"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Moving further towards self-sufficiency

I don't drink anything with caffeine, so I drink loads and loads of Rooibos (redbush) (scientific name Aspalathus linearis) tea, as well as a glass or two of wine in an evening (and the grapes for that are already planted...)

I have decided to see if I can grow my own brew...  One of the few places rooibos is grown is in the Cedarberg Mountains in the Western Cape.  There they grow in very indifferent soil, in an area which has long, hot and dry summer periods, and the plants receive no irrigation.  The winters - well, the Cedarberg is one of the places in South Africa where snow is generally a given in winter, so I know they can take the cold.

So I have been searching for rooibos plants for the farm, to no avail.

Thankfully though, I have managed to find some Rooibos seeds. Plants - forget!  But seeds - there are loads of them available, even though each legume only produces one rooibos seed.  They were pretty steeply priced at ZAR1.50 each (US$0.22) - I bought 20 - plus postage and packaging of ZAR70.00 (US$10.41) - thus that equates to ZAR5.00 / seed!  Hope they are all viable...
Rooibos plant
Image source:
Only problem is they were supposed to be planted in March - reckon July is a tad too late.  But, being impatient, I am going to try and plant a few and see what happens.  What's the worst that can happen - they don't germinate?  Having purchase 20 seeds I can (possibly) sacrifice 4 to the experiment.
Rooibos farm
Image source:
They require sandy soil - and will happily grow in nutrient poor conditions.  So I will have to get a load of sand in (for my clay ground), dig some deep holes, fill them with the sand, adding just a bit of compost, and then plant my (hopefully) soon-to-be sprouting seedlings.  Ah, that means another visit from the digger / loader - we've got lots we need him to do, so that will be good :-)

Rooibos is very beneficial for the body.

"It contains calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and sodium, as well as trace elements - copper and manganese - as well as fluoride.

Rooibos is particularly rich in flavonoids, and laboratory studies have shown that the antioxidant activity of Rooibos is similar to that of black and green tea.

Rooibos has also been shown to slow down skin cancer, inhibit the development of liver cancer and combat cancer of the oesophagus.  It is also recommended as a treatment for respiratory disease and helps protect against liver disease."
(The above information is taken from: http://www.rooibosltd.co.za/research/index.html and http://www.rooibossa.co.za/fact-file.html)

It has quite a distinct flavour - a sort of slightly aromatic, sweetish sensation in the mouth and it produces a reddy-brown cup of tea, as opposed to the greyish colour of a ceylon brew.  It is an acquired taste.

It can be enjoyed hot or cold, with milk and sugar, black with or without sugar, or black with a slice of lemon and honey to taste.

If this experiment should fail, then I will try and get hold of a few Honeybush plants (scientific name cyclopia genistoides, cyclopia subternata or cyclopia intermediawhich are grown in, and along, the coastal district near us.  Guess it's always wiser to go with what is indigenous to your specific area...
Cyclopia genistoides
is found on sandy soils of the coastal areas from
Yzerfontein near Darling on the West Coast,
southwards to the Cape Peninsula and
from there eastwards to Gouriqua close to the 
mouth of the Gouritz river.  In the Cape Peninsula,
however, this species is sometimes also
found in mountainous areas
Image source:
Honeybush is also used to make tea - not quite as aromatic as Rooibos, but a healthy tea, none the less.

Cyclopia subternata
is found in milder micro-climatic conditions
when compared to C. intermedia.  It is found
in relatively large numbers in the Tsitsikamma
and in the Langkloof and in various localities
on the southern slopes in the Outeniqua
and Langeberg mountains.
Image source:http://www.arc.agric.za

Cyclopia intermedia
is found over a wide area from near
Thornhill in the Eastern Cape westwards in
mountainous areas to at least near
Robertson in the Western Cape
Image source:
Both the visual and the colours of these pea-like flowers on this honeybush plant strengthen my resolve to grow only useful plants in my garden.

Why waste precious resources (soil nutrients, water, etc) on purely ornamental plants?  If one can also benefit nutritionally, then bring them on...!

For more information on the Honeybush please go to:

http://www.arc.agric.za/ or
http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantcd/cyclopiagenistoides.htm and http://www.capehoneybushtea.co.za/processing.htm 

Now, all I have to sort out is RMan's coffee...


  1. I have always heard of this plant and my Mother does enjoy the tea. Me- I have not acquired the taste ;) It was very interesting to hear about how it grows.

  2. Rooibos and Honeybush sound like a couple of very interesting plants. I hope you have good luck with your test seeds and look forward to hearing more about your rooibos tea in the future.

    I just read a little more about rooibos, what a fascinating plant...you will have to make your husband Rooibos expresso's.:)

  3. Jan - Really good for you - try having it cold with cinnamon and sugar or lemon and sugar.

    Mr H - Unfortunately, Rooibos Expresso's won't work for RMan - he REALLY like his caffeine - takes two big mugs of it each morning before he is even dressed LOL

  4. We have a lady nearby here (hoedspruit) who has three coffee trees. Just this week she showed us what it looks like and how to dry and roast the beans. I nicked a few fruit and will be planting the seeds. Hols thumbs for me. The coffe tasted delicious too - even although I'm a black tea drinker.

  5. Dani, I just spent over an hour looking at your older blogs, but I did'nt see them all yet. It's interesting, I like it. I never even heard of Rooibos before now.

  6. Slowvelder - Lucky yuo. If it works perhaps I may ask you to send me one so that I can see if the Western Cape can grow coffee trees LOL Water,sugar,and milk I've got - even the (manual) coffee grinder - but the beans... :-)

    Hermit - Welcome. Thanks for visiting my blog. I find yours as equally interesting :-)

  7. I have had to give up the coffee that I LOVE,LOVE. I am drinking tea in the mornings and have just started trying all the varied teas I find. But, I still miss my coffee!

  8. Frann - I know that RMan would have the same reaction. Dunno how he would start his day...?

  9. Wow...I don't think that the environment you're gardening in could be any different from mine! Love Rooibos tea though and very jealous that you can grow your own..

    Looking forward to future posts :)

  10. Tanya - Welcome :-)

    Isn't that the beauty of blogs - being able to experience other people's gardens / lifestyles even if they are across the world LOL

  11. Hi Dani - I remember you mentioning the Rooibos tea on my post about drinking ore tea. I hope you are successful at growing it. Would you consider starting a few Honeybush too just to get a head start in case the Rooibos doesn't do well..then you wouldn't be a season or two behind on that one and it would give you a variety in the drinks you can make.

    I understand what you are saying about only planting things that are useful and nothing ornamental. But I won't give up my flowers though. Not all the veggies or herbs that I have planted flower all the time and I want to attract and keep as many birds and beneficial insects around so that when the veggies and herbs bloom I have the good birds and insects around to pollinate and work for me. So, for me, I really think the pretty things like ornamental flowers are really one of the most important things out there and I benefit from them in two ways. Emily

  12. emilysincerely - yes, I'm deinitely going to have both growing in my garden - or at least try and grow them...

    I agree, flowers are very necessary for the birds and the bees, and I'm sure your garden is gorgeous.

    However, with that said, I have decided that am not going to give water to a purely ornamental plant - we have enough problems with water and the lack thereof in sunmer, without my trying to keep flowers growing. I'd prefer to give that to something edible :-)


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