Saturday, December 10, 2011

Survivor Secrets

The lovely Keurbooms at our plot are so pretty and yet they have a limited lifespan. This drawback has not stopped me from wanting and ensuring their presence in my garden. Keurbooms deliver seeds in pods and I have found them incredibly easy to germinate. (see Plantzafrica ) It is the next phase which sees a huge attrition rate take its toll. Snails and worms just love the seedlings. I have also discovered that being too generous with water causes them to damp off and die quickly. One has to judge the amount of watering just right. I suspect that they flourish under a degree of hardship, but not too much.

After losing about 50 babies, I have coaxed about 20 plants to a less vulnerable size. I will wait until next Autumn before I even think about planting them out at the plot. 

Another success has been the rearing of baby Cape Ash trees. To be honest, I am not quite sure whether they are Cape Ash (Ekebergia capensis) or Wild Plum (Harpephyllum caffrum). The leaves and fruit of these two tree types appear to be identical and I guess only an expert in both could distinguish between them easily. I have one adult tree in my garden and there are two at the school where I work, of which only one bears fruit, the other presumably being the  male. The one in our garden is fertilized by a neighbour's male tree. The tree is a draw-card for baboons but then, what is there that a baboon does NOT eat when it is hungry? So, detractors, the tree stays!

To grow these, I scattered the fruit in the coolest, shadiest part of the garden in summer and just left them lying there on the surface. After the first cool weather of the following season, the ground was soon covered with many juveniles. I transplanted them into pots before they could become too comfortable in situ. Again, snails  proved a huge killing agent, despite them being a sturdier seedling than the Keurboom. Nevertheless, I now have plenty of these to plant out too.

I also have three Num Nums (Carissa macrocarpa) which I grew from fruit, filched from a tree on our dentist's sidewalk. (Gee, I do worry about myself!) They have taken a long time to reach this size and will have to put a spurt on when they get to the plot.

I germinated and planted some Green Pepper and some Granadilla (Passiflora) seeds, harvested from the fruit. Most seedlings were eaten by snails but there are a few survivors. Now that they have grown  bigger, I see that they are all Granadillas which have survived. Fruit-bearing, so these will have to go to the plot too!

Walking along the main drag in Swellendam, over a year ago, Roy picked up a pod in the gutter. He did not observe the tree from which it fell and after germinating and growing four seeds, we were stumped as to the plants' identity. The leaves are most intriguing, differing in formation between the plants. I recently identified them from this blog post: The Worlds Tree species

Illawara Flame tree

The question is, should I plant them out when they are so obviously Australian foreigners? They do not appear on the forbidden list alongside the beautiful  Jacaranda, so perhaps I might permit it!                        See Alien categories

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