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Newsletter #86

June 2016

 

Editorial - June 2016

We received many positive comments on our previous newsletter. Our readers found the articles on recycling, threatened cycads and cost-effective polystyrene buildings interesting. As soon as the polystyrene are available commercially, we’ll follow up with the manufacturers, and maybe we’ll also be able to then post a photo of a building built with these panels.
Recycling: According to Anton Hanekom, chief executive of Plastics SA, nearly 80% of all plastics manufactured in SA last year landed on rubbish dumps, in spite of all efforts to increase recycling figures. This mainly resulted from low crude oil prices and therefore also lower polymer and recycled material prices. In addition, our country does not have an established recycling culture or a constant supply of recyclable material. Much of the recycled material is also rejected because of containing impurities. Recyclers work in an increasingly difficult business environment, with high costs and problems with power cuts, increasing electricity bills, a shortage of water and a weakening economy. In order to improve recycling, members of the public should sort recyclable products and should demand recyclable packaging (Sake Rapport, 29 May 2016).

Threatened cycads

The following non-detriment findings were published in the Government Gazette (no 575 of 27 May 2016: “Overuse/exploitation for horticultural purposes is the major factor threatening the survival of most Encephalartos species in South Africa, and adult plants continue to be lost from the wild due to poaching (a countrywide problem). There has been an exponential increase in ex situ cultivated cycads, which are regulated by provincial conservation ordinances/Acts and the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act 10 0f 2004) (NEMBA): Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations. Enforcement of the strict protection measures afforded to cycads has been hampered by the human resource and budgetary constraints facing the provincial conservation authorities that are mandated to enforce provincial and national environmental legislation. Past ineffective implementation of conservation legislation in particularly Gauteng, where the requirements for cycad possession permits have not been consistently enforced, has facilitated the entry of illegally harvested cycads into the legal trade. Wild-sourced plants have been and continue to be legalized and incorporated into private collections, and their use as parental stock for the propagation of seedlings for both the domestic and international cycad trade cannot be ruled out. Micro-chips inserted into wild plants have proven to be largely ineffective for establishing wild origins of cycads and have failed to deter poachers. The failure of the legal protection measures has been further exacerbated by prosecutors and magistrates, who are not well informed about South Africa’s cycad extinction crisis, and the small fines issued and minimal jail sentences passed for cycad related offences are ineffective deterrents”.

Of a leopard and a serval

calf in treeA while ago, one of our members, Frik Mülder, sent us a photo of the carcass of a calf that had been caught and dragged into a tree by a leopard on his farm on the slopes of the Magaliesberg in the Hartebeestfontein area. It is a pity that the calf was caught but leopards play an important role in maintaining a balance in the area, as they mainly prey on the huge baboon and vervet monkey populations which cause much destruction in vegetable crops and pecan orchards. Vervet monkeys, in troops as large as 60-70, has caused huge financial losses to the farmers the past few years.

serval hartAt the beginning of June, one of our members, Johan Wilkens, sent us a photo of a beautiful Serval (Leptailurus felis) that was caught in a snare on his property. Servals are seldom seen during the day. Their diet consists mainly of rats and mice, finches, ducks, lizards, snakes, hares and locusts. Once again, we would like to encourage our members to report snare incidents to us.

Important environmental update

Identification of SA frog species: Identify that frog with the new App “Complete guide to the frogs of Southern Africa” by Louis du Preez & Vincent Carruthers. Comprehensive coverage of all 167 SA frog species @ R249.99.
Apple app store: http://apple.co/1RoRFBm
Android app store: http://bit.ly/1TFj69h

SA Green Industries Council – 2016 Invasive Species Training:
29 & 30 June – Pretoria
5 & 6 July – Potchefstroom
25 & 26 July – Johannesburg
For more info, contact Hazel or Kay at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 011 723 9000.

Dangerous Animals Seminar: Fangs, venom, canines and claws by Warren Schmidt. Learn how to identify dangerous snakes, scorpions and spiders, how to prevent bites and stings, as well as avoiding unpleasant confrontations with leopard, lion, elephant, crocodiles, and more. Dates:
28 June – Pretoria
5 July – Potchefstroom
26 July – Johannesburg
For more info, contact Warren at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 081 039 4176.

On scorpions – did you know? Scorpions generally have a life span of about four to 25 years. There are about 130 species of scorpion found in South Africa, and in fact only two species cause death. A useful book if you regularly encounter scorpions on your smallholding or if you fear poisonous spiders: First Aid Guide to Spider Bites and Scorpion Stings by renowned arachnid specialist, Jonathan Leeming.

