Saturday, 20 September 2014

In spite of the drought...

... my garden is slowly springing to life :)

This photo was taken two - three weeks ago - the
water level is even lower now.
As you can see from the exposed white paint on the
jetty supports, the dam level is very low.
Thank goodness we coated the dam with bentonite -
I am convinced that if we hadn't, it would not still be
holding water.
 Guess you can't keep Mother Nature at bay LOL
A tiny strawberry - the
first of the season
This is the first tiny strawberry that I harvested this week.  But, I am not discouraged...
This one (of about 70) plant is covered with
flowers / minute strawberries - it looks like it
is going to be a good strawberry season this year.
It would appear that the load of alpaca poo
 and straw that the strawberry beds were dosed
with at the beginning of winter has worked
a treat :)
... as the strawberry plants are well covered with flowers / tiny strawberries in the making :)
Having googled how to prune a berry bush, even
our youngberry bushes are full of emerging flowers.
Last year we had a very disappointing youngbery harvest - addmittedly the bushes were still young, and incorrectly pruned by moi.  This year I got clever and googled pruning fruit bushes.  The apparent results speak for themselves :) But, it is a thankless chore- the tiny thorns are hectic!!  I even had one work it's way deep into my finger and go septic.  Ah, the pleasures of gardening LOL

My pumpkins / butternut and tomatoes are all slow - but I think the ducks have been digging up the pumpkin / butternut seeds - it was a nice, wet, straw-filled hollow and just perfect for ducks to forage in...  So, (for the third time) I've started them off in seedling trays - well away from the ducks.
What a sight for sore eyes
Although, at the moment, I am madly harvesting broad beans, I'm not able to get into the garden as much as I want to - we have been so busy with work.  (As a side note, there is nothing nicer than cooked, (inner) peeled broad beans with a dab of butter and a splash of lemon juice - I'm salivating just writing it LOL)

But, I think I am keeping on top of the planting.  I have restricted the produce I am going to grow this year to what we enjoy eating the most - peas, beans, swiss chard, tomatoes, peppers - sweet, chilli and piquanté peppers (all three types of capsicum have, amazingly, survived the winter and, after a pruning, are already producing flowers), potatoes, carrots, garlic, onions and aubergines (once the seedlings are available in my local nursery) and, hopefully, pumpkins and butternut.

That should give us a good variety - and a good mix of the necessary orange and dark green vegetables recommended for healthy bodies :)  And all are preservable so we can continue to enjoy them next winter.
The grape vines have barely any leaves,
but they are already producing grapes :)
Fruit - well we have that covered with strawberries, youngberries, plums, apricots, apples, pears, granadilla's, pomegranates and grapes.  Lots of fresh picking / eating, and jams / preserves in that lot, plus, once I've googled "how to make cordials", and souced the necessary bottles, they'll provide for that too ;) 
I also pruned the pomegranate trees correctly
this year (thank you Google) and they are
producing flowers too :)
For me, it's completely pointless using precious water to grow masses of food we don't eat / enjoy, and which would therefore be a waste - of time, water and effort.

Early tomorrow morning - it's weeding time...!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

WhoooHoooo!!! Recycling has arrived

WhoooHoooo!!!!   Recycling has finally arrived in Swellendam :)  Paper, glass, plastic and tin :)
Drive down Koringland Street passed the sewerage
farm on your left and SSK on the right,

turn left at the Traffic Dept building
into Russel Street.  At the yield turn right and
travel +/- 150mtrs
Being at the other end of town, it's a bit of a schlep, but worth it.
Look out for Synergy's building...
Synergy Recycling is opposite Supaquick in Russel Street in the industrial area of Swellendam.  They are open Monday to Friday 8 - 5p.m but they are planning on leaving a container so that you can leave them a neat bag of recycling if you pass their premises during non-business hours. Please ensure that it is left out of dogs reach and is rinsed of any "attractive" foodstuff to prevent attracting vermin.

Please - support the recycling depots near where you live - without your support they cannot survive and all your recycling will then end up in landfill once again.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Vagaries of nature

Apologies for the delay in answering your comments to my last posting - we have just had a manic two weeks. The rep we hired for our Cape Town based business has inundated us with enquiries - and in particular one very large order.  It is the type of order where you can't say "Ooops - I left something out of your quote, so I am adding it on at the end" and we had to give it our undivided attention, checking and re-checking, and re-checking again. Thankfully, the quote is now finalised, and has been submitted, and now we wait to hear the outcome...

In the meantime, I need help.

Please, can anyone help me identify this tree? 
Our unknown tree is currently
3 - 3.5 mtrs tall
It is a relatively fast growing, evergreen tree...
This is a close up of the pinnate leaves
... with pinnate leaves.
The fruit hanging on the tree - not many,
but intriguing
For the first time this year I noticed that it had a few fruit on it (duh - I couldn't miss them, could I - especially when they turned red LOL)
Yes, the one on the right has had a little Dani nibble
taken out it  The taste is sweet-ish although a
little tart.  But quite pleasant.
Curiosity killed the cat,and it may certainly do the same to me.  I had to taste it.  Against RMan's advice.

