Sunny yellow

You’ll need to put on some shades … November is looking blooming bright

Patio plant of the month…

Dwarf grafted citrus ‘Mini Me’ is a truly pint-sized tree, but with large, normal sized fruit. It can be grown on a patio, balcony or in a small garden and unlike normal citrus doesn’t need to be repotted as often. The ‘Mini Me’ range consists of tangy lemon (Limoneira), navel orange (the eating orange), naartjie (mandarin), spicy leaf Thai lime, and the juicy fruit Tahiti lime. The trees grow on average 1,5 to 2m tall and are grafted onto a rootstock called “flying Dragon,” that induces a dwarfing habit. The other benefits of this miniaturisation are sweeter fruit, an inbred resistance to root diseases and a better tolerance for cold. Make sure the mini trees receive at least six hours of sunlight a day and fertilise with a granular 5:1:5 fertiliser or liquid fertiliser for fruit and flowers once a month in summer. The mini citrus trees are available through supermarkets, garden centres and hardware outlets with a nursery department.

We’re planting … Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum) because they are the classic daisies, with sunny yellow centres ringed with white petals, the perfect flower for a sunny, summer garden.  Take your pick from ‘Snow Lady’ a dwarf variety (35cm high and wide) or ‘Victorian Secret’ that grows to knee height with ruffled white blooms. There’s even a yellow Shasta daisy called ‘Goldfinch’. Its lemon yellow blooms slowly mature to an ivory white. Its slightly taller, growing up to 60cm. Shasta daisies are perennials that grow in full sun or partial shade, are heat tolerant and attract bees and butterflies. To keep them vigorous, divide every three years in Spring. Details:

Kangaroo Paws, but please note that no animal has been harmed in the process. That’s because it’s the ultra-drought resistant Australian novelty plant known to plant-geeks as Anigozanthos. Bush Gems Celebrations is a collection of Kangaroo Paw varieties in a range of psychedelic colours that would turn a kangaroo 50 shades of green with envy. The aptly named Fireworks is the brightest in the series, with multicolour blooms in shades of neon pink, turquoise blue and chartreuse. These naturally hardy plants have an underground rhizome which enables the plant to conserve water and use it to keep the foliage hydrated during times of drought. They can adapt to a variety of climates and conditions, making them hassle-free landscape plants as well as tough container plants. They do best with full sun, and soil on the sandy side that drains well. Details:

Veggies of the month

Gem squash is a locally hybridised squash that is as quintessentially South African as marmite and Mrs Ball’s chutney. Squash Rolet (Little Gem) has dark hard shells that go almost black when mature but with a light buttery flesh inside.

Sow seed directly into rich, fertile soil and in a position that gets full sun. Space plants 1.2m apart as they spread growers. Pinching off the tips helps to contain the spread and produce better quality fruit. Vines that are trained up a trellis need to be supported because the stems are brittle and snap easily. Each plant can produce 15 or more fruits on the trailing vines and the fruit is ready for harvesting within 70 to 90 days. It can also be harvested earlier as a baby squash when the skins are still soft enough to eat.

Water regularly but be careful of overwatering and getting water on the leaves because the plant is very susceptible to mildew. Watch the growth and fertilise if you feel it is necessary. Details:

Cucumber Crystal Apple (RAW seed) is bound to fascinate the kids. It looks like a Granny Smith apple with a pale, greenish-white skin that becomes a deeper yellow as the fruit matures. The flavour, however, is pure cucumber with a tang. The smooth, creamy fruit is best eaten young, and is a bright, crunchy addition to salads.

It is ideal for growing in a patio pot that gets plenty of sun. It grows quickly up to about 1m and will need support. Pinch out the growing tips when the young plant has five or six leaves to encourage side shoots. If grown in the ground, plant it in organically enriched soil. Sow four to five seeds in one hole, with a space of 40 – 50cm between each planting. Keep the plants well-watered and feed with a  balanced fertiliser (2:3:2) two or three times during the growing season. Details:   

Garden tasks for November

  • Hopefully, the rains have arrived which gives everything a boost. If not, water regularly and don’t let young plants dry out. Mulch beds to reduce evaporation.
    • If there is still space in the garden, sow quick growing annuals such as alyssum, cosmos, marigolds, nasturtiums, portulaca and zinnias. They are all sun lovers.
    • Take cuttings of pelargoniums that are looking scraggly as well as fuchsia and lavender.
    • Cut out branches of variegated shrubs that have reverted to their original green. By not doing so the natural green leaves quickly take over.
    • Make sure hydrangeas get plenty of water and feed with hydrangea food to boost flowering in December.
    • Mow, water and fertilise the lawn regularly. Hadedas are the best control for crickets and mole crickets.
    • This is the last month to sow eggfruit, chillies, and sweet peppers.