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Random Harvest Newsletter - February 2021

Posted On: Monday, February 1, 2021

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

As we go into the year with a lot of scaremongering going on all around us, I suggest we sit in our indigenous gardens, breathe and think of how much we have to be grateful for.

Take your children along and sit and listen to the birds that are using it as their refuge and listen to the sounds of the insects and just forget about all the negativity going on around us and concentrate on our blessings. This will stand your children in good stead as they grow. I know when I do this, I feel a lot better about the world and can go ahead with my day with a positive, happy attitude.

Words cannot express my deep and sincere appreciation to everyone who has helped with donations towards our food parcel drive. With your help, we are, on a weekly basis, able to distribute 400 ‘Meal in a Bag’ which feeds at least 5 adults – that is 2000 meals …. Wow!

A lot of the adults are too proud to admit that they are hungry and will send the children to collect the food while they look on from a distance.

The people helping with distribution are also deeply appreciative and humbled by your generosity. If you could help and would like to donate these are the banking details. Bank Account Random Harvest Nursery, FNB 51441129818 Cheque account : code 25 07 41

IN THE NURSERY

As usual we have been very busy in the nursery with many exciting things happening.

We have just had delivery of our new tractor. Gideon, the driver, is thrilled with it as is Jeffrey who is always under pressure for transport of goods around the farm – this will make his life a lot easier.

We have been so busy that our sewage system is struggling so we have upgraded it and after all the hard work I hope that not only will our water be potable again, but we will also be able to harvest water plants from it.

My nephew, Robert, from Waterbrothers, is an expert in the filtration of water and lining ponds. He has helped us design and build the new system so I am sure it will work perfectly. The burnt bricks from the shed that burnt down are the perfect filtration medium, so we have been able to repurpose these as well.

I also went crazy and decided to clean up the nursery. Can you believe we removed 22 truckloads of rubble? Unbelievable!

While all this is going on, I decide to extend our shade house as well. I have such amazing staff that we managed to get all of this work done before the end of January – I really appreciate all their hard work and dedication.

MONTHLY COFFEE MORNINGS

Where: Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery
When: 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 3rd February 2021
Topic: Trees of the year – 2021 (Acacia karroo & Portulacaria afra)

Our 2021 trees of the year are well known, the latter through all the publicity it has received as a carbon sink. We’ll chat about their horticultural and ecological value in the garden, their uses, and how best to grow them.

Date: Wednesday 3rd March 2021
Topic: Butterfly gardening in and around Johannesburg

Create a corner in your garden dedicated to butterflies. We will talk about their needs, their life cycle, their host plants and some of the butterflies you can expect to see in your garden.

BIRD WALK/S

Saturday, 13 February 2021 РAndré Marx
Start time: 6h30 for 7h00 sharp.
Cost: R175.00 per person, this includes a scrumptious breakfast buffet

Bookings: (Essential) Contact Paul or David on 082 553 0598 or email [email protected] - Bookings cannot be made on our website – please use the details listed here. We have a maximum of 20 spaces available per bird walk.

On the previous bird walk we added 2 new birds to our bird list – the Golden Tailed Woodpecker and the Long-Crested Eagle. Our list now stands at 174 species. Added to the birds you will walk through the gardens and the grassland.

PRACTICAL DOMESTIC GARDENER TRAINING

These courses run by Lindsay Gray will resume in February 2021.

In my opinion one of the best outcomes of this course is the confidence that is gained by the attendees.

DATE: Friday 19 February 2021
TIME: 8h30 to 15h30

This includes a set of notes for both the gardener and employer, tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival, breakfast and lunch and a certificate.

TO BOOK or for more info contact Lindsay Gray on 082-449-9237 or [email protected]

Cottages

I thought I should let you know that we are extremely careful about sanitising our rooms after each occupant has left. We sanitise all surfaces and then fog the room with sanitiser. I hope this will give all our guests peace of mind that we are fully aware of our responsibilities towards them.

Valentine’s Day Special

What better way for couples to celebrate their romantic love for one another than to escape from it all and spend a night in one of our cottages. To make this idea even more irresistible, for the night of the 14th February, we are offering an all-inclusive special of R1400 for the room, a braai under the stars and a delicious breakfast. Booking is essential. Please contact Paul on 082 553 0598 or email [email protected] for more information or to make a booking.

Lavender tree is the cottage of the month. This is our biggest cottage and serves equally well as a family unit or a spacious business travelers accommodation. All cottages have free Wi-Fi and the tea garden with delicious breakfasts and lunches, means you don’t have to worry about cooking your own food. We can arrange evening meals. Please give us ample time to prepare. To book this gorgeous cottage, click here 

Tea Garden

Remember that during this time of Covid, we are able to prepare our menu as a take-away and you could then go and relax and dine safely in the garden.