Get-together of Valley Girls!

On 27 May 2016, thirty of the Valley girls were treated to a stylish lunch by Esther Müller, owner of the new restaurant, Esthers.

On the photo of staff  who helped on the day, appear from left to right, Frank, John, Werner, Marianne, Esther & Patrizia.

The restaurant is situated off the R560, on the premises of the former Hideaway. This beautiful venue, with its indigenous gardens, pool, boma, play area for kids, sleepover accommodation, and many more, really is an asset in our valley. The restaurant will open shortly. We will keep our members/readers posted.

esthers

Vulture electrocutions in South Africa

According to Constant Hoogstad, Manager of EWT’s Wildlife and Energy Programme, most power lines built before the 1990s were not subject to environmental impact assessments, and the structures were not designed to be bird friendly. This means that we are sitting with thousands of kilometres of power lines across South Africa which are extremely dangerous to birds.
Vultures are especially vulnerable to power line electrocution due to their large wingspans, heavy bodies and gregarious nature. When combined with contributing factors like treeless environments that force birds to sit on electricity poles, wet feathers which increase conductivity, sunning behaviour, artificially supplied food sources (such as vulture restaurants) and a concentration of carcasses often located in close proximity to power lines, vultures are the birds that are at highest risk from power line electrocutions.
Eskom’s biggest challenge is to ensure that these old designs are phased out as soon as possible, and that all new power lines being erected are bird friendly. Eskom takes the electrocution of birds on power lines extremely seriously. During the last financial year, Eskom changed more than 1 215 poles to bird friendly, insulated 63 transformers/strain poles, and fitted 724 spans with bird flight diverters which amounts to more than 12 108 units.
To continue to assist in decreasing the number of bird mortalities on power line infrastructure, the EWT would like to encourage members of the public to report any wildlife and power line incidents to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 011 372 3600 or 0860 111 535.
Please visit www.ewt.org.za or contact Constant Hoogstad (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 082 334 4176) for more information about the EWT-Eskom partnership and the Wildlife and Energy Programme (email received on 17 May 2016).

Environmental snippets

Fly larvae to feed animals

...and possibly also humans!

Those bothersome flies zooming around during meal times in summer can help to make our world ecologically sustainable, says Jason Drew, founder and director of AgriProtein. This company in Phillipi, Cape Town (said to be the world’s largest fly farm) produces 7,5 tons of fly larvae daily, which consumes 110 tons of refuse, and is used to manufacture protein animal feed. This product, made from dehydrated fly larvae, is a substitute for fishmeal (which is very expensive) and soya meal (which is less effective). The fly larvae are also environmentally friendly as they are fed organic refuse such as left-over food or garden refuse that can be used as compost. The process relieves pressure on agricultural activities and fishing stock and leaves a smaller carbon footprint. Currently, the product is used as fish and chicken feed, but plans are under way to also use it as pet food. In future, it may be used in protein supplements for humans. All the products were tested scientifically in cooperation with the University of Stellenbosch (Sake Rapport, 22 May 2016).

Climate will cost milliards

By 2030, the cost for developing countries to cope with and adapt to changing climate conditions will amount to between $140 milliard and $300 milliard annually [a milliard is a thousand millions]

This is at least four times more than previous estimates, says the UN’s environmental programme (UNEP) in a report presented at the bi-annual Adaptation Futures conference in Rotterdam recently. Many cities in Africa and Asia do not have proper strategies to make changes, and are also concerned about financing such initiatives. According to Parks Tau, mayor of Johannesburg, it is estimated that it will cost this city about R116 million to prepare for climate change. The city can expect an increase in heat waves and exceptionally cold conditions in the near future. The eThekwini municipality in Durban, which is more exposed than Johannesburg, expect sea levels of more than a metre higher than currently by 2100. Rainfall will also increase, but it will rain at shorter intervals, which means that water levels will be much higher and that the water will flower much more rapidly. This will increase pressure on the city’s sewage system (Yolandi Groenewald, Rapport, 22 May 2016).

