Roots 'n' Shoots: August 2013

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Flies: Biological Control - Garden Critter of the Month

Flies at a glance

Occupation:
Predator, pollinator
Value to Gardener:
5/5 - Pest Controller and Pollinator
Danger to Humans:
2/5 – Most are harmless, some bite
Availability:
5/5 – They’ll arrive or you can buy some


Basic anatomy of a fly
Culex pipiens mosquito

Quick Intro

Flies are seen as vermin and disgusting creatures. Although a large portion of flies are detrivores and parasites, most are active predators and excellent pollinators. Fly predators eat a large range of pest species and the pollinator species are valuable when bees are lacking.

Science Stuff

Flies belong to the order Diptera (Greek, di = two and ptera = wing) and includes crane flies, midges, mosquitoes and various fly species. Some species mimic bees in appearance, such as hoverflies and bee flies, and are important pollinators. This often leads to confusion between the two orders; therefore I again provide my little diagram to illustrate the difference between Hymenoptera (Bees, wasps and ants) and Diptera (Flies and mosquitoes). Hymenoptera have a narrow waist, whereas Diptera have their hind wings reduced to spoon-shaped halters used for balance in flight. Strepsiptera (twisted wing parasites) have the opposite, their forewings are reduced to halters and their hind wings are used for flight.



Flies have large diverse niches, making use of all nature’s resources by being parasites, detrivores, fruitivores, pollinators and predators. Mouthparts vary from piercing-and-sucking to only a sucking proboscis. Chewing mouthparts are in some blood-feeding species. There are too many fly families to discuss, therefore, I will cover some of the more ‘garden’ important species:

Tipulidae (Crane flies, daddy longlegs, and leatherjackets): These are large, spindly flies with very long legs. They do not fly well and some are wingless. Larvae, known as leatherjackets, live in water or moist soil. Larvae feed on plant roots and may be destructive, whereas adults never feed. Example specimen in the diagram above.

Culicidae (Mosquitoes): Best known for their blood-feeding (haematophagous) lifestyle and for transmitting diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, encephalitis, yellow fever and elephantiasis. In some species, both males and females feed on plant juices, in others, females need to take a blood meal in order to lay eggs. Males and females look identical, except males have bushy antennae to pick up on the buzzing sound of the females.

Aedes aegypti mosquito male (right) and female (left)
Notice feathery antennae of male

Cecidomyiidae (Gall midges): Small, hairy flies that go mostly unseen. These flies will infest a specific host, to which they have evolved, through a process known as co-speciation. They cause galls formation on host plants. Adults are short-lived, whereas larvae are pests of millet, sorghum and rice.

Gall midge sp.
Cecidomyiidae 

Tabanidae (Horse flies, clegs, and deer flies): Sturdy flies often with iridescent eyes. Both males and females feed on nectar or plant juices, but females are also blood-feeding and inflict very painful bites. The females transmit surra or nagana to cattle and horses respectively, similar to sleeping sickness in humans, and also transmit the Loa loa eye worm to humans and monkeys.

Horse fly, Tabanus sp.
Tabanidae

Asilidae (Robber or Assassin flies): Their robust build and prominent proboscis makes them easy to recognise. Many are hairy, aggressive and quite frankly scary - with an equal reputation as voracious predators of other insects. Adults are strong and agile fliers. Most larvae feed on detritus.

Robber fly with stink bug, Tessaratoma papillosa prey 

Bombyliidae (Bee flies): Stumpy flies often covered in fuzz. They have long sucking proboscis and are important pollinators of many plant species. They bask in the sun and are active during the hottest part of the day, common in dry climates. They are graceful fliers and can rival the hovers in, well, hovering. Larvae are predators of insects or eggs.

Bee fly, Bombylius major 
Bombyllidae

Syrphidae (Hover, Flower or Syrphid flies): These are the bee and wasp mimic specialists, all with black and yellow striped bodies – remember to check for the narrow waist when in doubt! They have an astounding precise suspended flight (hover) and can zip about quickly. Adults feed on nectar and pollen. Larvae occupy many different niches; some are predaceous on plant pests, whereas others (known as rat-tailed larvae) feed in mud, and every niche in between.

