Sunday, June 23, 2013


Cleaning crew and the garden in the background - there is this believe among various rural people that you take a bit of their soul if you take a photo of them, you have to respect this, so only half the crew where willing to have a bit of their souls stolen.

I have realized that rural (mostly black) people have a natural sense of community, where as the (mostly) whites just do not seem to get it right. I might elaborate on this later, but for now that will require some more thinking .

At the moment the lodge is closed for the staff annual holidays, this does not mean everybody goes on holiday. This is the time for maintenance and more.  On the more list is the cleaning and clearing of the whole garden between the 60 Rondawels (see photo), the pool and the Restaurant. The supervision of this undertaking became my job. This does mean that things in the Veggie garden are happening a bit slower than anticipated, but all in good time. 

Rondawels and the garden

The cleaner and clearing crew consist of six Sesotho speaking ladies from the surrounding homelands/trust lands.  They pretty much know what to do and things run a lot smoother once you  find a common language. I speak English and Afrikaans and a strange “workable” mix of Zulu and Xhosa.  Sesotho or Pedi as it is also called is a total different language, but most Sesotho’s also seem to speak or at least understand Zulu and Xhosa. It is rather amazing that these, often illiterate people speak 6 or more languages with ease, but not always English or Afrikaans.  There is Johanna (probably not her real name) and she communicates very well in Afrikaans, so we have a mutual language, halfway there!

You also have to acknowledge the Induna in the group, the Induna is normally one of the older ladies and within their group she is the leader. Now in this case we do not speak/have a language in common, but I have to acknowledge her. I now speak to Johanna, she translates to Maria and the process runs very smooth.

This garden is absolute paradise, it is not a Landscape Architect kind of look, it is after all in the bush, you want that feel and look to be dominant, but it was starting to resemble a jungle. The jungle look also seems to attack the elephants, if you do not clean up, they will, and they have a rather rough and indiscriminate style, so it is better we do it…

Pool and garden

I am planning on using the group of ladies for one day in the Vegetable garden, just to make as many mulch beds as possible. The beds we made are all full of seedlings now.  The more beds I can get ready, the quicker I can increase variety and volume. I explained how to make these beds in the previous article

I did manage to plant various herbs and some Gooseberries. The purpose being companion plants and also as an extra dash of flavor for the kitchen to create with.

We will also need a lot more seedlings, while we wait for the beds. Some people say you can plant inside these beds immediately, I prefer to just wet it daily for about two weeks, just to let it all soak through. (these new bed where used as pathway over the last couple of years). In my experience, if you plant immediately the plants are a bit slow in getting started, your second planting in that bed will probably be much better.

The Marigold barrier. (note the little Duiker on the other side of the fence)
This is a very good idea, a barrier of Marigolds right around the garden, it keeps all the crawlers out, but it does not work so well for flying things...

There is also a lot of experimenting going on. I would like to harvest as many seeds as possible; the problem is that a lot of the goodies in the garden are from packets from the co-op and somehow related to Monsanto. I now harvest the seeds, and then I plant a sample tray (6 – 12 or them) to see if they will actually grow. Some do and some don’t. There is no point is savings seeds that will not grow. I harvested some Chilly seeds and they did not even look like seeds, it is just this “empty little pocket”. We are gradually moving toward buying organic seeds, but that is not as easy as it might sound. Admittedly we are a bit late in the season and a lot of suppliers are low on stock, but with the wonderful weather we have, I am trying everything, even got a few cucumbers going, in the middle of winter...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


There are two ways to get to the garden, you can walk through the lodge area, but this is the long way or you can go sort of round the back, but this is through the bush. When I say bush I mean wild untamed Africa, lions and Rhino and all. I am obviously taking the shortcut. The first week was scary and every movement and sound grabs your attention and then you get blaze, until the reality hits you when a cheetah shows up with just a meager little fence, around the garden, between you and him…. (The electric fence is only switched on at night, to keep the elephants out).

Visitors in and around the garden

This part of the blog will be much more about gardening, specifically a garden where we need to produce for at least 60 people per day. I do have the space, the one garden alone is the size of a soccer field, not that I know exactly how big a soccer field is, but it is big for a garden.

I am blessed in a lot of ways. Firstly it is normally a big problem to teach and old dog new tricks, as they say. In this case the 3 ladies that are currently working in the gardens are already use to organic gogga management. A gogga, by the way is a collective (Afrikaans) word for anything with 6 to 8 legs.

I also have “raw materials” like cow dung, mulch and more by the tons! There is also already a lot happening, but one of my first challenges will be to create more space to produce more food. Currently everything, even the herbs are planted in rows, I get nightmares about rows! This also means there are more pathways than plants. 

So the first step is to turn half the pathways into beds. I do this by “filling in” the pathways between rows, thus making beds. Obviously the soil in these new beds are not the best, because it used to be pathways, so a nice thick layer of dry cow dung is a good start, wet the cow dung well and then lay down a nice thick layer of mulch and wet again. Keep this bed wet for about two weeks and it starts looking like soil you can plant in. While this is happening, I am planting lots of seeds to make seedlings, to plant in the new beds.

All in little rows


Making new mulch beds

Sabrina having a siesta

I think the only two things we fully supply the kitchen with at the moment are paw paws and lettuce.

Well, at least I broke the ice by writing this, but the timing is quite bad because it is 7 in the morning and I need to get going. 

To be continued…..