Persistent Plumeria

Tiny House’s garden needs quite a bit of attention.  We have not done much since we moved in, firstly because it’s a rental and secondly we won’t be here very long. We have a lovely frangipani (plumeria) in the middle of the garden perched on a rock.  When we moved in it was completely dry without any leaves and had dropped a few large branches which were lying on the ground.  As spring progressed it started producing leaves and lovely fragrant flowers.

It is one of my favorite trees in the garden.  Recently I noticed that one big branch that had fallen (or was broken) off and lying under the tree had also started to sprout leaves.  It is not in the soil at all and has not made any small roots into the ground.  It must just be running on reserves.

I have left it for over a month now and it still keeps on going.  I would like to try to help the poor branch seeing it is so persistent.  Do I put it in a bucket of water or should I just shove the end in the ground?

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Heads up

Some of you may remember that I was rather stressed about my brassicas not performing in the vegetable bed.  They were growing very well but not making heads.  Around that time I made a new friend who is a veggie farmer who kept on urging me to just wait.  I read up about them and decided that I would have to pull them all up and start again.  I was again urged to just wait.

My new friend came to visit me recently, and walked into my veggie garden and yanked a complete broccoli plant out of the ground.  I nearly hit him over the head!

He showed me where I had J-rooted the plant but kindly (and probably because he saw my face) replanted the plant in the same spot.  I did not hold out much hope for it though.

Well today I can announce that my brassicas all have heads and I will be getting some cauliflowers, broccoli and cabbage.  Yay!

Some pictures from the beds

As you can see – I am loving my new camera.  So many new things in my life right now.  This is good. 🙂

 

It’s all about food…..

Everything I have been doing lately is all about food and it has been so much fun.  My first batch of vegetables are finally planted. This has been two years in the planning so it’s a big thing for me.  They are all safe and sound, away from browsing animals and the baking sun in their little cool cloth house.  I made raised beds using recycled broken vegetable crates with shade cloth liners.

Functional but not very pretty. I will be cutting off all the excess cloth to neaten things up a bit.

My whole food healthy eating plan is continuing well and I am feeling a difference already.  yesterday we had this super fritata for breakfast

and made some homemade cold drink using rosella flowers and lemon grass.  It turns bright red once it has been in the fridge for an hour or two, sweetened with a touch of honey and absolutely delicious.

so much food on my mind, I even painted a cabbage 🙂

This painting is one of six macro paintings I am doing to hang as a group in my kitchen. They are on stretched canvas so will not need to be framed.  I have also completed one of a slice of lemon but I am not happy with it.

I wonder how many other people have ever painted a cabbage 🙂

A dream coming true.

Since I moved to my farm one of my priorities has been to become as self-sustainable as possible. Last winter I attempted growing some vegetables. I only had one bed and although I got some rocket, tomatoes and a few leeks I fought an ongoing battle with heat, hippos, buck and a zillion creepy crawlies (and my cat who thought it was his giant litter box).

In our climate it is ideal to have a cool or shaded house to grow veggies.  I have been lucky enough to have been able to trade some old fence poles and fencing with a local farmer and friend Alf. He is building me a shade-cloth house.  The work began on Saturday and should be finished in the next week or two.  Just in time for me to start as our main growing season which starts in February, going right through our winter and into spring. Not much grows between November and January when we have our hottest months.

Here are a few pictures of the veggie house going up.  90% of the resources used to build it are recycled which fits into my plans perfectly.  Now I just have to find 50 old broken plastic crates as I will be using them as beds. I have to line them with old shade cloth too so I am also searching for bits and pieces from local farmers.

As you can see, it looks like a big cloth tent.  It is stitched onto the frame.  We just need to get the sides up and the gate put in and it will be ready for service.  At last I can begin growing my food in earnest.

Spring on the mountain

Each time I go up the mountains here, I am totally floored by the amazing plants in bloom.  Besides the flora being totally different to that of the surrounding lowveld, there are new things to see in every nook and cranny all year round.

It’s the first time I have been up when there has been a significant amount of cloud cover and also my first time in early spring.

Our national flower, the protea, is in full bloom.

Sue enjoying the view midst small protea plants.

Transvaal bottlebrush

other little bits of colourThis little plant was growing in a crack in a rockSome kind of wild cucumber type vineClivias growing in the fork of a tree

Coral tree bloom (we have these all over the place right now – not just on the mountain)

It was super having Rose with us as she could tell us just about every Latin name for each and every plant – I want to be able to do that one day – she’s awesome.

