Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - July 2024

Posted On: Monday, July 1, 2024

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

After saying how mild the winter was last month – this month I have been freezing.  We have had more frost in June than I have seen in the past 4 years.  

On mid-winter’s shortest day, Abby and I came down to the office before the sun rose.  The beautiful red in the sky is caused by the smoke from the many veld fires that have been burning around us.

It is wonderful to be out at that quiet time when all you can hear in the silence surrounding you are the bird calls before the sun peeps over the horizon.


As mentioned before, many of our visitors have asked about the green balls in the trees which we use to create new cuttings of the trees.  

I thought I would share the picture of how well these plants root.  It is also exciting that many of the difficult to grow, quite rare trees are now in production at Random Harvest.

It is scary how much electricity we unthinkingly use.  The solar energy has changed how we look at our usage.   I estimated how much the irrigation pumps use and was astounded.  We have now come up with a plan to rather use the much more economical submersible pumps.  This is a picture of the bags we are making to create a filter around the pump, so it doesn’t get clogged with dirt and algae.

I estimate that we should save about 1000 to 1200 kWh per month just by this exercise.

We are taking the time whilst the plants are only growing slowly to prepare for spring.  We have a lot of bulbs in seedling trays, so are building up a bed to plant them in where they can mature.  We have to go to this extent because if we plant them in the ground the moles have a feast of bulbs.  Hopefully this will keep them at bay.
We are also finishing up our furrows that carry the run-off water to be reused and not wasted.  These furrows run off into the cows’ paddocks where they help to keep the grazing for the cows watered.

Women’s day 9th August.

Visit us on this special day to celebrate the women in your life.  There will be a little gift 
for all ladies who visit the nursery on this day.


I am so excited as we made our first few micro loans to businesses in the informal settlements.  Jeffrey and David have spent a lot of time identifying people who have a good chance of making a success of these small businesses.

David also had the bright idea of starting an informal business forum for them to meet each month.  He taught them how to keep simple books and how to budget and invest some of the money back into their businesses.  

We also signed a simple loan agreement with them in which they will, over time, pay back the capital amount we loaned them.  They got a valuable lesson from David just from this process when they were too eager to sign without reading the contract.

After these few hours they left fired up with enthusiasm and having learned valuable lessons.

We are determined to support them and help them to succeed and will therefore be holding these meetings monthly to support and help them going forward.

We also, with your generous donations managed to hand out 150 Food parcels this month.  Thank you! Thank you!  It means a lot to both the community and to us being able to reach out and make a difference.

Please remember if you do visit, we appreciate any donation of non-perishable food to help fill the food parcels.

If you are able to continue with your invaluable assistance the banking details are:

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

CARE OF ALOES – Talk by Jonathan and Paul

Jonathan and Paul will share with you some of the variety and the best ways to care for the beautiful Aloes in your garden.  They will also answer any questions you may have.

Date: 13th July 
Time: 9h30 for 10h00
Cost:  R50.00 Donation towards our food parcel fund.
Includes coffee and biscuits.

Booking is essential - please contact Ronald on [email protected] or Tel. No. 066-587-3077


As the days get longer the birds get more active.  Jeffrey saw these beautiful Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters just outside the gate.  Fortunately, they do sometimes come onto the farm so we are able to add them to our bird list.  With a bit of luck, you may see this colourful group and add them to your bird list.

Date: 20th July with Jeffrey and Ronald
Date: 9th August with Lance Robinson
Time (for both walks): 7h00 for 7h30
Cost: R195.00 per person, this includes a delicious breakfast buffet 

Booking is essential - please contact Ronald on [email protected] or Tel. No. 066-587-3077


I am really sorry that the coffee man who was supposed to do the talk let us down and just didn’t pitch up even after confirming.

Luckily, Jeffrey is always interesting when talking about indigenous plants, so I think we made up for it and everyone seemed to have enjoyed the talk.

Date: Wednesday 3rd July at 10h30
Topic: Trees for small gardens with Jeffrey
We all love trees and if your name is Linda, you plant way too many.  Luckily, I have enough space to indulge my weakness but if you have only a small area it is vital that you choose the right trees for your application.   Jeffrey will share his vast knowledge of trees with you on this morning.

