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Random Harvest Newsletter - June 2020

Posted On: Monday, June 1, 2020

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I hope you are still coping well with these trying times. I must say we have had a few lighter moments here. The other day a customer and her cute pair of blond, curly-top twin girls of about 4 years old came to the nursery.

Firstly, they had the cutest masks on and were playing and running all over. Secondly, when it came time to go home, they point blank refused but after about 4 hours mom insisted. She was told categorically “we are not going home as you are going to put us under lockdown. This response has given us many moments of giggles.

I once again would like to thank you for your generous donations.

To date we have handed out 1600 food parcels on your behalf.

This has made a massive difference.

My sister, Louise, was stopped a few days ago by a young businessman in one of the informal settlements where we have been distributing parcels.

He sincerely thanked her and told her that he doesn’t think she realizes what a difference we have made to the community.

It was heartwarming to hear this.

If there is any possibility of further donations it would be truly appreciated.

The bank account number is FNB Account number 51441129818 Bank code 25 07 41.

IN THE NURSERY

We are fully compliant with the Covid-19 Workplace rules.

Our staff are checked every morning and are given clean masks which are compulsory.

All trolleys, tools, counters and credit machines etc. are sanitized at regular intervals. during the day.

We have placed new drinking water taps in the nursery and there are sanitized disposable cups available at each point for you to use.

Since some of my staff were allowed to come back, we have been hard at work sprucing up the retail nursery and building some new display gardens.

Even Bridget was busy painting the stands for the peas.

The best part of these gardens is that, since we are short of funds, we have recycled all the goodies lying around and spent a minimal amount of money to make a really big difference. The customers that visited us have been impressed at what we have created.

The first one, which would be perfect for a small townhouse garden mixes, cottage garden with food garden and even has place for wildlife and for you to meander through or just sit and enjoy it all. We built gabions out of old wire baskets lying around to create different levels. It will take a little while to settle but, in the meantime, I hope it inspires you.

We built this shady corner garden out of some old railway sleepers I had in my storeroom for many years.

You can sit and enjoy watching the pond in the nursery.

We have placed a few benches in the nursery where you can just sit and chill and feel the energy of the plants.

The succulents have been moved and a rock bench has been placed in amongst the plants. This customer sat down and said, ‘Thank goodness, I can breathe again’.

I hope the display we have created outlining some uses of our beautiful indigenous trees will inspire you with ideas for your own garden.

   

DELIVERIES

Thank goodness we can now do deliveries to all our customers including landscapers who can start working on Level 3.

For landscapers who would like to start planning their jobs we are open for quotations and are ready to go on the 1st June.

IN THE SHOP

Pop in to our shop when you visit. We have some nice stock at the moment.

Kiddies masks R38.50 each – bright, fun and comfortable, but above all puts their safety first with their three layers. We also have adult size masks R48.50 available

Handy Pocket Sanitizer 100ml liquid R58.00 and 50ml gel R30.00 - great to put in your handbag, give to the children or keep in your pocket for when you venture out.

Jams R75.00 – in a variety of flavours are always a firm favourite. Packed full of fruit that is predominantly grown on our farm.

Garden Gloves R98.50 – Hands-on garden work is so much easier on the hands with a good pair of garden gloves.

Nitrosol 500ml R120.00 and 200ml R70.00 – A natural organic, liquid plant food that is readily absorbed and environmentally safe. It is recommended for the cultivation of all indoor, outdoor, foliage, flowering alkaline or acid loving plants.

Seed Blocks - Unlike loose seed, these compact blocks of seed provide a way in which to feed seed-eating birds that prevent larger, more dominant birds (such as pigeons) from taking over the feeding station.