Having said this I also assure you that we are diligent with our sanitising procedures and sanitise the tables, chairs and condiments after each sitting. Added to this we are an outdoor venue and this alone, without our care, makes it a safe space to enjoy.

Also remember that for nursery and tea garden customers, there are lovely walks on the farm, visit the farm animals, walk to the dam and enjoy the beauty and diversity of the grassland.

Shop

Our shop is stocked full of goodies for you, the birds and your garden. I love hearing customers delighting in finding just the perfect gift for someone, or an indulgence for themselves.

For the Birds

• Suet slab and ball R29. 50 each and Suet pop R41.50 – Suet is a high energy food that is easily digested and metabolized. Barbets, Green Hoopoes, Bulbuls, Weavers, Sparrows, Robins, Thrushes, Red Wing and Cape Glossy Starlings, Shrikes, Babblers and Hornbills are all bird species that will relish the suet products.
• Corn cob feeder R68. 00 – Corn is nutritious for many birds, but particularly seed eating birds. will feed on the corn cobs.
• Peanut block R155. 00 – delivers this popular, highly nutritious bird food in a block that both lasts longer and is accessible to smaller as well as larger birds.

For your Garden:

• Rockdust R30.00 for 1kg. – contains micronutrients and trace elements that are important to the life cycle of plants and enhance beneficial microbes in the soil which are essential in assisting plants in taking up these micronutrients and trace elements. Rockdust must be used in conjunction with a good organic compost that is full of essential soil microbes.
• Nitrosol 200ml R70. 00 & 500ml R120. 00 – is an organic foliar feed for use on almost all types of plants, particularly container plants. It will not harm bees, birds or animals when used as directed.
• Namaqualand daisy seed R55.00 – plant your Namaqualand Daisy seed in good time to ensure a magnificent show in late winter.

For You:

• Jams R90 – so delicious one can eat it by the spoonful, but best on drop scones and toast, or even on a cake as part of the icing.
• Cards from R12.00 – We have a delightful selection for so many occasions. They’re great to stock up on for when you need a quick birthday wish or congratulations.

Book of the Month

Elsa Pooley’s A Field Guide to Wildflowers (KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Region) includes over 2000 species of flowering plants that occur in this region, complete with lovely clear pictures. It has been a best seller since it was released in 1998. The latest (third) edition is just as popular and is available in our shop for R425. 00.

Retail

Pots special: For the month of February, spend more than R250 on plant pots in our retail nursery and receive a free bag of Random Harvest potting soil.

Gardening Tip

Healthy gardens don’t get ravaged by pests. If a garden is healthy you are still going to find a few pests, but they won’t take over and decimate your plants. Just remember that worms and caterpillars are in general not pests, except for those that are well known for the damage they do, such as amaryllis (lily borer), lawn caterpillars and some beetle larvae.

Do not be disheartened if you have just started out on your indigenous garden or are embarking on pesticide free gardening for the first time. Nature needs time to restore balance, and this requires patience and keeping an eye on things. We are happy to help with suggestions. You can email us on [email protected] or send us pictures on Facebook messenger and we’ll assist and advise wherever we can.

Safe pesticides. Before waging chemical warfare on these unwanted garden visitors, please remember that many are something else’s food, and if numbers and damage is completely out of control, stick to organic, environmentally friendly pesticides.

WHOLESALE NURSERY

Our efficient wholesale team ticks over so steadily that I often forget to mention this section of our business in the newsletter. Here are three points that are useful to remember:

  • Use our delivery services to reduce your logistic plans. We are able to arrange delivery anywhere in South Africa and even outside our borders.
  • Feel free to ask for Linda, Jeffrey or Jonathan for advanced knowledge on indigenous plant habits and care.
  • We can help with plant selections. It’s always best to book a meeting time with one of us if you have a number of queries, otherwise if it is just one or two plants, take pictures of where you want them to go in the garden and we will be better equipped to assist you.

PLANTS LOOKING GOOD

Delosperma scabripes This flat, dainty but hardy succulent ground cover has purple stems and bears intense magenta glistening vygie-like flowers. This cheerful plant spilling over retaining walls or the edges of pots looks beautiful all year round.

Eragrostis gummiflua - Gum Grass (E) This small very hardy grass bears large spiles of pink to purple flowers and and seeds. Parts of the plant are sticky to the touch and this is where its gets its common name. Plant in a meadow garden where its attractive seed-heads add texture.

