A sweet and tender superfood that is easy to grow. Exotic candy-coloured pink plants that make the ideal romantic gift. And Dianthus ‘I Love You’ for Valentine’s Day.
INDOOR PLANT FOR FEBRUARY
This is the month when indoor flowering plants come into their own as romantic gift plants. One of the most exotic, and unusual, is Curcuma, also known as the Siamese tulip. It has candy-coloured pink of purple pine-cone shaped flowers that rise about lush green leaves. Being a tropical plant, it loves warm, summer temperatures. As a patio plant it can take some dappled sun or early morning sun, and as an indoor plant does best with bright, diffused light. Let the soil slightly dry out before watering and add a little liquid plant food to the water once every two weeks. It produces two to five new flowers, each lasting about three weeks. In winter it goes dormant, and the leaves die down. Stop watering and keep the pot in a cool place. In spring bring it out onto warm windowsill, water, and feed for a new flush of flowers. Details: lvgplant.co.za
VEGGIE OF THE MONTH
Did you know that turnips are a superfood? They are loaded with vitamins and minerals as well as omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Here’s something else you may not know. They’re delicious mashed (as a substitute for potatoes) or shredded raw as a coleslaw.
Turnips grow easily from seed, and if you don’t have space sow a row in a deep trough. They don’t take up as much space as other brassicas. Use a potting soil enriched with compost and sprinkle the seeds on the surface. Cover with a light layer of potting mix or sieved coffee grounds, that adds nitrogen and discourage slugs. Turnips like moist soil from germination to harvest. Thin out seedlings to 10cm apart and start harvesting from 40 days onwards. The smaller the turnips the sweeter they are, and the leaves can be eaten as greens.
Kirchhoffs Turnip Early Purple Top Globe is an heirloom variety. It has a purple shoulder with white body. The flesh is sweet and tender, and is good for harvesting young as baby veg. Details: kirchhoffs.co.za
We’re planting…. Dianthus I Love You for Valentine’s Day. It’s like a delicate posy, with frilled double flowers that change from deep pink, to light pink and finally white. Plants are compact and perfect for popping into a pot, along with chocolates and champagne (why not!) . Its happy to be planted out into the garden, in soil that drains well and where it gets plenty of sun. It will keep on flowering if fertilised once a month. Just cut back the spent flowers and it will flower again in three to four weeks.
• Water early morning or late afternoon to help plants stand up to the heat. • Keep the soil cool by mulching around plants and put shade cloth over veggie beds. • Use biological or organic controls for pests like aphids, white fly and mealie bug that suck the sap out of stems and leaves. • Don’t cut back or prune plants during very hot periods. Leaves act as a cooling system for plants. • Water container plants and hanging baskets every day, even twice a day on very hot days. • Mow the lawn longer to shade the roots. This makes it more drought tolerant.
Compiled by: KYM ARGO & ALICE COETZEE