Hover fly

Tephritidae (Fruit flies): Easily recognised by their long ovipositor (egg laying organ), triangular heads and patterned wings. These flies are host specific and adults deposit eggs in important agricultural fruit plants. Larvae develop inside the fruits and feed on the flesh. Be watchful as some have ‘narrow’ waists, but look out for the halters, they are a dead give-away!

Fruit fly
Euaresta aequalis
Tephritidae 


Habitat

Flies have diverse habitats and are common everywhere. Some larvae live in water, others on plants and some are soil-borne.

Robbers prefer to hunt in fairly open areas with little vegetation, so you will likely have them visit the garden rather than take up refuge.

Hovers are attracted to plants under attack by aphids - plants emit certain volatile chemicals when fed upon by pests that the hovers hone onto. The adults will buzz around the affected plant and promptly lay eggs on the leaves. Eggs hatch and the aphid-eating army munches away!

Bee flies? Just plant a basil – they loovvee the basil flowers! Provide some open areas in the ground or in your pots where they will make little burrows to overnight in. You will also notice that the bee flies make a lot more buzzing noise than bees. My garden is residence to many Woolly bee flies (Systoechus spp.) and they are adorable!

Woolly Bee Fly
Bombyliidae, Systoechus sp.


Woolly Bee Fly
Bombyliidae, Systoechus sp.


 Diet

Robbers ambush bees, wasps, hornets, spiders, grasshoppers, other flies and many species of flying insects in flight. It stabs its prey with their short, strong proboscis. They inject neurotoxic (paralytic) and proteolytic (protein degrading) enzymes into their victims, and subsequently suck out the digested liquids – very gruesome!

Robber fly sp.
 The 'moustache' or mystax and occular fringes are visible in this species

Lots of small flowers, such as those from the Compositae or Asteraceae plant family (dill, fennel) will convince the adult hovers to stick around. The two regular visitors to my garden are, Allograpta fuscitibialis (I will refer to it as the Black thorax hover fly, due to a lack of a common name) and Eristalinus tenax (which I will just call the striped-eye hover fly).


Black thorax hover fly
Allograpta fuscotibialis

Black thorax hover fly
Allograpta fuscotibialis

Striped Eye Hover Fly,
Eristalinus taeniops

Striped Eye Hover Fly
Eristalinus taeniops



Flies – last thoughts

Flies are unfairly defined as gross and need to be exterminated when the majority are misunderstood and beneficial to gardeners as predators of pest species and important pollinators. Seeing as they are so freely available, they make great supplementary pollinators (to bees) and effective biological pest control.



Do you have any pollinator or predatory fly visitors to your garden?

______________________________________________________________________________

Please share with fellow gardening enthusiasts via the various sharing buttons at the end of posts/pages! Else you can vote for posts through the Google reactions bar at the end of articles. To stay up to date I have provided several reader and social networking platforms with which to subscribe: TwitterPinterestRSS Feed Reader or Email/Follow directly using the Blog Followers widget on the left hand side toolbar. Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask if questions arise - I appreciate comments and ideas too! 馃槅
_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Happy Birthday Roots ‘n’ Shoots 2#


My paint doodles
I know that warts are missing!
Can't seem to paint them on correctly :)

So the blog is 2 years old today. On this special edition birthday post I generally give a good rant, not anything specific or too sciency – my OCDness also needs a break sometimes J

So I am going to start off with two cool new sites I found:

1    1.      Down to Earth

Sustainable Living

This blog is maintained by a very inspirational lady who is striving to live sustainably. You won’t necessarily get garden-specific information here, but it worth a look-see for her methods to simplify your life.



2    2.      MyFolia
This is a website that provides online-based tools for organising your garden and ‘tracking’ your plants. You fill in your garden(s), load the plants and keep track of who is productive and who isn’t. Also keeps a dairy of when and where you planted what (You think you’ll remember, but you don’t really J). It will take work from your side to maintain this, but it does help a lot! You can catch me there and my lasted doings in the garden.


