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Random Harvest Newsletter - October 2019

Posted On: 01 October 2019

Dear Indigenous enthusiast.

It’s as if the garden has taken on a life of its own. Despite the hot and dry conditions, it is bursting with busy garden creature life and bright, cheerful flowers.

So, before you settle down to read October’s Newsletter, please consider checking that the bird baths in every corner of your garden are full. 

You can also do a quick mental check for a space or two for some of the plants that are looking fabulous this month!

IN THE NURSERY

Spring is always a busy time in the nursery. We are constantly maintaining plants that want to go crazy with the welcome warmth and light, and thanks to you our customers, it’s been a very busy retail and wholesale season.

One of the most striking projects we’ve tackled is the new “planter box” walls near the gazebo, where we have planted cycads and succulents. 

Can’t wait for these plants to establish themselves!

To make sure the organic component of your garden soil is sufficient for soil organisms and plants, make sure you add plenty of compost to the soil. 

We have a special on currently: Buy 5 bags of compost and get one free!

Follow us on Instagram and keep up to date on what’s happening at Random Harvest. We have so many good moments to share and it’s a great way to see all our indigenous plants, products, tea garden food, cottages and farm life in one place.

IN THE TEA GARDEN

Mulberry season means that our highly recommended Mulberry tart and Mulberry cordial (made with the freshest of mulberries) are on offer once again.

The delicious home-baked bread that we use in the tea garden may now be purchased on order. 

Please remember to place your order the day before you collect - contact [email protected] or call 082 553 0598.

IN THE SHOP

We have new stock of our renowned Terracotta Pots from Lindsay. These are becoming quite a rare commodity, so buy while you can.

October’s Book of the month: Pooleys Trees of Eastern South Africa by Richard Boon is a compact, yet amazingly extensive guide describing all the indigenous trees, shrubs and woody climbers found from East London in the Eastern Cape to Swaziland, north of KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Free State. Price: R328.00

Vegetable Seed sticks: These are so convenient as you have just a few seeds of each vegetable on the sticks which is an easy way to plant Vegetable seeds. The plants will produce enough for a small family to eat.

Seed bells are made short work of but are valuable for the hungry seed-eating birds in breeding season. 

We have stock in various sizes.

Beaded Hanging owls & Meerkat statues - Both of these delightful additions to our beaded range of gifts and garden items will bring life to any part of the house or garden that they are placed in. 

The fact that you are supporting local craftsmen when purchasing these items is is an added bonus

Pyrol is now in stock. This broad spectrum, organic insecticide kills all stages of insects so is very effective at bringing infestations under control. As it is organic and biodegradable, it needs to be re-applied after 7 to 14 days depending on the severity of the infestation.

EVENTS

MONTHLY COFFEE MORNINGS

Where: Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery
Times: 10h30 to 12h00
Cost: Free of charge – we just ask you to please support the nursery and / or the tea garden while you are here.
What to Bring: A notebook, your questions on the topic, and a friend

Date: Wednesday October 2nd
Topic: 15 plants for Highveld Retirement Cottages
Gardens of Retirement establishments vary greatly in size and maintenance by the in-house team (or not).
A retirement home garden should ideally bring immense amounts of pleasure, be low maintenance and still meet the personal needs of the owner or resident. Over the years, we have found that there are a few indigenous plants that really stand out and tick all the boxes. Join us to chat about these and ways to garden with them, and we’d love to hear what you have found success with too.

Date: Wednesday November 6th
Topic: Indigenous Water Plants
Indigenous water plants are an essential part of a water feature that both looks beautiful and is beneficial to the wildlife in the garden. We’ll discuss some of the wonderful variety of plants that you can use and that are available from Random Harvest. How to plant them and use them in the water feature will also be covered.

