Kynoch’s Dirt Diaries- August

Dear Tanya

Good day! I have to confess. I am a MURDERER! How many rhinoceros beetle larvae have I not killed? Not to spare you the gruesome details; I hunted for them in my potting soil, chucked them into a bowl of water and left them to drown. Later, I worked them back into the soil to allow my plants to retain what they have chowed. I feel so ashamed and embarrassed. Thank you, The Gardener, for the education you give. I have turned over a new leaf! Lucille Kriegler, Hermanus

Hi Lucille, thank you for your email! Your honesty and description in your mail made me laugh out loud! Don’t bash yourself, the point is you now know and can also answer the question about those big ugly worms with confidence when another fellow gardener asks you. You got this! Happy gardening, Tanya.

Good day, I would like to know how to store my amaryllis bulbs for winter. They have now lost all their leaves but are still in the pot in which they have flowered. Must I just leave it there, or should I store it in a brown paper bag. Thank you, Susan Steenekamp

Hi Susan, if you live in the cooler parts of South Africa, they would be completely dormant now. If you live along the coast or frost-free areas, your amaryllis will still have few leaves or even look rather healthy. Personally, I would not lift the bulbs unless you really have to. Most amaryllis because of their spectacular show and appeal, are normally planted in pots – so much easier to move them around when they are looking amazing – bragging rights! These bulbs do not like being lifted and will often sulk for a few seasons after and simply refuse to flower. So, leave them where they are. For enhanced and better flowering, remember to start feeding the bulbs from mid-summer to dormancy again with Kyno Shrub, Flower & Fruit which will most certainly increase flower and foliage health and give you even more bragging rights. Happy gardening, Tanya

Good day, I am living in Mozambique, Gaza Province, Praia do Bilene town. It’s a coastal area with extreme weather patterns. I am in the process of establishing an edible garden with herbs, spices and vegetables. Although the web is a great source of information, I find conflicting advice and strategies and struggle to put a plan together. My soil is mostly beach sand with good drainage (full sun) and black airy soil in another area (mostly shaded). I do not have access to technology such as fertilisers and rely on the rural supply of cow, chicken and pig compost. Please be so kind as to assist with charts and info on the following: companion planting, sun/shade needs, watering habits, natural pest control and salt resistance. If you could assist me with this, I would be very grateful. Many thanks in advance, Rui Da Silva.

Dear Rui, your letter got my juices flowing. The good news is that you can stop stressing as we have got your back! Gardening in soil with a high salt content can be tricky – but the fact that in some areas you have beautiful black airy soil is good. The trick with sandy soils is all about feeding the soil – we have often heard about feeding the plants, but the new word now which has become the language of farmers and gardeners all around the world is food for soil! With a healthy soil under your belt, you are more than three quarters the way there of being able to produce amazing veggies and herbs. So to get your finger itching, please look at some articles on our amazing sister magazine called Grow to Eat – this publication is available seasonally – The Autumn /Winter issue is out now and on sale. If you are having trouble getting your hands on it (which I think you may as your closest stockist is in Swaziland), consider subscribing to it. I promise you that you will not be disappointed! To subscribe just go to this website and follow the steps: www.growtoeat.co.za

As a starter to get you filled with knowledge go to the Grow to Eat website – there are tons of invaluable information. Here is some of the topics:

The Beauty of soil

Permaculture Methods for regenerating soil

It all starts with the soil

7 Tips for healthy soil

If you can get your hands on a bag of KynoVeg – this fertiliser has been formulated especially for veggies – it can be used in the soil preparation as well as feeding existing growing plants. KynoVeg is packed with all the right nutrition, especially trace elements that your veggies will love. So, all that left to do now, is for you to dive in and grow your gardening know how. Please let us know if there is anything else we can assist with. Most importantly I wish you tons of happy soil and healthy veg, Tanya.

READ MORE: Dirt Diaries July

Good day Tanya, in a recent issue of The Gardener is it said that Scaevola ‘Bondi White’ is a tough plant needing little maintenance. This is not my experience. We live in Springbok and my plant is in the shade all day but is wilted every morning. Is it thirsty, because after watering, it seems fine again. Is it bad for the plant to be watered every morning? I give it rainwater. What is my problem here? I will be so glad if you can help. Many thanks, Elana.

Dear Elana, this is very interesting indeed as scaevola is a real tough plant and should by all means live up to exactly what we describe it as. The only reason I can think of, is that the plant was grown and raised in its plastic pot containing a high percentage of peat. Peat is great for plants, especially palm peat. It is lightweight and has good drainage and aeration for good root development. Here comes the, but. Remembering that in a nursery or growing area these plants are tended to and nurtured like little babies – if they were grown in a peat base, they would have been watered every day or every second day. So, the problem you are finding and also because of your very dry heat in Springbok, is likely that the soil medium of your plant is peat based, which means you are going to need to water it daily for the first few weeks until it is able to send new roots into the surrounding garden soil or potting soil. With this being said, remember to prepare your planting hole well by adding a generous amount of compost into the hole and a small amount of KynoGarden – you really don’t need a lot of this fertiliser as it contains high amounts of trace elements which all growing plants need. Water straight after planting. The compost and the KynoGarden will see to the overall health of the plant and reduce transplant stress. Lastly, I am worried about the amount of shade it is getting as this plant performs best in half day sun or full sun. If the stems start getting long, weak and leggy then that is a sure sign that it needs more sun. Don’t give up, this plant is worth every bit of help to get started, because once it starts growing, it is super tough. Love to Springbok and happy gardening, Tanya.

Send your questions to info@thegardener.co.za using the subject line Kynoch’s Dirt Diaries.

The Gardener