Autumn Gardening tips

    After a glorious summer your thoughts need to be turning to the onset of autumn and what that will mean for your lawn, plants and flowers. As the weather turns colder and wetter (for winter rainfall regions) and the days begin to get shorter, your garden will change and need different care given to it to keep it looking good and ready for spring.
Our tips on preparing your garden and your bonsai for the coming months:
  • Feed your garden appropriately for autumn - see Autumn gardening tips of 2009
  • Prepare your garden for increased wildlife - see Autumn gardening tips of 2010
  • Gather fallen leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps and shredded prunings and layer them in a compost bin. Turn periodically with a fork to allow air to circulate, feed the organisms and to decompose the organic matter quickly.
  • Start to water down the feeding of your bonsai and terminate feeding completely in April & May. Trimming of your bonsai should be very light until April when that can stop as well. Make sure that by May all spent flowers and dead fruits are removed.

Use the time of being indoors in front of a cosy fire efficiently by reading some books. Recommended reads on bonsai are 'Kuns in die kleine' by Pieter Loubser, 'Bonsai Masterclass' by Craig Coussins, 'Bonsai Styles of the World' by Charles S. Ceronio, 'Bonsai Success in Southern Africa' by Carl Morrow and Keith Kirsten and 'Growing Bonsai in South Africa' by Doug Hall.

Bonsai Care tips from Heine at Bonsai Care - South Africa

Autumn gardening tips

Design Indaba - mixed impressions

This years Design Indaba held at the CTICC in Cape Town has led to a mixed feeling about whether it was successful or not - there are a multitude of comments on the fact that there is limited cutting edge, amazingly new design concepts and on the other hand, comments on how inspiring some of the stands and more specifically the talks were.

Herman Manson has put together a list of 7 design insights gathered from well known artists / designers to further aid aspiring designers / artists in their endeavour to capture an audience:

  • One great idea can blind you
  • Be a rebel with a cause
  • Anything goes
  • Collaborate
  • Simple is beautiful
  • Be relevant to your environment
  • Beauty inspires us

Wren was inspired by various speakers at the Indaba and came away with three positive reflections that are prevalent in any designers' life.

  • Joy
  • Patience
  • Family

While Amanda Strydom was inspired by the multitude of interesting stands, including the use of chartreuse in fabrics, eco furniture, silver orchid vases and much more.

Design Indaba 2011

Quartz is key to understanding quakes

The findings by Utah State University geophysicist Anthony Lowry and a colleague at the University of London, to be published this week in the journal Nature, may solve a riddle of the ages about the formation and location of earthquake faults, mountains, valleys and plains.

Lowry and research partner Marta Perez-Gussinye examined temperature and gravity across the Western United States from a movable network of seismic instruments to describe the geological properties of the earth's crust. During studies and repeated testing it was revealed that there was a correlation between quartz deposits and geologic events and subsequently, the scientists discovered that quartz crystal deposits are found wherever mountains or fault lines occur.

Using newly developed remote sensing technology known as Earthscope, Lowry and Perez-Gussinye found that quartz indicates a weakness in the earth's crust likely to spawn a geologic event such as an earthquake or a volcano. They explain that quartz contains trapped water that is released when heated under stress. This allows rocks to slide and flow in what Lowry termed a "viscous cycle."

Quartz also may account for the movements of continents known as continental drift or plate tectonics. The massive earthquake last week in Japan pushed the island nation eight feet closer to the continental United States as the Asiatic tectonic plate slid under the North American plate.

Source : News Daily


Organic farming certification

There is a lot of confusion among both consumer and farmers about what organic farming is and what it is not. With so many "green" labels now on grocery shelves, it can be hard to figure out what makes organic different from anything else posing as organic, as so many labels brightly say earth-friendly, sustainable, natural etc.

The difference is simple. The pure organic product should be certified as organic.

To have the right to use the label "certified organic", an organic farmer must have a production system that is "managed to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity."

If a product has been organically certified, it means that the farmer has:

  • Complied with the legislation governing organic farming
  • Documented the fact on paper
  • Been inspected and approved by an accredited organic certifier

Furthermore, organic farming prohibits the use of man made pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers as well as antibiotics, hormone treatments, genetically modified organisms, sewerage sludge and the feeding of animal by-products to livestock, so you are guaranteed a healthy product.

In most people's minds, these prohibitions are the defining characteristics of organic farming, but for the organic farmer, they are just the starting point - the rules of the game.

Building a successful organic system really depends on a farmer's ability to put together the mix of allowed farm practices that best enhances the farm's natural ecology, fertility and long-term sustainability. Choosing and coordinating crop rotations, tillage methods, soil amendments, grazing rotations and many more details is what makes organic farming endlessly fascinating and rewarding.

Four principles of the organic approach are:

  • Organic farming is proactive, not reactive
  • All farm practices and inputs are evaluated for their effect on the entire farm system and ecosystem
  • Good timing and close observation are integral to a successful organic system
  • Experimentation and learning to improve the farm system and continual
Other "green" labels may be backed by non-government standards and inspection programs, but many are only vague claims invented by marketing teams to dupe the consumer into believing they're getting something better than what it really is.

