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Random Harvest Newsletter - March 2022

Posted On: Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I woke up this morning to the most magnificent sky, I sat entranced and watched it grow from blood red to gold with lilac clouds as the sun rose and all this while being serenaded by the birds – WOW

It is hard to believe we are on the cusp of autumn, how time flies. It seems like yesterday that it was the new year.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

We are open every day except Good Friday (15 April) and look forward to welcoming you at Random Harvest.

IN THE NURSERY

My nephew used his drone to make a video of the farm and nursery. T was shocked at the size of the nursery. When you are immersed and see it every day you don’t realise how much it has grown. This video was real eye-opener. If you would like to view it click on this link. RHN Aerial View

I thought I would remind you that we do offer a delivery service and that Jonathan, Jeffrey and I are available to help with plant selection and design ideas for your garden, we are especially happy if you want to plant a garden that encourages wildlife.

At this time of year when we are crazy busy with propagating the plants for next season the only other thing we need to do is to try and keep the weeds under control. After all the wonderful rain we have had, not only are the plants growing, but the weeds are going wild. I am sure my staff are getting sick and tired of weeding as it’s all they seem to do. The trying part is that it seems as if we are not really winning the battle. But that won’t stop us “fighting the good fight!”

I was really happy to have some sunny days so that the ground could get dry enough for the TLB to work. He mixes the potting soil and turns the compost. The supply was getting worryingly short, so I am very pleased we now have enough again.

We had to relocate some of the big waterlilies we have for sale down to the dam as they are getting too big for the growing ponds. My staff were happy to walk in the water as it was a hot day and they could cool off while working at the same time.

It is also the time of year when we start mowing veld grass on the farms around us to ensure we have enough grass to make next years compost.

FOOD PARCELS

We did not manage to distribute food parcels this month but spent our time raising more funds. Thanks to your great generosity we will be distributing 150 parcels next week. Thank you, Thank you.

I would like to say a special thank you to the generous people who have been donating each month to help keep this initiative going. It means a lot to me and the communities we are helping.

If you would care to donate these are the banking details.

Random Harvest Nursery, FNB 51441129818 Cheque account: code 25 07 41, Reference: Food Parcels.

EVENTS

BIRD WALKS

Join the incredibly knowledgeable Andre Marx on a walk around the farm. He will explain and identify the birds around you. He will explain and identify the birds around you. Beside the fun you will have bird watching the farm is looking amazing and you will be able to enjoy that as well.

Saturday 5th March 2022 with Andre Marx
Start time: 6h30 for 7h00 sharp

Cost: R175.00 per person, this includes a breakfast buffet – a great way to start the weekend

Booking is essential - please contact Lindelani on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 or 066 587 3143

BIRD COURSE

2nd and 9th APRIL, 2022 by Lance Robinson

Lance has kindly agreed to do another Bird ID course. Lance has a wonderful way of teaching, and you are sure to leave with all the knowledge you need to carry you forward in this fascinating hobby. This is also a great course if you just need a little refresher.

Each theoretical session is approximately 90 minutes in duration and will be followed by a practical session on the farm.

Dates: Saturday 2nd April (session 1) and Saturday 9th April (session 2).
Time: 8h00 for 8h30
Cost: R400 per person for both days. This includes welcome tea and coffee and tea and coffee and scones before the practical session.

COFFEE MORNING – Time 10h30

Our coffee mornings are free of charge, and no booking is necessary. Please visit our tea garden and beautiful nursery while you are here.

Date: Wednesday 2nd March 2022
Topic: Spiders in Gauteng
I am looking forward to this talk by Astri Leroy who is very knowledgeable and will give us a new perspective on how important spiders are to the health of you garden and the ecosystem as a whole

Date: Wednesday 6th April 2022
Topic: Growing and using herbs and veggies
I think growing some of you own food is important and tastes a lot better than the produce you buy in the shop. Jonathan and I will give you some tips on how to grow, use and preserve them.

EASTER FOR THE CHILDREN

Bring the children along for an Easter Eco-clue Hunt from Friday 18th March to Sunday24th April. We have arranged an activity where they can go around the nursery to collect stickers and at the same time learn about creatures of the grasslands. When they have collected all their stickers, they can collect a little gift and an Easter Egg at reception.

PRACTICAL DOMESTIC GARDENER TRAINING

Give your gardener the gift of knowledge and the ability to help you more efficiently in your garden this summer.

This course would also be perfect for anyone who would like to start the fascinating and rewarding hobby of gardening and doesn’t know where to begin. All the basics are covered and gives a person a good grounding.

