#Urban #Gardening: Beetroot harvest from regrowing leftovers


Some vegetables start sprouting when you keep them in the cupboard too long.


Finding the beetroots had started growing tiny fresh leaves, I kept the scraps and planted them straight into the soil.


Curious to see what happens I chose some planter boxes that are easy to keep moist.


The beetroot cutoffs took off immediately. Fresh tender leaves were soon filling the planters:


Beetroot leaves are edible. They have a leathery texture, so boiling them in soups or frying them like seaweed makes them really yummy.


But this was not about the leaves. I was eager to find out what was going on beneath the earth!


Apparently, just like with carrots, the actual root is not meant to regrow.

However, not even half a year later I harvested these red beetroots:

These beetroots regrew from the offcuts from a previous beetroot.

Posted by Yours TrulyJuly on Wednesday, 9 September 2020


And the funny thing: The leafy top bits I could yet again plant for another round of beetroot.


A neverending cycle of nature’s generosity.


Urban Gardening: Regrow carrot from green top


I usually cut off the top bit of a carrot, as that part where the carrot turns from orange to green can be bitter.


This part is also all that is needed to regrow the carrot.


Simply put it in a bowl with water or if you have a shady and moist spot plant it straight into the soil.



The green top starts sprouting leaves right away.


Apparently the actual carrots don’t regrow, but you can always munch the carrot greens:

Carrot Greens Chimichurri Recipe

Carrot Top Soup Recipe

Carrot Top Pesto


Salt River’s “Pangolin” reemerges from repaint of building


Woodstock and Salt River boast a graffiti on almost every corner. It makes the neighbourhood colourful and friendly, inviting to an open air gallery art walk.

Every year when the International Public Art Festival is on, more murals are being added.

Such as one of Salt River’s most eye-catching street art:  ROA’s “Pangolin”.


I was amazed to see what troubles were undertaken at the House of Monatic to protect the giant anteater by taping a cover over it.

I was curious what colour would be chosen for the building, and am glad it’s a fresh white, the perfect background for this pencil art style graffiti.

After all, that’s what walls should be: Canvases.


Abandoned Corner Plot: People sleep rough in unkempt shrubs


Abandoned plots invite homeless people to settle and sleep rough, especially when unkempt bushes and shrubs offer shelter.


After sleeping rough, all the rubbish is left behind.



Rubbish flying around the neighbourhood in Cape Town’s strong winds gets already easily caught in unkempt shrubs.

Leaving additional piles of waste in turn triggers more dumping.


High bushes also make for perfect hiding places and thus attract crime.


In addition, they pose a fire hazard when summer starts.


It’s a downward spiral that can be prevented by keeping bushes and grasses trimmed.


To keep the neighbourhood safe, it’s vital to keep it clean.




Urban Gardening: Regrow celery from the rest of the root stump


Nature is so generous!


It is even possible to regrow vegetables from leftover kitchen scraps.


Celery is one of those plants that seem to be unperturbed by their surroundings and just keep on growing.

Often I take the celery bunch out of the fridge and see new stalks sprouting. All it needs is water.


Covering the root stump with a bit of water in a small bowl is enough for celery to regrow.



Celery is so undemanding, you don’t actually need to replant it into soil. You could just keep the stalks in a vase and they continue growing.


If you do plant the sprouting celery into earth, make sure it’s well watered and in a shaded spot.


For Urban Gardening on a 0 budget, you can plant the celery into compost in an upcycled plastic bottle and use grey water to keep it moist.


It is so rewarding to see it grow and even more to eat it! 😛


Healthy Greens Side Dish Tip: Red Beetroot Leaves


It’s a lot of fun to try new foods and experiment in the kitchen.


You don’t have to go far to find a whole new variety of yummies: A lot of what we cut and throw away can actually be eaten.


Red Beetroot Leaves: Healthy greens for a side dish



Red beetroots are super easy to regrow from the tops that get generally cut off.


The leaves start sprouting very quickly and are edible:

Fresh and young they can be added to salads,

more mature and leathery they can be boiled or fried like spinach.


Beet greens are nutritious as they are rich in Vitamin K, copper, manganese, iron and calcium, and they are great for maintaining a healthy weight, as they contain zero saturated fat nor cholesterol.



Recipe for Red Beetroot Leaves


Boil / blanch / steam the red beetroot leaves until tender. Make a vinaigrette or salad dressing of your liking and toss the beet greens until well covered. Serve warm as a side dish or cooled down as a salad.


Braise / fry / sauté the red beetroot leaves together with garlic, chilli pepper flakes, salt and pepper until soft. Serve warm as a side dish or cooled down as antipasto.


Roast / grill / braai the red beetroot leaves covered in olive oil and salt and pepper until crisp. Serve warm as a side dish or cooled down as a snack.


For more inspiration check out these 15 beet green recipes.


#Recipe #Tip brought to you by Yours * TrulyJuly *.


#Urban #Gardening: I planted 32 chilli peppers during lockdown


During lockdown I really got into urban gardening and growing food.


Somehow a lot of seeds I carelessly discarded in our garden as part of compostable waste had started growing and needed to be transplanted.


With garden centers closed I  upcycled plastic bottles as plant pots. There were plenty to find in Cape Town which always has rubbish flying around on the streets.


I developed serious upcycling skills, as I had no access to gardening essentials, such as soil. In the end I managed to transplant all these many seedlings on a 0 budget.


Such as these 16 Birds Eye Chilli Peppers:


And these 4 Jalapeño Chilli Peppers:


And these 12 Habanero Chilli Peppers:


A total of 32 Chilli Pepper plants.

Nature is truly generous!




Abandoned Corner Plot: Drug users hide in unkempt shrubs


During winter plants thrive in Cape Town with all the recent rain fall.

Weeds and shrubs can easily grow out of control and into far reaching bushes.


They can quickly become unsightly, as they catch all the rubbish flying around the neighbourhood in Cape Town’s strong winds.


They also attract crime, as they make for perfect hiding places.


In addition, they pose a fire hazard when summer starts.


To keep the neighbourhood safe, it’s vital to keep it clean.




Salt River’s “Pangolin” gets covered up for repaint of building


One of Salt River’s eye-catchers is being covered up, as the building it is painted on gets a makeover.


The House of Monatic is going through big trouble to cover up ROA’s “Pangolin”.

I had to look twice, as the covering material has a similar colour to the wall. But yes indeed: Painstakingly every scale of the giant anteater is protected by taping a cover over it.



What a great initiative to protect some amazing graffiti artwork!


#Urban #Gardening: I planted 7 bell peppers during lockdown



Bell peppers don’t do well in plant pots: They are prone to parasites and their fruit doesn’t develop to full size.


Most of these bell peppers needed to be transplanted from another pot where they grew in a bunch.


They got the bigger upcycled plastic bottles as plant pots, but still only produce mini fruits.


As you can see from the red bell pepper in the back row to the left, it is rather small.
It still tastes delicious, but that kind of only makes it worse that it is so tiny and gone in one bite.


Unless you’re into Bonsai versions of plants, it is not worth it: For the same effort, if the bell pepper had just been planted in a bigger pot, you’d have a proper fruit.


Bell peppers need space and do better in planters or flowerbeds.




#Urban #Gardening: Bonsai Bell Pepper = Bonchi


Experimenting with different upcycled plant pots and different pot sizes, resulted in a bell pepper bonsai:



Can you see the 2 mini green bell pepper fruits?

This is as big as they get. – True Bonsai versions!


A bonsai pepper plant is called a ‘Bonchi‘.

This one is in hibernation and lost most of its leaves, although it’s also still growing fruit.


These mini bell peppers taste nice, very green and fresh, even when they turn red.

But they probably work better as a garnish.


Because they’re really fun to look at. Like a bell pepper mini-me. Or a prop from Downsizing.


#UrbanGardening  #Bonchi


Upcycling plastic bottles: Getting to know these cheap sugary soda drinks


I don’t consume soft drinks.

All of the soda bottles I upcycle come from the streets of our neighbourhood.


Because I don’t buy processed foods and I don’t have a TV, this is the first time I’m exposed to the branding of these fizzy drinks.


Of course, I know the top 5 soft drink brands, but there are lots of local cheapie versions I’ve never seen before.



It is odd getting to know these brands for all the wrong reasons:

To me any company not offering a deposit back for the return of the bottle is the culprit of plastic pollution.


I know, because I’m going through the Sisyphus work of collecting the littered soda bottles and I never have enough hands to carry them all.


#ChooseToRefuse  #Reduce  #Reuse  #Upcycle  #Recycle


#Neighbourhood #CleanUp: Please donate rubble bags


We’re at it again!

Cleaning up the abandoned plot at 27 Greatmore Street has turned into Sisyphus work:

It only takes a while until it’s back to bad.


But we’re not giving up!


It’s hard and grimy work, and there’s so much of it!

The rubble bags I keep on collecting are quickly running out.


Please help and donate unwanted sturdy bags for collecting the rubbish:

Bags from braai wood, 20kg pet food bags, gardening bags from wood chippings or compost soil, sand bags, big rice bags, large samp bags, any bulk bags really.


I can collect, kindly email me TrulyJuly@web.de or get in touch via Facebook: HoodUplift or Instagram: HoodUplift.


#CleanUp  #NoDumping  #StopDumping  #ILoveMyHood  #HoodUplift


#Urban #Gardening: Citrus Trees with a Twist


These citrus trees grew from seed.

A bit unexpected though, as they grew from seed out of the citrus fruit that was off and I had thrown into the compost.


Accordingly some of these citrus trees grew so close together that I didn’t want to part them.

Instead I twist the two or three citrus trees around each other.


