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Monthly Archives: April 2020


This Bird’s Eye Chilli Pepper plant grew so tall, I call it a tree.


It reaches over 1.2m and it’s only staying at that height, because I have to cut it down so it fits into the window frame.

Its leaves are thinning out at the top, because there’s not much light beyond the window.


Still, it sits in a relatively tiny plant pot, small enough to fit into the Ranzani Ueberpot.


It grew like this in a clay pot.


With a clay pot you can do very little wrong to your plant:


Benefits of growing plants in clay pots

–  Clay is porous but not permeable, impeding the flow of water. It absorbs water when there’s too much and provides moisture when there’s too little.

–  The pores of the clay allow for oxygen to aerate the roots, so there’s very little chance of root rot.

–  Clay transfers temperature changes slowly to the soil and thus protects the plant from a sudden heat stroke or winter freeze.


However, clay pots break.

And so did the clay pot of this Bird’s Eye Chili Pepper Tree.


So now it’s in an upcycled yogurt plastic pot and I have to place stones on it to keep it standing safely.

At least the Bird’s Eye Tree seems to have forgiven me, because it’s still producing a couple of chilies.






While styrofoam works well for planter boxes, they don’t look that great.

Especially when upcycling a second-hand styrofoam cooler box that shows signs of heavy usage and breakage.


Having some plank cut offs left over, but not enough to make a solid box, this is the resulting clever design to encase the styrofoam box in a practical way:


–  The few wooden planks we had left are efficiently meshed together to create a sturdy crate.

–  The planks are aligned with the structure of the styrofoam box to offer optimal support and protection.

–  As this is not a solid box, it’s not too heavy and has enough gaps to easily pick up and carry.

–  The bottom planks are covered in rubber for anti-slip grip and further protection of the wood and the surface this crate sits on.







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Responding to some banging against our entrance door, this styrofoam cooler box was wanting to get in:


Pushed by Cape Town’s strong winds, it almost came in by itself, and I did not say no to what I would’ve normally considered an unwelcome guest.


But I’m getting more and more into urban gardening and of course my mind came up with the thought: Planter Box!


Apparently styrofoam works very well as a planter box, because it’s light and it insulates the roots of the plants.


Maybe a salad box?

Can’t wait to try it out.





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If you fear population growth could lead to hunger (spoiler alert: overpopulation is a myth), do yourself a favour and grow some food at home.


I am always amazed how eagerly plants grow and how generous nature is.


This Habanero chili pepper plant gifts us 15 fruits:


15 Habaneros!

All I do is give it grey water and sometimes a bit of natural fertilizer.

The plant pot is upcycled, so is the Ueberpot, the soil is from compost, the seeds are from chilies a friend had too many of.

— You can grow plants on a 0 budget.

Yet, with a bit of TLC you get impressive yields.


Guess how many Bird’s Eye chilies are growing on this pepper plant:


24 Bird’s Eye chilies!

(Hint: Some of the chilies are still green and hard to spot.)


Nature is so giving, all we need to do is treat it with kindness to understand how plentiful Mother Nature is providing for us.






Growing plants from seeds is never boring.


There is always an element of surprise as to when and how the seedling will develop.


Plants from the same seed pod can grow very differently. It is fun to see what factors impact on the size and shape of the plant.


The difference can be minimal, yet the result can be puzzling.


All of these plants are habanero chili peppers, but the one in the middle has much smaller and mostly rounder leaves:


For a while I thought it was a different chili pepper plant. Given the variety, it’s easy to mistake one for another.


But I only had one type of seeds, so the plants must be the same.


It makes me wonder what other interesting ways of shaping a plant there are.






Upcycling plastic bottles means less rubbish in the landfill.

In addition, all bottles were found on the streets of Woodstock, collecting them means a cleaner neighbourhood.


Plastic bottles come in various different shapes and sizes and the plants grow accordingly:

–  The longer the bottle, the more room for root growth, the taller the plant.