Details for Lindsay Gray’s next courses are as follows:
DATES: Friday 1st April 2022 and Friday 13th May 2022
TIME: 8h30 to 15h30

The cost of the course includes a set of notes for both the gardener and employer, tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival, breakfast and lunch and a certificate. Your gardener will be more excited and confident to help you create your own personal haven.

TO BOOK or for more info including cost of the course contact Lindsay Gray on 082-449-9237 or
[email protected]

COTTAGES

Easter family getaway


Create magical moments to remember forever this Easter with your family when staying with us. You and your family will fall in love with nature, from the comfort of your cottage, each of which has its own private garden. Our friendly staff, the food and how much they enjoyed their stay are the talk of our guests. The blissful environment will enrich your life and create those special memories for your family.

TEA GARDEN

Easter weekend is a great time to plan a catered picnic at Random Harvest. You can either sit in the beautiful gardens or in the grassland to enjoy you picnic. Price: Adults R155.00 each; Children under 12 R80.00 each

We will be offering a delicious Spit Braai in the Fever Tree Boma as a special for Easter Sunday. Last Easter Sunday we catered our first one and the customers who joined us really enjoyed the offerings. Price: Adults R225.00 each; Children under 12 R160.00 each

SHOP

At Random Harvest we are helping young people to start their own businesses as the job situation out there is not too good.

In this interest we have had these wonderful braai stands made with a nice thick metal base and fireproof paint. They are fully adjustable to make them comfortable to use. The price is R1400.00.

If at any time you have metal work to be done the young man who made the stands does really good work at a reasonable price. Please contact me and I will put you in touch with him.

I have been trying for ages to get insect houses made and have found 2 young men who are making them to try and start a new business. At R450.00 you have an attractive addition to your garden and are simultaneously making a difference to the insect population, which is seriously under threat. This in turn puts most birds in your garden at threat too, as insects are an essential part of their diet.

A few other interesting things in the shop are:
Grow your own Micro Greens’ grow kit.

The stock of the new range of pots has arrived and they look beautiful.

The end of March is a good time to start sowing the Namaqualand daisy seed. 1 packer covers 4 square meters.

There are also Lachenalia bulbs in stock for a wonderful spring show.

New stock of the beautiful carved birds has also arrived.

PLANTS LOOKING GOOD

Carissa edulis – Climbing numnum
This beautiful scrambling shrub or climber has glossy, leathery leaves with red tips and bears gorgeous, pink-tinged flowers from September to December. It then has masses of large edible black fruit which is sweet and juicy and can be used to make jam or jelly. They also attract birds to the garden. It makes a good hedging plant. It needs to be controlled in a smaller garden but can be allowed to grow wild if you have the space where it will scramble through the trees. Can be grown in semi-shade but prefers full sun and flowers more profusely in the sun.

Senecio macroglossus ‘Variegated’ - Flowering Ivy
Fairly hardy, evergreen, slender, fast-growing creeper with attractive, glossy, ivy-like foliage that is variegated with bright green and pale yellow. The lemon-yellow daisy-like flowers are borne from Mar. to Jul. and attract insects to the garden. Allow it to climb or use it as a beautiful groundcover. It is also beautiful planted in hanging baskets and containers. It grows in sun or semi-shade, although doesn't do well in hot dry areas.

Dovyalis zeyheri - Apricot Sourberry
Hardy, deciduous, small to medium-sized, tree with spines on the young branches. The tree is very decorative with interesting grey-green foliage. The leaves have a distinctive pungent smell. The spines make this a good addition to a security hedge. From Dec. to Mar. it has small greenish-yellow flowers, followed by bright orange, edible but sour fruit that make a delicious jelly. Male and female flowers are on separate trees, therefore only female plants will bear fruit. A great bird tree, as the flowers attract insects which, in turn, attract birds, as do the fruits.

Dovyalis rhamnoides - Sourberry
Fairly hardy, evergreen, bushy shrub or slender small tree with grey bark. Long, very sharp, slender spines are massed on the branches. The beautiful, glossy, dark-green leaves are arranged horizontally on one plane. The tiny creamy-green flowers are borne from Jun. to Sept. Male and female flowers are on separate plants, therefore only female plants will bear fruit. The flowers are followed by oval, bright red, fleshy fruit that is edible and can be used to make a preserve. The fruit attracts birds to the garden. This decorative tree is a useful addition to a security hedge.