Ok, I know I said no science, but this wasn’t that hard to whip up – MyFolia had all the info already I just put it to good use J

Here is a table of all the plants (germinating & growing) in my garden, which families they belong to and how many of them.





Then a Pie chart of the types of plants I grow:

So, I suppose this info is generally useless, but it was fun and interesting to make!
*Insert comments on my lack of social life* J
Oh! You can become a Folia Supported (Donate money) and they'll do this (plant reports) and more (harvest tally & planting time line) for you! J


Now for a garden update. The garden has had a major make-over, I have moved the greenhouse, since nothing survives in there for too long (too hot & no bugs get in for pollination!). The greenhouse has been used for something else, I will report on that later…

Greenhouse moved & replaced

Garden Panorama! - so rarely do I get to use this camera function :)

Whisker Flowers have migrated

Then the pumpkin patch has expanded and we have acquired a 5000L tank! Phew, that is a lot of water! Now we can get lots of vegies going and make it through the winter on mostly stored rainwater. Also, we don’t have to haul water from my main garden’s 1000L tank all the way to the pumpkin patch anymore – cuts down on lots of effort and saves time for more veg growing J

Monster Tank
New patch under construction
P.S: The chickens are convinced I should feed
them every time they see me





















On to some interesting blog stats:


Here are the links to the top posts: ...and the likely reasons why

Eggplant - This post is famous for that one cartoon picture of the eggplant there
Praying Mantis - It gets hits due to the origami fold instructions at the end
Sistas in da Coop! - Mostly hits from South Africa concerning our native chickens: Koekoek, Boschveld ...
Peppers - Info on Blossom end rot & holy sunburned green peppers
Basil - Likely for the rooting in water part
Parktown Prawn - Just because anyone in Highveld knows the horror of having one in your house!
Amphibians - Has a nice comparative picture of a toad vs. frog morphology
Potato - Chitting of potatoes
Carrot - Powedery mildew on carrot tops
Rosemary - Pruning instructions (albeit one/two sentences) for most herbs

I think that the eggplant post is likely going to stick to the top spot - like a perpetual pendulum! Some really strange things for which these posts are famous for - hopefully the content is read as well, and its not just a smash and grab picture scenario Links to the most popular pages are above in the 'Page bar' for your convenience. Also please feel free to check out my other posts @ the Index & Info page.


The Whisker Flowers are multiplying!
- and competing for sun worshipping

Last year's B-day post:   2012 Happy birthday Roots 'n' Shoots

I have run out of nonsense! So I hope you will stay with Roots 'n' Shoots until its next birthday and will enjoy content (and pictures) along the way.



- Me Out -


Follow me on Twitter @ Roots 'n' Shoots for blog updates and other interesting stuff!


____________________________________________________________________________________
If you enjoy the content please share with fellow gardening enthusiasts via the various sharing buttons at the end of posts/pages! Else you can vote for posts through the Google reactions bar at the end of articles. To stay up to date I have provided several reader and social networking platforms with which to subscribe: Twitter, Pinterest, RSS Feed Reader or Email/Follow directly using the Blog Followers or Follow Your Way widget on the left hand side toolbar. Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask if questions arise - I appreciate comments and ideas too! J
____________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Garden Talk - Herbs, Bulbs & Flowers



Another talk we attended at Garden World

Garden World


Picture from Garden World's Website


Margaret Roberts has done for South Africa what Jekka McVicar has done for the United Kingdom when it comes to herbs. She has been a herbal pioneer for more than 40 years and has several (30) published books under her name. She consults and lectures on herbs, medicinal food and organic garden practises. She runs a herb farm; the Herbal Center @ De Wildt (about ~40km from us) . Her daughter, Sandy Roberts, runs the restaurant at the herbal center.

- P.S. for those who don't know, De Wildt sports a Cheetah and Wildlife reserve -

The University of Pretoria has given Margaret Roberts a Laureate Award in recognition for her contribution to the herbology field.