Concern over SA’s water-intensive coal industry

Higher temperatures and diminished rainfall are wreaking havoc in two of South Africa’s largest economic sectors – agriculture and energy. Yet, on the face of this growing crisis, the SA government continues to display unyielding allegiance to the nation’s water-guzzling coal sector, whose 50+ billion tons of coal reserves fuel 90% of the country’s electrical generating capacity and provide a third of its liquid fuels. When completed in 2020, the 4 800 megawatt Medupi coal-fired power station near Lephalale will consume 6.9 billion litres of water annually, which, according to forecasts based on the current drought, will not be available. Coal also generates hundreds of millions of metric tons of climate-changing carbon emissions annually that aggravate SA’s warming and drying. The other side of the coin is that 13 wind power plants and 31 solar generating stations are already operating in South Africa, and R95 billion has already been invested in renewable energy installations. The country appears well on its way to reaching the national target of 6 000 new megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2020, and 18 000 new megawatts by 2030 (Keith Schneider, senior editor and chief correspondent for Circle of Blue, 27 May 2016).

Make your life easier

For washing day

Mix 3 table spoons of vinegar, 2 table spoons of washing powder and 4 cups of warm water to make your own stain remover for clothes. Rub the mixture into the stain and wash like normal. Get rid of ink stains by spraying these with hair spray before washing. If you think a new garment will stain other clothing, soak it in a few cups of vinegar for about 10 minutes.

Cooking tip

If you have too little chutney, mix two parts apricot jam with one part Worcester sauce as a (Vrouekeur, 4 April 2014).

Clean your matress

Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on your matress and leave for about two hours. Then vacuum clean the matress to give it a nice fresh smell (http://lifeinryans.com).

Do you struggle to open a bottle?

Wrap a rubber band around the lid to get a better grip (Vrouekeur, 11 April 2014).

Did you know?

Report on minimum wages

According to the first report on the increased minimum wages, there are about 5,5 million employees in our country who earn less than R3 000 per month. A minimum wage of R3 000 means that between 2,6 miljoen and 3,6 million employees will lose their jobs. The only solution will be to exclude some categories of employees from the minimum wage, as is customary in England for younger employees and apprentices (Sake Rapport, 22 May 2016). According to a news report on RSG (5 June 2016) the Swiss are currently voting for approval of a minimum wage for all Swiss nationals of R28 000 per month.

Gambling – cheap entertainment?

According to Marcel von Aulock, chief executive of the hotel-and-casino company, Tsogo Sun, gambling is seen as cheap entertainment for middle class and rich people – the average best equivalent to dining out. Gambling is one of the last expenses these people will cut, together with satelite television and dining out (Rapport, 29 May 2016).

Farms for sale

According to the Farm Sales Platform at landbou.com (compiled by Property 24), the number of SA farms for sale jumped by 45% in the last 15 months. About one third of these farms are located in Gauteng and are grain or livestock farms.  In May 2016, at least 19 280 farms were up for sale, compared to February 2015, when 13 254 farms were up for sale. The large number of farms that are for sale can possibly be attributed to, amongst others, uncertainty about policies (land expropriation and land reform policies), the current drought, cash flow problems and an increasing urbanisation trend, due to the fact that young people no longer want to continue on family properties (the average age of SA farmers is 62). Many of the farms that are up for sale are bought by mega farmers for consolidation with their properties (News 24, 7 June 2016).

Two interesting snippets that appeared in The Scottish Daily recently:

On birds damaging thatched roofs

The thatched roof of the 17th century Great Barn in Avebury, Wiltshire, is being destroyed by jackdaws. Three years ago, the roof was re-thatched at a cost of £100 000. Since then, the birds have been taking the new straw for their nests – because it is clean and dry.Karl Papierz, surveypor for the National Trust, which owns the barn says: “We’ve tried umpteen solutions. I’m beginning to tear my hair out”.
In our area, Indian Minahs cause extensive damage to thatched roofs. It now seems that squirrels are also in the habit of doing the same. On 8 June, one of our members , Adri van Rooyen, reported that squirrels have caused extensive damage to a newly thatched roof on their property.

On increasing property rates

By 2020, househunters in London will require a salary of at least £106 000 – plus a deposit of £138 000 – as the average typical home’s price will be £558 000. The prediction suggests that home ownership will be far beyond the reach of experienced teachers and police officers with earnings of about £30 000.
Maybe we should be thankful to live where we live an complain less about property rates.

