Sunday, December 20, 2009

Social events on the Circle

In December we had our first few social events on the Circle. A child's party, our first Market Day and Carols by Candlelight.

Friday, December 4, 2009

See how our garden grows!

This is specially for Sarah in Denmark. The hills are finally covered in grass.
After all the rain we had in November, the flowers are blooming!

The Gazanias are finally starting to hide the tyres...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Farewell to Sandi !

Our time with Soil for Life has come to an end ... for now. We are so thankful to Sandi and Michael for all they have taught us. One of our home gardeners hands Sandi a gift basket as we say goodbye.
Here we are ... the Woodwind Circle Home Gardeners, eagerly waiting for the big food garden on the Circle to begin. Next week we will be meeting as the Food Garden Steering Committee, to begin planning.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Raised veggy bed

Ready to plant. A raised bed is convenient if you have bad soil (or no soil!)
Finally add top soil.

Add a layer of straw and manure. Repeat the wet and straw layers.

Add a layer of wet, organic kitchen waste like peels and rotting vegetables, tea bags and coffee grinds.

Start your raised bed with a thick layer of cardboard and / or newspaper. Cover with dry, brown materials like sticks, grass cuttings, leaves, straw, egg shells, egg boxes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Natural fertilizers and pest control

We now know that there are many, cheap ways to care for our plants. Fertilizer Tea can be made by soaking manure (horse/cow) in a bucket of water (use an old orange bag) for 2 weeks. To use it, we need to dilute it first (quarter bucket of tea, three-quarters water) and then water our plants with it. The same method can be used with compost, seaweed and comfrey leaves ... even weeds!

Pesticides are fun to make! Try making this garlic spray: lots of garlic (about 10 cloves, slightly crushed), a quarter cup of grated sunlight (or other pure) soap and steep in 1 liter of boiling water. When cool, spray on the leaves to keep insects away. You can also add some chillies and / or onions to this mixture.

Egg shells make a rough ride for greedy snails and are sure to discourage them from getting near your plants if you crush them and spread them around the base of the plant.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

A pumpkin patch is so easy to make! One spade depth into the soil, we begin with layers of dry materials, compost, straw/manure and earth, shaping the patch into a nice rectangle which stands about 10cm above the ground when finished. Into the sides of this patch are pushed a few pumpkin seeds, which will eventually trail all over the garden if they're not restrained! The patch is finally covered in sawdust and watered. The top of the patch can be used as a seed bed too!

Vermi Tea anyone?

Earthworms are our best gardeners, we are told. They work 24/7 aerating the soil, providing us with vermi-compost and vermi-tea... not to drink of course, but to give our plants an extra-nourishing drink! Michael from Soil for Life shows us how to set up a wormery, or worm farm. Did you know they have a special diet too? Oh yes! they can't eat any strong tasting things like garlic, onions or acidy foods like citrus fruits.

Our first produce!!!

We are all excited that the radishes are ready to be harvested!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Farewell to Sarah!

We say 'so long' to Sarah, who has become our dear friend during her time here with us. She flies back to Denmark on 6th November, but promises to be back in 2010! The children of the Circle gather around her to say good-bye. We will always be grateful for her enthusiasm and willingness to help us at Woodwind Circle!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Look at the seed bed now!

It is just over a month since our very first lesson in trench-beds, when the seeds were sown in this bed, and see how they've grown!! By God's grace they've survived gale force winds, blistering heat, drenching rains and thunderstorms, all of which have happened here over the last month!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vegetables in containers

We are learning that any type of container is OK to grow veges in, as you can see from these pics. The mini-incubator on the left is cut from a plastic bottle, and is used to protect newly transplanted seedlings for up to 3 days, when it is removed. This gives the seedling a chance to recover after the shock of being transplanted!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Play dough with Sarah

The children from the Circle are treated to a fun session making play dough. For some, this is a first-time experience and they have no idea what to do with it. Patiently, Sarah shows them how to colour the dough and form it into shapes. The children love it!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Compost making

To make a compost stack we layer newspaper, cardboard, dry leaves, wet organic waste, straw & manure and soil. The layers are repeated until you have a 1sq.meter stack. The whole thing is covered with an old blanket and a metal pole is inserted in the middle. This will indicate the temperature at the bottom of the stack, which should be warm and over a period of 3 months will begin to cool. The compost must be turned each month.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Potato Patch

