Friday, December 16, 2011


I have to shamefully admit that I have been neglecting the garden a bit lately, all the rain had an influence, but there was also so many other things than needed attention. I need to get in there today, we need to replants some Keerboom trees, they are legumes (enrich the soil/nutrient fixer) and they make good windbreakers and they grow quite fast. They are also indigenous to this area.

Big old Aloe with the Wild fig at the back

There is this Wild fig tree right on the edge of the garden, right next to a 300 year old Aloe Tree. This created a big dilemma. It is a wonderful tree, with a very extensive root system and it was becoming competition for the Aloe Tree and for the garden.  Eventually somebody (not sure whom) got the courage together and ring braked the Fig tree. When you ring bark a tree it dies. It is a rather painful yet fascinating process to watch.  First the tree started dropping big branches, one after the other, in an effort to “cut the dead wood” and survive. This tree knew it is dying, the fruits where suddenly all ripe and ready and seeding, an attempt to replant before it dies. There is currently only the tree trunk and one very big branch left, this branch is already intertwined with the Aloe Tree and this is what is keeping it up. 

Newly planted tree with companion plants (Marigolds) and mulch

I have only been telling you about the trees we took out, this one and the old Blue Gum. We have also planted at least 11 new indigenous trees in and around the retreat area. Here is some general advice on how to plant a tree.

·         Always plant trees at least 6 feet apart
·         Dig a square whole, not a round one, roughly 60 cm x 60 cm, but obviously take the size of the tree in consideration
·         Put some rusted nails or other iron in the whole, some plants absorb the iron, but will not if not needed
·         Plant the tree and fill in the whole.
·         What I use for compost is plain old fashioned cow dung, courtesy Meduna’s cows. You can also use Horse or chicken manure.
·         Add a small amount of Bone Meal to your compost
·         Put the compost around the tree, but not too close to the trunk, depending on what you use, it might be a bit too strong and burn the trunk.
·         Put some mulch in a circle, over the compost and around the tree, a fairly big circle.
·         Make another circle outside the tree circle, this is where you are going to plant your companion plants


Garlic, Marigolds, Nasturtiums and (Mustard especially for fruit trees) and never forget the Comfrey. The comfrey also forms a sort of barrier so that the grasses and “weeds” are kept at bay. 
You can also make a fantastic liquid fertilizer, just soak the leafs in water for about 2 weeks and give this liquid to the plants.

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