BIRD WALKS

Saturday 19th October 2019 – Lance Robinson
Start time: 6h30 for 7h00 sharp
Cost: R165 per person, including a great buffet breakfast after the walk
Bookings: (Essential) Contact Paul on 082 553 0598 or Ashley on [email protected]
Take a walk through the various vegetation patches of Random Harvest. The diversity of habitat increases the chances of seeing some of the 166 bird species spotted here. A bird list is supplied.
Note: Binoculars are important and greatly enhance your enjoyment of this activity – please don’t forget as we do not have spare.
Good walking shoes and a hat are advised for the bird walk.

*Buffet breakfast includes: Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Pork or Beef Sausage, Sliced Tomato, Creamed Mushroom, Muesli with milk or yogurt, Fruit salad, Cocktail Rolls, Butter and Jams, Tea, Coffee, Water Jugs, Orange Juice.

LINDSAY GRAY COURSES

Domestic Gardener Training - Friday, 18 October Time: 08h30 – 15h45: Give your gardener the gift of knowledge! 

This course is designed for any gardener at any skills level who works in the domestic, landscaping and commercial environment, to enhance their gardening skills. 

Most languages are catered for on the day. A truly uplifting course! R780-00 including mid-morning refreshments and lunch, notes in Zulu and English (for the employer) and a beautiful Certificate of Attendance

Essential Steps to Maintaining your Garden - Saturday, 19 October Time: 08h30 – 13h00
There is no such thing as a maintenance free garden; however, there are many easy ways to creating a low maintenance, healthy and organic garden that will attract wildlife and satisfy the varied needs of its owners. The workshop covers compost making, mulching, understanding fertilisers, pruning, lawn care and natural pest control. Refreshments included. For prices and further details contact the details below.

Essential Steps to Growing your own Edibles - Saturday, 19 October Time: 13h30 – 16h15
In this workshop, Lindsay will discuss and illustrate the important aspects of growing one’s own fruit, vegetables and herbs. The workshop content includes soil nutrition, feeding, pruning and healthy, organic growing practice. Students will also experiment with sowing different seed of their choice on the workshop. A fun morning for all! For prices and further details contact the details below.

Contact Lindsay on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected] for workshop prices, further details and to book your place for any of these workshops.

GARDEN DAY

Sunday, 20th October, 2019
This is a day to enjoy in your garden. We’ll be hard at work on the prep for Gardens of the Golden City, so have not scheduled events for this day. We are however happy to advise you about indigenous plants that you can choose from to beautify your garden for this occasion.

Date: 9&10 November
GARDENS OF THE GOLDEN CITY - Open Garden at Random Harvest

With only a month and a bit to go until we open for the Gardens of the Golden City weekend, we are full steam ahead with preparations. 

Below is an outline of the talks that will take place over the weekend. 

Please visit the website for more information on this.

Bookings for talks: Contact Paul on 082 553 0598 or Ashley on [email protected]
Saturday 9th November
10h30 - Birds of Random Harvest
14h00 – Polyphagous Shothole Borer – update and best controls so far.

Sunday 10th November
10h30 – Grey water and Rain-water Harvesting – Walk and talk
14h00 – Alien invader plants – identification and methods of removal

COTTAGES

Bushwillow Cottage is our featured cottage for October. This charming accommodation’s signature feature is that it is enveloped by large trees, giving the feeling of being “in the woods”. 

No stairs means it is suitable for guests with impaired mobility. 

It can combine with Rock Fig Guest Cottage to convert to a family stay unit that sleeps 4. 

Watch a short video on this accommodation.

IN THE GARDEN – Monthly Gardening tips

Rock dust provides minerals and nutrients in a form that is readily taken up by plants, when there are enough microorganisms in the soil. The plants per se do not absorb the rock dust itself – it is the microbes that break it down into a usable form for the plants. The many elements contained in Rock Dust are used by plants as and when needed. This makes for healthy, strong plants that are both drought and cold resistant.

Sprinkle rock dust on the garden at a rate of about a handful per square meter. It is essential to follow this application with a good addition of compost or mulch, (both available from Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery) so that there is ample organic matter for the microbes to break down and incorporate in the soil as well.

