Pretty in pink

This beautiful lily pops up just next to one of my cottages every year in Nov or December.  For the rest of the year it looks like two or three shriveled leaves.  It’s commonly known as a veld lily or river lily and is one of the Crinum lilies.  I am still arguing with all my sources as to which one it is.  Depending on the book or source, my crinum changes names.

I think it may be a crinum stuhlmannii but one of my books disagrees.

Anyone have an opinion?

Onion Harvest

Onions have turned out to be the most complicated of all my crops this season. It took many questions and a handy book from my farmer friend (and now boyfriend 🙂 )

Finally after 8 long months of growing, I have harvested my onions.  I did pick and eat quite a few through the season as onions can be eaten at any time during their growing cycle.

One has to wait for 70% of your crops leaves to fall over, then bend over the remaining leaves and leave the bulbs in place in the soil for 7-10 days to go dormant.  During these 7-10 days you may not water them and it must not rain (ha – try explaining that to my weather). You then pull them and leave them in full sun for one day and then outside in a warm, shaded, dry area for another week or so.  Then you can plait them and store them in a dark dry area for many months.

It seems some of mine have gone dormant well but those with thick stems have not dried out yet.  I think they might end up getting chopped and frozen.

I must say that I have been very impressed with the size of some of them.

 

A crying tree – The Weeping Boer Bean

Although, when looking at the bushveld, is seems rather monotone (oranges and browns and greys in winter and greens and browns in summer), there are a myriad of colours hiding away for those who look closely.  In springtime especially there is quite a bit of red.

A favorite tree of mine is one with the most beautiful red flowers.  They stand out because they seem to shine brightly in the sunshine.  This is due to the copious amounts of nectar they exude – coating them in a sheen of sticky honey – so much so that the nectar drips onto the ground under the tree.  That is why it  is called the weeping boer bean.

Scotia brachypetala has quite a few other names too which help describe it.

  • Parrot Tree – the nectar attracts a lot of birds
  • Drunken Parrot Tree – excess nectar ferments and can have a mild narcotic effect on some birds
  • Weeping Boerbean – the name we use here – weeping due to the nectar dripping and bean because it is a leguminous tree
  • Huilboerboon – is the Afrikaans name (huil = cry)
  • Tree Fuchsia – totally different family to the fuchsia but has similar flowers (ballerina flowers)
  • African Walnut – the roasted seeds are edible.
While the tree in my garden pictured here is only about 3m tall, these trees can grow to about 22m high with a spread of 15 meters.
Not only is Schotia brachypetala an exceptional ornamental tree, it also has a number of other uses: A decoction of the bark is taken to treat heartburn and hangovers (good to know 🙂 ). Bark and root mixtures are used to strengthen the body and purify the blood, to treat nervous heart conditions and diarrhoea, as well as for facial saunas. The seeds are edible after roasting, Both the Bantu-speaking people and the early European settlers and farmers are said to have roasted the mature pods and eaten the seeds, a practice which they learned from the Khoikhoi. The bark can be used for dyeing, giving a red-brown or red colour.
Here are some pictures of the flowers
In the picture below you can see the gooey nectar. Also the bean pod in the middle of the flower and some ants busy collecting nectar.

Time for a little sourness?

After all the sweetness of  Christmas and new year, I think it’s time for a little sour….

The sour plum trees on our farm are now fruiting.  When I say sour, it’s probably the  sourest thing I have ever tasted (and that includes all the crazy sour sweets available these days).  These fruit are chock-full of vitamin C and are enjoyed by birds and animals alike – how the heck they don’t have a sour attack each time they bite one I will never understand.  I have heard that it makes a divine jam or jelly.  I think that may be the only way I would be able to eat this fruit – with a ton of sugar in jam or jelly.  I am always looking for ways to use the natural plants around us on the farm.

The large sour plum (ximenia caffra) is a small tree or shrub with many traditional uses and colourful fruit which attract baboons, fruit-eating birds and various butterflies. The thinly fleshy, oval, attractive fruit are a glossy deep red with white-ish speckles. The larvae of various butterflies including the Natal bar, Silvery bar, Bowker’s sapphire, Saffron sapphire, Brown playboy and Bush scarlet butterfly feed on the leaves of this tree.

Ripe fruit has a vitamin C content of 27%, is high in potassium and contains protein. The seed has a 65% oil content. Fruits have a refreshing (ha right…) sour taste, best eaten when slightly overripe, but can also be used for making jam, dessert and jelly. They can be added to porridge. Oil from the seed is used to soften human skins and for softening animal hides. It is also used for lamps. The nuts are also eaten.

A decoction from the leaves is used as a wash to soothe inflamed eyes. Infusions of the roots are used as a remedy for dysentery and diarrhoea and together with the leaves are taken for abdominal pain and bilharziasis. Powdered roots are applied to sores to speed up healing; used in soup, and in beer as an aphrodisiac. Powdered dried leaves are taken orally for fever and infertility, and extracts of the leaves are used as a gargle for tonsillitis, and as a vermifuge. Porridge is made using a decoction of the roots, and eaten once a day for nausea in pregnancy; the root decoction is also taken for infertility.

I think, from all these uses, I may be able to cope with making the fruit into jam and maybe eating the seed (nut) – I will have to give it a try.

 

 

 

What are these?

For the past few months I have noticed these red tendrils growing on the stems of the pines (casuarina equisetifolia) used as wind breaks on the fruit farms.  They do not grow on all the trees – just a few and they are just on the lower stem near the ground – especially  on the side of the tree getting watered.  I thought that they may be a type of fungus/mushroom but Mr A has suggested that they may be air roots. Once I took the photo I could see that they look more plant-like than mushroomy. Have you seen these before?  What the heck are they? Please forward this to anyone you may think will know as I am dying to find out and my internet searches are producing nothing.

Edit:  If you would like to find the answer, please read the comments on this post.  Thank you Lisa and Georg!