We have had a very quiet holiday from a social aspect (reasons: #lockdown #covid) and almost no rain, so a daily watering has been necessary to keep the garden going. Very hot and windy, as can be expected at this time of year.
An absolute delight has been the flourishing of the sweet peas – it seems that they are happy in this poor soil. Have been able to enjoy their brilliant colours and scent in the house for many months now. What a joy! Will harvest the seeds in their little brown pods for sowing next spring.
The Cape honeysuckle has put on a spurt and the plumbago is finally looking like it may flourish.
We were lucky enough to get Glen and his team of strong young men involved in a massive task – digging holes into this limestone rock slab to install 4 large white milkwoods (Sideroxylon inerme) in our front ‘garden’. The trees are 11 years old already – wishing for many more happy years of growth.
They’re definitely not the fastest growing trees, but their other qualities are mighty fine: fire-resistant, endemic and their berries are loved by birds. The species is commonly found in dune forests, almost always in coastal woodlands and also in littoral forests (forests along the sea shore).
We started digging the holes with a jack hammer but the rock easily won – the jack hammer was just not strong enough to make much of a dent. We resorted to angle grinding and levers and the muscles of these 3 men. We used gabions filled with rock to create a good foundation for the root ball.
We hope these beautiful endemic trees grow well on this site. Viva, milkwoods, viva!
May blessed us all with such wonderful rain – just after the trees were in (good timing!). We had about 120mls – more than double May 2020’s rain. The veld has responded magnificently (will show in my next post).
The coast line at the Duiwenhoks mouth was littered with storm debris – and some stunning driftwood pieces. What a journey these huge tree trunks must have had – tumbling down rivers and into the wild sea!
It’s cold enough for some unlikely snuggling – Luka and Ping seem perfectly at ease here.
Late afternoon winter sunshine – so golden! Heading home after a few days away is always such a delight – and a reminder of the beauty of this semi-wild place.
We’ve been loving the bath – yay for solar power! We’ve added a run off drip feed for the bath water to a lovely new bed. Patrick is a fantastic stone wall builder and we’re attending to some long overdue rock work in the turning circle in front of the house (pics to follow).
We’ve been busy with various projects. Summer heat seems to be at a peak now with hot sunny days and warm nights. And so dry – there’s been only one bit of rain which was a little extreme (14 mls in 20 minutes).
We’ve been upgrading our river camp with some much needed improvements to the hut. The old cement floor was breaking apart with each step on it. But mixing it and fixing the new to the old is back-breaking work. Also, big wonderful yay! for the amazing new physio in Heidelberg who has been doing magic in reducing R’s back pain. Also, a fabulous upgrade to the outdoor shower by cladding with timber.
A trip to Cape Town to support J while he has his wisdom teeth removed was also an opportunity to buy some luxuries for life back at the ridge. Oh my word, these sugar snaps were delicious! And the yellow new potatoes that were also part of the treat-shop were also yum. Our naughty little kitty jumped up to watch supper preparations and (for once) I let her stay. Will just have to imagine being able to grow my own veggies, although some of the herbs are doing well and the tomatoes are putting on some height.
I walked beside the sea while J had his procedure. I was feeling rather tense, but there was some solace in gazing at these gentle waves. The new mall with an attached surgery hospital has been built where there was once a margarine factory spewing stinky smoke into the fresh air. Although tbh, not entirely sure the mall is an upgrade 😐
After much research, we are now actually doing a much needed upgrade to the sump – the collection point of all our water. Now we have a lot of very fine silt which clogs up the whole system. Our tiny little spring is not much more than a mere trickle of water, but we are sooooo grateful! Without it, we would not survive on local rainfall.
The ‘star garden’ part is still mostly builder’s rubble. Most of the mulch we’ve laid down over the beds has been blown away by the gale force winds (hello! living on a ridge! what else?!).
But there are some plants really using the daily water to good effect. Like the mesembs. ‘Mesembs are extremely diverse, particularly so in the Succulent Karoo Region, although they have a strong presence in the Fynbos‘ according to SANBI (reference here).
They also say: ‘Mesembs are the subjects of a huge trade in ‘curiosity plants’ among succulent collectors. They display features not seen elsewhere in the plant kingdom. The combination of minutism, mimicry and extreme succulence accounts for much of the variation in form and bizarre shapes that add to their appeal‘.
The nasturtiums and sweet peas continue to deliver pops of insane colour. I’ve also been collecting some seeds.
I’ve staked up the tomatoes in the veggie garden as they are putting on some height.
But that’s enough for now. And I am encouraged by you, dear followers and like’rs! Thank you.
Our Permaculture ‘mother’ garden is doing well! There are so many leafy greens here that there’s more than enough to go around. Many locals are now harvesting luscious spinach, rocket, basil, lettuce and cabbage from this garden. I only wish it was closer to our home! It now makes our occasional visit to the village to get the scrumptious Vermaaklikheid bakery’s bread even more worthwhile.
Thanks to Konrad and his team for looking after these precious greens. And of course, to our donor, Shelley Kleyn, who made this all possible.
The Duiwenhoks Conservancy hosted a Permaculture Design practical workshop in November 2020. On our first morning, our Permaculture expert, Alex Kruger, gave us a brief overview of the basics of Permaculture. There are 3 ethics involved: to care for the earth, to care for people, and to share the surplus.
The rest of the 2 day workshop was spent outside, learning how to apply Permaculture principles in planning and planting vegetable gardens.
We made examples of a swale bed on a contour in a vegetable garden, and created a ‘mother’ garden with the variety of plants that Alex supplied. The idea of a mother garden is to be able to provide cuttings for our own vegetable gardens in future. These examples can be copied in terms of design and companion plantings.
The weather over the 2 days was pretty extreme – typical Vermaaklikheid! Friday was cold, windy and wet; Saturday was hot, windy and dry.
We were very fortunate that the workshop was sponsored by a generous donor – many thanks Shelley Kleyn! And also many thanks to the attendees for their hard work in the extreme conditions. We look forward to using our new vegetable gardening knowledge for many harvests to come.