Gorgeous Green House

The Renovation Journey of a 1940’s ‘Traditional’ to 2015 ‘Contemporary, Green & Gorgeous’


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Leap Frog Day

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is holding its second National Awareness Day for threatened amphibians on the 28th of February 2014 – a date now designated as Leap Day for Frogs! The day will comprise a number of events, activities and opportunities for learners, homeowners and employees to take a leap of action to save our frogs.

There are 160 frog species in South Africa, of which 30% are threatened due to habitat destruction, increasing levels of pollution in freshwater systems, disease and changes in climate.

Frog 650px wide CARLA HARDMAN

“What many South Africans don’t know is that frogs play a key role in our indigenous ecosystems because they act as both a predator of insects, some of which are disease-spreading, as well as being prey for a host of other species.  Their habitats are sources of freshwater and also assist in water filtration and flood reduction,” said Dr. Jeanne Tarrant, Manager of the EWT’s Threatened Amphibian Programme (EWT-TAP).

frog

“Frogs are also important bio-indicators due to their sensitive skins and because they inhabit both aquatic and terrestrial environments. In other words, if they are around, it means our environment is healthy.  The fact that one third of our frogs could potentially disappear is a warning sign that our natural environs are in jeopardy and that urgent conservation action is crucial.”

long toed frog (Small)

The good news is that unlike a number of other endangered species, which require global support and intervention, the protection and conservation of frogs is something in which ordinary South Africans can play a meaningful and impactful role.

tigerlily holding frog 3

Said Tarrant, “The conservation of frogs is so closely related to existing environmental management and conservation policies and practices, that it’s really just a matter of paying more attention to them.”

The awareness campaign aims to put frogs on South Africa’s conservation map by providing information on what people, businesses and government can do towards reducing their negative impact on amphibian habitats, as well as how they can create environments that are conducive to the survival of frogs.

Reed Frog in the Karkloof -  Pat Cahill

Various events will be held throughout the country focusing on threatened species including the Critically Endangered Pickersgill’s Reed Frog from KwaZulu-Natal, the Critically Endangered Amathole Toad from the Eastern Cape and the Endangered Western Leopard Toad from the Western Cape. Jeanne will be involved in two events during the course of the day:  she will be addressing local residents of Mtunzini on the afternoon of the 28th about their area being a hotspot for Pickersgill’s Reed Frog and how they can help. That evening she will be in her local town of Kloof for a family outing including kids activities, an illustrated presentation and a guided walk in Glenholme Nature Reserve. Activities focused on the Western Leopard Toad will take place in Noordhoek, Houtbay and Stanford. In the Eastern Cape, two events will be taking place to create awareness about the Amathole Toad – the local Hogsback school will take part in a wetland clean-up and a trail run on the Amathole Trail will take place on Saturday, 1 March.

More importantly though, individuals are asked to organise their own events at home, school or the office to bring attention to and celebrate these important creatures in general. The website dedicated to the day will have plenty of information on ideas, tips on how you can help and events in your area.

window frog 3.res CROP.

For further information about the EWT-TAP and Leap Day for Frogs visitwww.leapdayforfrogs.org.za  or contact Jeanne Tarrant on jeannet@ewt.org.za.

Contact:   Jeanne Tarrant
Manager: Threatened Amphibian Programme
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 31 765 5471
Cell: +27 83 254 9563
jeannet@ewt.org.za

and

Nomonde Mxhalisa
Communications Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
nomondem@ewt.org.za


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Vermiculture: gardener’s gold

I have developed quite an emotional attachment to my worms.  For good reason, they are truly amazing and greatly underappreciated creatures.

Gardeners Gold.  the result of vermiculture is the Rolls Royce of compost

Gardeners Gold. the result of vermiculture is the Rolls Royce of compost

If you haven’t yet discovered the joy of worm farming I urge you to give it a go. For the yet to be initiated:

Vermicompost is the product or process of composting using various worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and other earthworms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. Wikipedia

Earthworms aerate, till and fertilize the soil, breaking down organic waste into plant-available forms, improving the soil structure and nutrient and water-holding qualities of soil.  darwin quoteCurrent farming practices that use chemical fertilizers, pesticides and over-tillage of the soil kills earthworms and other beneficial organisms, leading to poor soil fertility, loss of soil structure and soil erosion. At the same time, rotting organic waste dumped in landfills is polluting our underground water supply and releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming.

Earthworms eat organic waste and give us healthy soil and organic fertilizer in return. The knock on effect is healthy plant growth and food that is significantly more nutritious and delicious.  Farming/gardening without man-made chemicals enables us to avoid poisoning our soil, environment and bodies. This perfect partnership is easy and fun to develop on a smaller scale at home.

There are numerous commercial systems available but you really don’t need a hi-tech operation to get started so go with what your budget allows or make your own.  My

Worm Farm. Simple design.  Effective.

Worm Farm. Simple design. Effective.

son has designed this ingenious system which enables us to maintain the health of the farm and easily harvest the ‘gardener’s gold’.  These simple re-cycled plastic boxes are divided by a section that has holes cut into it.  One side of the box is filled with food until full.  At this point we begin filling the other side leaving the first side to break down further.  As the food disappears the worms will move into the food rich section leaving behind the easy to harvest worm castings which contain up to 100-million microbes per gram – up to 20 times more than ordinary soil!  Added to your garden, these microbes continue to break down organic matter into plant-available forms, thereby enabling plant roots to take up nutrients that would otherwise have stayed bound in the soil. These beneficial organisms also suppress the growth of pathogens, which means healthy soil and healthy plants.  In addition to harvesting the castings we catch the worm wee (leachate) which drips through a hole in the base. It makes a wonderfully nutritious tea when mixed with water.  Tea for plants that is :-).

Rat nibbled aeration patch

Rat nibbled aeration patch

My farms, however, we getting a bit to much attention from other wildlife in the garden.  I realised that the aeration patches had been gnawed through and at least one rat was feasting on my red wrigglers.  I’m all for ‘the cycle of life’ etc. but realised my population was taking to much of a knock.  It was time for some maintenance and harvesting anyway so I got stuck in.  The old aeration patches

Air vent repaired with rat proof metal mesh

Air vent repaired with rat proof metal mesh

were replaced with wired mesh, the harvestable sides were harvested, the worm filled sides set aside and the whole box was given a good clean.  Worms were returned with a note on top to advise other family members to now only feed on the one side (yes it is necessary in my family!). Worms are now safe from predators and I have buckets of gold to mix into my veggies boxes.

repaired and restored

repaired and restored

P.S.  I know many of you are very anxious to see images of the incredible vertical garden.  I ask you to bear with me a little longer.  The scaffolding will be coming down soon and then you will get a much better sense of this exciting project.  If you can’t wait to get started on your own VG but need some help, get hold of the plant wizard James Halle on james@halle.co.za.  

Beautiful organic harvest grown in gardeners gold fed soil

Beautiful organic harvest grown in gardeners gold fed soil