Thursday, July 18, 2013

WEEDS AND OTHER WONDERS


Weeds are friends not foes. A weed is simply a plant that, according to us, is not growing where it belongs. We are so very wrong about this. Go and look at those “weeds” growing in your pathways; they will more than likely have long and deep roots, that means they grow in hard soil to oxygenate and loosen. Where soil is to loose and busy eroding, you will find the opposite, you will find plants with bushy shallow roots, these roots “fill in/holds together” the soil over a period of time.
In nature plants grow at the right place at the right time, the professionals (the ones with Degrees etc) call these pioneer plants and left to their own devices they will totally restore the soil.



Stinging Nettle (this photo was taken at KD)

Stinging nettle, for example, have an extensive root system, (Fibrous roots)  sometimes spreading up to several meters, trying to hold the soil together, this plants also have medicinal value – there are various claims, but it does seem to work rather well  against arthritis. You make a tea from the leaves and drink this, the plant also completely looses the sting once in is cooked and the leaves are edible. Always have some Bulbine growing in your garden as well; when you get stung by the nettle, just break some Bulbine and rub it on, it takes the sting away.


Bulbine


Kakibos

Then there is Kakibos (Khaki Weed), this stuff grows fast and everywhere, but they are also high enough to form a windbreak and provide some shade for your plants and they makes an excellent natural anti insect potion.  You use the whole plant, just not the roots. Throw the plant material in a container with a lid you can close. Fill the container with water and let the lot rot for about a month or until you can smell it. Normally people strain this (to get rid of the small bits of plant material, otherwise they block the nozzle on the sprayer) and then it gets sprayed onto plants against pests like grasshoppers, aphids and more…  I find that soaking the soil around the plants also help, so I mostly just take a bucket and drench the soil. There is a rather interesting story behind how Kakibos got its name –

During the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) the British wore Khaki uniforms, having abandoned their bright red uniforms after the Boers gave them such a hiding during the First Anglo-Boer War (1880-1881). They thus become known as the Khakis.

The British brought their horses to South Africa. On paper, these horses were superior to the Boer ponies - but they required supplemental feeding. The fodder was procured in Argentina and shipped to South Africa. It contained the seeds of tagetes minuta, a member of the marigold family, though it does not produce the showy flowers. Soon is was well-established throughout South Africa in the areas that saw action during the war. It was named khakibos (Afrikaans) after the khaki-clad soldiers who brought it. In English it is known as Khaki Bush or Khaki Weed.

So, before you pull out that weed, think again. I suggest you leave the ones growing around the beds and in the pathways, only remove the ones in between your plants. Here the mulch also works well as prevention, seeing that the mulch blocks the sun, you are less likely to have weeds in between your plants in the first place.

It is obviously necessary to thin them out where needed and if things really get too much, cut their flowers, before they seed, that way there are no new seeds to spread and make millions of new plants. The same, the cut the flowers before they seed, applies to any plant that gets out of hand.

The new beds in the garden are filling up as fast as we can make them. We ran into a bit of a problem with the water, there are 5 taps, but only one and a half working hose pipes and seeing that we are planting more, we were just not keeping up anymore. This problem is now sorted and planting can continue…

Let me share the following before I forget….


Walking up to the garden the other morning and look who comes from the other side….


Cheetah enters the road just in front of me



Eyeballing me from less than 20 meters away... to eat or not to eat....


Lucky me, according to Riaan he (Cheetah) was already very full, he went for a lie-down a little further down the road

This was a very exciting and very scary moment all at the same time, it never really looked like it was feeling like attacking, but this is one of the (it not the) fastest land animal, if it decides to charge from that close you have no chance! I must also add that there is not a single documented case of a Cheetah attacking a fully grown human.


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