Words, words

Have you ever come across these words?
Flawsome (adj.): Individuals who embrace their “flaws” and know they’re awesome regardless.
Alexithymia (n.): Inability to describe emotions verbally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<div class="acymailing_content">&nbsp;</div> <table border="0" style="max-width: 100%; border-collapse: collapse; border-spacing: 0px; width: 600px; color: #555555; font-family: Fira, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; letter-spacing: -0.5px; line-height: 22.4px; background-color: #fbf0e1;" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" align="center"> <tbody> <tr> <td class="cat_8" style="font-size: 14px;"> <div class="acymailing_content"> <p><img src="/images/logo.png" alt="logo" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /></p> <p class="acymailing_title" style="margin: 0.75em 0px; font-weight: normal; line-height: 25.2px; color: #333333; font-size: 28px; letter-spacing: 0.5px;">Newsletter #85</p> <table border="0" style="max-width: 100%; border-collapse: collapse; border-spacing: 0px; width: 580px; color: #555555; font-family: Fira, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; letter-spacing: -0.5px; line-height: 22.4px; background-color: #fbf0e1;" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" align="center"> <tbody> <tr> <td class="cat_8" style="font-size: 14px;"> <div class="acymailing_content"> <div class="acymailing_content"> <p class="acymailing_title" style="text-align: right;">May 2016</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="cat_8" style="font-size: 14px;">&nbsp; <div class="acymailing_content"> <h2 class="acymailing_title">Editorial - May 2016</h2> <p><img src="/images/leucosidseri.jpg" alt="leucosidseri" style="margin-right: 10px; float: left;" />We received many positive comments on our previous newsletter. Our readers found the articles on global warming and invader plants interesting. One of our Lynne Harrison of Clarens in the eastern Free State found the article on bush encroachment informative. On 26 April, she wrote via email that they have found that Oldwood (Afr Ouhout or Leucosidea sericea) has proliferated on their farm and is encroaching on grazing. They wonder whether this is because of the drought or perhaps increased carbon dioxide levels. The plant is endemic to the Eastern Cape, western Kwazulu-Natal, Lesotho, eastern Free State, Northwest, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. It forms dense thickets on overgrazed, eroded or otherwise disturbed areas and can therefore become a problem plant on farmlands. (Photo from www.plantzafrica.com).</p> <p><br /><img src="/images/gomphocarp.jpg" alt="gomphocarp" style="margin-left: 10px; float: right;" />Large areas of grasslands in the Conservancy have died as a result of the drought. Our members might have noticed that barren spaces have now been invaded by thorny invasive shrubs (Acacia species), and also Milkweed (Afr Melkbos, or Gomphocarpus fruticosus). (See photo, also from www.plantzafrica.com). Fields of paper thorn weed have also appeared on all empty spots on our property.</p> </div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="cat_8" style="font-size: 14px;"> <div class="acymailing_content"> <h2 class="acymailing_title">Legal matters</h2> <h3>The 2016 Expropiation Bill</h3> <p>Albert Einstein once said: &ldquo;As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.&rdquo;<br />It would appear that landownership falls in the same category &ndash; instead of protecting landownership against arbitrary expropriation, the Bill introduces an element of &ldquo;public interest&rdquo; as well as a principle that property is not limited to land. This means that property such as copyright, intellectual property, &ldquo;know-how&rdquo;, a harvest, a cow and even a taxi can now be expropriated.<br />&rdquo;Public purposes&rdquo; is as old as human kind as it relates to public infrastructure such as dams and roads. &ldquo;Public interest&rdquo; on the other hand is as wide as the Creator&rsquo;s grace and can differ from one geographical area to another and will make it impossible to define in legislation of national application.<br />Expropriation is normally resorted to where the willing seller/buyer principle fails. Provision is made in the Bill to approach the courts in determining compensation. It is matter of grave concern that municipalities will also have the power to expropriate for &ldquo;public interest&rdquo; purposes whilst their constitutional powers, duties and obligations are limited to service delivery &ndash; that is&rdquo; public purposes&rdquo; only.<br />During a hearing of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature on the Bill held on 21 April 2016 in Krugersdorp, the above concerns were highlighted with the request that the Bill be rejected, as the 1975 Expropriation Act withstood constitutional scrutiny for 22 years and contains no element of any discrimination. Various organisations, including major banks and civil rights groups, have indicated their displeasure with the Bill and indicated that the constitutionality thereof, once signed into legislation, will be tested in the Constitutional Court. (Frik M&uuml;lder, Local Governance Practitioner and member of the Conservancy Management Committee).