EVENTS

Coffee Morning on Facebook Live – A Townhouse garden that incorporates elements for a healthy, balanced lifestyle

We would like to host an online event – a Facebook live session during our regular coffee morning date – Wednesday 3 June, 2020 at 10h30. Jeff, Jonathan and I will be able to answer question that you post with regard to our new display garden that incorporates all the elements for a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

As it will be our first session like this, please bear with us, but we are so excited to connect with all you lovely indigenous garden-loving people again. The beauty of this is that even if you are in some far-flung corner of the world, you will still be able to participate. Please watch our Facebook page for notifications of this event.

TEA GARDEN

We have a takeaway menu for our tea garden goodies. Under Lockdown level 3 sit-down customers are still not permitted in the tea garden. We do however have benches dotted around in the garden or you can take a walk and sit on the dam wall or bring a camp chair for other places you may like to sit. Please note that we will adapt our seating policy to comply with the relevant regulations of each lockdown level, until such time as we are permitted to serve you in the tea garden again.

Father’s day special finger food:- Mini steak pie, 2 mini quiche, Crumbed chicken pieces with dip. Home pickles mushrooms and mixed veg. Mini Croissant with cream cheese and cucumber, Caprese on a stick, fruit kebab. R120.00 per person. Booking essential – contact Ashley on (011)957-5356 or email [email protected]

COTTAGES

We were so very happy when it was announced that the Cottages can open for business travelers. This is a huge relief. If you must travel for business, please keep us in mind. We are really looking forward welcoming you to our beautiful, safe and peaceful farm. Also remember we have Wi-Fi in the cottages where you can work comfortably. Office facilities for photocopies and any other Admin are also available. Meals can also be provided and delivered to your cottage.

PLANTS ON SPECIAL

Aloe arborescens (Krantz Aloe) orange and yellow flowered plants are in full bloom and looking great.

These make a lovely addition to a medium to taller backdrop planting in a flower bed, can stand alone or be used en masse as a striking border or tall hedge.

Clivia gardenii (Major Gardens Clivia) mature plants ex open ground.

These beautiful Clivias have lush green leaves when not flowering and the heads of pendulous, slender, tubular orange flowers look like they belong in a fairy garden.

At only R18.50 each they are a real steal.

PLANTS LOOKING GOOD.

Leonotis leonurus - Wild Dagga (Orange and White)
Is breathtakingly beautiful at this time of year.

This very evergreen, hardy, drought- and frost-resistant, perennial shrub has masses of showy, compact clusters of orange, velvety flowers repeated in circles up the length of every long stalk from Feb. to Jul.

An important food and nectar plant for Sunbirds, bees and butterflies during autumn and winter.

Plant in sun or semi-shade in well-drained, well-composted soil.

Podranea ricasoliana - Port St. John’s Creeper

If it is a fast-growing plant that is ideal for covering pergolas along walls and on embankments that you are looking for, then this is the plant for your garden. Hardy, evergreen scrambler or climber with lush, bright, compound leaves.

The masses of gorgeous, large, scented, lilac-pink flowers are borne in loose clusters on and off throughout the year.

Pruned regularly and kept in shape it makes a great container plant.

Regular pruning will also ensure that it flowers well the following season.

Plant in compost-rich soil but do prune regularly to keep in shape and to ensure that it flowers well the following season.

Grewia lasiocarpa - Forest Raisin occurs naturally on forest margins, so it is a beautiful addition to a sunny or semi-shade part of the garden where it can form or be part of a dense evergreen backdrop.

The attractive, large star-shaped pale pink flowers occur from Jan. to Mar., followed by 4-lobed, furry, reddish fruit from Mar. to Jul, which attract birds and, in the wild, warthogs and baboons.

Andropogon huilense - Large Silver Andropogon is a tall, hardy, evergreen to semi-deciduous, moisture-loving, perennial, tufted grass that has a reed-like appearance and leaves that have a prominent, white mid-rib.

From Sept. to Jun. it bears a tall, flowering stalk topped with beautiful, silvery-white, feathery flowers and seed-heads that glisten in the sunlight.

Plant in a grassland garden, around ponds and along streams to great effect.