Water is precious - Water conservatively.

Consider saving a bucket of household water that you might let run down the drain as you wait for hot water to enter run from the tap. This water can be used to water pot plants, fill your dog bowls or to water thirsty garden plants in the garden.

PLANTS LOOKING GOOD

Papaver aculeatum - Wild Poppy (E)
This rare, very hardy, evergreen, annual to perennial little plant is beautiful planted amongst smaller grasses, which is how it grows in its natural habitat. 

The beautiful, papery, salmon-pink poppies are borne on long stems from early spring to late summer

 

Cyperus prolifer - Miniature Papyrus (E)
Each green stem of this hardy, evergreen, small sedge is topped by a cluster of grass-like flower spikelets. 

These very decorative stems can be used in flower arrangements. 

It is an ideal pant for planting in a small pond or wet area, particularly a grey water filtration system.

 

Geranium incanum - Carpet Geranium (E)
This hardy, evergreen, fast-growing groundcover for full sun has beautiful, fine, feathery foliage and masses of purple flowers. 

It does well planted on banks, in hanging baskets and containers. Prune lightly after flowering to keep it in condition.

 

Cunonia capensis - Red Alder (E)
A hardy, evergreen, fast-growing, small to medium-sized tree with beautiful compound leaves that have red petioles and large, red, spoon-shaped stipules that give the tree an overall reddish look and make this a beautiful foliage plant. 

It is a handsome tree and good garden subject, which needs a cool, moist area. Suitable for containers.

 

Xylotheca kraussiana - African Dog-rose (E)
A fairly hardy, beautiful, evergreen shrub for sun or semi-shade. 

It bears lovely white, sweetly scented flowers in mid-summer. 

Although usually shrubby and multi-stemmed, it can be trained to form a small tree. 

It is a butterfly host plant and attracts birds to the garden with its fruit.

 

Otholobium decumbens
Very hardy, evergreen, flat, creeping groundcover with trifoliate leaves. 

It knits so tightly in full sun that it can be used as a substitute for lawn grass. 

In spring, it has masses of two-tone pink flowers that look like a pink carpet. 

Also looks good hanging over the edges of containers, or in retaining walls.

 

Gymnosporia buxifolia [=Maytenus heterophylla] - Common Spikethorn (E)
This very hardy, semi-deciduous, drought-resistant, large shrub or small to medium-sized tree is under-utilised in gardens. 

Armed with long straight spines, it is a formidable addition to a security hedge. 

It is great for wildlife gardens as it provides secure nesting sites, loads of pollen (it blooms profusely) and fruit on female plants that attract many birds.

 

Acacia caffra - Common Hook Thorn (E)
Very hardy, deciduous, drought-resistant, graceful tree that can be used as a single specimen or to create an attractive avenue and is an essential part of a bush clump and wildlife garden. 

The feathery foliage gives the tree a weeping shape. 

Fragrant, creamy-white flower spikes are borne from Sept. to Nov. along with the delicate new leaves, making this tree a really beautiful sight.

 

PLANTS ON SPECIAL THIS MONTH – LESS 15%

Mackaya bella - River Bells (E)
Hardy, evergreen shrub with dark-green, glossy leaves. 

It bears magnificent long bunches of lilac or white, trumpet-shaped flowers in spring and early summer. 

An excellent garden and container subject that needs regular pruning to maintain a good shape and induce increased flowering.

 

Crassula expansa - Fragile Crassula (E)
Hardy, evergreen, succulent, delicate-looking but vigorous ground cover with tiny, bright-green, slightly fleshy, finger-like leaves. 

This pretty plant bears masses of tiny, star-like, white flowers from Nov. to Apr. 

Excellent for containers and for planting in soil between stepping-stones. Thrives in those difficult, dry, dark shade areas under trees.

 

ON THE FARM

The farm is looking absolutely stunning at the moment. This is such an amazing time of year when changes are observed each and every day. Everything is blooming, budding and breeding – just bursting with life. It is a time of renewal and hope. I hope when you are observing your garden and the life it sustains that it fills you with positive energy, as it does me.