</p> <h3>The environment: Our rights and responsibilities</h3> <p>The South African Constitution has made headline news over the past month or so. Are we &ndash; the public and state &ndash; aware of our rights and responsibilities towards the environment?<br />Section 24 of the Constitution says the following about &ldquo;Environment&rdquo;:<br />&ldquo;Everyone has the right &ndash;</p> <p>(a) to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and</p> <p>(b) to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that &ndash;</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">(i) prevent pollution and ecological degradation;<br />(ii) promote conservation; and<br />(iii) secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development&rdquo;.</p> <p>(From: SAPIA NEWS, no 40, April 2016).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="cat_8" style="font-size: 14px;"> <div class="acymailing_content"> <h2 class="acymailing_title">Scale down to a greener life &ndash; recycle!</h2> <p>After the recent about five-week long strike by employees of Johannesburg&rsquo;s refuse removal company, Pikitup, most households in this city became acutely aware of exactly how much rubbish and refuse they create every day.</p> <p>When you live in the country like us, you gradually become aware of how your life is complicated by things you don&rsquo;t really have any need for. We have no choice but to make a mind shift, because we ourselves are responsible for our refuse removal. People often think that it is silly to sort refuse because it doesn&rsquo;t really make a difference. The fact that you will be minimising your carbon footprint, should, however, be very satisfying. Initially, recycling your refuse might seem like a lot of hard work but, as soon as you have established some infrastructure, it actually becomes very easy.</p> <p>One should only discard rubbish that burns easily and doesn&rsquo;t make black smoke (e.g. polystyrene makes lots of black smoke) on your rubbish dump, to burn at a later stage. Always keep fire extinguishing equipment handy, and never leave the fire unattended. Make compost of your organic waste. However, don&rsquo;t add any citrus or avocado kernels to your compost. The kernels become hard as stone, and the citrus will have an antibacterial effect, which will prevent the waste from breaking down. Keep different containers or bags for glass, paper, cans, polystyrene and plastic. Then find collection points or dumping sites in your area where you can drop off your refuse once per month. At most collection points there are people whose job it is to sort the seven different types of plastic (e.g. tetra packs, plastic bottles and lids, hard and soft plastic, etc.), but you can easily do it yourself by looking for the recycling number or code on the package and putting the same ones together. Also leave the stickers on paint, oil and aerosol cans so that recyclers can see if these contain any dangerous substances. Rinse bottles, cans and polystyrene containers before recycling. Bulbs and batteries cannot be recycled as they release dangerous gasses. Most Pick n Pay and Woolworths branches have containers where these can be discharged to be destroyed safely. (Adapted from an article by Ter&eacute;sa Coetzee, Rapport Beleef, 24 April 2016 &ndash; translated from Afrikaans).<br />Visit www.treevolution.co.za for a useful guide to put you on the road to recycling.<br />Refuse collection points (dumping sites) in our area: Magaliesburg, Brits, Kommandonek (Hartbeespoort), Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens and Pikitup, Roodepoort.<br />Food for thought: &ldquo;Less is more. In their forties, most people realize that they have been collecting too many things. From earthly goods to emotional baggage. Just like too many things in your house, insecurities, fears, grudges, negative people and toxic relationships rob you of precious space and energy you could have rather used for something or somebody that can enrich your life&rdquo; (Ilze Salzwedel, Rooi Rose, May 2016).</p> </div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="cat_8" style="font-size: 14px;"> <div class="acymailing_content"> <h2 class="acymailing_title">Cost-effective polystyrene homes save the environment</h2> <p>Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak! Hartbeespoort will soon be one of the first towns in South Africa to benefit from father and son team, Hennie and Muller Snyman of Get Connected Construction&rsquo;s innovative, quality and cost-effective green building method. With this method, they not only re-use polystyrene, which poses a great threat to the environment, they will also help alleviate a critical housing shortage, especially in the low-cost housing market.</p> <p>The company spent six years testing and researching to patent the fire and water resistant, lightweight and durable mixture that is used in the panels (measuring 1.2m x 3m each). Recycled polystyrene is mixed with a concrete mixture, to make panels and walls that are almost indestructible. The product has been tested by the SABS and carries its certification. Polystyrene has excellent insulation properties. According to Muller, it is estimated to be between five and ten degrees cooler in summer, and five to ten degrees warmer in winter than the outside. This method of building is approximately 30 &ndash; 35% cheaper than conventional brick construction. A small-sized home (80m&sup2;) can be built and fitted from foundation phase to handover in about 10 days.