–  The wider the bottle, the more room for branch growth, the bigger the yield.


After trying out different plastic bottles for upcycling into plant pots, my favourite is:

The juice bottle.



The shape of juice bottles is the most efficient and best suited for good plant growth.

Obviously a bigger plant pot would be better. But who’s got the space for that on their window sill.

The juice bottle plant pot is giving just enough room for the plant to grow quite a respectable size and fruit yield.


Plus, it fits perfectly into the Ranzani Ueberpot. 🙂



So, if you happen to drink Simpl juice, please drop off your empty bottles at Ranzani Design. 😀






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So every bin day I do a MOOP Swoop and pick up rubbish that flies around Woodstock.


Now that I’m growing chili pepper plants, I desperately need plant pots.

Upcycling soft drink bottles works so well, that I’m simply on the lookout for plastic bottles amongst the rubbish.


The ususal sight on the abandoned plot at the corner of Greatmore and York Street: Lots of rubbish and plastic bottles.


It’s the weirdest thing:

What used to upset me, this stupid single-use plastic for stupid sickening soft drinks, is now almost a welcomed sight.

At least I’m glad I can do something with this waste to keep it out of landfill, and off the streets.







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It was back in 2014, when a group on Facebook 100 Sunrises Project inspired me to take pictures of our glorious sunrises in Cape Town.


I have never been a morning person, but South Africa is an early riser country and to my surprise this changed me to also get up early.


With sunrises as spectacular as Cape Town offers, clearly there is a great incentive to get out of bed in time to see it.


Now that winter is approaching and the skies are more often cloudy, we get to see these awesome sunrises as if as compensation for what might follow is a gloomy or rainy day.


Beat the winter blues by taking in the beauty Cape Town surrounds us with and welcome the new day drenched in hues of orange and pink the Cape Town sunrise inspires us with.


I for one can’t get enough of it: Woodstock Sunrise Collection. 🙂







After growing plants in different types of pots I think clay works best.

It helps regulate the water intake and thus is very forgiving with any watering mistakes.

Plants just seem to thrive in a clay pot, even if it’s small they grow tall.


But it breaks, easily. And it seems, eventually.


Plastic is light and sturdy. Plants can topple over in a plastic pot and nothing happens.


However, I don’t want to add to the ever growing plastic islands in the ocean, so I’m not going to buy a new plastic pot when it’s so easy to upcycle it from soft drink bottles.


Plastic bottle as upcycled plant pot

I’ve been upcycling plastic bottles for a while now and they really work well:

–  With enough drainage holes it is easy to keep plants in plastic pots. I find a minimum of 3 drainage holes works for 2 liter bottles and 4 are needed for 5 liter bottles.

–  Often the plastic is see-through which makes for interesting root display. It also looks neat in an Ueberpot, as the rim of the plastic pot is almost invisible.


Testing them with Bird’s Eye chili pepper plants shows that the plants do well in any bottle shape or size.


It is so interesting to see how different the plants grow according to the different bottles.

As if the roots taking form in the bottle are mirrored in the shape of the stems and branches.


Keep this in mind when choosing a suitable plastic bottle for upcycling.

Or do it like me and try them all, which makes for a very motley and mixed together garden.  🙂


If you like any of the pepper plants in an upcycled soft drink bottle, you can buy them for only R150.





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Chili pepper plants are ideal pot plants.

The smaller the chili, the smaller the pot can be.


It’s easy to grow chili pepper plants from seed, which you can take from any fresh or dried chili you come across.

You can simply bury the seeds directly in the plant pot and soon leaves are sprouting.


In an effort to avoid plastic I’m looking for alternatives to buying plastic plant pots from the nursery.

Growing Bird’s Eye chili peppers, I’m testing different materials and shapes, upcycling all sorts of used cans and bottles.