Remember to check the product you are interested in purchasing for certification by BDOCA, AFRISCO, or view some other organic certifiers.

Source : The Organic Farming Manual by Ann Larkin Hansen

Organic certification

Luxury in the forest

Romantic weekend getaways during February are definitely not easy to plan, unless planned months in advance - and who has the foresight nowadays for that?

Knysna is one of the most beautiful quaint little towns along the Garden Route, nestling between the impressive Outeniqua Mountains, the Indian Ocean and flanked by forests measuring some 80,000 ha in size, which are managed to strict conservation principles. These forests are also home to the only forest elephants in South Africa. Knysna also has some unique but endangered species such as the Knysna seahorse, the Brenton Blue Butterfly, the delicate Pansy shell and the dwarf chameleon.

Being a popular holiday destination throughout the year, this tranquil town is abundant with accommodation vast enough to match any budget. But if you want to splash out on a really romantic luxury weekend then stay at Tonquani Lodge & Spa 5 star accommodation surrounded by lush vegetation and tranquility.

Tonquani is also a honeymooner's delight where couples can look forward to unwind, relax, regenerate and enjoy each other's company. Rooms can be set up for a romantic aromatic bath, complimentary champagne, chocolates and flowers and on more than one occasion Tonquani has been the first stepping stone for couples to extend their honeymoon stay into a regular anniversary celebration.

Tonquani's Milkwood Chalet, a luxurious duplex, comprises of an upstairs air-conditioned bedroom with X-length King sized bed, downstairs has a covered sundeck with barbeque and patio furniture leading into a lounge with TV, DVD, fireplace, mini bar, tea, coffee & biscuits. It has a full bathroom with a victorian bath, TV, shower, bathrobes, slippers and a separate toilet.

The Knysna Loerie Chalet is a private tree-top hideaway. It has its own private garden with splash pool, pool loungers, weber barbecue, patio with patio furniture, a lounge with television, DVD, mini-bar, hi-fi, fireplace & airconditioner, a dining room & kitchen, and a bedroom with X-length King size four-poster hand carved bed & embossed white percale cotton linen. The luxurious en-suite bathroom has a slipper bath & indoor/outdoor shower with a walk-in dressing room and bathrobes. The chalet also has a private spa area with its own jacuzzi.

The Tonquani Spa offers an exclusive & intimate spa experience, ideal for couples & friends wanting to spend quality time together while being pampered. Their facilities include a dual treatment area, relaxation room, sauna and a change room with a rain shower. Spa guests enjoy exclusive use of the facilities during their treatments - their comprehensive Spa Menu offers treatments designed for every need.

For more information on this 5 star accommodation visit their website.

Tonquani Lodge & Spa

Hot News

Newsletter going into 3rd year!

Our monthly newsletter has been compiled and sent off to our growing subscriber base for over 2 years and is widely read by nature enthusiasts, positive thinkers, trail blazers and leaders into the new eco era.

We receive regular positive feedback on the content within the newsletter and shall endeavour to keep it flowing.

If you have any information you would like us to research, or have a product you would like to advertise, please feel free to contact us via email or by telephone on 082 82 509 82.

Featured Plant

Elegia Tectorum

Chondropetalum Tectorum = Elegia Tectorum
(Cape Thatching Reed)

Family :


Description :

Indigenous tufted reed-like plant that grows from about 20cm to 1.5m.

Flowering time :


Conditions :

  • Full Sun
  • Average water
  • Evergreen
  • Wind resistant
  • Frost resistant
  • Well drained soil

View more detailed information on this plant in our plant directory.

Wine of the month

Wine of the month

Sterhuis Chenin Blanc / Viognier 2010

Winery : Sterhuis
Winemaker : Johan Kruger

Description :

An affordable white blend, made to appeal to a broader audience, made from grapes grown on the slopes of the Bottelary Hill in Stellenbosch.

Aroma : Elegant with perfume notes and peaches and cream from both varieties.

Palate : Fine mineral character which is signature to Sterhuis terroir. Palate is full and rich with limes, orange blossom and length of peaches and apricot on the finish.

Winemaking : The Chenin Blanc was fermented in stainless steel and the Viognier fermented in older French oak with natural yeasts. After fermentation and three months on lees the wines are blended and bottled.

Food Pairing : Enjoy on its own or with spicy food and white meat dishes.

If you want to purchase or require more information on this wine, or if you are interested in a private or corporate tasting, please email Karen or visit her website.

Planting Guide

Herb or Veggie

Seeds can be sown or plants can be planted for the following herbs and veggies this month:


  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Onion
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Swisschard
  • Turnips
  • Herbs

  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Chives
  • Chamomile
  • Dill
  • Mustard
  • Oreganum
  • Parsley
  • Rocket
  • Thyme
  • Watercress
  • View our full planting plan in our resources section of our website.

    Brain Teaser

    We all love a chance to test our own brain capacity with brain teasers. Try see if you can figure out this one...

    Brain Teaser

    February's Teaser Answer :
    "Just around the corner"


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    Contact Cheral:

    Cell: 082 82 509 82