Peltophorum africanum - African Wattle (E) This wonderful hardy, deciduous tree bears long spikes of golden crinkly flowers that are held well above the fine feathery leaves. The flowers, which are a spectacle to behold, persist on the tree for many weeks. Their nectar attracts both insects, butterflies and birds to the garden. Use as a beautiful, rounded shade tree in a smaller garden.

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora - Geelplakkie (A) This hardy, succulent perennial for sunny areas has beautiful, large, oval to round, plate-like, greyish-cream leaves edged in red. The leaves are coated with white powder and carried in an upright rosette. This coating helps to keep the plant cool by deflecting the heat and the sun’s rays. It takes at least 2 years for the tall, silver flowering stem to appear and the leaves get smaller as they ascend this stem. The tubular flowers are greenish-yellow and carried in a dense inflorescence from Feb. to Jun. and persist on the plant. The flowers will attract many pollinating insects to the garden. After it has seeded the plant will wither and die, but it does seed itself liberally. Makes a beautiful container plant or element of a rockery. An interesting structural succulent that has a rosette of plate-like, large round reaves with red edges and which are coated with a silvery white powder. This coating helps to keep the plant cool by deflecting the heat and the sun’s rays. Use in a succulent garden, a rockery or container. It bears a yellow tubular flowers, that attract insects, on a tall silvery stem.

Euphorbia ingens - Giant euphorbia (E); Naboom (A) A massive, tree-like succulent with a dense crown and a dark green 4-angled stem that has spines on the margins. The yellow-green flowers are clustered around the spines from Apr. to Jul. and attract bees, butterflies and other insects and are followed by reddish to purple fruit, which are relished by birds. Hole nesting birds will nest in dead sections. It a good accent in a succulent garden and makes an attractive container plant. The milky sap can cause skin irritation and is said to be poisonous.

Crinum bulbispermum - Orange River Lily (E) is a very hardy, deciduous, bulbous plant with robust, grey-green leaves that can grow up to 800mm long. From Sept. to Dec. it bears long-stemmed umbels of large, showy, lily-like, fragrant, pink flowers with darker pink stripes on the inside. Excellent for waterside planting or bog areas. When flowering, it looks spectacular among grasses, which move in the breeze with this huge rigid flower in amongst them. Plant in sun and protect from Amaryllis caterpillar by hand-removal of worms. The worms do not destroy the bulbs of Crinum species.

ON SPECIAL

Othonna capensis - Othonna (E) is a hardy, evergreen, fast-growing, drought-resistant, creeping groundcover best suited to sunny, well-drained areas. It has narrow, cylindrical, succulent, grey-green leaves that are arranged spirally on trailing stems. It produces masses of yellow, daisy-like flowers from Oct. to Jun. These attract a myriad of butterflies to the garden during summer and well into winter. Planted in containers, rockeries or mass-planted, this is a rewarding little plant. It can also be used to stabilise banks as it roots at the nodes.

Asystasia gangetica - Creeping Foxglove (E) Fairly hardy, evergreen, vigorous, creeping groundcover with dark-green leaves. The large, fragrant, Foxglove-like flowers are borne from Mar. to Oct. and are white with purple streaks. These streaks are like landing lights for the insects to follow and pollinate the plant. As it is an important butterfly host plant it attracts many species of butterfly to the garden. Attractive planted en masse under trees and in hanging baskets. Plant in semi-shade or shade in well-composted soil.

Markhamia zanzibarica - Bellbean (E) Fairly hardy, small, evergreen Bushveld tree with smooth or rough grey bark. It has compound, glossy, fresh green leaves. The really attractive feature of this small tree is its beautiful, bell-shaped, yellow and deep maroon flowers that are borne in clusters from Sept. to Feb. They are followed by long (40cm), twisted pods that turn dark brown. It attracts insects to the garden. Plant in well-drained, well-composted soil, in sun or semi-shade.

Dyschoriste thunbergiiflora - Purple Bells (E) is a fairly hardy, evergreen, many-branched, upright, medium-sized shrub. Its attractive foliage gives an impression of subtle variegation. It bears large, spectacular, dark blue, trumpet-shaped flowers with purple throats almost all summer but flushing with masses of these beautiful flowers in autumn. Makes a beautiful informal or clipped, formal hedge. Makes an exceptional container plant. A once-yearly pruning will keep this shrub looking its best and flowering in profusion. Grows in sun or semi-shade and it thrives in well-composted soil.

ON THE FARM

The birds have been really busy. There is so much chirping and trilling going on. I am just not happy that I battle to identify birds by their calls but luckily for me, with the Roberts Bird App. this is slowly changing.