I can’t wait to go up the mountains again, yet I know they will look so very different again.  We noticed that there were hundreds and hundreds of clivias in the forests on the slopes of the mountain – I want to go up when they are in flower – what an awesome sight that will be. Now I just need to find out when they flower here.

 

Planting season

Many South Africans are uniting on a single day to plant an organic vegetable in their home or office. On March 21st, 2011 we will take a giant leap to becoming self-sufficient. To add your name to the list and learn the basics of organic gardening from some of the top experts in the country click on the banner in my sidebar ——>

You can also join the Planting Season facebook group for inspiration.

Getting ready to grow.

About 20 meters behind our main cottage is a strange-looking circular  structure built out of stone.  It looks like a round cottage without windows or a roof.  This is what is commonly called a boma here in South Africa.

A boma used to be built as an enclosure for livestock to keep them safe from the wild animals.  Traditionally it was built out of branches of thorn trees.  Nowadays, most homes in our area have bomas for a completely different purpose – it is an entertainment and braai (BBQ) area closed off from the bush for safety (in area’s with dangerous animals) and protection from the wind.  Our boma is built-in a really peculiar place – its way out behind the house where all my braaing and the pool and entertainment area is in front of the main cottage.  I decided that I would convert it into something else. My first thought was to put a roof on it and use it as a store-room or a cheese factory, however, I have finally decided to use it as an enclosure to protect my veggie garden.

If I planted my veggies in the open they would all be eaten up over night by buck, porcupines, warthogs and baboons, so I need to enclose the patch.  Also, because of the heat here, it’s better to cover your veggie patch with some shade cloth.  Plans are now afoot to get my veggie patch going and the next step is to erect a cage and shade cloth over the roof area

and then lay out and prepare raised beds ready for winter when I will grow most of my veggies.

I am playing around with different layouts right now and have the assistance of a real life veggie farmer who will be helping me.

I have traded a whole pile of old fence posts with this farmer for his help.

Fixing an old home with old things…. my way of recycling

When I think of my home, I see a very long to-do list.  It’s a really old place with very many things that need to get fixed, changed, built, painted and planted.  I want to use second-hand (or older) products to do these things where ever I can – firstly to save money and secondly to recycle products that would normally be thrown away.  I know that there will be times where I will have to buy some things to complete tasks and I won’t beat myself up about them, as long as I can stick with my principles for the majority of things.

This last weekend I made good use of my parents being with me and we got quite a few things done. My dad replaced two very old broken light switches (with new ones) for me.  I can now use my bedside light properly and my veranda light can be switched on.  There was just a black hole to put your finger in if you would have tried that last week.  Not a good idea.

While we were at the hardware store I looked very lovingly at new hose pipes.  I really need to be able to water the area where I want some lawn before I even think about planting any. I did however have a few shorter old bits at home which we decided to join and try out.  It looks really bitty with about 10 joins in it but I now have a hose pipe that is about 30 meters long and works reasonably well.  The few leaks get positioned to water plants en route. Even the joins are made with different bits and pieces – it’s rather colourful actually.

We also started a mini herb garden –  I now have basil, rosemary, chives, origanum, lemon grass and parsley planted.  They are not planted where I eventually will have my herb garden because a lot more needs to be done there before I can plant.  This way I can get some herbs now – while I slowly prepare my veggie patch.  I just hope they don’t get eaten by passing animals.


It still looks a little sparse – I will be adding to it when I can.  We also built/laid pathways to the guest cottage and to the Beans cottage so that one can walk to the main cottage without getting thorny dirty feet – especially if it ever rains when it rains.  The pathways are made from old railway sleepers which I got for free and big flat rocks that we went in search of on the property.

You can see how incredibly dry it is here now. We look to the sky many times a day in search of rain clouds. According to those in the know, it should rain by the 10 October. That’s a long wait when things are so very hot and dry.

We cleared this area of some rubble and rocks too – it was good exercise. My wheel barrow is about 95 years old and is full of holes. I think it might die soon.

I want to plant grass in the area around the pathways and I am already one step closer by having my long hose now so that I can water the lawn.  I need to get something to cut the lawn with though.  I mentioned to the folk at work that I wanted one of those old roller lawn cutters that don’t require fuel or electricity and they all burst out laughing at me. They think I am very funny and old-fashioned. Ah well. I will find something.  I think some animals will help keep the lawn short but I am not sure to what extent?

Thanks so much to my parents who worked so hard (and bought me some plants).  We had a grand weekend!