I guess that makes them citrus trees with a twist. 😉





#HowTo dry chillies: Thread them into a ristra


Chilli pepper plants look pretty with their fiery vibrant chillies.


But at some point these chillies need to be harvested or they might just go off.

To keep them from spoiling, one way to store chillies is by drying them.


How to dry chillies on a thread: Make a ristra


–  Snip the chillies off the plant at the top of their stem.

–  Using a sturdy, yet thin thread or string, sew the chillies one by one onto the thread at the base of their stem.

–  Make a big knot at both ends of the string.

–  Hang decoratively in a dry and well ventilated spot in your home.



It’s so easy to make a ristra!

It adds a dash of natural colour to your kitchen and makes for great decor.

You can simply pinch off a chilli as you need it, their flavour and heat intensifies as they dry.

Chillies can be kept this way for a long time. Fully dried out they become brittle, consume before they start to disintegrate.




#Urban #Gardening: Chilli harvest from pruning Birds Eye plants


I must admit that I turned somewhat into a fruitarian with my chilli pepper plants:

I end up only harvesting what falls naturally from the plants.


I just can’t bring myself to cut my lovingly grown plants back down!


But of course, letting plants just grow wild means they soon grow out of control.

My chilli pepper plants branched out wide and far and didn’t fit on the windowsill anymore.


In warm climates such as the Cape chilli pepper plants can survive the winter.

But they do hibernate: The plant will slow its growth to almost nil, therefore reducing its sunlight and water intake requirements drastically.


So at this time it’s ok to prune your plants for overwintering.


As I let the Birds Eye chillies dry on the stem, pruning my pepper plants resulted in a lovely harvest:


To think that these are actually offcuts:

Pruning helps your chilli plant preserve its energy during hibernation instead of wasting it on trying to sustain fruits and vegetation.


This way pepper plants can overwinter many times over, as long as they are not exposed to frost.


Nature is so generous!




#Upcycling #plastic #bottles: Funny faces for your #urban #garden


Upcycling plant pots from plastic bottles might have been a necessity during lockdown, but it’s also a lot of fun.


It adds colour and pop culture to the urban garden, and sometimes even funny faces:


These three upcycled plant pots bring some funny smiles and funky hairstyles to your window sill.



#ChooseToRefuse  #Reduce  #Reuse  #Recycle  #Upcycle


#Urban #Gardening: Amasi bottles work well as upcycled plant pots too

During lockdown garden centers were closed and I couldn’t buy plant pots for all the citrus trees that all at once decided to sprout happily and plenty.


In my desperation I reverted to upcycling plant pots from plastic bottles.


But there were several dozen citrus seedlings growing, and quite fast.

We don’t consume anything quickly enough to keep up with the number of new plants popping up.


So in my need for a holder I chose a 2 liter amasi plastic bottle.

They look quite neat with an interesting complementing fit in the Ranzani Design Ueberpot:

–  Their cream white opaque colour blends in well in many homes.

–  Their square shape comforts an easy grip.

–  The corners of the cube contrast nicely with the round Ueberpot.



I found the Use-By (UB) date on the amasi bottle quite helpful in keeping track when these citrus trees were planted and kept it.


Especially as these plant pots are only designed as a temporary solution, any type of food grade plastic container can work.

That makes upcycling plant pots quite a creative craft experiment.



#ChooseToRefuse  #Reuse  #Reduce  #Recycle  #Upcycle


#Urban #Gardening: I planted 35 citrus trees during #lockdown


Being cooped up at home during lockdown, one way to get to experience the outdoors is if you’re lucky to have a garden and can work with greenery.


Nature is incredibly generous which makes growing food at home so rewarding.


But with our garden, I faced so much growth, I hardly could keep up!


In South Africa the soil is so fertile and the climate so optimal, you just need to throw seeds on the ground and they will grow.


This is exactly what happened with our compost area: The seeds that came along with our organic waste started sprouting. ALL of them!

Before I knew it, there were seedlings popping up everywhere.


A lot of them came from oranges, lemons, mandarins and grapefruits.

Knowing they will develop into fully fledged trees, I couldn’t leave them in the ground. Our garden is not big enough to host a tree nursery.


So I started transplanting the tree seedlings. All 35 of them:



With garden centres closed during lockdown, I couldn’t buy plant pots and had to come up with a different way to give all these trees a new home.


So I experimented with making plant pots from soft drink bottles.


This turned into a win-win-win-win-win scenario: 

1)  Instead of using new plastic plant pots, I upcycled used plastic.

2)  Cape Town turned filthy during lockdown and all these plastic bottles come from Woodstock’s streets, cleaning up our neighbourhood.

3)  Upcycling all these plastic bottles means less waste for landfill.

4)  Washing the plastic bottles awarded me with the opportunity to store rainwater in them.

5)  Plastic bottles are free and unfortunately plentiful, this meant no costs for plant pots.


Thus, I managed to grow all these plants on a 0 budget!


I love when naturally things come together and fall into place. It just feels so good to do good.



#ChooseToRefuse  #Reuse  #Reduce  #Recycle  #Upcycle


#HowTo run a sustainable Neighbourhood Uplift Peace Garden: Collect rainwater in plastic bottles

Urban Gardening Peace Garden Tip: Store rainwater in soft drink bottles. https://trulyjuly.wordpress.com/2020/06/02/urban-gardening-tip-use-plastic-bottles-to-store-rainwater/



1) Plastic Bottles

Depending on how clean your neighbourhood is, plastic bottles can be readily available as trash floating around your hood.

Alternatively go to areas that need a CleanUp, such as the beach or the forest.

Otherwise, involve your neighbours actively in collecting soft drink and water bottles and instead of throwing them in the bin, keep them for the Community Peace Garden.


Why plastic bottles?

It is very easy to upcycle soft drink, water and juice bottles into plant pots.

For upcycling, the bottles might need to get washed.

Plastic is light and sturdy, doesn’t wither and doesn’t break.

Soft drink bottles are designed to pour well – ideal for watering a plant.

At least, instead of buying new plastic plant pots, these plastic bottles are kept out of landfill.


2) Rainwater

Blessed is the rain! Since the drought crisis in the Cape, more people appreciate and utilise rainwater.

Rain is easy to collect. You can start by putting out simple buckets and get as organised as collecting your roof runoff in big water tanks.


Why rainwater?

It’s freely available and, depending on where you are, a scarce resource, thus worth collecting.

Using rainwater is eco-friendly and can help lighten the burden for the municipality to provide sufficient water.

Rain is naturally clean, a soft water, resulting from evaporation, hence low in total dissolved solids.

Drinking water is precious and should be reserved for drinking. Plants don’t need drinking water, in fact rainwater is better for greenery.

Properly stored, rainwater can keep your garden green even during the hot months.






Urban Gardening Tip: Water your plants with rainwater


Somehow there is a misconception about rainwater that it’s dirty.


Rainwater is actually the cleanest you could wish for.

If you capture rainwater straight out of the air in a clean container, you could drink it.


Rainwater is better for your plants:

–   Besides being natural, rainwater is usually soft, which makes it a good option for watering your flowers and plants. Actually, the absence of those very chemicals that make tap water safe for drinking makes rainwater a better choice for your outdoor watering needs.

–  It is true that rainwater is acid. However, the acidity of rainwater is less dangerous compared to other things.

–  There is little concern about heavy metals in harvested rainwater.


So if you want your plants to flourish, it’s a good idea to collect rainwater.


Blessed is the rain. - Even when there's too much of it! If the outpour of rain floods the garden anyway, we might as well collect it.
Blessed is the rain. – Even when there’s too much of it! If the outpour of rain floods the garden, we might as well collect it.


When the rainwater is captured in a clean manner, it is possible to store it for a couple of weeks in appropriate containers. For short term use, it works well to fill plastic bottles with rainwater.


It’s a great way to keep your garden watered during the hot months. 🙂




#Recipe #Tip – How to preserve your habaneros: Spice up some gherkins


Habaneros are really quite hot, but even though lips and fingers are burning, I still want more.

They just have this lipsmacking wake-up freshness and hotness at the same time.

In response to the burning sensation our brain releases dopamine, responsible for a sense of reward and pleasure. That’s why it’s easy to get hooked on hot chillie peppers.


It’s also super easy to grow habaneros with a yield that is too much to eat.

A quick and practical way to keep habaneros fresh is to preserve them in reused pickle brine.

Or simply add the habaneros to your pickled gherkins and spice them up:



Just don’t leave the gherkins in for too long: They do get quite hot!

The brine equalises the capsaicinoids from the habaneros between the pickles and the gherkins can get really hot.






#Recipe #Tip: Reuse pickle brine to preserve homegrown vegetables

#Recipe #Tip: Reuse pickle brine to preserve homegrown vegetables. https://trulyjuly.wordpress.com/2020/06/04/recipe-tip-reuse-pickle-brine-to-preserve-homegrown-vegetables/


Can you reuse pickle brine?

Yes, as long as you reuse brine of refrigerator pickles in a jar.

And no, as you cannot reuse the brine of canned pickles.


With all the habanero chillies growing in our urban garden, we can’t keep up eating all of them fresh from the pepper plant.


How to preserve habanero chillies?

A super simple and quick way to keep habanero chillies fresh for longer is to reuse the brine from refigerator pickles in jars.


I used the leftover brine from pickled gherkins. Once the jar was empty, I simply filled it up again with our homegrown habaneros.



Ensure your leftover pickle brine is still fresh to be reused: It needs to be clear with no scum floating on the top.

Any cloudiness or discolouration indicates that the brine has gone off.


Keeping chilli peppers in brine mellows their heat: Capsaicin is soluble in acetic acid. When pickling chillies in vinegar the capsaicin leaches into the vinegar, so they taste a bit milder.

In turn the brine can get quite spicy!