We learn how to make a potato patch this week as Michael from Soil For Life demonstrates here. Layers of dry materials, straw, manure and soil are repeated in 1 sq.meter space. The seed potatoes are placed in deep holes and filled with compost. Looking forward to a pocket of potatoes in a few months time!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Eco Circle

Soil for life shows us how to make an eco-circle garden. The water bottle slowly waters the whole 'basin' while the sticks are placed in position to support the runner beans when they begin to climb. Once they grow, they will provide shade for the lettuces we planted in the middle of the 'basin'. Underneath the soil is a straw and manure mixture. Here the home-gardeners are mulching the eco-circle with dried leaves around each seedling.

Seedlings find a new home ...

This week our lesson from Soil for Life is how to plant vegetable seedlings. Earlier in the week, the home-gardeners got together to dig and prepare this trench bed at one of the resident's houses. Our motto (bringing the Community together) is really happening... we are getting to know (and help) our neighbours!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Flower beds in Children's Garden

Sarah, our Danish volunteer is working hard this week, creating interesting flower beds. Two loads of tree stumps have been sunk into the ground to create borders for the beds. We need lots more tree branches and stumps!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Outing to Zandvlei

It's the last day of the short school holiday, so we treat the children of the Circle to an outing at Zandvlei Environmental Nature Reserve. The weather is perfect, in fact it's 30 deg.C today! Here Mark, a conservationist, talks about the tortoise, one of the creatures they find on their tour. After the tour the children are shown how to propagate plants from cuttings. They are each given the opportunity to do it and will be able to collect their plants in 2 month's time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Seeds are put to bed.

Sandi, from Soil for Life, teaches us how to make a deep trench bed, using layers of dry and wet organic matter. Here she demonstrates how to sow the seeds and gives each runner bean a small twig to climb on. Note the cardboard which we are holding up as a wind-shield. The south-easter is blowing, which means summer is coming! Yippee!
The seed bed is in the Children's Garden, so that they can see the baby plants when they emerge from their sandy slumber...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Climbing Frame is up!

The children couldn't wait to try out the new climbing frame, put up by Wallace and other residents of Woodwind Circle. The tyres, poles, bolts and concrete were all donated. Thanks to all who contributed.

Games for the children

Our very dear friend Leeart uses his gift with children to play some games with them. It's school holidays this week and all the children are excited to be on the Circle every day, and be part of the changes happening here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Grass is planted

Another volunteer helps to plant grass on the new hill.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Volunteers come to help...

Sarah has come all the way from Denmark to be with us for a whole month, just to help us with the Children's Garden! She brought some volunteer-friends along too, and they immediately start digging and shaping the hill.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our Court needs tar!

This is our multi-purpose court, which needs a covering so that the children can play on it. Tar is the cheapest option, and we have had a wonderful offer from a friend who owns a tarring company. He is willing to tar the court for R7,500 which is equivalent to 600 British pounds or 900 US Dollars roughly. This is a quarter of the original quotes we received! If anyone is able to help us raise this amount, or would like to contribute towards it, please contact us urgently at Thank you!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Food Garden begins...

The area for the Food Garden is measured out. We are so happy that Soil For Life has agreed to teach us how to do it organically! 10 Residents have signed up for the 3-month course, which will be demonstrated on the Circle and put into practice in our home gardens.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pathway stones complete

This is the view from the central court towards the entrance. Looks neat, huh?

Pathway being upgraded

The idea is to have stones on either side of the main pathway leading into the Gardens, with attractive plants on either side. We're thinking of aloes, but where will we get them?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Children love to work too!

Here they are busy preparing the areas alongside the main pathway.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Our children are so creative!

After Planting Day, some of the children got together to make a poster at our house under the guidance of our 13 year old daughter, Sarah. They enjoyed it so much that it looks like this will become a regular event!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

1pm: The Day is done!

One of the Committee members surveys a job well done.

And more planting...

Brothers, neighbours and friends helping each other.

Still Planting...

Three sisters experiencing the joy of gardening.


Husband and wife watering the new gardens with enjoyment.


Old friends share a memorable moment while planting a tree.


Mother and daughter share the joy of gardening for the first time together.