Date:  Wednesday 7th August at 10h30
Topic: How to create a naturalistic garden

Jonathan will do a talk and go through the steps of how to create a naturalistic garden which is attractive both to us and to the birds and pollinators in the garden.

Coffee Morning Cost: R25.00 per person towards our food parcel drive and includes a cup of coffee.  No booking required (a donation of nonperishable food for our food parcel drive would be greatly appreciated.) 


Women’s Day

Treat the special ladies in your life with a High Tea or Picnic at Random Harvest.  The Tea Garden is a peaceful spot where you can sit, relax and reconnect with each other while enjoying attentive service and delicious home baked eats baked by Frans in our kitchen.  The days will be longer and hopefully a lot warmer.

The Tea Garden is a great place to celebrate your special occasions and events.


Coming down to the nursery just before sunrise is a treat as it has its own magical atmosphere at that time of the mornings.  I never cease to wonder at how lucky I am that I have such an introduction to my working day.

Remember that we still have a special on Trees which attract a discount of 10%, PLUS … for each tree you purchase you get a complimentary bag of mulch.

Despite the cold, the plants are still looking good, and the nursery is well worth walking through to plan your spring garden.


Preservation of the soil becomes more relevant and important as we face climate change and water shortages.  Caring for the soil by using only natural products to preserve micro-life and fertility.   Preventing heavy run-off and retaining as much water as possible thus preventing soil erosion becomes vital to the success of the landscape that is created. 

To explore this topic that is so important for our industry join us for a talk and a discussion followed by a mini high tea.

Date: 3rd August.  9h00 for 9h30
Booking essential: contact Sarie on [email protected] or call 082 553 0791 to book you place.


We are always trying to improve the Country Cottages.  For our customers who have stayed with us we would love to hear your comments and suggestions on how we can improve our service. comfort and amenities that we offer.  It is this type of help from you that keeps us improving and we genuinely appreciate your input.

There is plenty to do when staying with us on this amazing, peaceful farm.

  • Connect with nature and the peace it imparts to our souls.
  • Go for a 1km walk or run around the top road (or do laps for a longer run).
  • Take kids to dig into the compost and see what creatures they can find
  • Book a picnic in the garden with family and friends
    • Walk to the dam to do some bird watching and enjoy the grassland.
    • Watch the cows being hand milked.


Late in winter is a good time to think of supplementing food for the birds in your garden.

There are many products on the market specially designed with the health of the birds in mind. Birds appreciate some fats in their diet as they need to start strengthening up for the breeding season in spring. To aid with this we are putting Elaines ‘Nutty Putty’ on special with a 15% Discount.

This is made up of nuts and seeds ground up with oil to create an energy rich meal for the birds. They just love it.

Some other products are:
Suet Balls @ R34.50, Bird Grub @ R34.50 and Suet Pops @ R52.50 – nearly all bird species with make a meal of these energy rich products.

Luv Bugs @ R57.50 – Dried Mealworms, your Cape Robin-chat in particular will appreciate these.

Put some Peanuts out as well -l R220.00 for 2 kilograms.

Place your feeding station near a dense shrub or tree, making sure you can comfortably see and watch the variety of birds that will enjoy munching on the feast you have provided for them.


Acacia nilotica - Scented-pod
Hardy, semi-deciduous, small to medium-sized, mushroom shaped tree with dark blackish-brown, fissured bark when mature and a dense crown.  This fissured bark is home to many invertebrates and therefore attracts Woodpeckers and other insectivorous birds.  Masses of yellow puffball flowers adorn the tree on and off from Sept. to Apr.  

The fragrant, distinctive ‘string of beads,’ decorative pods have a fruity smell and are excellent fodder.  This tree is a little slow growing but is tough and very drought resistant.  It grows in both well-drained and clayey soils in sun or semi-shade. Size: 3 to 10m