An alternative is to dry the habaneros, but in in brine they stay fresh and crisp. Perfect to add to a sandwich or salad.


How often can you reuse pickle brine?

Brine cannot be reused endlessly. To be on the safe side, only reuse it once.

When adding vegetables to leftover pickle brine, the salt in the brine will draw out water from the fresh vegetables due to osmosis. So the pickle brine gets more watery and might not be as efficient in preventing the growth of pathogens.

Important is to always keep pickles made from reused brine in the fridge and consume them within days.

Using leftover pickle brine is not a method to preserve food for long-term.


#Urban #Gardening #Tip: Use plastic bottles to store rainwater

Urban Gardening Peace Garden Tip: Store rainwater in soft drink bottles. https://trulyjuly.wordpress.com/2020/06/02/urban-gardening-tip-use-plastic-bottles-to-store-rainwater/


Sometimes things come together nicely:


I have been transplanting a lot of fruit trees.

They simply kept on growing from the seeds we discarded in our garden as part of the compost. Nature is so generous, who would’ve thought that ALL of the seeds start sprouting.


Plants grow surprisingly fast and quickly get too big to be transferred into a pot. So I hardly could keep up getting the seedlings out of the ground and into proper plant pots.


In addition we had the coronavirus lockdown and there were no plant pots on sale.


But I couldn’t let 50 odd lemon, orange and papaya trees simply grow in our garden, it’d be a jungle by now.


So I started to make my own plant pots by upcycling plastic bottles.

It’s a win-win, as not only am I avoiding using new plastic plant pots, I’m also reducing plastic bottles going into landfill.


But of course these soft drink bottles need to be washed.


And even here a solution pops up out of necessity:


Thank goodness it has been raining a lot, as there are still water restrictions in place for Western Cape Municipalities after the recent drought crisis.


We keep on collecting rain water, and all our water storage containers are already full.

So the plastic bottles come in very handy indeed for storing fresh rainwater.



Again a win-win-win:

The plastic bottles get washed.

Rainwater gets stored.

And it’s actually super practical to water plants from soft drink bottles, as they were designed to pour well.
Much easier, lighter and more precise than a watering can!


#Urban #Gardening #Tip

#ChooseToRefuse #Reuse #Reduce #Recycle #Upcycle


Positive outcome of #CoronavirusSA #Lockdown: Going for walks!


Come rain, come shine… I used to cycle to commute, but now with the coronavirus lockdown having cancelled all events, there’s nowhere to go.


After 5 weeks of staying indoors and only leaving the house for grocery shopping at the corner shop, I was amazed how much I had missed the outdoors.


That experience of filling up with green energy is still very vivid in me.

So now I made it a habit to go for a walk every day. There’s good reason to, with 4 dogs.


However I do this because I realised how I had not appreciated the simple joy of going outdoors, even if it’s just the streets of Woodstock, even if it rains, even if I get pulled around by 4 dogs who still have not let go of all the bottled up energy from 5 weeks lockdown imprisonment.


It is so odd, yet, that’s why I wanted to embrace the lockdown experience fully, without numbing myself down by stockpiling alcohol or smoking.


The only way to appreciate what we have is by not having it.


So if I have to go under lockdown for 5 weeks to rediscover happiness in going for a simple walk, then thank you universe for forcing this opportunity onto me.


Hopefully I can keep up in this daily exercise routine.

But for now I’m just glad I can do it!


And so are our dogs:












#CoronavirusSA #lockdown: Green pastures above Woodstock


In my ventures to find public green spaces around Woodstock while SANparks remain closed during lockdown level 4, I reached new heights:


Crossing over the bridge at Queens Park I take in the far views over Woodstock:


From there it’s just a short walk along Selbourne Road to stairs leading up onto the M3.

On top, there is a pedestrian walkway that a lot of people use during level 4 to go jogging.


Dog walkers rather want to stay out of their way, so this person casually crosses De Waal Drive before the M3 splits in two.


It’s actually quite a safe spot, as you can see far both ways and during lockdown there’s hardly any traffic.


So we followed suit and were rewarded with green pastures:


It’s a tricky spot of course, being surrounded by highways. So the dogs can’t go off leash.

But it’s also still a lush and green stretch that is just a shame to be so inaccessible.


Well, it’s odd times during the coronavirus pandemic, so even odd places look like an opportunity to explore.












Is Dumping getting worse during CoronavirusSA Lockdown?


As we’re only allowed to walk the streets within 5km from our home during level 4, I encounter a lot of dumping!

What’s going on that so much dumping is happening during lockdown?


I’m exploring Woodstock for its hidden gem green spaces, but lately I see more and more rubbish piling up on the hidden corners.


This is at the Exit 5 Groote Schuur turnoff, actually one of my favourite spots to take the dogs for a walk:

One load of dumping quickly turned into a rubbish heap building up!


Further on, glass bottles, lots and lots of wine and beer bottles:

I collected these bottles into one pile, only for dumpers to add more bottles to it!


Since I started walking the dogs around the Woodstock streets, I have been collecting rubbish, especially plastic soft drinks bottles, along my morning lockdown walk.

Sometimes it’s so much I don’t know how to carry it all.

And sure enough, just a few steps on and I find a new plastic bag that helps me bring everything home to upcycle.

I only take one emergency poo bag with me, because I find so many toast bread plastic bags along the way that I need not worry about supply.


It’s getting ridiculous with the dumping! How can it stop?





Positive outcome of #CoronavirusSA #Lockdown: Getting up early!


I was never a morning person until I moved to South Africa.


In Cape Town the clear light of the rising sun and the crispness of the fresh air in the morning certainly are incentives to get up early.


Every now and then I’d be lucky enough to catch the sunrise, which is always spectacular.

I even participated in a Facebook group to commit to taking pictures of the sunrise.


Currently under lockdown level 4 regulations, we are only allowed to be outside for exercise between 6am and 9am.

What a way to make people appreciate the morning hours!


Now I see the sun rising almost every day.

It has become such a familiar sight that I have to stop myself in my tracks, taking in the moment when the warm golden sunrays beam over the streets of Woodstock.


The morning has broken:


Getting up early is a great way to start the day that rewards us with early rising productivity.


If the coronavirus spread prevention is forcing us to pick up good habits like making the best out of the morning hours, then I’d say that’s a positive outcome of the lockdown!












#CoronavirusSA lockdown: Green space at Woodstock commons


People keep on complaining about the lockdown level 4 regulations.


And it is true: Having the beauty of Table Mountain, the bays of all those Blue Flag beaches and the views of the plains and fynbos right in front of our nose, it’s tough not to be allowed to go.


But it’s also one of the easiest ways to save lives.


In the meantime, I use this coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to explore and get to know my neighbourhood better.


One lovely spot to walk the dogs is the commons above the N2, along where Roodebloem turns into Upper Roodebloem Road.


With recent rains and nature left to do what it likes, green pastures welcome me:


Nature didn’t go under lockdown and is thriving in the peace and quiet:


Thank goodness nature can keep it together under lockdown, as this tree’s roots are holding the earth in place:


The views are spectacular:


A piece of eden in the midst of the hussle and buzz of Woodstock’s highway turnoffs:










#CoronavirusSA #lockdown: Empty streets around the #hood


Table Mountain in walking distance and still we can’t go under lockdown stage 4 regulations.


Having 4 dogs – a social distancing measure by default – and only the neighbouring streets to go for walks means getting creative and exploring the hidden green spaces:



Where is this?


Yes, District Six, a sad reminder that this area still remains barren.

Bulldozed to the ground during Apartheid, it now offers vast open spaces.


The streets are in prime condition and hardly ever in use – perfect for skating.

On a slight slope up the mountain, the views over Cape Town’s CBD are fantastic:



During lockdown a welcomed escape from the narrow streets of Woodstock.









Do something rewarding: Grow food


What gives people feelings of power - Bringing a plant back to life from the brink of death
What gives people feelings of power – Bringing a plant back to life from the brink of death



Growing food is possible for anyone and it is super fun.


Even in a relative small plant pot, you can get impressive yields.


And plants are not expensive to keep, it is even possible to grow food on a zero budget.


Yet, the reward exceeds the effort by far.


Benefits of growing your own food


–  You know what you get.

When you grow your own food you can be sure no-one meddled with it.

You alone control what fertilisers or pest controls touch your plants. If you prefer organic food, growing it yourself is the surest way of knowing you eat pure goodness.


–  It can’t get fresher than this.

As soon as greens get cut they lose moisture and nutrients.

There is no way of knowing how old the food at the supermarket really is. When you grow it yourself, it goes straight from the garden onto the plate, packed with all its natural nourishment.


–  Homegrown food tastes better.

Even a small deformed tomato from your garden tastes better than the big plump tomato from the shop. Looks can be deceiving.

It’s also because you put in a lot of TLC and care that makes reaping the rewards taste delicious


–  You get instant results.

Food grows faster and more plentiful than we expect.

And wow, it is exciting to see the first seedling sprouting! It’s like a miracle that a fully fledged plant comes out of that tiny seed. You might get overwhelmed with how eager nature is to grow and multiply and end up with a nursery jungle: Plants and seedlings everywhere!


–  You improve your health.

Eating this fresh and organic will give you a natural boost.

In addition, working with soil and greenery is a stress reliever: It takes your mind off your worries and brings you back in touch with nature. Growing your own produce fills you with a deep sense of accomplishment.

If you’re lucky and have a garden, working outdoors keeps you fit with low-impact exercise and ensures you’re soaking up a lot of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin.


–  You save money.

Even those superfoods that cost a fortune at the organic grocery store turn out to be very easy to grow. Rocket salad grows like a weed, yet even a small packet comes with quite a price tag.