</p> <p>The panels are not yet available commercially, but will soon be. If you have any polystyrene lying around, the company will gladly take it off your hands. They will take any type or colour of polystyrene. You can either take it to the site at Kommandonek (in Cosmos, just before the turn-off to Caribbean Beach Club, on the right) or contact Muller (079 747 3406) or Hennie (081 309 3008) to arrange for collection. For more information, contact Hennie via email: <a href="mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.</a></p> </div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="cat_8" style="font-size: 14px;"> <div class="acymailing_content"> <h2 class="acymailing_title">A winter vegetable garden</h2> <p>Planning ahead &nbsp;</p> <p>By about July, oceanographers studying the central Pacific Ocean will have a pretty good idea on how the temperature of that vast body of seawater is going to behave over the ensuing six to ten months. If they predict that the temperature will rise, they&rsquo;ll be telling us in the southern hemisphere to prepare for another dry summer &ndash; an El Ni&ntilde;o effect. If they believe the temperature will be lower, they&rsquo;ll be telling us to prepare for a wet, or at least a normal, summer &ndash; a La Ni&ntilde;a effect. By about July, we in South Africa will be in the full swing of winter. Here, in the Highveld areas, this means endless cloudless days of bright sunshine followed by bitterly cold cloudless nights in which pipes freeze up and frost hammers vegetables, flowers and grassland alike. And in time, this dry brown grassland will turn black as the veld fire season gets into full swing.</p> <p>By about July, too, the effects of this season&rsquo;s drought will have started to be felt throughout the food supply chain. You can, of course, choose to do nothing and simply ride out whatever the effects of the drought are for you, your family and your property. Or you can use the intelligence you will glean from the Pacific oceanographers in about July to plan ahead and prepare for whatever next season throws at you. For your family, this should at the very least entail planting a winter vegetable garden, to foresee the needs of the kitchen and in doing so make you at least partially independent of the high-priced supermarkets.</p> <p>In Gauteng and the north-eastern parts of the Northwest Province, where we live, we are able to grow beetroot, brassicas such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, broad beans, carrots, dwarf spinach, garlic, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radishes, Swiss chard and turnips during winter. Careful soil preparation is necessary, and much depends on how much water you have available. Irrigation water is not unlimited, and some attempt must be made to use it sensibly, if not sparingly. How you irrigate, and when you irrigate, and how frequently you irrigate, will have a direct bearing on both the health of your plants and the amount of water you use (Comment, by Pete Bower, Gauteng Smallholder, vol 17, no 4, April 2016).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Planning ahead &ndash; a winter vegetable garden</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;">By about July, oceanographers studying the central Pacific Ocean will have a pretty good idea on how the temperature of that vast body of seawater is going to behave over the ensuing six to ten months. If they predict that the temperature will rise, they&rsquo;ll be telling us in the southern hemisphere to prepare for another dry summer &ndash; an El Ni&ntilde;o effect. If they believe the temperature will be lower, they&rsquo;ll be telling us to prepare for a wet, or at least a normal, summer &ndash; a La Ni&ntilde;a effect. By about July, we in South Africa will be in the full swing of winter. Here, in the Highveld areas, this means endless cloudless days of bright sunshine followed by bitterly cold cloudless nights in which pipes freeze up and frost hammers vegetables, flowers and grassland alike. And in time, this dry brown grassland will turn black as the veld fire season gets into full swing.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;">By about July, too, the effects of this season&rsquo;s drought will have started to be felt throughout the food supply chain. You can, of course, choose to do nothing and simply ride out whatever the effects of the drought are for you, your family and your property. Or you can use the intelligence you will glean from the Pacific oceanographers in about July to plan ahead and prepare for whatever next season throws at you. For your family, this should at the very least entail planting a winter vegetable garden, to foresee the needs of the kitchen and in doing so make you at least partially independent of the high-priced supermarkets.