The Plants

Aloe [aloe barbadensis]


Description:  Plants are usually stemless or short-stemmed solitary.  Upper surfaces of the leaves are light green in colour and marked with many longitudinal dark lines.  The lower surface of the leaf is paler and lightly marked.  The apex of a leaf often has a pinkish tinge and the leaf has a dark brown or reddish-brown margin with dark teeth (5 - 8 mm).  During dry periods the leaf has a twisted dry apex.  The plant is one meter in height.

Flower:  The inflorescence is a compactly-branched panicle with ten racemes.  Lateral racemes are shorter than the terminating racemes, they are densely flowered and are a deep pink or brick-red in colour.   The flowering time is between April and early September. Propagation:  Seeds and pups.

Cultivation:  Full sun, drought resistant, neutral soil, min temp -1 C - 4 C (USDA 9 - 10).

Basilico [Ocinum Basilicum]


A member of the family of labiates, basil is an annual herbaceous plant. The most common varieties include: gigantic Genoese aromatic basil, bullate lettuce leaf basil, Neapolitan basil and fine green basil.

Basil requires a hot-temperate climate and soil with medium consistency that’s rich in organic substances without any stagnant water. The best soils are located on sea coasts and lake sides.Seeds can be sown in February using heated seedbeds or directly in the garden in the spring. If a seedbed is used, seedlings can be transplanted once they have grown their fourth leaf. Rows should be 30 cm apart and holes spaced every 20 cm.

The plants must be watered often during the entire vegetative cycle, frequently weeded and hoed, thinned if sown directly and flowers removed to extend the vegetative cycle. Originally from tropical Asia, basil has a stem with a maximum length of 30 cm, ovate leaves and small, white flowers that bloom in August. There is also an annual variety.

Basil is cultivated throughout the Mediterranean basin, and in Italy in particular, where it is grown in the ground and in pots since its aromatic leaves are used in a wide variety of food preparations. Basil can also be considered to be a medicinal plant.

Pomodoro [Solanum Lycopersicum]


A member of the Solanaceae plant family, the tomato prefers hot-temperate climates and adapts well to soil with a slightly basic or moderately acidic pH.

The tomato is considered a deep ploughing plant, which is why it is placed at the beginning of an agricultural rotation. The sowing period varies depending on the type of crop to be grown, while sowing depth ranges from a few millimetres to 2.5 cm.

The tomato should be fertilised with manure (3-4 q/100) in the autumn, at a depth of 30-40 cm. Irrigation is essential. When watering, do not wet the leaves to avoid cryptogamian diseases.

Special operations are carried out during the ripening period such as irrigation, thinning, weeding and hoeing to aerate the soil, ridging and pruning, i.e. removing any shoots, cutting back and mulching, meaning covering the soil around the plants with straw.


Cetriolo [Cucumis sativus ]


This annual plant has a creeping or climbing flexible herbaceous stem that can grow up to four metres long. It is cultivated to be eaten when picked or for use in the pickling industry.

Hot-temperate climates with constant humidity are preferred. The soil must be thoroughly prepared, deep, of medium consistency, with a slightly acidic pH and, if possible, should be fertilised in advance with manure. Seeds should be sown outdoors or in greenhouses from April to May in rows one metre apart, dropping four seeds into holes spaced every fifty centimetres.

After germination, thin the seedlings, leaving the strongest plantlet. Forced cultivation takes place in greenhouses and seeds should be sown in December in a heated environment. Transplant in January, and always in a greenhouse. Irrigation must be frequent. Water immediately after transplanting, preventing the water from pooling.

Cucumbers can be harvested within sixty days, before they are fully grown. Varieties include C. Sensation, C. Market, and C. Bianco of Paris. An interesting variety is the Chinese Yamato Three Feet: this long and thin cucumber has a tender pulp, very few seeds and a fresh, sweet taste.

Calendula [Calendula officinalis]


The calendula is a long time favorite among gardeners. Also called English marigold, this plant has been grown since the Middle Ages and was known to Shakespeare.

Calendula is an annual flower that prefers cool growing weather but nevertheless are tender and killed by frosts. Depending on variety and culture, the plants grow 12-30 in (30.5-76.2 cm) in height and about as wide. The leaves are bright green and typically about 4 in (10.2 cm) long. The lower leaves are oval with a rounded tip (spatulate) and upper leaves are lance shaped with pointed tips. The flowers are typically 2-3 in (5.1-7.6 cm) in diameter and held on thick sturdy stems. Calendulas are single or double flowered and come in a range of colors from cream to light yellow to electric yellow to orange. Some have dark brown centers and all are beautiful.

Location: Calendula officinalis, the pot marigold, is native to Southern Europe around the Mediterranean Sea.

Culture: Calendula officinalis is easy to grow in average soil and is bothered by few pests or cultural problems providing the soil is well-drained. Cut back plants when hot weather arrives. If you can keep them alive through the heat of summer they'll recover and bloom again in fall.

Light: Sun to partial shade. Provide afternoon shade in warm climates to extend the season.

Moisture: Average.

Hardiness: Spring and summer annual in cold winter climates; cool weather annual in sub-tropical and temperate zones. Killed by temperature extremes.

Propagation: Plant seed after danger of frost is past.

Sunflower [Elianthus annuus]


These are hardy herbaceous perennials or annuals found wild in North America. They produce large yellow flowers in late summer and autumn. The perennial kinds are tall and vigorous.

H. annuus is an annual commonly known as the Sunflower. It grows 6 to 10 feet high and produces huge, black centered flowers. There are varieties of the Sunflower with different colored flowers. Some are reddish, pale or deep yellow. The largest is the variety Russian Giant.

The seeds of the Sunflower are rich in oil, the best kinds contain 28 or 30 percent. When cold pressed, this oil is useful as a salad oil, for cooking and for the manufacture of margarine. The seeds are also used for bird food for poultry and parrots and other caged birds.

H. tuberosus, also known as the Sunchoke, Jerusalem Artichoke, or Girasole, is a hardy perennial grown for its edible tubers. As you can see, the Jerusalem Artichoke is a relative of the Sunflower, not the Globe Artichoke (see, Cynara). This is a vigorous, enduring, versatile plant, which will grow up to 6 feet high in sunny, dry locations and much taller in fertile soil and partial shade. It produces yellow flowers with dark centers that are filled with small seeds, which birds love. They spread quickly and can become a nuisance.

Busylizzie [Impatiens balsamina ]


Description: A delightful pastel blue-lilac shade never seen before in impatiens borne on compact base branching, very free flowering plant. Ideal for hanging baskets, window boxes, pots or bedding in sun or shade. Flowers all summer long. Height 20-26cm (8-10in).

Sowing Instructions: Sow late winter to mid spring at 21-24C (70-75F) on the surface of a good seed compost and cover with a very fine sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Ensure the soil is damp but not wet and seal in a polythene bag until after germination, usually 14-21 days. Do not exclude light.

Growing Instructions: When seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant and grow on in cooler conditions. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10-15 days before planting out, after all risk of frost, 30cm (12in) apart in sun or part shade on ordinary well drained soil. For pot plants, transplant seedlings into 7.5cm (3in) pots, grow cool, well ventilated and give plenty of light, but shade from direct sun.