You can save the seeds from your own produce and continue growing your food next season. Keeping plants indoors means you can grow food all year round.


–  You do your bit for the environment.

Buying local is lekker, but growing local is even better.

You reduce food miles and lower your carbon footprint. Your food doesn’t need to be packaged, so you create less waste for landfill. Composting means less rubbish goes into your bin. When you go green you become more aware of opportunities to recycle and upcycle.






Urban Gardening: How to grow food on a 0 budget

#Urban #Gardening: #HowTo #grow #food on a 0 #budget. https://trulyjuly.wordpress.com/2020/05/07/urban-gardening-how-to-grow-food-on-a-0-budget/ #UrbanGardening #GoGreen #Recycle #Upcycle #Motivation #Inspiration #Success


A great idea to deal with abandoned plots is to turn them into a peace garden.

Often however there is a lack of funds to get going.

With a bit of good will and creativity it is possible to make up for missing resources:


How to grow food on a 0 budget


1) Plant:

–  Seeds are readily available from most fruit and vegetables we eat.

I deliberately rate the fresh produce I eat and keep the seeds of what tasted really good.

–  Where seeds are tricky, cloning is a great alternative.

When I came across some mint growing rogue in a flower bed gracing a street corner, I took a twig. Mint grows like a creeper and spreads far and wide quickly, so it’s best to keep it in a pot. This makes it ideal to pinch a branch and plant straight into the soil at home.


2) Soil:

–  Soil is being moved by wind and rain. There are places where soil builds up and is unwanted.

I’m regularly cleaning up the abandoned plots next door. Plenty of free soil.

–  Compost is so easy to make and means less garbage for landfill.

You don’t need much space or know-how to compost your organic waste. A wormery works wonders in really small places. It feels good to do your bit to reduce waste.

–  Used tea bags still contain a lot of nutrition and can be mixed into the soil.

I drink a lot of tea. I empty out the tea straight into the pots of plants who need their soil topped up or collect it to stretch soil for the next planting session.


3) Pots:

–  It is so easy to upcycle plant pots from plastic bottles.

Since I’m making my own plant pots I can’t help but see potential containers for my plants in any plastic item I come across. And my gosh, there is so much rubbish flying around on the streets, it offers me a great choice.

–  It is also easy to upcycle the outer cachepot.

The plant pots need at least a drip tray or, to match your interiors, a nice ornamental cover pot. Also this is easy to DIY upcycle.

Alternatively you can buy a Ranzani Design Ueberpot for only R100, thus helping to keep rubbish out of landfill.

–  Planters can be upcycled from styrofoam cooler boxes.

Styrofoam boxes make great planters: Light and sturdy, they insulate the roots and are ideal for salads and microgreens that can be enjoyed by the whole family, including pets.

If you have good design and handy DIY skills, you can build a wooden crate that looks great in your backyard.


4) Water:

–  Grey water contains more nutrients than water straight from the tap and your plants need less fertilizer. Your dishwater probably makes for the ideal bug spray.

I’m only using grey water and dishwater to water my plants. They are thriving on it.
Careful though: Don’t accidentally use salty water, hot water or water with vinegar in it.

–  Rainwater can be collected and stored for watering plants throughout the summer.

The drought crisis in Cape Town has made me very aware of water. I actually can’t believe we are so wasteful with such precious resource. Collecting rainwater has become the new norm and makes perfect sense to keep your plants green throughout the hot months.


5) Happiness:

Yes, as an extra bonus you’ll be rewarded with happiness for your efforts.

Seeing your plants grow is highly motivational. Nature is so generous, you’ll be amazed about the results.

Plus it’s deeply reassuring when you harvest your own produce. Growing food from nothing makes you realise no matter what crisis we face, coronavirus and all, we can do it.

On top of it you know that you’re consuming pure goodness. No-one messed with the food you grew yourself. It tastes great and feels like a spa day for your tummy, especially when you have IBS.


This Habanero chili pepper plant is gifting 15 fruits. How amazing is that!




#CoronavirusSA lockdown: Public green spaces around Woodstock


So the lockdown stage 4 regulations allow us to go outside for exercise, but where to if parks remain closed?


Having 4 puppies– a total foster fail – implies social distancing by default.

So when we go for dog walks, I’m always looking for a quiet area where we don’t bother others.


This comes in handy now, that we can only go for walks in public spaces around our neighbourhood.


This is one of those green hidden gems in Woodstock I like to escape to:



Granted, this green patch runs parallel to the N2, but the closest road is a turn-off with generally little traffic and now during lockdown even less cars.

It’s peaceful and quiet:



Mostly I’m the only one up here, enjoying a great view over Woodstock:



So where is this?


It’s the stretch from the top of Queens Park Avenue all the way along the N2 exit 5 Groote Schuur turn-off.

On the map it doesn’t even show as green area.


Maybe a bit of an unusual choice to go for a walk, but then again, it’s unusual times during the coronavirus pandemic.









#CoronavirusSA: Lockdown Stage 4 Sunrise Walk


What a glorious morning Cape Town gifts us for the first day of Lockdown Stage 4!


Being allowed to go for a walk outside between 6am and 9am, we took it as a great opportunity to see the sunrise.


It was as if Cape Town rewarded its residents for the 5 weeks under lockdown with this spectacular sunrise:


Heavy drops of dew were raining from our roof, but just a short walk up the road and the view cleared. It felt like we were above the clouds.


With a blanket of mist covering Cape Town, the sun looked like it was rising above the ocean:


Sunrise or Sunset? With a sea of clouds reaching far to the mountains at the horizon, this photo could be mistaken for one of Cape Town’s famous sunset shots:


The mist is also enveloping Cape Town’s industrial harbour, which looks like sea monsters are emerging from the ocean and marching towards the CBD:


Nature is in full bloom and the clear skies give a fantastic light to capture the brilliance of nature’s vibrant colours:


It is always amazing to see how generous nature is: Wild figs in the plentiful.


After seeing only the own four walls for 5 weeks of coronavirus lockdown, this view over Cape Town was breathtaking:


I had not realised how much I had missed being outdoors. The fresh air, far and wide views, space to run and stretch, were invigorating and energising.

It felt like recharging with oxygen and green energy.


It is precious that we’re allowed to leave our home for a walk around our neighbourhood.

Let’s appreciate this new freedom by adhering to the social distancing rules, so we can keep the curve flat and still slow down the spread.










Urban Gardening Tip: Benefits of Clay Pots


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.




Good Design: Wooden Planter Crate


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.







MOOP Swoop Find: Styrofoam Cooler Box


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.





Urban Gardening: Nature is so generous!

#Urban #Gardening: #Nature is so #generous! Spot how many #chili #peppers you can count?


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.




Urban Gardening: One plant is not just like another

#Urban #Gardening: One #plant is not just like another. https://trulyjuly.wordpress.com/2020/04/23/urban-gardening-one-plant-is-not-just-like-another/ #UrbanGardening


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.




Testing upcycled plant pots: The winner is – juice bottles!


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. 😀






#MOOP Swoop: Plastic bottles from Woodstock’s streets


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.







Sunrise over the roofs of Woodstock



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. 🙂





Testing upcycled plant pots: Plastic soft drink bottles


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.





Testing upcycled plant pots: Tin cans


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. 🙂






MOOP Swoop confirms: The #CoronaVirus is here


Early on Friday morning the streets were so quiet, I decided to do a mini MOOP Swoop just so we don’t drown in rubbish during lockdown.


Quickly checking the abandoned field at the corner of Greatmore and York Street, I came across evidence that indeed, the coronavirus is here, in the heart of Woodstock:

The abandoned corner plot at Greatmore and York Street is a health hazard with medical waste dumped on it.
The abandoned corner plot at Greatmore and York Street is a health hazard with medical waste dumped on it.


Among the usual dumping, an N95 respirator mask is flying around on the abandoned plot, like a harbinger of the coronavirus.


The empty corner field has always been a health hazard and fire risk, now it also harbours medical waste.






Fire on abandoned corner plot at Greatmore and York Street

Fire fighters are hosing down a fire on the abandoned field at the corner of Greatmore and York Street.
Fire fighters are hosing down a fire on the abandoned field at the corner of Greatmore and York Street.


Rather than smelling the fire, it took us by surprise when we saw smoke wafting into our garden.


Opening the door to check what was happening on the abandoned field at the corner of Greatmore and York Street, putrid smoke engulfed us.


After four fires on the neighbouring plot, my automatic reaction is to call the fire brigade.


Then we proceeded to fight the fire with some rainwater we had collected.


Now the fire was reduced to smouldering with some hot ashes flying through the air.


We checked if we needed to pour more water on the fire.


Luckily it didn’t take long for the fire fighters to arrive.


The fire brigade made sure the fire is properly extinguished.


The fire fighters could not tell what had started the fire. But itjfzf 3’s clear that it was fueled by all the rubbish that is constantly dumped on the abandoned field.






Dumping on abandoned corner plot


The abandoned corner plot at Greatmore and York Street is a neverending issue with illegal dumping.


It is an ongoing cycle of dumping and more dumping:


After big community effort to clean it up, it only took the festive season holidays for it to turn into a dump site again.


It is frustrating, as all efforts us neighbours are putting into keeping the abandoned field clean are a sisyphean task.


This time City of Cape Town cleaned up the worst of the rubbish, but not the rubble dumping: 

There’s even a brand new shoe! Why is it always only one?

It is however this unsightly dumping that attracts more dumping!

Who does this, dumping their rubble so it’s a problem for everyone. It’s free to drop off waste at the Woodstock Dump down the road!

That’s why access to this abandoned plot must be restricted with a fence. It’s simply not possible otherwise to fight against the flood of waste and dumping.