Dianthus basuticus - Lesotho Dianthus
This delicate looking almost tufted evergreen to deciduous perennial is extremely hardy. It has narrow, grass-like grey-green leaves. It bears masses of delicate, scented pink or white flowers with carnation-like fringed petals from Oct. to Feb. which attract insects to the garden. The flowers are carried well above the leaves on fragile looking stalks that nod in the breeze. An important medicinal and magical plant that is rare in cultivation. Use in a border, in amongst rocks or in containers. Plant in sun in well-drained soil.

Setaria sphacelata var. sericea - Golden Bristle Grass
Hardy, evergreen, beautiful, neatly tufted grass. It bears dense, golden inflorescences of hairy flowers from Oct. to May that look like miniature bulrushes. Although this is a tall grass, it is neat and narrow and does not go wild. It attracts birds to the garden and is the host plant of various butterfly species. It makes a lovely form plant and can be planted in a grassland garden, as a backdrop to a colourful bed or mass-plant for a beautiful effect. As with most grasses, it should be cut back once a year and the thatch removed. It grows in sun or semi-shade and needs regular watering.

PLANTS ON SPECIAL – LESS 15%

Aloe barberae [=bainesii] - Tree Aloe
This, large, evergreen, tree-like Aloe has beautiful rough bark which shines when it catches the sun. The long, thin leaves arch gracefully away from the centre of the rosettes. From Apr. to Jun. it bears pinky-orange flowers that contain copious nectar. The flowers attract Sunbirds and insects, the latter in turn attracting insectivorous birds. This, the largest of all the Aloes, is an ideal form plant in the garden. It will grow in semi-shade and makes a good container plant. Because of its huge, robust size it is best planted in large gardens but for smaller gardens limit its size by planting in containers where it will also thrive. Advisable not to plant too close to walls as it develops a huge stem.

Searsia [=Rhus] chirindensis - Red Currant
This hardy, deciduous, very fast-growing tree should be kept single stemmed The bark is dark-brown and roughly cracked on mature stems, but grey-green, smooth and with lenticels on young branches. It has a spreading rounded crown of large, glossy, dark-green leaves. They are tri-foliate and young foliage is reddish and then once again turning a beautiful red in autumn. Sprays of small flowers are borne from Aug. to Mar. Male and female flowers are on separate plants, therefore only female plants bear fruit. The flowers are followed by heavy bunches of round fleshy, pink to red-brown fruit that attracts birds. It is used both for furniture and for traditional medicine. It needs regular pruning to maintain its beautiful, mushroom shape.

Dicliptera clinopodia - Pink Ribbons
A hardy,shrublet with glossy, dark green leaves. Dense clusters of faintly scented violet or magenta flowers adorn this bush from March to Aug. The flowers attract insects and thus birds to the garden. It is a lovely addition to a semi-shade part of the garden and looks beautiful planted under trees. Prune regularly to keep neat and flowering.

Lobelia anceps - Swamp Lobelia
Hardy, evergreen, fast-growing groundcover with small, narrow, bright-green leaves. It bears many small but beautiful sky-blue flowers almost all year round, but en masse from Aug. to Mar. The flowers attract tiny insects that provide food for frogs and lizards. It grows naturally in marshy areas but also does very well in a normally irrigated garden. Makes a lovely edging plant and beautiful hanging basket. Plant in full sun or semi-shade and water very well.

GARDENING TIP

With the wet season we have had the alien invader plants are going wild and popping up all about the place. We are surrounded by properties full of Lantana, Bugweed and PomPom weed so have had to be extra vigilant as I don’t have access to going into these properties to help with clearing. This is why I thought I would highlight a few with this newsletter.

I have to start with my personal pet hate which is PomPom Weed (Compuloclinium macrocephalum). This disgusting weed is busy destroying our grasslands and very few people seem to care. It has a huge tap root which survives underground and on top of that produces literally millions of seeds. They need to be dug out, if you cannot do that at least cut off the flowers and destroy them and their seeds along with them. I use a big screwdriver to pop them out of the ground after rain.

There are registered herbicides, but these are broadleaf killers so will kill off any plant other than a grass. By being vigilant we have eradicated it here at Random Harvest and will only get the odd one popping up during the summer. These we remove as we see them.

Lantana (Lantana camara) is probably the worst weed worldwide and is certainly a problem around Random Harvest. We find that with all the invasions around us we have to be extra careful that we remove them. They are also best dug out before they seed but do be careful and use gloves as they can cause skin irritation and their nasty little thorns can cause quite a lot of damage. There are general herbicides that will kill it off but are quite dangerous to use. People seem to think that as they have pretty flowers they are OK but do be careful it won’t take long for them to take over you garden or the natural areas around you.