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;">In Gauteng and the north-eastern parts of the Northwest Province, where we live, we are able to grow beetroot, brassicas such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, broad beans, carrots, dwarf spinach, garlic, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radishes, Swiss chard and turnips during winter. Careful soil preparation is necessary, and much depends on how much water you have available. Irrigation water is not unlimited, and some attempt must be made to use it sensibly, if not sparingly. How you irrigate, and when you irrigate, and how frequently you irrigate, will have a direct bearing on both the health of your plants and the amount of water you use (<em>Comment, by Pete Bower, Gauteng Smallholder, vol 17, no 4, April 2016</em>).</span></p> </div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="cat_8" style="font-size: 14px;"> <div class="acymailing_content"> <h2 class="acymailing_title">Environmental snippets</h2> <h3>Cycads threatened</h3> <p>Although cycads are not endemic to our area, the general state of cycad species in our country is of great concern to all who are in favour of a balance in nature.<br />Cycads are the most threatened group of plants on earth, with 62% classified as threatened in the 2010 IUCN global assessment. South Africa is a cycad diversity hotspot, with 37 species in die genus Encephalartos, yet 78% are threatened with extinction. The greatest threat to our cycads is illegal harvesting from the wild. Three species are already extinct in the wild, four are close to extinction, and another seven have fewer than 100 individuals remaining. The rate of loss has placed the existence of wild cycads on a knife&rsquo;s edge.<br />A collaborative study between the SA National Biodiversity Institute and UCT is developing a solution to regulate the illicit trade in cycads by using stable isotopes to distinguish between wild and cultivated cycads. Having been used in numerous forensic studies, stable isotopes are now being applied to cycads.<br />As from May 2012, it is prohibited to harvest, trade, sell, buy, donate, import, export, convey or receive any wild indigenous cycad (even plants that have possession permits). If you suspect foul play, report this to the Department of Environmental Affair&rsquo;s Environmental Crimes Hotline: 0800 205 005 (KZNCA email, 15 June 2015).</p> <h3>Soil health</h3> <p>Healthy soil is the foundation of agricultural ecosystems. It builds healthy agricultural economies that, in turn, support national economies. &ldquo;Soil is teeming with micro-organisms, fungi and bacteria. Just one teaspoon contains more than 100 000, and farmers, growers and gardeners are becoming aware of the huge role they play&rdquo; (Bunny Guiness).<br />South Africa is a water-scarce country, and there is limited soil for agricultural production. Of the 100 million ha of farm land in South Africa only 12,75 million ha is arable agricultural land, some of which is prime land, i.e. more arable than the bulk. In fact, a full 47% of agricultural land is unsuited to cultivation of any kind, suitable only for grazing, game, recreation, etc. Using techniques such as no-till planting, deep mulching with natural compost, companion planting and conservative drip irrigation, helps with carbon sequestration and lowers the loss of carbon and moisture from the soil. It prevents large-scale erosion through wind and water and improves soil health, leading to improved yield and sustainable production over time. Maximum cover on top of the soil &ndash; plants, either living or dead, serve as armour for the soil, just as our epidermis forms an armour against the sun and rain. It keeps the soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter, provides food for the soil organisms that help sequestrate carbon, and builds soil structure. For every one percent of added carbon to the soil, the water-holding capacity of that soil doubles (Dr Johan Strauss &amp; Richard Findlay, Farmers Weekly, 14 October 2014).<br />According to soil health expert, dr Jill Clapperton, healthy soil will comprise a large number of functioning soil services, including: Limited soil erosion due to high soil organic matter content; increased nutrient cycling; good nutrient availability and nutrient recycling; good water-holding capacity and water filtering; and good biodegrading of potentially toxic compounds from the likes of chemical fertilisers and agricultural chemicals in the soil: &ldquo;Today&rsquo;s intensive use of nitrogen fertilisers, besides supplying the most important plant nutrient for achieving high yields, is generally believed to build soil organic matter by increasing the input of residue carbon as well as supplying nitrogen, itself a key constituent&rdquo; (&lsquo;The Browning of the Green Revolution&rsquo; by RL Mulvaney, SA Khan &amp; TR Ellsworth).</p> <h3>Did you know?</h3> <p>Humus is a complex and rather resistant mixture of brown or dark brown amorphous and colloidal organic substance which results from microbial decomposition and synthesis, and it has chemical and physical properties of great significance to soils and plants (Gauteng Smallholder, September 2015).<br />For more information on soil health, email dr Clapperton at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the website at www.rhizoterra.com</p> </div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="cat_8" style="font-size: 14px;"> <div class="acymailing_content"> <h2 class="acymailing_title">Make your life easier</h2> <h3>A self-made detergent to clean just about anything</h3> <p>Mix 1kg washing powder, 1 bottle of dishwashing liquid and 1 cup of spirits in a 5L can and fill up with water. Dilute a little bit of the mixture with water, and start cleaning. It lasts a long time and cleans beautifully (www.lapa.co.za).