Abandoned plot at 27 Greatmore Street: A fire burns into the neighbouring house

Since out of control fires seem to be the norm on the abandoned plot at 27 Greatmore Street where we even have arson attacks, I react very worried every time I smell fire around the neighbourhood.

There is a distinct difference between a lovely braai smell and the sting of toxic smoke.

Looking around for the source of the fire, surely enough there is black smoke coming from 27 Greatmore Street.

The sight that presents itself is quite worrysome:


This time, the fire is burning into the neighbouring house:



Yet, it appears no-one cares!



People in the illegally built hokkie were passed out and it was not possible to wake them up.



So we called the fire brigade to avoid further spreading of the fire, it is a dry and windy summer in Cape Town after all.



This is the fourth fire at 27 Greatmore Street.

I cannot stress enough how dangerous a fire hazard illegal housing is, also for the surrounding properties.





Happy Heritage Day MOOP Swoop

Happy Heritage Day!

The sun is out, it’s just a bit windy.

With Cape Town’s strong gusts it is no surprise that litter gets blown about and collects in the corners of our neighbourhood.

Every bin day I do a MOOP swoop and clean up our street.

But today I also did a quick cleanup, so we can all enjoy our hood for Braai Day.

It goes so quick, in only 10 minutes I collected more than one garbage bag, which, by the way, I also found amongst the litter.

If we all did this, our neighbourhood would always be clean.


Tip: Grow Spekboom in your garden

Chances are you’ve come across this inconspicuous delicate succulent, but dismissed it as a weed.

A weed it is in the sense that it thrives even in challenging environments, but there is much more to this sturdy miracle plant as some hail it.

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In comparison to Purslane: Spekboom #UrbanGardening

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Portulacaria Afra is known by many names:
Porkbush, Elephant’s Food (English); Spekboom. Olifantskos (Afrikaans); iNtelezi, isiDondwane, isAmbilane, iNdibili, isiCococo (isiZulu); iGqwanitsha (isiXhosa).

And many nicknames: elephant bush, dwarf jade, miniature jade or small leaf jade.

It is a species of the Portulacaceae, a family of flowering plants, also known as the purslane family.


5 surprising benefits of Portulacaria Afra



The Southern African cuisine uses Spekboom in salads, soups, and stews to add a sour or tart flavour. Apparently a small sprig of Porkbush steamed with a tomato stew imparts a delicious flavour.

Elephant Bush contains a good amount of minerals: manganese, cobalt and magnesium. It also contains iodine and selenium in large quantities.



The Elephant Plant was traditionally used medicinally for a variety of minor ailments:

Traditional uses also include the increasing of breast milk by lactating mothers. The leaves are used to quench thirst, sucking a leaf is used to treat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke. Crushed leaves can be rubbed on blisters and corns on the feet to provide relief. The leaves are chewed as a treatment for sore throat and mouth infections while the astringent juice is used for soothing ailments of the skin such as pimples, rashes and insect stings. The juice is also used as an antiseptic and as a treatment for sunburn.



Porkbush is being used beneficially in rehabilitating and restoring semi-arid and thicket habitats.

Due to its unique photosynthetic procedures, Spekboom can thrive in desserts just as well as it would in rain forests. This means that it can be planted anywhere in the world to help clean the environment and restore lands that are considered destroyed.



Spekboom has become the poster plant for climate change because of its ability to absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than most other plants.

Its credentials are confirmed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute, with a stand of Porkbush having “the ability to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than an equal amount of deciduous forest” – like, for instance, the Amazon rain forest.

A Spekboom can remove up to 100 times more carbon from the atmosphere than a pine tree of similar size can do.


Very low maintenance

Elephant Bush has the ability to raise water to the surface near other plants. The plant can thrive in harsh conditions, hence its ability to withstand certain environmental hurdles. Spekboom is of great help in low maintenance gardens. It is highly drought-resistant and can survive on just +-350mm of water per year, making it the ideal choice for waterwise and eco-conscious gardeners.

Large plants survive the winter frosts by growing dense enough to provide their own natural cover. Drought-tolerant and fire-resistant, Spekboom will endure desert sun and heat, and can help fireproofing a garden. Cuttings root very easily in most potting media.


Woodstock Cleanup: Now people sleep on 27 Greatmore Street


Only a couple of days after our Woodstock cleanup, the vicious circle starts all over again:


Already people are sleeping rough on this abandoned plot.


It seems as soon as a place gets cleaned up it's just going to get abused by more people.
It seems as soon as a place gets cleaned up it’s just going to get abused by more people.


They spill over from 7 Oxford Street, where people are even sleeping on the roof.



We are not even yet with the cleanup of 27 Greatmore Street: There is a whole lot of wood and boards and shrubbery we need to get rid of before it turns into a fire hazard.


27 Greatmore Street still needs much more work.
27 Greatmore Street still needs much more work.


But with history repeating, is this just some sisyphus work?




#MOOP Swoop Find: Books

Today’s bin day and thus MOOP Swoop Day.


After our recent Woodstock cleanup it looked all still quite neat.


However, checking beneath my car resulted in a big surprise:

Weirdly enough, the only thing I found under my car was a bunch of books!


#MOOP Swoop Find: Somebody had left these books under my car.
#MOOP Swoop Find: Somebody had left these books under my car.


How odd!


They were all wet, so they must’ve been there for more than a day.


And what interesting reading taste! I’d love to know whose books these are.


Well, if anyone is missing a collection of 4 books comprising:

“A Call Girl’s Best Sex Tips”, “Women on SEX”, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” –

They are drying in the sun in our garden.


Woodstock Cleanup: About 60 rubble bags of waste

What is it about places being abused as dumps and toilets just because they appear abandoned?

Instead of utilising these spaces for the community, some lazy people bring down the entire neighbourhood by dumping, and I’m not just referring to waste, but also literally shit.

27 Greatmore Street has turned into a health hazard with rat, cockroach and fly infestations, and a fire hazard with all the rubbish piling up.

27 Greatmore Street is a dump and toilet: Full of waste and feces.
27 Greatmore Street is a dump and toilet: Full of waste and feces.

We’ve had enough of the City of Cape Town and the owner Mr Allie dodging responsibility:

In South Africa, if you want something done, you best take care of it yourself, it seems.

We’ve been regularly trying to keep Woodstock clean: Every bin day I collect all rubbish flying around our hood until our bin is full.
But it takes more: We also do bigger cleanups a couple of times a year.

This one was a major cleanup, in 2 days’ work we collected about 60 rubble bags full of waste.

And we’re nowhere near clearing the abandoned plot: Over the years of neglect, about 2m of rubble and rubbish accumulated, posing serious damage to the surrounding houses through rising damp.

Woodstock Cleanup: It takes personal initiative to get Woodstock clean.
Woodstock Cleanup: It takes personal initiative to get Woodstock clean.

Well, the worst is done – for now.

Hopefully by securing and watching the abandoned plot, it won’t get so bad again.

Now we need more bags to continue!


#Reuse #Reduce #Recycle #ChooseToRefuse #NoPlastic

After the rain: Everything is washed clean


The weather in Cape Town is fantastic.


After the drought crisis, we’re even happy when it rains.

Rainfall can be extreme, every now and then it rains so much in such a short time, water flows in streams down the roads.


And into our garden, which gets flooded.

The terrace, the walls, the plants are being sprayed clean from dusts.

All the woodchips start floating and get a good wash.

The sand in the dog’s running track gets leveled out and settles perfectly.


The next day is like a fresh start, as if nature spring-cleaned, or well winter-cleaned, all outdoors.


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After the #rain: Everything is washed clean. #LoveCapeTown

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Blessed is the rain

#Blessed is the #rain. Even when we get too much of it! It was raining like a waterfall, our garden is not draining quickly enough and gets flooded. After the Cape's #drought crisis still a #welcome sight.


After the Cape’s drought crisis, rain is always a welcome sight.


Even when we get too much of it!


It can rain like out of buckets, with thick heavy raindrops pelting down like the clouds ripped open. The pouring rain blurs your vision like a waterfall curtain and everything is instantly soaked wet.

All the water from the roof and the terrace flows into the garden.



Our backyard is all clay ground and apparently we did a really good job with our raised flowerbed wall.

So the water drains very slowly, too slow for the water masses building up in minutes. And our garden gets flooded.


Luckily the rain stopped just in time for the woodchippings not to float over the poll and into the dogs’ running track.

Because I had just laboured away a day at getting that sorted and neat.


All in preparation for the bad weather to come.

As that’s just one of the wonderful effects of heavy rain: Everything gets washed clean.




Arson attacks in Woodstock: #FireIsEveryonesFight


Fires at the abandoned plot of 27 Greatmore Street are now becoming a regular thing:


First, we had a fire whirl reaching high over the second storey roof of our house, almost setting it alight.


Then, we had another serious blaze burning down the rebuild illegal shacks yet again.


Now, a wooden bedframe was deliberately propped against the vibracrete wall and set ablaze, putting all surrounding buildings at risk of catching the fire – the sparks were flying high and far.


You can picture how high the fire was by the wide open end burn it left on the vibracrete.

The abandoned plot at 27 Greatmore Street is not only a health hazard but also a fire risk.
The abandoned plot at 27 Greatmore Street is not only a health hazard but also a fire risk.


While the first blaze looks like it was caused by unsafe handling of open fire in a shack, the two fires that followed show signs they were arson attacks.


Fortunately I must’ve developed a sixth sense by now: Since the first fire I’m very quick to notice any flames at the back of our property. Luckily in time so further severe damage could be prevented.


Please be on the lookout, especially around informal settlements: Hokkies are a fire hazard.

Save the number for the fire brigade ready in your phone: 998 / 999.

Have a fire extinguisher ready at hand or at least, with current water saving efforts, a bucket of water.