Tin can as upcycled plant pot

Using tin cans as a container for plants is tricky:

–  Without any drainage, watering is a balancing act. It’s easy to overwater and cause root rot.

–  Keeping the soil evenly moist causes the tin to rust and eventually break.


I would recommend using upcycled tin cans for germination only:

–  For the seeds to sprout wet soil can be helpful.

–  The initial seedlings don’t need much space.


Be sure to transplant the seedlings in time though, or you’ll end up with Chili Pepper Bonsai:


These Bird’s Eye Chili Pepper Bonsais show it is absolutely possible to grow pepper plants in tin cans.

However, it’s a lot of effort and the yield of chili peppers is not that great. It’s as if the restriction of space for the roots also restricts the amount of chili peppers the plant will produce.


Nevertheless, the chili pepper plants look stunning, even more so knowing what a feat it is to grow them in such a small tin.

Only very little water is required, which needs to be applied daily.

In return you will be rewarded with beautiful delicate flowers and bright red chilis that are a real eye catcher.


Or, if you just want the plant without the effort, you can always buy it for only R100. 🙂






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Police Minister Bheki Cele announces that under SA lockdown regulations the sale of cigarettes and alcohol are banned.

Police Minister Bheki Cele announces that under SA lockdown regulations the sale of cigarettes and alcohol are banned.


We could’ve stocked up our liquor cabinet easily in time for the coronavirus lockdown, as I had done the stockpiling of essentials early and can’t say I wasn’t warned.


But I refused the urge to panic buy:

–  Smoking increases the risk of severe COVID-19.

–  Alcohol use, especially heavy use, weakens the immune system.

So why would I hoard more of the stuff that’s increasing the risk to fall ill from the virus.


However, with the SA lockdown extension we’re indeed coming to an end of our usual stock.


A moment to fully embrace the lockdown experience:

–  It is quite liberating to encounter scarcity and realise nothing bad comes from running out of a convenience.

–  Instead of buying more stuff and pushing it in front of the old, we’re actually taking stock of what we have and use up what we don’t need to keep any longer.

–  Whatever we can, we make ourselves. This feeling of autonomy can be very self-empowering.


The lockdown is long enough to form a new habit or break a bad one.

Why not take it seriously and see it as the opportunity to change and improve.

So what if alcohol and cigarette sales are banned, this is a great chance to quit.


We are experiencing a once in a lifetime global pandemic that forces the whole world to change.

What massive inspiration to lead a healthier life.









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Have your say on the New Lockdown Regulations:

Have your say on the New Lockdown Regulations:


As lockdowns around the world are being extended, also South Africa looks likely to be under lockdown for longer.


Hopefully though, if we as citizens can be responsible enough, lockdown regulations could be amended.


You can have your say on this by actively participating in the policy shaping of the lockdown regulations.


Dear South Africa is a legally recognised and constitutionally protected non-profit platform which enables the public to co-shape all government policies, amendments and proposals.

Participation in decision-making processes means a possibility for citizens, civil society organisations and other interested parties to influence the development of policies and laws which affect them. We’ve made it easy for you as a responsible citizen of South Africa, to influence government decisions before they are made.


So, if you don’t like the way the lockdown is currently run and have ideas where to improve it, go to Dear SA and help draft the new lockdown regulations.


Have your say here:







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Every now and then when I check the Coronavirus Worldometer or hear news about COVID-19 I get this ice cold fear running down my spine.

I can’t help it, my mind jumps to horrific images inspired by silly doomsday action movies.

So for a moment I’m overwhelmed with Coronavirus Anxiety.


There’s no point in indulging in the ‘What if?’ scenarios, as your mind enters a downward spiral into worry.

Instead, focus on counteracting these daunting thoughts.


It’s normal to feel helpless in the face of a global pandemic.

Concentrate on something that is possible for you to do.


For example: Do something healthy!

When I realise my mind is circling around the coronavirus in a panicky way, I stop myself and shift my attention on something I can do right here, right now to not get scared into freezing up.