Next month I will continue with information on Bugweed and other garden invasives.

ON THE FARM

Probably the most exciting thing that has happened this month is that a pair of Fish Eagle have been flying overhead and we have heard their wild and haunting calls on a number of occasions. I keep on inviting them to feast on the fish in our dam but so far, they haven’t accepted the invitation.

Another interesting observation but, sadly we couldn’t get a picture, was that as Jeff and I were in the grassland early in the morning there must have been in excess of fifty swallows and swifts swooping so low they were just over the tops of the grasses. I am sure they were feeding on a hatch of tiny insects that we couldn’t even see.

The Moorhen have another batch of babies. We are not seeing them that often as the grasses are growing thickly around the dam and they have lots of places to keep them safe from predators, pity we don’t get to see them every day.

The Green-backed Heron has been hunting quite happily in the open, which we don’t often see. I am sure he is feasting on tiny fish and tadpoles.

A pair of White-faced Whistling Ducks have been semi resident on the dam. I just love their call.

I am living in hopes that one day either them or the Yellow-billed duck will breed at the dam. So far, they just visit for a while and leave.

There is also a pair of Egyptian Geese who have been on the dam for the past 4 weeks. I am hoping they will hatch another lot of babies, but I haven’t been able to find a nest, although they normally don’t hang around so much unless they are nesting on the dam.

There seem to be a whole host of baby fish in the dam which, I am sure, is why the cormorant visits every day for his meals.

This Pin-tailed Whydah has set himself out a territory at the dam which includes a big patch of Panicum schinzii which the seed eating birds relish. He has been displaying and calling and chasing any bird that dares to invade his grasses. He has also been most frustrating as Jeff and I have been trying to get a video of his display to share with you, but, after 2 weeks of trying we still have had no success.

Talk about being at the right place at the right time. Ronald got this beautiful picture of a Black-shouldered Kite that had just caught a huge rat. The Kite is quite a small bird and managed this rat, goes to show how much a bird of prey can do to keep the rodent population down.

A newsletter wouldn’t be a newsletter if I didn’t share some of the wonder of our grassland with you. Watching the change from the time of the wildflowers to the time of the grass is a joy.

Jeff and I were amazed at the Wild Sweet Pea (Vigna vexillata) as the colour of the flowers has become darker as the grasses have grown taller and we wondered if it had to do with the fact that the grasses are getting so tall that it becomes necessary to be able to attract the pollinators.

Surprisingly the Pelargonium luridum are still blooming with their pink heads nodding above the taller grass.

There are all sorts of interesting little scenes where the flowers are still peeping through the grasses.

The number of butterflies and other insects in the grassland now that the grasses are taller is phenomenal. The Eyed Pansy on a Helichrysum with a Wahlenbergia behind it is wonderful to watch flitting from flower to flower.

There are a lot of other species in the grassland at the moment such as this African Monarch. I think it is getting ready to lay its eggs on the Thatching Grass (Hyparrhenia hirta) which is getting tall. There are many other species flitting around. If you enjoy butterflies a walk in the grassland is a must. Please remember if you do that with the tall grass there are more ticks so use something to keep them away.

There have been a lot of other insects around amongst which was a swarm of bees that decided to move residence. People are so worried about bees, but they are so unobtrusive you have to be perceptive to even see a swarm like this.

Jeff took this picture of beautiful iridescent beetles in the nursery. I think they are Regal Chafer Beetles.

With all the rain the Acacia karroo (Sweet Thorn) have been magnificent. They must have flowered with their golden globes about 8 times this season and when they are in full bloom their sweet scent wafts through the nursery.

Many of the trees have developed beautiful patches of lichen on their bark due to the moisture around.

Walking through the nursery you will see an abundance of mushrooms like these tiny ones nestling in between the roots of a Ficus sur (Broom Cluster Fig) which incidentally, have an abundance of sweet juicy fruits as well which birds and insects find irresistible. All of these observations are thanks to the wetter weather (which I have loved).

I was very excited when the unusual and quite rare succulent Tavaresia barkleyi bloomed for the first time. There is always something exciting going on in an indigenous nursery or garden.

In closing I had to share these 2 pictures with you. At last, the shade garden I planted is coming into its own and is looking lovely.

This picture with the reflection of the cormorant in the dam, I think, will give you a sense of the peace you will feel if you take a walk down to the dam next time you visit.

Keep well and hope to see you at the nursery.

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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