Miscanthus junceus - Broom grass is a versatile, extremely hardy, evergreen, fast growing, grass that is always found near water.

It forms large and tall elegant tufts that really make a statement as a feature plant in the garden or in a container, but it does require regular watering to keep it looking its best.

It can also be used to help purify water.

Strychnos madagascariensis - Black Monkey-orange is like having your own decorated Christmas tree in your garden.

This hardy, deciduous, large shrub or shrubby, multi-stemmed small tree produces spectacular, bluish-grey fruits with a hard, woody shell.

These fruits adorn the tree for up to a year before they fall. The pulp is edible, but the seeds are said to be poisonous.

A great tree for a small garden where it should be planted in sun or semi-shade in well-drained soil.

Rhoicissus tomentosa - Common Forest Grape is a beautiful, robust climber ideally used to cover a pergola or it can be trained up and over walls or planted in a container to keep it bushy.

Wherever you choose to put it, make sure to show off its wonderful foliage. The ornamental, almost circular to kidney-shaped, dark-green leaves are interspersed with velvety tendrils.

The young leaves are hairy and a rich copper or purple colour while the old leaves turn crimson before falling. Another great feature of this climber is the large, purple, grape-like berries with white spots.

The fruit is edible and much sought after by birds and other wildlife. It is the host plant of the Silver Striped Hawkmoth.

IN THE GARDEN – MONTHLY GARDENING TIPS

June catches one by surprise in the garden.

  • Keep pond water clean and free from algae: We mentioned Biobags that are available from the shop. It is important to note that for them to work effectively in keeping pond water clean and free of algae, they need to be placed so that the pond pump can draw water through them. This means they should be placed over the suction point where water is pulled / sucked into the filter or into the pump. For a large pond, one can place a few biobags in the filtration system itself as well.

  • Use a net to skim leaves off of the top of the pond before they fall and create a thick layer of sludge at the bottom of the pond.

  • Reduce watering frequency • When you water, do so ideally before 10am. Very wet soil could damage plant roots and soil life by freezing them.

  • Keep bird baths and pets water dishes filled and change water regularly. There is not much water in the garden from dew or rain at present. Make shallow water accessible to lizards, and insects on the ground too. Place stones in the water so that they can drink safely and escape if they fall into the water.

ON THE FARM

I have been having such fun driving in the grassland, it is like having your very own nature reserve at the bottom of the garden. Now that my staff are back it is great to be able to share my love of the grassland with Jeff again. He is just as crazy for it as I am.

Anyone who thinks grasslands are boring and brown just don’t take the time to really see.

The colours of the grasses are amazing.

You get red, brown, beige, gold and even purple in the winter grasses.

I love to see the almost daily changes.

When the sun shines on the seeds the grasses seem to glow in the low light.

The other wonderful feature is how open the sky is and how beautifully it is framed by the few trees in grassland areas.

The Guinea Fowl families have bred well and a lot more babies than normal have developed and grown. I am not sure why this is, I can only think that the grass is so thick that it offers them more protection from predators. They are also getting a lot tamer, and this has led to many wonderful moments of just sitting and observing them going about their daily business.

There have not been a lot of birds at the dam but still some interesting sightings.

The Cormorants have been busy fishing and each day we see a Reed Cormorant and a White breasted Cormorant. They each have their own perch and woe betide you if you try and sit on your neighbour’s perch. I am happy to see them there as it means the fish are breeding well.

A Spoonbill has been seen on an almost daily basis for the last week. It is always interesting watching them feeding and preening. I am not sure how they manage this so elegantly with such an unwieldy looking bill.

The Little egret with his bright yellow feet has been a regular visitor as has been the jewel-like Malachite Kingfisher.

It is always exciting to see them even though most of the birds we see are regular visitors. To sit and see who we can spot when sitting on the edge of the dam is a joy than never fades

I am puzzled as to what has changed at the dam as we are seeing a lot of Sacred Ibis. The only thing I can think of is that the Papyrus moved, and the dam is more open.