Acacia tortilis – Umbrella Thorn
This is the typical Acacia associated with the African savannah.  It is a very hardy, deciduous, drought resistant, slow growing umbrella-shaped Acacia.  The bark is deeply fissured and when the lichens develop on it, it is really beautiful.  It bears abundant, fragrant, white, puffball flowers from Nov. to Jan. followed by distinctive curled pods that rattle in the wind.  All parts of this tree are nutritious to wildlife and domestic stock.  It has both hooked and straight thorns making it a perfectly, safe habitat for nesting birds.  Attracts birds and butterflies to the garden.  It is a little slow growing but worth the wait as it develops a beautiful umbrella shape.  It is an indicator of sweet veld and has a preference for deep soils.  It can also be planted in smaller gardens as it rarely grows into a very big tree.  Plant in sun or semi-shade in deep, well-drained soil.  Size: 1 to 15m

Heteromorpha trifoliata - Common Parsley Tree 
Very hardy, deciduous, drought resistant, fast-growing tree.  An attractive feature of this slender tree is its glossy, waxy, coppery-coloured, peeling bark.  The grey-green leaves which turn yellow and red in autumn smell of parsley when crushed, hence the common name. 

The graceful heads of small, yellowish flowers are borne from Jan. to April and attract many insects which in turn attract birds.  All parts of the tree are aromatic.  Ideal tree for a small garden, especially to attract birds and other wildlife.  This tree is considered to bring good luck and is used for a variety of medicinal and magical purposes. Plant in sun or semi-shade, in well-drained soil. Size: 2 to 7m

Anastrabe integerrima - Pambatieboom 
Large, fairly hardy plant that forms an attractive, dense, rounded shrub or if pruned forms a lovely small tree.  It has glossy, handsome, serrated leaves with distinctly veined leaves that are olive green above and creamy brown below.  It produces clusters of yellow flowers with a red tinged throat in profusion between Oct. to Feb. but may flower intermittently all year round.  Birds will utilise the dense structure of Anastrabe for nesting and as a source of food from the insects that are attracted to the flowers.  The hard wood is utilised for building and carving as it is termite resistant.  Size: 3 to 10m

Lampranthus coralliflorus - Kransvygie
A hardy, sprawling, much branched, evergreen shrublet with short, red-tipped succulent leaves.  In winter it bears masses of large (about 5cm. dia), dazzling magenta vygie-like flowers with two rows of thin glistning petals.  The flowers are nectar and pollen rich and attract a whole host of pollinating insects to the garden.   Plant on banks in a mixed succulent bed or incontainers.  Plant in full sun, and well-drained, sandy soil to enjoy the spectacle of this plant in flower.  Plants need little care and can tolerate long periods of hot, dry conditions.  Size: 30cm

Freylinia lanceolata - Honeybells
I had to share this plant with you again as it has so many flowers and is crowded with butterflies and other insects it is a joy to behold. Very hardy, evergreen, fast-growing, graceful shrub with a lovely weeping shape. The long, drooping, lanceolate leaves accentuate the shape.  Bunches of creamy-yellow, fragrant, tubular flowers appear in profusion from May to Aug., when little else is flowering.  A few flowers will appear sporadically during the rest of the year.  The flowers smell of honey, and their nectar attracts a myriad of butterflies and other insects.  When planted fairly close together, the Honeybells makes an effective taller screen and back drop.  It can be clipped into a formal hedge but does need a lot of maintenance. Prune regularly to keep it looking neat. It grows well in a sunny garden, although it does tolerate partial shade.  It grows naturally along streams and enjoys wet conditions, but also grows well in a normally irrigated garden.  Size: 2 to 4m  


All trees less 10% discount and a free bag of wood chip mulch for each tree you purchase in July.

This is a great opportunity to plant your trees so that they are settled in the soil. 

Remember, trees may not look like they are growing in winter above the ground but below the ground is another story.  Their roots will grow and settle in order to take advantage of the soil warming up in spring this gives them a longer growing season than if you plant them later when they will take time to first settle their roots and then start growing.


Caring for your trees: Trees are the backbone of any garden and should be cared for on a regular basis.  We tend to overlook them as they look so big and permanent, but they also need love and attention.

Regular pruning is important to keep the trees looking good although we should not give in to our love of pruning so much as to take off all the dead wood, that is so essential for nesting sites for birds and breeding sites for other creatures.

Before you start pruning make sure your tools are sharp and clean.  Dirty tools will spread disease and fungus in your tree.  If your secateurs and saw are blunt, they can damage the bark and this could also spread disease, as the bark protects the tree.