</p> <h3>Trick with tooth paste</h3> <p>Rub the paste on wood with water marks with a soft cloth. Then wipe with a moist cloth.</p> <h3>Tips with corn flour (Maizena)</h3> <p>Put corn flour on oil stains on material and leave for about 12 hours. Remove and wash as usual. Sprinkle corn flour on your carpet and vacuum after about half an hour. Apply corn flour to soft toys. Leave for half an hour and brush off. Put corn flour on oil stains on leather and leave overnight. Brush off the next day. After having polished your wooden furniture, sprinkle some corn flour and rub it in. This will make the wood shine. If you have too little scrambled eggs, stir in 12,5 ml of corn flour while cooking to make it more (Vrouekeur, 6 June &amp; 29 August 2014).</p> <h3>Tips with salt</h3> <p>If you make a mess in the oven or on the stove, sprinkle salt (while still in liquid form). Wipe when cooled down. Soak a cloth in saline water and use as a dust cloth. Add one table spoon of salt to 3,5 litres of water to clean your floors.</p> <h3>Burned pans?</h3> <p>Pour some saline water in the pan. Bring to the boil. The burnt layer will come off.</p> <h3>Uses for paraffin</h3> <p>Mix one cup of paraffin with 5 litres of water or mix equal amounts of bleach and vinegar to get rid of stubborn marks on windows. Add a little paraffin to the water you use to clean the tiles in your kitchen and bathroom. This will keep insects away (www.thecountrychiccottage.net).</p> </div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="cat_8" style="font-size: 14px;"> <div class="acymailing_content"> <h2 class="acymailing_title">Did you know?</h2> <p>Our exponential future: Recently, Udo Gullob from Messe, Berlin, wrote the following on artificial intelligence and smart phones:<br />Artificial intelligence: Computers are becoming exponentially better in understanding the world. By 2030, computers will have become &lsquo;more intelligent&rsquo; than humans.<br />Smart phones: The cheapest smart phones already sell at 10 dollars in Africa and Asia. By 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smart phone. There is already an App called &ldquo;moodies&rdquo; which can tell the mood you&rsquo;re in. By 2020, there will be Apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying.</p> <p>Will an apple a day make you healthier? Researchers from the University of Sydney found the following:<br />Apple pectin is a soluble fibre with the ability to absorb cholesterol, thereby decreasing your cholesterol levels.<br />Apples also contain insoluble fibre which apparently protects one against cancer of the digestive organs, like cancer of the colon and stomach.<br />Apples are rich in nitroxide &ndash; the same as the active ingredient in the under-the-tongue-tablet used by people with heart conditions (Leef Gesond, Rooi Rose, May 2016).</p> </div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="cat_8" style="font-size: 14px;"> <div class="acymailing_content"> <h2 class="acymailing_title">Words, words</h2> <p>Have you ever come across this word?<br />Sonder (n.) &ndash; the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own &ndash; populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness (Laurens Martens)</p> </div> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="cat_8" style="font-size: 14px;"> <div class="acymailing_content"> <h2 class="acymailing_title">Food for thought</h2> <p>&ldquo;There is nothing wrong with loving the crap out of everything. Negative people find their walls. So never apologize for your enthusiasm. Never. Ever. Never&rdquo; (Ryan Adams).</p> <p>Inspiring quotes by Gabriel Garc&iacute;a Marquez:<br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand&rdquo;.<br />&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t confuse my personality with my attitude &hellip; my personality is who I am. My attitude depends on who you are!&rdquo;<br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll not say everything I think but definitely think all I say&rdquo;.<br />&ldquo;Everybody wants to live at the top of the mountain, forgetting that it&rsquo;s how we climb that&rsquo;s all that matters&rdquo;.<br />&ldquo;Always tell what you feel, and do what you think&rdquo;.<br />&ldquo;Nobody would remember you if you keep your thoughts secret. Force yourself to express them&rdquo;.</p> <p>And finally...<br />Everyone has their peculiar needs, desires and agendas. They have secrets that they are not sharing with you. Most are stressed, busy, and often feel overloaded. To cope, people put up mental barricades that make it difficult to reach them. Everyone, every day, is trying to get through to people. From his experience, Mark Goulston, in his book, Just Listen, identified two facts. The first is that simply listening to people will change both their lives and yours. And the second is that nearly all people will respond to true, agenda-less listening in an authentic and heartfelt way.</p> </div> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>