The Green-backed Heron is skulking around at the base of the reeds. He is quite shy, so we don’t see him often. Jeff and I are wondering why we haven’t seen the Purple Heron. There seem to be a lot of fish, so I don’t think it is the lack of food.

The Three-banded Plover seem to have made their home permanently around the dam. The other day we saw them mating.

 

After consultation with my Robert’s Bird App. Jeff made what we hope are ideal nesting conditions at the base of some reeds – a gravelly area. Hopefully, the birds think this is ideal as well. I would love to see them nesting and hatching some tiny babies. I would definitely have to have someone guarding the babies from predators if they do decide to use the area.

There are some mole heaps in the grassland which have turned into a fascination for Abby.

She is bottoms up – nose down in the hole.

I hope for her sake a mole doesn’t come up and nip her nose.

Their teeth are ferocious, but I don’t think it would happen.

It was interesting seeing this mushroom pop up. I would have thought it was too dry and a bit too cold.

Nature is always out to surprise you even though I must admit I am a bit clueless when it comes to fungi..

Jeff took the picture of these caterpillars. Steve Woodhall identified them as the larvae of the Cherry Spot Moth. This is a beautiful, colorful moth. I have never seen an adult flying around here at Random Harvest. We are going to need to watch and see when they pupate. That would be really exciting.

We had so many bits of twigs and small branches that were too big to put onto the compost and which I was hoping to get chipped or to use in the fire we use to heat up the mist house where we grow our cuttings.

It just got too much and as they were heaped near my compost heaps posed quite a danger.

I definitely don’t need another compost fire.

We carefully burnt them bit by bit. It never ceases to amaze me what a fascination fire has for humans. It is hard to pull yourself away from just watching the fire. Luckily, it is all done now, and the compost heaps are safe.

The Tree Aloes (Aloe barberae) are in bloom at the moment.

I have never seen them bear such masses of flowers.

It is awe inspiring to see.

Even though the trees are huge you can still see the masses of insects feeding off the nectar that is offered to them.

The other Aloes are also offering up copious amounts of nectar which the Sunbirds are really enjoying.

Flitting around and sipping nectar.

The Stapelia gigantea (Giant Carrion Flower) are blooming at this time of year. The flowers are one of the biggest in the world. They are a sight to behold. Just don’t put your nose in the flower and take a sniff – they are not called Carrion Flowers for nothing. These plants make a beautiful container plant or look great in a rockery and grow well even in positions where they only get morning sun.

I want to make you jealous with this picture of the beautiful climber, Shpedamnocarpus pruriens (Canary nettle) blooming in the garden.

This is a plant that drives me crazy trying to unlock the secrets of propagating it.

I have been trying for years and this year actually had a few seeds germinate.

Wish me luck that it won’t be in the too distant future when we have some for sale.

The garden around my cottage is looking gorgeous.

It is a real winter garden with the Ribbon Bushes and Strelitzias blooming at the same time.

The number of butterflies visiting the purple Ribbon Bush flower is astounding.

The Sunbirds have also been visiting the Strelitzia flowers, so the garden is buzzing with life.

This is the view I see outside my lounge window. Aren’t I the lucky one to live on this beautiful farm?

For the customers that visited us during Level 4 I think Random Harvest has been a welcome relief from being so confined for so long.

Here is one sitting on one of the new benches in the nursery enjoying the sun and relaxing. I just love it when I see people enjoy Random Harvest so much.

I am hoping to welcome you to the farm again especially now that we are on level 3.

I would also like to assure we are taking all the precautions we can to sanitise everything as your safety is of prime concern for us.

I am also happy it is only 3 weeks to mid-winter and then we will be racing towards spring again. This should not only rejuvenate the plants but our souls as well.

Keep warm and safe

Sincerely

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

For directions please go to our website www.randomharvest.co.za : or call 082-553-0598

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