Website

Hadeco is an international company specialising in bulbs and fresh-cut flowers: Website & Blog


... Again the talk was jam-packed with all interesting things, a fat goody bag, prizes (again my luck wasn't with me) and lively atmosphere.

I mainly went to this talk for Margaret Roberts and her daughter, Sandy Roberts. Margaret Roberts is very big on an 'edible & healthy garden'. Her latest passion is edible flowers - how to use them in your food and their medicinal uses. Sandy specifically mentioned that flowers with more fragrance and 'higher tones' are more suited to sweet dishes (lavender, tuber rose), whereas herb flowers are more reserved for savoury dishes (thyme, sage).


Margaret Roberts gave us a quick cream recipe for dry skin and general purpose moisturising.

1 Cup of Flowers petals (Carnation & Calendula - AKA Marigold)
1 Cup of Aqueous cream

Boil for 20 minutes in a double boiler or until the flower petals have 'melted'. Cool the cream and run through a sieve to remove any petal remains. A natural preservative to add, would be 2 teaspoons of Vitamin E oil. An optional extra is 2 tsp of almond oil for a richer lotion. Place in sterile jars (boil jar for 5 minutes).

Another recipe is her Health Juice:

Celery - 1 stick per person
Parsley - 4 sprigs per person
1 Cup of wheat grass
1-2 peeled apples
1-2 beets
1-2 carrots

To remove most unwanted chemicals form store bought fruits - was the fruits with a solution of apple cider vinegar (1/2 cup vinegar to 2 liters of water).

Margaret Roberts has several herbs and fruits that must be part of an edible garden for all their health benefits:

Thyme
Oregano
Sage
Mint
Basil
Celery
Parsley
Pomegranate
Berries (raspberry, blueberry, cape gooseberry and blackberry)
Lemon
Pawpaw or Papaya
Granadilla

We also had a specialist from Hadeco to give us a quick 101 on bulbs and a flower arrangement demonstration.



Previous Garden Talk: Jane Griffiths & Grow your own food



_________________________________________________________________________________
If you enjoy the content please share with fellow gardening enthusiasts via the various sharing buttons at the end of posts/pages! Else you can vote for posts through the Google reactions bar at the end of articles. To stay up to date I have provided several reader and social networking platforms with which to subscribe: TwitterPinterestRSS Feed Reader or Email/Follow directly using the Blog Followers or Follow Your Way widget on the left hand side toolbar. Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask if questions arise - I appreciate comments and ideas too! J
_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The C Files: Reasons for keeping chickens

In addition to my previous post on Basic Chicken Care: Feed & Water, I thought I’d quickly to a titbit post on the Reasons for Keeping Chickens. Before we get to the reasons for keeping chickens lets first summarise the different chicken keeping methods:



There are two categories of chicken keeping; Battery cage and cage free.

Battery-cage: These are industrial units for poultry farming on a large scale (also known as factory farming). Mostly the cages are small and don’t really allow for movement. Cages are packed close together and the floor has a wire mesh to prevent waste build-up under the chicken. Now I am not going to go further into any detail as it is upsetting. I have seen battery hens for myself, a local farmer claimed to be selling chickens and didn’t inform us that they were battery chickens. Due to public outcry, most battery systems have been banned, but as far as I know it is not banned in SA. Anyways, I am just providing this for perspective, there are many animal welfare sites you can visit for more info.

Cage-free: These remain agricultural production units, but try to be more humane. These systems don’t have chickens locked in cages, but allow some movement (still restricted). This production method includes barn, free range and organic methods.

Farm fresh eggs: These are merely eggs less than 21 days old and can be from caged or non-caged systems.

Barn chickens: An indoor system where chickens are kept in barns (or aviaries).  Birds are allowed movement within the barn and some scratch space. Units have a maximum stocking density of 9-12 birds per square meter. There is one nest box for seven hens and 15cm of perching space.