Clear abandoned plots from shrubbery and rubbish, which, especially during drought, can easily catch fire.




Beware the tomato plant – it’s poisonous for your dog


When your tomato plant looks like this... - ...it probably got eaten by your dogs...
When your tomato plant looks like this… – …it probably got eaten by your dogs…


The joys of having puppies! Yes, we love them, but they can be up to some mischief!


When this tomato plant fell (or got dragged?) off the window sill, it was a matter of minutes for it to be destroyed.


Our dogs love munching on greens, but be aware that not all plants are good for them:


Tomato plants are poisonous for dogs!


No, not the actual tomato: Tomatoes should be fine and even tomato sauce should pose no risk for your dog to ingest in moderation.


But if you are an avid gardener, chances are you have some tomatoes growing in a pot or in a vegetable patch.


Tomatoes are nightshades or Solanaceae. The stem and leaves of tomato plants contain a high dose of tomatine.

Tomatine is toxic to dogs, cats and horses. For humans a moderate amount of tomatine seems to be ok, as the popular consumption of ‘fried green tomatoes‘ shows.


So obviously when we found the shredded tomato plant, we got quite a fright of tomato poisoning.

But dont’ worry:


No dog or plant was harmed in the production of this post.


If you catch your pet eating the green parts of the tomato plant, the first step of aid is to induce vomiting.

So I took our puppies to the dog park where they all happily chomped away on some fresh grass.

Gigi turned out to be the culprit: She did not throw up, but pooped out the tomato leaves whole and in one go. Lucky us, as when the tomato leaves are expelled, so is the risk of poisoning.


However, if your pet ingested a large quantity of tomato greens and it has entered the digestive tract, consult your vet.


Fortunately the tomato plant too has recovered and is sprouting lots of new leaves everywhere. So no harm done.

But a big lesson learned:


Restrict access to tomato plants for your pets.


If you grow your tomato plant in a pot, make sure it is out of reach for the dogs. Especially when you leave your dog or cat alone, you might want to keep your tomato plants in a different room and keep it locked.


If you grow your tomato plants outside, keep them fenced off or put up a screen that your pet can’t jump over or push aside.


Offer alternative greens to your pets.


If your dogs like to snack on some fresh greens, offer them a healthy alternative and grow some safe plants, for example fresh grass, in an accessible place for them.


Is concrete bad for your garden?

Building with concrete: What effect does it have on the surrounding soil?
Building with concrete: What effect does it have on the surrounding soil?


We’re building raised flower beds and fitting to the industrial raw look of our house we want to use concrete blocks.

Concrete blocks are flexible to use, inviting to play Giant Lego, so we might even turn some of the top row on the side, functioniong as additional planters.


Our garden is square, surrounded by boundary walls. The idea is for the flower beds to run along two of the walls, in an L-shape.

All we need to do for that is build a parallel smaller wall next to the two higher boundary walls. Doing a proper job, we need a concrete foundation for this wall.


So we have concrete blocks and a fresh concrete foundation holding up the raised flower beds in which we want to grow our vegetables. The question is:


Is concrete bad for your garden?


Concrete is the mixture of sand, gravel, cement and water.


Premanufactured concrete such as concrete blocks can contain fly ash, which is toxic.


Cement contains a variety of materials, such as limestone, shells, chalk, shale, clay, slate, blast furnace slag, silica sand, iron ore, some of which are harmful.

The main hazardous effect of cement is that it is highly alkaline. Wet cement is strongly corrosive (pH = 13.5) and can easily cause severe skin burns.

Even when the cement is dry, lime leaches into the soil which raises its pH levels. Plants usually like a slightly acidic to neutral soil, in the 6.0 to 7.0 pH range.


Protect soil from the effects of adjacent concrete


If you’re concerned unwanted substances might be leaching from concrete into soil, you can protect your soil:

–   Seal concrete blocks with concrete sealant and polymer paint.

–   Line the concrete blocks with plastic sheeting.


If you just want to deal with the altered pH level, you can treat your soil:

–   Use sulphur to lower the soil’s pH level.

–   Any acidic substance can help reduce the pH level, as long as it’s not too much acid for the plants. Funny enough, dog wee could be beneficial.

–   As a quick fix, water affected plants with a white vinegar solution.

–   Plant greens that prefer a more alkaline soil, for example Clematis, Asparagus, Ferns.


Stuff I found in the garden: Domino

A Domino piece I excavated from our garden.
A Domino piece I excavated from our garden.


The things I find in the ruins of The Broken Palace vary so much, from building material and tiles to bottles to coins

And then there are more personal items like kids toys that give an insight into the life the people at The Broken Palace lived.


Such as this Domino:

I like to think elderly men sat on the stoep playing a fierce game of Domino:

Slamming the Domino piece on the table with a loud slap as if it was in the face of the opponent.

Their laughter echoing far over the streets of Woodstock.


If you know more about the Broken Palace, please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de. 🙂


The bees are swarming

What a buzz!

Some new visitors decided to make a stop in our garden: Bees!

Bees are settling in our garden.
Bees are settling in our garden.

Every now and then a bee colony runs out of space. Part of the bees pack up and decide to find a new place: They swarm.

On their way they stopped in our garden. Unfortunately they didn’t stay. Maybe not yet enough plants around for them to make it an attractive spot.

But a nice inspiration for what could be: Some homemade honey sounds very appetising.

Maybe next time they’ll settle for good. 🙂


#WaterSaving #Tip: Use your dishwater as bug repellent on your plants

Your dirty dishwater could kill some of those creepy bugs.
Your dirty dishwater could kill some creepy bugs.


My urban gardening guerrilla tomatoes (guerrilla because they kind of have the tendency to grow themselves) were all of a sudden not faring so well. A close inspection revealed they were under attack: Red Spider Mites!


When I researched How to Get Rid of Red Spider Mites Organically I was surprised to read a simple recipe for bug spray listed:


Easy recipe for bug spray

1 litre water

+  2 tablespoons cooking oil

+  2 tablespoons soap


That’s basically my dirty dishwater!


If you brush your dishes free from food leftovers and wash them with biodegradable dishwashing liquid, you can use the dirty dishwater on your plants as a bug repellent. You might need to add oil or soap, or just want to use it as a preventative in a mild mixture.


Vinegar, lemon juice, hot sauce, essential oils are also great bug repellents. So if you have any of these left over, don’t waste them down the drain, but spritz them on your plants instead.


27 Greatmore Street goes up in flames again

Fire at 27 Greatmore Street! AGAIN!
Fire at 27 Greatmore Street! AGAIN!


Saturday night just before midnight I woke up to my nightmare:


Since the fire at 27 Greatmore Street I’m anxious every time I smell something burning.


The image that had imprinted itself in my memory danced in front of me again: Flames leaping up alongside our house, knocking on our second storey windows.


I just screamed: “It’s happening again!” and with that leaped out of bed to get ready to combat the fire, this time knowing exactly what to do:

1) Call fire brigade

2) Set up ladder to get up to the roof

3) Carry up water canisters


Luckily the police arrived quickly and shortly after the fire brigade. Fortunately the fire was already subsiding, thanks to a bit of rain and our neighbour hosing down the fire with his garden pipe – history repeating.


I cannot believe this happened a second time.


The irony is that we had warned the people living rough at 27 Greatmore Street and they had put out the fire just a couple of hours earlier.


The authorities know about this. The City of Cape Town’s Waste Management Department was meant to clean up the site.


The police even came through one night and chased away the vagabonds. But they just come back and build a new hokkie.


In the meantime the whole neighbourhood is at risk of burning down if one of those shacks goes up in flames.


DIY Dog Digging Defence

DIY Dog Digging Defence: Our dogs are allowed do dig anywhere in the garden, except here.
DIY Dog Digging Defence: Our dogs are allowed do dig anywhere in the garden, except here.


We have clay soil in our garden and it’s super difficult to work:

When it’s dry it’s rock hard and requires a pick axe to be loosened up.

When it’s wet, it’s so dense, it’s waterproof and we have puddles in our garden.


In addition, we have a whole house buried in our backyard and any gardening work is interrupted by digging up rubble and rubbish and excavating the odd curious piece easily dating back several decades if not 100 years.


So I don’t mind our dogs digging. They’re doing us a great favour with this unmanageable soil and are inspiring in their determination to keep on digging.

However, out of all the places in our garden, the dogs choose the one corner they’re not allowed to dig: Where our paving meets the clay ground. – In order for the pavers to stay in place, we need the clay ground to stay put.


How to explain to dogs they’re allowed to dig over there, but not over here?


So I put up a DIY Dog Digging Defence:

Every time the dogs started digging too close to the pavers, I’d plonk down a concrete brick.

Needless to say: Our dogs would just start digging right beside it next time they got a chance.

So I’d plonk down another concrete brick.

Now we have a row of concrete bricks forming a small divider wall between pavers and clay ground.


Turns out this has additional benefits:

With the ground becoming loose in times of drought and Cape Town wind, we have dust everywhere. This small barrier helps keep the sand at bay.

It also works as a little jump in the obstacle course that our garden turns into when our dogs get the zoomies. They love any reason to jump, which seems to more than make up for the lost digging opportunity. 😉


Stuff I found in the garden: Vintage Harveys Bristol Cream bottle piece

This piece of glass excavated from our garden can tell a story.
This piece of glass excavated from our garden can tell a story.


I love excavating things that have enough information on them to date them.

Amongst the endless amount of glass shards buried in our garden, I do find every now and then an intact bottle or a piece of glass with some inscription on it.


This small piece of the bottom of a bottle reads “Harveys Bristol”.

Turns out this is a sherry called Harveys Bristol Cream.


