artists using lights. As you watch the artwork changes, adapts and becomes different scenes!

    Their canvas is made of a phosphorescent material that reacts to higher light frequencies allowing the light displayed to glow for about one and a half minutes before it starts to fade, leaving just enough time for the artists to manipulate the glowing effects into creative scenes or snapshots. Glowing and fading, the art changes with each stroke of light.

    Using different types of lights, for example lasers and different LED arrays, some amazing effects can be achieved.

    View Lume Collective's website for a video showing what what this is all about or book them for a show.

    lume collective

    Sweden's trash issues

    Imagine a world where pollution is a non-issue, cities are pristine with healthy environments to live in and where there are little to no entanglements from discarded trash injuring wildlife or clogging the oceans. In Sweden, this is almost a reality, yet it's causing a paradoxical predicament for the recycle-happy country that relies on waste to heat and provide electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes.

    The Scandinavian nation of more than 9.5 million citizens has run out of garbage; while this is a positive - almost enviable - predicament for a country to be facing, Sweden now has to search for rubbish outside of its borders to generate its waste-to-energy incineration program.

    Its main supplier is Norway, where officials are shipping in 80,000 tons of refuse annually to fuel the country with outside waste.

    The population's remarkable pertinacious recycling habits are inspiration for other garbage-bloated countries where the idea of empty landfills is scarce. In fact, only 4 percent of all waste in Sweden is land-filled, a big win for the future of sustainable living.

    Source : 21 Century Tech and The New York Times.

    Swedens Trash

    Harvesting and storing seeds over winter

    Saving tomatoe seeds is easy. Allow fruits to ripen fully and scoop out the seeds, along with the gel surrounding them, before you eat or cook the tomatoes. Put the seeds and gel in a glass jar with some water. Stir or swirl the mixture twice a day. The mixture will ferment and the seeds should sink to the bottom within five days. Pour off the liquid, rinse the seeds and spread them out to dry on paper towels.

    Saving pepper seeds is even easier. Allow some fruits to stay on the plants until they become fully ripe and start to wrinkle. Remove the seeds from the peppers and spread them out to dry.

    Save pea and bean seeds by allowing the pods to ripen on the plants until they're dry and starting to turn brown, with the seeds rattling inside. This may be as long as a month after you would normally harvest the peas or beans to eat. Strip the pods from the plants and spread them out to dry indoors. They should dry at least two weeks before shelling, or you can leave the seeds in the pods until planting time.

    Save squash seeds by allowing the squash to sit for "after ripening" for at least 3 to 6 weeks up to several months. Wash the seeds to remove any flesh and strings and cure the seeds by laying them out in a single layer on a paper towel to dry. Once thoroughly dried, they can be stored.

    Store seeds in tightly sealed glass containers and keep them dry and cool. A temperature between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius is ideal, so your refrigerator can be a good place to store seeds.

    A small amount of silica gel desiccant added to each container will absorb moisture from the air and help keep the seeds dry. Powdered milk can also be used as a desiccant. Use one to two tablespoons of milk powder from a freshly opened package. Wrap the powder in a piece of cheesecloth or a facial tissue and place it in the container with the seeds. Powdered milk will absorb excess moisture from the air for about six months.

    Be sure to label your saved seeds with their name, variety and the date you collected them. It's too easy to forget the details by the following spring.

    Source: Colorado State University website.

    Snail control

    Hidden gem in the tropical suburbs

    When traveling as a tourist around the northern parts of the tropical island of Mauritius, one would generally be drawn to the more commercial establishments in Grande Baie for food and dining choices. By stepping out of the safety net, there are actually numerous restaurants that are not easily seen amongst the colourful street front shops, or while focusing on dodging local traffic.

    Anyone who has been abroad will know that there are places you eat at and there are places you just don't even go near to for fear of the dreaded "stomach bug". The style of seating and quality of tableware is a really good indication as to which establishments have food that is more adapted to western palates.

    Flowers of Paradise in Pereybere (just a few minutes east of Grande Baie) is just one of these places and can be found down one of the quieter streets that run perpendicular to the main beach front road. Their garden has a few casual lounge chairs and a crackling fireplace (even though the temperatures are warm all year round) that creates a sense of luxury and relaxation - a great start to the evening with a social drink or two before moving indoors to the main dining area.

    Their variety of tasty dishes are very well prepared and presented, and as a first experience of mauritian fusion cuisine, are delicious. Every ingredient of each dish is very well paired with complimentary ingredients, leaving you with a sense of interest and the craving for more of their flavours.

    Their service and care of their patron diners is fantastic and their prices are in line with other establishments along the main beach road catering to the international market.

    Visit Flowers of Paradise's website for more information.

    Flowers of Paradise Mauritius

  • Hot News

    National Arts Festival

    Grahamstown has been associated with carnivals and festivals for more than 180 years as British immigrants established the tradition of celebrating landmark anniversaries on a grand scale.

    Grahamstown Art Festival

    This year the Grahamstown National Arts Festival is on between the 3rd July and 13th July 2014 - an event not to be missed.

    Featured Plant

    Witsenia maura

    Witsenia maura
    (Bokmakierie's tail)

    Family :


    Description :

    Rare Indigenous shrub to 3 m with black and yellow flowers.

    Flowering time :

    Aumtumn to Winter

    Conditions :

    • Full sun
    • Lots of water
    • Evergreen
    • Frost resistant
    • Wind resistant
    • Enriched soil

    View more detailed information on this plant in our plant directory.

    Design idea feature

    Design idea feature

    Create a striking modern feature with the effective use of a gabion as an archway.

    Textures from the pebble shapes, the colour choice of pebbles and the geometric shape of the archway itself is a statement to the entrance to your home or to a space within the garden.

    Planting Guide

    Herb or Veggie

    Seeds can be sown or plants can be planted for the following herbs and veggies this month:


  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Swisschard
  • Turnips
  • Herbs

  • None
  • View our full planting plan in our resources section of our website.

    Brain Teaser

    We all love a chance to test our own brain capacity with brain teasers. Try see if you can figure out this one...

    Brain Teaser

    Mays's Teaser Answer :
    "Peep through the keyhole"


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    Contact Cheral:

    Cell: 082 82 509 82