Organic chickens: These are generally chickens kept in non-cage systems. They are fed ‘organic’ feeds, this means, feeds need to have been produced on farms free of toxins and fertilisers for at least three years. The chickens in this system do not get fed hormones or given antibiotics.

  


Free range: The laws governing free range chickens and free range eggs differ between countries. The chickens have similar indoor requirements as barn chickens. The birds are allowed outside in an enclosed area and units have 25 birds per square meter outdoor space. The chickens are allowed all day access to the outdoor area covered with grass.

Backyard chickens: I can’t find a proper definition for backyard chickens, but I assume this will be for personal rather than commercial purposes. Seeing as this has no formal definition I assume that backyard chickens have large range areas with access to greens, insects and grit with their usual chicken feed. They have a spacious nest and roosting areas with a clean coop. Chickens are kept either for eggs, composting, insect and weed management as part of an already existing sustainable vegetable garden system.

Pastured chickens: A chicken management system regardless of the flock size. Sometimes chicken tractors are used to allow chickens access to new forage areas as part of a sustainable grazing system with other livestock.

I think another category is requires for Spoilt Chickens, mine will fall under this category…

Spoilt Chickens: This includes a chicken management system of a maximum of 9 birds per hectare (100 square meters) with all day access to the whole yard, bushveld (2/3 of the property) and the compost heaps – no access to the vegetable garden as they represent weapons of mass destruction to tomatoes, raspberries, any unfortunate seedlings and Fred the toad J. They get fed chicken pellets and snacks in addition to scratching the whole day. They have a warm, safe and spacious coop cleaned every two weeks. Enough nest box space for 4 chickens at any given time and sturdy roosts to sleep on.


Chickens are very cheap to keep, even if they are only kept as pets and not necessarily as a productive egg supply. They are enduring and it is a lot of fun to watch all their chicken antics. There are a few disadvantages to keep in mind, such as destruction of the vegetable patch, but I believe that these are outweighed by the advantages of keeping chickens.



Reasons for Keeping Chickens and some other considerations:

Reason:
Consideration
      Choose what you eat: Know what you eat
      Cocks are noisy, hens are not
      Fresh quality eggs
      Some restrictions on flock size depending on the country or state you live in
      Compost, great fertiliser once rotted down
      Destroy flowerbeds and lawns with scratching
      Insect management (not just veg garden pests, but ants and termites too!)
      Will decimate a vegetable garden J
      Weed management
      Availability of housing and feed
      Fresh quality meat
      Some pure breeds are expensive for showing
      Showing hobby
      Local vets may not specialise in poultry (chickens can be medicated by you)
      Excess eggs can be sold
      Vulnerable (they are prey after all, watch out for mongoose, foxes, large birds of prey, monkey and baboons!)
      Very cheap to acquire and maintain as pets
      Require daily care, need a caregiver when you go on holiday
      Entertainment and educational
      Poor sanitation and coop keeping can attract rodents
      Conservation and rescue for animal welfare
      Escapees might cause problems or get stolen
      Hens can be productive for up to 3 years (for eggs).
      Hens top productivity before first moult (the hens first year)

Before you decide to get any chickens, first make sure of your local municipality's bylaws: Here is a pdf for the City of Johanesburg's Municipal Bylaws for public health (including the keeping of all types of animals). Poultry (chickens) are covered under page 60-62.


Do you have specific reasons for keeping chickens?


_________________________________________________________________________________
If you enjoy the content please share with fellow gardening enthusiasts via the various sharing buttons at the end of posts/pages! Else you can vote for posts through the Google reactions bar at the end of articles. To stay up to date I have provided several reader and social networking platforms with which to subscribe: TwitterPinterestRSS Feed Reader or Email/Follow directly using the Blog Followers or Follow Your Way widget on the left hand side toolbar. Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask if questions arise - I appreciate comments and ideas too! J
_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, 9 August 2013

Garden Talk - SA Women's Day Special: Growing your own Food & Jane Griffiths


"To receive the same amount of nutrition of 1 apple grown in 1940; will require you to eat 26 apples grown today."
-Jane Griffiths-


