Aster bakeranus, Aster
The Aster is a herbaceous perennial with hairy leaves which have toothed margins.
Medicinal properties: nasal congestion, headache, stomach problems, intestinal parasites.
Parts used: roots (clean nostrils with powdered root mixed with water), root decoctions (stomach complaints), powdered root snuff (clear nostrils).
Alkalinity and acidity of soil is easiest analysed with soil testing kits, available from most garden suppliers. The alkalinity or acidity is measured on a 1 - 10 pH scale. Ideally your soil should be a neutral 7 pH, under pH5 is too acidic for good plant growth and above pH 8 is too alkaline. These pH levels influence plant growth and even colour, as is seen with Hydrangeas.
For soils too alkaline apply ammonium sulphate but take care not to burn the plants.
For soils too acidic apply agricultural lime but first determine your desired pH level and the acidity level of your soil. Agricultural lime should be added systematically towards the desired pH level as over-liming is difficult to reverse.
Water garden in a tub...
is ideal for small gardens and are wonderfully transportable. A wine cask or a horse trough for instance, is ideal, although plastic or fibrocement will also be suitable.
Fill the bottom quarter with a mixed layer of 1 part compost with a little bone meal added (or well rotted cow manure), and 6 parts fertile loam. Follow with a mixed layer of the same depth, consisting of 1 part compost and 3 parts fertile loam. End these layers off with 5cm of river sand, thus keeping the planting mixtures compact and down.
Plant the container deep enough for the upper rim to be 2cm below the soil level, and use plants and pebbles to soften the look.
One for the Birds
Sage wood (Buddleia salviifolia) is an indigenous fast growing plant, loved by birds and butterflies with its scented summer-flowers.
This 3 - 5m high shrub is ideal for your full sun to semi-shade areas without frost. It tolerates drought, demands well-draining and rich soil, with spring feeding and pruning after flowering. Propagate from cuttings.
The Gardening Eden Team
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