Furthermore, their bottles are blue now, and changed from green to blue in 1994.

So this bottle is definitely from before 1994, and probably vintage.


I can just picture how the residents at The Broken Palace sat on their stoep, sipping on a glass of sherry on a warm summer evening.

Does this ring true or is it just a romantic notion? If you know more kindly get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de


Stuff I found in the garden: 1952 South Africa 3 Pence Silver Coin King George VI

I can start a coin collection:

South Africa, 1952, Threepence (1937 to 1952), King George VI Series – Silver Threepence (Tickey)
South African 1952 Silver Threepence (Tickey) (1937 to 1952), King George VI series. As per Professional Coin Grading Service: The obverse design: Head of King George VI. Inscription: “GEORGIVS VI REX”. Designed by Henry Paget (“HP”).

1952 George VI South African Silver Threepence
1952 George VI South African Silver Threepence. As per the PCGS: The reverse design: A Protea (National Flower), in full bloom, forms the center of the design. An inverted triangle surrounds it. The sides of the triangle consist of three bundles of four sticks each. The three bundles denote the coin’s value and the sticks represent the four provinces of the Union of South Africa (Transvaal, Cape, Orange Free State, and Natal). Inscription “SOUTH AFRICA” to the left, the date at top center, “SUID-AFRIKA” to the right and “3p”, flanked by two little flowers to the left and right, at the bottom center. Reverse design artist: Kruger Gray (“K” to the left and “G” to the right of the flower’s stem).

I found another 3 pence coin amidst the rubble of The Broken Palace in our garden.

It is part of the 1937 to 1952 King George VI series coins from South Africa and made from real silver.

But it’s so small and so light the value of the coin outweighs the value of the silver.

The 3 pence coin is also known as the “Tickey” in South Africa.

Even though the tickey was only around until 1960, after which the British currency was replaced by the Rand, the word stuck in South African vocabulary.

Many South Africans will remember the “Tickey Box”, the old public telephone:

Excavating relics from our garden is like a history lesson in action.

If you know more about The Broken Palace, please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de 🙂


#DIY: #HowTo paint interior doors for a professional finish

I painted this bathroom door myself and love the result.
I painted this bathroom door myself and love the result.


When our builder’s workers started applying the primer on our interior doors while they were still hanging, I knew this would end badly.

So I decided to save some costs and paint the doors myself. It couldn’t get worse than how it had been done so far.

Of course I knew nothing about painting doors, so I first had to do my research which I’m happy to share:


Good Practices for Painting Interior Doors


1) Lay down the door flat on saw horses

Painting a new interior door is easiest on saw horses:

–  Only when the door is removed from the frame can you reach all the edges. Especially new doors need to be sealed everywhere to prevent moisture from entering – that includes the bottom edge.

–  Only when the door is lying flat down can you achieve a smooth streak-free paint finish. It is easy to miss drips and runs leaving unsightly paint marks on your door. Plus you’ll avoid any mess on the walls and floors.

If the door is already installed, take it off for painting. Interior doors are hollow and easy to remove from the hinges.


2) Clean the door

Make sure there is no residue or grime on the door that would spoil the paint.

Wipe the door clean with soapy lukewarm water.


3) Sand down the door

If new or old, before painting you need to roughen up the surface.

Use a sanding block for profiled moldings and sandpaper on flat boards to smoothen any irregularities.

Clean up the dust with a vacuum or brush and damp cloth.


4) Fix any holes

Should the door have any holes, cracks or scratches, fill them before applying any primer or paint.


5) Dampen the surface

This trick is meant to help you achieve a smooth paint finish:

Wet the door’s surface slightly with a sponge or cloth.

When applying paint on the damp surface, it’ll take longer to dry, giving you more time to smoothen out any unwanted streaks or tears.


6) Prime the door

New doors need to be primed to ensure good adhesion of the finish coats. Already painted doors need no primer if they’re in good condition.

Apply one coat of primer and let it dry.

Sand down any irregularities.


7) Paint the door

The best way to avoid brush marks is by avoiding using brushes. Only paint the tricky parts like edges and ornamental designs with brushes.

Use a foam roller on all straight surfaces for an even looking finish. You might need to apply an extra coat, if the foam roller spreads the coat too thin.

Apply as many layers of paint as needed for a great finish. If you can still spot some irregularities, give it one more coat. It actually goes quick and will leave you truly happy with the result.


Stuff I found in the garden: Vintage Mother of Pearl button


Look what I excavated from our garden: A vintage Mother of Pearl button
Look what I excavated from our garden: A vintage Mother of Pearl button


The excitement of excavating something shiny when cleaning up the garden soil from rubble and debris!


I gave this Mother of Pearl button a rinse and it’s gleaming in the sun.


According to Vintage Button Emporium this nacre button is even worth something, like a pound or two. It is the rim that makes it more valuable than just a plain version. Craftsmanship is always worth something.


Interestingly, this button seems to have been fastened with a metal noose, which is still attached to it. So was it part of some sort of uniform maybe?


If you know more about The Broken Palace or the people who lived there and what happened that we’re digging up so many artefacts. please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de 🙂


Stuff we found in our garden: The various colours of our house


These pieces of plaster have been around for a while: They all show different layers of paint.
These pieces of plaster have been around for a while: They all show different layers of paint.


This looks like we have many houses buried in our garden, with the colour palette ranging through the entire colour spectrum.

I love how each plaster piece has at least 2 different colour layers.

Do they all come from one house? That must’ve looked like Pippi Longstocking’s Villa Villekulla.

Or are these remains of the houses that stood on the now abandoned corner of Greatmore and York Street?

And why are they still in our garden, why did no-one ever clean up the rubble?

If you know more about The Broken Palace, please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de 🙂


Stuff I found in the garden: Metal bits

Metal bits and bobs that I find plentiful in our garden soil.
Metal bits and bobs that I find plentiful in our garden soil.


These are the contents of only one hole.


You might think I excavated this over time.


Far from that: The dogs start digging and I start collecting. This is the result of only one of their digging holes. I don’t even know what half of these things are.


The metal bits sit compacted on top of each other. Like parts of a house that has collapsed and been buried.


In a matter of one session of removing all items from the ground that could pose a danger to digging puppy paws, this is what I collect. Besides gazillions of nails and other unidentifiable scrap metal.


What happened to The Broken Palace that once stood here? Are these the remains? How come this never got cleared up? If you know more, kindly get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de


Fire at 27 Greatmore Street: One positive outcome


When faced with potential disaster, and overcome it, there’s a great urge to make things better.


Like it was so close but we managed to escape catastrophe unscathed, it’s not possible to carry on the day as usual.


What better thing to do than put our new learnings into action:


Rubbish is a fire hazard, so let’s get rid of it!

Wild growing shrubs can also easily catch fire, especially during drought, so let’s pull them out!


So now the empty corner plot at 23 Greatmore Street is clean again:

People power: Together we can clean up even Woodstock! :)
People power: Together we can clean up even Woodstock!



Because this is how the council leaves it:

All the council had to do was to maintain it clean.
All the council had to do was to maintain it clean.



Seems like this is going to be same procedure as every year, because this is how we cleaned up last year:

All cleaned up and neat! This 'earth' is actually compacted rubbish that collected over the years and needs to be removed.
All cleaned up! This ‘earth’ is actually compacted rubbish that collected over the years and needs to be removed.


#Fire at 27 Greatmore Street: Everyday #heroes at work

The fire brigade managed to get the blaze under control quickly, thank goodness!
The fire brigade managed to get the blaze under control quickly, thank goodness!


I would’ve never thought that 3 shacks could threaten to burn down the entire neighbourhood: Especially with the drought crisis, informal settlements pose a dangerous fire hazard!

That’s what I learned after a representative of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management assessed the abandoned plot at 27 Greatmore Street.

The verdict: We were very lucky the fire didn’t spread to the neighbouring properties. Who knows what would’ve happened then. Well, clearly disaster enough for the City of Cape Town to be very concerned!

From my perspective, no luck was involved, but the combined efforts of neighbours fighting the fire with whatever means we had, keeping the blaze at bay until the fire brigade arrived just minutes away from our house going up in flames.


See our everyday heroes in action

The fire brigade is hosing down the fire:

Lots of smoke and steam from the fire:

After the fire all the rubbish is still smouldering:

Our back wall is so hot from the fire it is steaming:

This fire and then the water hosing is causing structural damage to our house:


But the real heroes to me are still our neighbours who did what had to be done without thinking twice:

As the fire had started in the early morning hours, we were all not dressed properly as we climbed onto our roofs to combat the flames with what little water we had.

In moments of potential disaster, nothing matters but action. It is thanks to this heroic act that nothing worse happened. Luckily, no-one got hurt, but we’re all left with structural damage to our properties.

If you don’t want this to happen to your home, report any illegal housing constructions right away: Report a problem building.


Fire at 27 Greatmore Street! Our house was minutes away from catching the blaze.

A firefighter is hosing down the smouldering debris at 27 Greatmore Street.
A firefighter is hosing down the smouldering debris at 27 Greatmore Street. Watch this space for more pictures to come.



Today in the early morning hours the informal settlement at the abandoned plot of 27 Greatmore Street went up in smoke. The flames leaped so high, they came over our second storey roof and burned through the telephone overhead line.



It was thanks to the group living rough on the empty field next door that I was alerted about the fire. They saw the smoke rising behind our house. As I ran upstairs to look, I could already see the flames licking at our windows, which means they were about 5 metres high.


We have all emergency numbers on our fridge, so I called the fire brigade who had already been informed by our community.


As the house started to react to the heat of the fire with bangs and cracks, I realised I had to protect our back wall.


Since the drought crisis we collect our rainwater in water canisters, the only problem was just:

How to get those 25 litre containers from the other end of our house up onto the roof?


