Hastings House is basically a greenhouse inside a library on top of a sunny hill. A beautiful home in Tamboerskloof shared by a trio of friends who discovered that they have the same taste in ceramics, kitchenalia, plants, books and weird boardgames – not only the things themselves, but down to the complimentary colour scheme. It’s rare to find such harmony in one space shared by three unique individuals, but geez do they pull it off. So Lucy is my sister-in-law and according to her business card she “has brain, will travel” and true to form is in Italy at the moment applying her brain. Gerhard is Mr Greenfingers and has an important day job, but of greater imporantance is that he is on speed dial for emergencies like “my orchid has white scaly shit all over it, helpppp me”. Housemate no. 3 wants to remain incognito so we’ll leave it at that. But getting back to Gerhard, he really has a 6th sense of what plants need to flourish, and when you walk into this home it’s the happy greenery that makes you want to kick back and relax. So I’m giving you some green finger’s gold below, and if there’s only one thing you take from all this, it’s: worm tea, worm tea, worm tea.
Gerhard’s 5 top tips for happy plants
- Don’t underwater – obviously. Potted plants dry out especially quickly.
2. Don’t overwater – maybe less obvious. Most plants don’t like to stand in water, and some plants do well with drying out between watering. Waterlogged posting soil can also become a breeding ground for fungus or mold. Different plants have different needs, so make sure you know what level of watering your plants need.
3. Feed your plants, they don’t live on water alone. Potted plants need nutrient boosts from time to time as nutrients in the soil are used up or washed away by watering. We have our own worm farm to produce worm tea for our plants, and would recommend one if you have space. Commercial organic fertilisers are also perfectly fine, but if you overdo it leaved might get “burnt” tips, or the nitrogen salt build-up could damage the plant’s root system.
4. Make sure your plants get the correct amount of sunlight. Some plants need a full day of direct sunlight, others can’t stand it. Some indoor plants can survive in dark rooms, but would do better in lighter areas. Peace Lilies, for example will survive for years in very low light but won’t flower unless it gets enough light. Even though I would love to have plants in every room of my house, a sad limp plant in a dark room is gloom personified.
5. Follow the seasons. It’s winter now, so tropical plants will slow their growth and use a little less water and fertiliser. Some plants may need more water now if they are adapted to rainy winters. And on the flip-side, some plants may even want a completely dry winter, and watering during the colder months might cause stem or root rot.