The pure white flowers of Dombeya rotundifolia (Wild Pear) and the blood red flowers of the Erythrina species are spectacular.

   


I will one day plant an avenue of alternating Dombeya and Erythrina. What a sight this will be in spring. I just need to find the time and space to do it.

I think I am in the dog box with the birds at the dam. We really had to do some work and clear some of the reeds and bulrushes.

Needless to say, we messed with the habitat. For a while Jeff and I were so scared we had gone too far. But I am happy to say they are slowly returning.

What a huge job this was? I felt sorry for my staff. They worked so hard in horrible conditions. They did it with such a good heart and big smiles. Now you know why I love my staff so much. Nothing is too much trouble for them.

As you know, I have been having trouble with algae bloom in the dam. 

So, on top of adding EM (Essential micro-organisms) and spraying with vinegar, I have been using our leaf-blower to blow the algae into one spot and then taking it out with a pool net. 

This is one really big swimming pool!

The Moorhens who are breeding and the Egyptian geese with their babies have at least kept Jeff and myself amused during our visits to the dam.

The Swallows are all back for the summer. Jeff managed to get this lovely picture of a white-fronted Swallow resting at the dam.

It is not a good thing to assume anything when you are bird-watching. I saw this grey bird fly away and said to Jeff it was a Grey Go-away bird although the flight looked a bit weird.

Luckily Jeff insisted on following it and Lo and Behold! It was a Shikra. How exciting? I think I learned my lesson.

The grassland continues to amaze us with its seasonal changes.

The burnt patch against the winter colours of the other grasses and the beautiful blue-sky overhead was just breath-taking. What a beautiful painting it would make.

The awe-inspiring beauty of the grassland makes me so humble and grateful for the beautiful world we live in. I just wish we would all take better care of it.

   

I found these puffballs in the dry and desiccated grassland. I thought “How can a fungus survive in these dry conditions?”. On giving it more thought it makes perfect sense to disperse your tiny dry spores into the wind and let them settle just in time for the summer rains. (Hopefully they come soon)

My sister was given a Hedgehog by her neighbour, who I think was scared of it and wanted to get rid of it.

   

She brought it here for us to release in their perfect habitat in the grassland.

Here we are making a home for it – close to water and lots of worms and insects.

We cut a hole in a bucket and fitted a short piece of pipe for a tunnel and lay the bucket down on its side with the pipe sticking out.

My sister then released him at the tunnel mouth.

Now you know why I insist on someone walking in front of my tractor checking for creatures and birds’ nests when we are cutting the grass. It is to save these grassland creatures from being hurt by the cutter.

I took David and Yolam’s children, Tsakane and Obed, with me into the grassland to show them how the wildflowers are shooting even though it is so dry.

   

I also regularly host horticultural students to try and convince them to plant indigenous and create habitat in gardens thus creating islands of biodiversity in our cities.

Hopefully if we manage to teach the young people, they may take better care of our beautiful world.

I wanted to share a few plant pictures with you. I love this beautiful Ruschia lineolate (Carpet of Stars) a dainty succulent. This Hoverfly was very busy sipping nectar and pollinating the plant at the same time.

   

The Watsonias have been particularly beautiful this season. These plants with their spires of beautiful colourful flowers are a great addition to any garden – no matter what style you prefer.

After all our efforts to get our mist house up and running we are now getting thousands of cuttings out. 

This really excites me as I always feel as if we are running short of plants.

 

The other night I had a braai with my staff to thank them for their help and dedication to Random Harvest.

It was so beautiful sitting in the Gazebo just enjoying this aspect and the atmosphere of this beautiful place where we work and live.

   

It was also so beautiful seeing my beloved trees in silhouette in the last of the light before total dark.

My staff and I would also like to take this opportunity of thanking you, as well, for if it were not for your loyal support, we could not live this dream.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Happy gardening

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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