Do some exercise.

Exercise is a great way to relieve some bottled up stress.

Do 5 push-ups. Or 5 sit-ups. Or skip. Or run on the spot for 5 minutes.

Release some steam, let go of that negative energy, and your mind will follow suit and calm down.


Prepare some nutritious food.

Boost your immune system with healthy food that’s easy to add to your diet.

Eat a fruit. Munch a veggie. Toss together a salad. Make a smoothie or a freshly squeezed juice.

Power up with some super food to put your mind at ease that your body can fight this virus.


Lift your mood.

Distract your mind from the worrisome thoughts.

Put on your favourite song and do a little dance. Listen to a funny comedian and have a laugh. Call a friend and talk about their life.

If you really can’t get the worry off your mind, write it all down. But try actively to not let your mind go into doom and gloom. Stop your negative thoughts and divert them to something that you know will cheer you up.


Clean up around you.

Get rid off that virus from your mind and your surroundings by cleaning.

Wipe frequently touched items with disinfectant. Clean surfaces properly. Declutter your room.

Cleaning is a great workout and you’ll be rewarded with immediate success of a sparkly home.


Take a deep breath.

Indulge in mindfulness with breathing exercises.

Learn a controlled breathing exercise you like and practice it every time a scary coronavirus thought pops up in your head. Or simply take a deep breath and notice how powerful your lungs are.

When we are stressed it is easy to forget to breathe properly. Take a moment to collect yourself and meditate on your breathing. Feel how the oxygen fills your brain and relaxes your mind.


Put your mind at ease by protecting yourself against the coronavirus: Do something healthy

Put your mind at ease by protecting yourself against the coronavirus: Do something healthy








Happy World Rat Day!


Celebrating World Rat Day during SA’s Coronavirus Lockdown makes me realise how lucky I am to have my pet rats as companions:


Lonely during Coronavirus Lockdown?

Rats make great pets and can help as emotional support animal for lockdown loneliness:

They don’t need to go outside and are completely happy in the space of your home.

Still, ratties give all the love and affection one could wish for, being incredibly intelligent and social.


Bored during Coronavirus Lockdown?

Pet rats are fun to watch and make great entertainers during lockdown times:

If you ratproof your home you can give them free-roaming time and enjoy a hilarious rattie show.

Ratties are amazing acrobats, they can even climb up walls. They can learn clever tricks and enjoy playing with you.


Worried during Coronavirus Lockdown?

Pet rats are very emphatic animals. They are caring and altruistic, always ready to comfort you during lockdown:

Rats can’t wait to greet you followed by a thorough check-up to make sure you’re ok.

Ratties are so affectionate! As rats are naturally very shy animals, they have the most tender touch and humble approach. They enjoy being close to you and sit on your shoulder, which has a calming and reassuring effect.





Follow Rats Make Great Pets on Facebook and on Instagram.


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World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.


World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised SA’s President Cyril Ramaphosa’s leadership as the vast southern African nation battles the highest coronavirus (Covid-19) infection cases on the African continent.



In a series of tweets, Ghebreyesus summarised the message by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the COVID-19 pandemic that was televised.



Furthermore he thanked health workers at the forefront.










The South African Department of Health has launched a free coronavirus information service:

Simply dial * 120 * 394 # from your mobile phone.


You’ll be taken to a USSD channel where a lot of burning questions are answered.

This is free to access from any feature phone, no smart phone required.


Dial *120*394# for free and read up on verified coronavirus info.

Dial *120*394# for free and read up on verified coronavirus info.


In an effort to curb a shockingly high amount of fake news around COVID-19, the Department of Health has launched dedicated coronavirus update channels:



Data-free USSD: * 120 * 394 #

Toll-free Hotline: 0800 029 999


If you want to stay informed about the coronavirus make sure you check official sources with verified facts first.

If you’re unsure if some particular news is fake or not, check how to spot corona fake news.







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