First I had to untangle our folding step ladder and then, and I’m not really sure how, but I managed to heave that 25 kg water container up onto the top of the ladder and from there up onto our flat roof.


By that time the flames were coming at me and our roof fascia was smouldering. I poured the 25 litres down the back wall into the fire. I just lay the canister on its side and dragged it along the roof while the water was spurting out to get as much surface wet as possible.


Opposite me, from the back of Oxford Street, our neighbour stood in his blue boxers atop the roof, hosing down the fire with what little water pressure they got. It was reassuring to see we were just doing whatever we can.


I was busy heaving another canister up, when the fire brigade finally reached the blaze and contained it quickly.

Just in time, as our water distribution efforts were only holding back the fire for a short while.


It appears no-one got hurt as the people living in the shacks had made a runner.


As the firemen were hosing down the smouldering debris, the smoke cleared away and revealed the mess of burnt rubbish. The fire had eaten up everything and blackened the ground to a grotesque landscape like from an apocalypse movie.


Our back wall got so hot, that it was steaming as soon as the fire hose hit it. The plaster and one of our windows cracked.


Thank goodness for fire regulations which demand to set back the windows 1 metre from the boundary wall, I see now that this is for a good reason!

And thank goodness our windows are double glazed, which means only the outer pane cracked.

And thank goodness we’re storing water at home, it came to an unexpected helpful use.


As quickly as the fire had spread, it was all over within the hour. It was still before 8am when the fire brigade left.


And as another hot and sunny day commences in Cape Town be extra careful: Especially now during summer season coupled with a drought crisis, it is so dry, anything can just go up in flames.



Stuff we found in the garden: Nails nails nails nails

It doesn't take long to dig out a variety of nails from our garden soil.
It doesn’t take long to dig out a variety of nails from our garden.


This is the reason why I start excavating when our dogs start digging: Rusty nails.


They are everywhere in the ground of our garden. When the dogs are digging, I have to extract the nails, preferably before the dogs even reach them. Who knows where they come from, but best to get rid of them before they come too close to any soft dog paws.


Only one hole dug by the dogs contains a variety of numerous nails making me wonder how it came to be that The Broken Palace was destroyed.


From masonry nails to tiny screws, from bolts to cut clasp nails to staple fasteners, this is a collection of pretty much every nail type there is. So how did all of these come to be in our ground?


If you know more about The Broken Palace please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de 🙂


Stuff I found in the garden: Vial

What a find: A sealed Heynes Mathew Ltd. vial. It even still got some liquid inside.
What a find: A sealed Heynes Mathew Ltd. vial. It even still got some liquid inside.

A lot of the items we excavate from our garden are puzzling: I have no idea what they are or what they were used for, nor how old or from where, and most importantly: why they are buried in our ground.

The more surprising when it’s still intact and traceable: I’m always amazed that it is still possible to excavate entirely intact bottles. After removing the garden soil with a digger back to ground level, hacking at the clay earth to loosen it up, and dogs digging up the rest:

How amazing that this vial didn’t break. And it’s sealed! With something inside! 😮

It is even possible to read the pressed imprint of the manufacturer’s signature: Heynes Mathew Ltd.

Now, there’s something to research! And it comes up with results, even with dates:

Extract from The Cape Town Guide (1897) p139:
“Heynes, Mathew & Co. – This firm so widely know throughout South Africa was established in Cape Town at the beginning of the century. Their operations increased so rapidly that they found it necessary a year or two ago to construct new premises, and these are now amongst the most attractive in Cape Town. Heynes Mathew & Co.’ Building is six stories high, and is situated at the corner of Adderly and Longmarket Streets. The first floor is let to various tenants, but the remainder of the building is devoted to the requirements of their large business. They manufacture numerous specialities for their trade, and are agents also for many remedies which have a world-wide reputation.”

Even though the Heynes, Mathew & Co. building has been demolished, it appears the company still exists: HEYNES MATHEW LTD – DIVISION OF SA DRUGGISTS

Maybe they can help me date the year when this vial was made. 😮

If you know more about The Broken Palace, please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de 🙂


Stuff we found in our garden: Antique cord plug

I excavated this from our garden. What could it be?
I excavated this from our garden. What could it be?


After excavating what appears to be a door knocker, I thought I had dug out a door bell next.

Wondering why you’d want both – maybe the people at The Broken Palace were especially hospitable – I’d better double check.


As I started researching my find I quickly realised things didn’t add up. The mechanism of a push button door bell would look very different:

This 'original art deco vintage wooden electric door bell push press button' looks similar to my garden excavation, but when it's opened up to show the mechanism, it's clear that this doesn't match up.
This ‘original art deco vintage wooden electric door bell push press button’ looks similar to my garden excavation, but when it’s opened up to show the mechanism, it’s clear that this doesn’t match up.

In contrast:


Instead there are three prongs sticking out at the backside similar to the Australian thee pin plug:

This ‘black 3 pin extension lead AU/NZ plug top’ looks quite similar to my find.
This ‘black 3 pin extension lead AU/NZ plug top’ looks quite similar to my find.

In comparison:



So maybe this is an antique cord plug for lamps or fans like these:

These antique replica mid-century plugs look quite like my excavation.
These antique replica mid-century plugs look quite like my excavation.

Quite a resemblance:


However, the shape of the three pins is quite different. Some similar looking plugs refer to ‘early’ electric style, so maybe this is what plugs used to look like in South Africa in the early days of electricity?

If you know what this could be, or have references to antiques in South Africa, or remember The Broken Palace, please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de 🙂


Playing giant lego in our backyard


Our new garden design: Chillout area with braai at the back.
Our new garden design: Chillout area with braai at the back.


Progress in our garden is slow: There’s still so much fixing going on around the house, that our backyard is mostly abused as a storage facility.

So when finally the east wall got done, we had some extra space freed up to move the concrete blocks.

And the rest was left to play:

Like tending to a zen garden, an empty space is quite inviting to be reflective and creative.


The first time the concrete blocks turned into an interactive group seating area:


Now the concrete blocks form a centre piece, as the garden work will continue along the garden wall. They cover quite a bit of ground, which will prevent dust being blown around. And they stretch out like a giant sofa, an outdoor lair, complete with backrest and bird bath. And of course, the braai at the back:


With water restrictions plans for our garden are changing, so let’s see what the next giant lego reshuffle will look like. 🙂


Stuff we found in our garden: Iron Rosette with Pull Ring

Digging stuff out from our garden: What could this be?
Digging stuff out from our garden: What could this be?

With a new puppy in our home, we got a new force for digging at work. Gigi has reached that stage, where digging is the coolest thing ever.

Luckily our garden is not yet done and our dogs can dig as much as they like. In fact, they’re actually helping us: With the clay ground it’s super hard labour and with an entire house buried in our backyard, there’s still plenty to excavate. So wherever you dig, you’re bound to dig something up.

This time it’s an Iron Ring Pull with Flower Rosette. At least that’s the closest I came to finding something on the internet that resembles this.

An 8 petal iron rosette with a twisted pull ring. Was this perhaps the door knocker of The Broken Palace?

Could this be the door knocker of The Broken Palace?
Could this be the door knocker of The Broken Palace?

If you remember this door knocker or know anything about The Broken Palace, please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de 🙂


#RattieGarden: Protect your plants with a plastic crate

Chino is having a great time exploring balconia.
Chino is having a great time exploring balconia.


Keeping plants outside makes them vulnerable.

Putting a plastic crate upside down over your plant pots safeguards them from birds who would otherwise pick seeds and seedlings.

The plastic create also gives your pet rats a feeling of protection and allows them to roam their rattie garden freely without having to be anxious something might be out there to get them.

The openings of the plastic crate are the perfect size for their cute heads to pop out and check that everything is still alright. 🙂


#RattieTip: Grow a rattie garden

Rattie Bean enjoys hanging out in the rattie garden.
Rattie Bean enjoys hanging out in the rattie garden.


Our first rattie garden started by accident:


To my surprise something began growing in the abandoned flower pot on our balcony.

It was tomatoes!


Seems like rats have a green thumb, well if they had a thumb.


Because this is what happened:

One of our pet rats wanted to hide her treat – a cherry tomato – away from the rest of the clan.

She left it in a flower pot on our balcony. Really a great hideout, especially if you bury the treasure.


The tomato plant thrived and everyone had a good portion of delicious cherry tomatoes.


I contribute this to our pet rats:

They played an important part in loosening up the soil to the point that it flew in form of sand dust into our apartment, planting new seeds even if they were no seeds at all but rather food stolen from our plates, and trimming the plants sometimes with the result of total destruction.


Well, without our pet rats, the rattie garden would’ve never started.

So if they want to demolish it all and start anew with a different plant, then so be it.


It’s a bit like tending to a zen garden, just that the ratties add a random wrecking factor which teaches you to let go of the things as they are and understand that nothing is lost, it just comes back in a different way.


The handshower our saviour

Our handshower did everything for us: dishes, dogs, rugs, clothes...
Our handshower did everything for us: dishes, dogs, rugs, clothes…


Decisions, decisions!

Do we need a bath, isn’t that just a water waster? Should we have the shower in the bath or stand-alone? And if we go for a separate shower cubicle, can we at least have a handshower in the bath tub?

The handshower it is, and thank goodness!

Who would’ve thought we end up with this one handshower as the only water point in the entire house besides the showers, meaning we washed our hands, did our dishes, brushed our teeth, all with this one handshower.

It was like doing an AfrikaBurn in our own house.

Turns out also my mum ended up doing the dishes in their bath tub when they got a new kitchen.

So this is just another one of those bizarre experiences that weirdly enough some people you’d never expected share with you and totally understand what you’re going through.