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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Earthworm interests


Collectively earthworms build the soil This makes them essential to all soil types used by man and animals. Very simply—no earthworms, no living environment. In nature, they will be found wherever there is decaying organic matter and uncontaminated soil.



How can we ensure that these valuable invertebrates continue to flourish?

Providing conditions in which they will do well.
Constantly feed our soils with humus.
Practice mulching with organic materials which will break down and enrich the soil.
Create our own natural fertilisers by starting to practice vermiculture :

• Set up own wormeries
• Practice trenching with worms and vermicompost
• Stop digging over the beds—rather add compost or mulch
• Make use of organic waste rather than sending it to landfills
• Join organisation like the EIGSA, to learn and to teach vermiculture

Did you know that there is an Earthworm Interest group in South Africa?

EIGSA was founded in November 2004 by Carmen Nottingham, Ken Reid and Allison Barkhuizen. EIGSA’s aims are to promote interest, knowledge and research on earthworms both in South Africa and worldwide. It is a volunteer organization, and membership is free.

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Friday, 17 October 2014

White Stinkwood (Celtis africana)


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A perfect tree for suburban gardens. This tree is very popular in South Africa and it quickly and easily tolerates wind and drought. Unfortunately not evergreen, but with a graceful habit and neat crown – won’t get too big or untidy.
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If you need a medium, fast growing shade tree you can't go wrong with this tree that will give shade in about four years. It naturally has a low branching habit but can be pruned into a single stemmed tree. The trunk of Celtis africana is easy to distinguish by its smooth, pale grey to white bark. It may be loosely peeling in old trees and sometimes has horizontal ridges.
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A few Celtis africana sharing space with Acacia karroo in a forest-like setting at my pond in my garden
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This beautiful deciduous tree grows up to 25m tall in a forest habitat, but in a garden it can be treated as a medium-sized tree, expected to reach a height of up to 12m.
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In spring Celtis africana is very lovely, with its light green, tender, new leaves that contrast beautifully with the pale bark. The leaves are simple, alternate, triangular in shape with three distinct veins from the base, and the margin is toothed for the upper two-thirds. The new leaves are bright, fresh green and hairy, and they turn darker green and become smoother as they mature.
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In autumn the leaves turn a lovely yellow. Celtis africana leaves are browsed by cattle and goats, and are food for the larvae of the long-nosed butterfly.
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Tiny inconspicuous green flowers are borne in spring and summer. The flowers are followed by small yellow edible fruits that ripen to a reddish colour in autumn. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants, and only the female plants bear fruit. 
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It seems there's some disagreement on the internet as to whether or not C. africana's roots are invasive or not. It thrives if grown next to a water garden, dam or river but should not be planted near any buildings or swimming pools due to its size. It is an excellent shade tree for small gardens, and in larger gardens it looks lovely if planted in groups.
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Because of its dense growth habit it makes a most effective windbreak or barrier for large properties.  The fruit is relished by many fruit eating birds, including ground birds like guinea fowl. The leaves serve as an important food source for game, especially in times of drought.

Info from PlantzAfrica

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