I thought we didn’t have so many birds this year as I have not heard the Burchells Coucal, the Piet-my-vrou or the Black Cuckoo but I have been proven wrong as we have added 4 new birds to our bird list.

I bought Ronald a new lens for his camera and he is taking stunning photos as you can see from this beautiful picture of Egyptian Geese flying overhead.

The detail on this picture of a Cattle Egret shows how colourful it actually is and how much we miss when we just glance and say ‘’Oh! There is a Cattle Egret’’ without seeing it properly.

I loved this picture of a Zitting Cisicola clasping onto grass stems. These are tiny birds that live in the grassland and one of their favourite grasses is the Setaria Sphacelata.

When we had to mow some weeds and grasses that were getting out of hand and blocking our rain harvesting furrow to the dam, we made sure we cut around the Setaria to keep the Cisticola happy.

Speaking of the dam, the Egyptian Geese babies are almost as big as their parents. They are not happy to share the dam with the Yellow-billed ducks and keep chasing them.

Jeff and I go to the dam and decide there are no water birds and suddenly from in between the reeds up pops a Purple Heron.

Then the green-backed Heron will silently materialise out of the Papyrus and onto a branch. It just goes to show that you need to sit quietly, and you are sure to see something interesting.

The sounds of the smaller birds around the dam can be deafening, in a nice way. The Southern Red Bishops are in full breeding mode and are puffing out their feathers, to make themselves look bigger, and displaying all around. They are lucky to have the grassland so close where they can gorge on the grass seed to take back to their chicks.

Dragonflies are indicators of water quality, so I am always happy when I see them zooming around the dam.

I am also always happy to see the Cormorants as they indicate the fish population is healthy.

When they are not there, I start to worry and check on the water – nature is marvellous!

I would have thought it was a bit late in the season for starting to nest but the Southern Masked Weavers don’t seem to have gotten the message and are still busily constructing their intricate nests.

Jeff got this charming picture of the miniscule Tawny-flanked Prinia chicks. Although I must say Tawny-flanked Prinia don’t know how small they are and have a lot of attitude.

The Thick-billed Weaver have taken up residence at the pond in my mother’s garden. I have noticed as they get more numerous they have also moved down to the dam although their favourite place is still in the garden.

I thought I would share this picture of the Tilapia in the pond in the nursery. You can see how clear the water is and all we use is Biobags, which are available in the nursery, and plant Vallisneria in the pond. (Both are available in the nursery)

Heather came up from KwaZulu Natal to visit us and was completely blown-away by how beautiful the grassland is looking. It was difficult to get her out of there so we could chat.

When next you visit do try and take a walk there – you won’t be disappointed.

The insects have been pretty busy collecting pollen and nectar. We also found this bee feasting on the juice of a grape.

The Waterlillies (Nymphaea nouchalli) are looking particularly beautiful and in full bloom. They too are offering food to the many insects that visit them.

In the mornings when the sun rises and shines on the flowers of the White Pear (Apodytes dimidiata) they become wonderfully fragrant. This attracts the bees which feast on the pollen and in doing so ensure the formation of seeds. By 8h00 the scent diminishes, and the bees disappear. This is one of the first things I see in the morning, aren’t I the lucky one?

Where the huge Belhambra fell over we are constructing a Bushveld Garden. It is close to the nursery so you can keep an eye as it develops.

This Dwarf Coral Tree (Erythrina humeana) was growing in the shade of the huge tree and is now in full sun and with some compost has transformed into this stunning plant.

I Know this Orchid is an exotic hybrid, but I have had it for about 40 years, and it is innocuous. The tree it was in was removed and once again it is amazing what a little sun and a dipping in Panaf 2 can do for a plant – it has grown more in the last 3 months than in the previous 10 years.

Can you believe the size of the flower of this green arum? This is definitely the plant from which I am going to collect seed. Astonishing.

The Eucomis species (Pineapple Lillies) are blooming.

The tall (up to 1.2m) Giant Pineapple Flower (Eucomis pole-evansii) certainly makes a statement in the garden but does need some support as the flowers are heavy.

Eucomis montana (Montane Pineapple Flower) is also blooming in our mother plant baskets. Hopefully we will get seed and have some for sale next year.

I would like to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts from myself and my staff for your support over these trying times. It has been uplifting.

We would like to assure you of our commitment to keep everything sanitised and safe when you do come and visit.

Do take time to walk around the farm and marvel at the grassland, do a bit of bird watching and just gaze at the beautiful sky.

I am lucky enough to be able to do this every day and am truly blessed by the people and creatures around me.

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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