The taste was quite pleasant - sweet, but tart.  There is roughly 2 - 3 mm of flesh and it has quite a large "hairy" pip inside.

I'd love to know what it is and are the fruit edible - hopefully someone out "there" can help...?  It would be wonderful if they are edible, as, in addition to our pomegranate, peach, plum, pear and apple trees, they can provide us with an alternative source of fruit. :) 

Then, secondly, I read about a tree - a Paulowina - in a magazine article a few years ago.  It was a tree of which I had never heard before, and my curiosity was piqued, especially after some googling where I discovered that it triples in size every year - reaching (harvestable) maturity in 15 years (if required).   Being short of shade here, it seemed worthwhile trying to grow.  And a few saplings were on offer.  The only problem was that they were on offer in Pretoria - roughly 1600kms from where we lived.  But, persistence pays, they say, and the seller managed, on a trip  down to the coast for a holiday a few months later, to bring me three saplings.
The first signs of leaf growth this Spring
They were planted in the ground, and placed on our irrigation line.  Sadly, we lost one of them (it got chewed by a dog), but the other two have weathered the first two years of heat and wind and are doing well - not quite tripping in height every year, but certainly sprouting higher and more quickly than the other trees in our garden.

But, at the end of last summer I noticed for the first time that there were flower "pods" on only one of the branches.  They did absolutely nothing, so I reckoned that they had developed too late and the winter cold and frost had killed them.
A couple of the "pods" have
suddenly burst into flower
Ha!  Exactly how much do I think I know?

In the last 10 days those "dead" pods have started to bloom.
The flower is orchid like in appearance, with
"tracks" running down the inside as though
to guide the bees to the stamens
A truly spectacular orchid-like blossom with the most wonderful perfume.  I can imagine that when the tree is more mature, and bearing many pods which burst into flower, the scent will be wonderful.  Apparently, trees can be grown from the seeds they produce - not easily, but it is possible.  I love a challenge :)
These young leaves are already bigger than my hand
- and they only emerged last week.
The leaves - well, they grow to about the size of a bread plate and they seem to be handling our wind OK.

Happy days :)

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Wild thing...

Early last week, when we went through to the nearby town for Mike's birthday, as we were leaving after the party our daughter had a request.

Could we please adopt another feathered friend - a Cape Turtle Dove.

Only that morning she was working in the kitchen when she heard a noise and turned round.  There, walking on the floor, was this little dove.  As it was tame it was obviously someone's pet.  She shooed it outside, but it just came in again.  

This tame little creature wouldn't last long there as our daughter has three boisterous dogs and a cat.

So, with Mike's help she had placed it for safekeeping in their garden shed until Wayne came home that evening.  But she was at her wits end as to what they were going to do with it.

So, we agreed - although I was reluctant...
Here - I have to stay here...?
The little thing is so cute.  As soon as we got it home I placed it near the duck enclosure (birds of a feather, etc LOL)
Okey-dokey - I'll start by having a munch...
But, it wasn't happy there.  It had a quick munch of duck food (crushed corn), and a long slurp of water, and then flew up onto a nearby rain water tank.

It stayed there overnight - I was worried that the owl that frequents our fieldmouse-laden property would go for it that night.

The next morning it was still on the tank.  So I served it breakfast in bed. 

During the course of the day we checked on it and it was nowhere to be seen.

Then we heard an "Ooooo" from the backyard area.  (It makes a deep "Ooooo" sound when you're nearby).
Can you spot it?  Look on the far left handlebar of
the left quaddie
(btw, the numberplate does not make the quaddie
road legal - it was juts me having a bit of fun with
an old numberplate)
On further investigation we spied it sitting on the handlebars of my quadbike - in the shade.  Clever bird :)
Hmmmm, not too shabby.  Iguess it'll have to do
It seems to have taken up residence there, so I have secured a small bowl of water and one of duck food against the strong south easterly wind, and have provided it with a bed (a cardboard box filled with hay and weighed down with bricks) - I have no idea how it was housed previously, and I don't want to make it feel unwelcome...

I reckon that it is used to having easy access to it's owners house though...

... as it even waddled into our lounge from the front patio last night.  RMan and I were busy at the dining room table, Scallywag was sleeping on the floor, and all we heard was this close - very close - "Oooo".  (I had to distract Scallywag with skins of the cooked broadbeans I was shelling whilst RMan picked it up and took it back outside - I don't do bird poo in my house LOL)
So tame it happily goes to RMan's hand,
and then up his arm, and onto his shoulder,
finally settling on top if his head!
But, it's presence has been gnawing at me.  This little turtle dove is someones pet. Yes, it is illegal here to catch and cage wild birds, but someone has - maybe they hand reared it?  And they are probably missing / worried about their pet. So, last Friday, when we went to town for our weekly groceries, I asked Mike, my grandson, to visit all their neighbours and find out if they are missing their pet.  Although it is able to fly, it doesn't fly far, so logically, it must have come from a neighbours property...

Also, I have placed notices on the boards at the local supermarkets to advise that I have a "bird" - they must identify what it is before I hand it over to just anyone LOL

I hope it gets reunited with it's owners - we must be a strange set of people and circumstances that it now has to adapt to...