Garden wisdom


DIY and how-to

Close-up of lavender-hued succulent plant held in cupped hands on patterned fabric.

There are certain things that only experienced gardeners know – much of it they have learnt by trial and error, or from other gardening friends. The good news is that we’ve collected a few of these golden snippets of wisdom.

Here are 7 really clever gardening hints and ideas:

  • Before using your garden tools, spray them with a thin layer of cooking spray. This prevents the soil from sticking to the tools and makes them much easier to clean afterwards.
  • Dig your fingernails into a cake of soap before you start working with the soil. The layer of soap will stop dirt from caking under your fingernails and make them such easier to wash afterwards.
  • Mark out centimetre measurements on the handle of a small garden fork. This will allow you to use it as a makeshift ruler when planting seedlings.
  • Always harvest herbs before they flower, as this is when the leaves have the strongest flavour. Pick rosemary, thyme and bay leaves and hang them upside down in bunches to dry. Mint, parsley, chives, tarragon and sage should be chopped, dropped into ice trays, covered with water and frozen for future use.
  • To give cement pots or outdoor furniture an aged look, sand them with coarse sandpaper and then “paint” on a thick layer of natural yoghurt. Leave them in the sun to dry and watch them slowly gain a beautifully tarnished look.
  • Interplant roses with nature’s own insect repellent – the indigenous tulbaghia (wild garlic) plant. It’s attractive, waterwise and it helps to chase away aphids and white fly.
  • Not sure whether you should water your plants? Try the easy finger trick. Poke your finger into the soil. If it is damp just under the surface, don’t water. If the soil is dry all the way up to the first crease in your finger, then you should water.