When pruning and shaping your trees, it is important to the natural shape of the tree keep in mind what and to keep the shape as closely as possible.  You cannot drastically change the natural growth form of a tree for example you cannot take one that has a  natural umbrella shape and force it to keep a narrow form.

Trees also need to be pruned in accordance with their uses.  For instance if you wish to create a barrier it is important to encourage the lower branches whereas if it is an Acacia sp. and is used where people walk or children play it should be pruned above head height so as not to cause injury.

When pruning thinner branches with your secateurs cut them close to the main branch.  Do not leave short pieces sticking out as this makes the tree very untidy.  Cut off all the branches that are growing towards the ground.   Cut out some of the dead branches every 3 years or so.

If thick branches are wrongly pruned, they can cause infections that could harm the tree.  Look carefully at the base of each branch and you will see the collar (a slight swelling where the branch joins the trunk).  This should not be damaged as it protects the tree from harmful organisms.

Important points to remember when growing trees.

The xylem and phloem, which are protected by the bark, are the lifeline of the tree as they carry the water and nutrients up and down the tree.  If they are removed in a circle around the tree, the tree will slowly starve to death.  This is called ring barking.

Never drastically change the conditions where your established trees have been growing for years as, even though large trees look indestructible, changing of conditions can adversely affect them and they become susceptible to infections.

Be careful of tree ties that are forgotten because as the trees grows, they effectively cut through the xylem and phloem and ring bark the tree.

If planting trees out in the veld on smallholdings or farms remember to protect your trees from fire.  Cut the grass around the base short and if you are able to, burn firebreaks around them.

The leader (growing tip) of the tree should never be damaged as trees grow from the tip upwards and thousands of new cells form in this tip.

Never damage the bark of a tree as this is its protective covering that insures it against infection and fungal attack.

Beware of Brushcutters and Weedeaters.

These are the deadly enemies of trees.  Careless use of these machines damages and kills thousands of trees each year.  Take care that the string or blade does not come anywhere near the bark of the tree.  If the bark is damaged it causes the tree to be either stunted or diseased and in extreme cases can even ring bark them and kill them. 


The most amazing thing about this time of year is the quality of the low light on the beautiful autumn and winter colours of red, gold and brown.  

The plants adorned with these colours seem to glow and become more vivid in the low light.  This, one seldom sees in the harsher summer light. 

The butterflies floating around the russet and gold grasslands are also a sight to take a few quiet moments to enjoy.

Not only are the plants glowing but many of the birds are too, such as this Cape Longclaw who has just enjoyed a bath in the dam.

The Black-headed Heron flying overhead was a beautiful sight as well.

The Black-shouldered Kite was hovering over the grassland in the hopes of a meal.  Although we did find a spot where he seems to have made a meal of a dove.

The Black-crowned Night Heron is back in residence at the dam.  

We also seem to have a Grey Heron who has decided the dam is the place to be as we see him every day when we go down to the grassland and dam.

We have been hearing the Black-headed Oriole for some time now.  Jeff and I were so excited to eventually see these two juveniles.  They have such a wonderful call that one just has to stop and listen to them.

The other bird with a wonderful ‘Bushveld’ call who is very vocal and showing off is the Grey Hornbill.

The Sunbirds are still out in full force around the last of the Wild Dagga (Leonotis leonurus)  flowers.

They are also making the most of the Aloe flowers.  This is a really good time to observe the sunbirds as they are so preoccupied with getting the best of the nectar that they seem to forget you are around. 

The butterflies are also feasting on the nectar from the Aloes.  It is amazing just how many butterflies one sees in winter.

They are also taking advantage of the many other plants that are in flower in midwinter.  We seldom think of winter as a time when there are a lot of flowers around like this beautiful Cyrtanthus mackenii (Ifafa Lily).

Another feature of the winter plants are the many and various seed heads and seed pods such as the lovely silk seed heads of Clematis brachiata (Travellers Joy)

On my way to the office on mid-winters morning I saw this green glow behind the trees.  It wasn’t the ‘Men from Mars’ but the security lights shining on the leaves of the second row of trees.  There is always something to marvel at on this farm.

Here’s to spring arriving – it is hard to imagine that in about 4 to 5 weeks everything will be burgeoning with life.

In the meantime, Keep Warm.



Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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