I am going to give you a short report on the garden-talk I attended at Garden World nursery not too far from us:

Garden World


Jane Griffiths is based in Johannesburg (not too far from us ~65 km) and has a 50 square meter garden filled with all things edible and medicinal. She sees herself as a Spiritual Gardener and tries to maintain a healthy balance in her garden. She is the author of 3 books:

Jane's Delicious Garden (2009) - how to grow food in your South African garden

Jane's Delicious Kitchen (2010) - how to prepare & cook the food you grow
Jane's Delicious Herbs (2012) - how to grow herbs in your South African garden & use them

Jane's Delicious Garden has outsold books by Keith Kirsten (Expert SA Gardener) and Margaret Roberts (SA Herb Guru).


Website



"People stop me in the supermarket and show me picture of their vegetables (not their grandchildren)"
-Jane Griffiths-


2   The event was more than I expected; there were a lot of people there (~85 people), the venue was nicely decorated, the food was yummy, lots of prizes (sadly none for me) and Jane gave us a full 1h 30m talk!

Jane's philosophy on gardening is slightly different to most gardeners and gardening books. She wholeheartedly believes in Reuse, Recycle and Re-invent; so much so, that she feels each organic garden should have a junk pile AKA goodies that can be re-purposed for the garden. Now I am all for re-purposing, but I don't want to use broken or rusted things that make my garden look like a scrap yard J  On that note, organic is more than just a way of gardening, it a mind-set, and involves more than just replacing your chemical pesticides and fertilisers with organic alternatives. 



This leads to one of her first guidelines; no dig gardening. In order for your soil to maintain its ecosystem of beneficial insects, fungi and microbial life; you need to leave them be. The soil quality, nutrition and structure is built up with layers of organic matter creating that all important humus layer on your topsoil. Also not treading in the beds, least you want to dig them over again! I agree with not walking over your plots, but the no-dig policy can only be applied to good loam soil - so I think mine would be 'dig as little as possible'.




"We are a generation that has forgotten how to feed ourselves."
-Jane Griffiths-


Interplanting and companion planting make up the staple of her food garden for maximum produce from the minimum space without depleting the soil's nutrients. Lettuces and onions are good interplanting partners as they provide enough space for each to grow (lettuce leaves take up the space above ground, onion bulbs below). Her companion plants are also a tad bit from the traditional. Nutritional additions to the soil/compost/as liquid feed include Comfrey and Yarrow. Plants that repel insects are strongly aromatic such as herbs, and flowers attract pollinators and predators. She has a special term for plants that physically hide others by rambling over them (such as nasturtiums over a cabbage might confuse cabbage moths) - these plants are known as 'Shapeshifters'. By planting different families of vegetables together (tomatoes, beans, radish and squash all in the same plot) reduces the occurrence of diseases/pests, because no large single planting (or monoculture) exists as a feast. This basically eliminates the need for crop rotation and exerts a more balanced pull of nutrients from the soil. It is important to replace soil nutrients with organic fertilisers and organic matter (mulch, compost).





The practises of interplanting and companion planting, as outlined by Jane, assists with building a soil & insect community. They in turn assist the gardener in preventing and fighting disease and pests, reducing crop losses and increasing productivity whilst working with nature and her cycles.





"Anyone can learn to grow their own green fingers."
-Jane Griffiths-


A vegetable garden is a growing space, never completed and always 'under construction'. It is a place for food and nutrition, but is also a place for exploration, experimentation, creativity and relaxation. Starting a vegetable garden is fun and fulfilling - anyone can do it! "Its not rocketsurgery".





_________________________________________________________________________________
If you enjoy the content please share with fellow gardening enthusiasts via the various sharing buttons at the end of posts/pages! Else you can vote for posts through the Google reactions bar at the end of articles. To stay up to date I have provided several reader and social networking platforms with which to subscribe: TwitterPinterestRSS Feed Reader or Email/Follow directly using the Blog Followers or Follow Your Way widget on the left hand side toolbar. Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask if questions arise - I appreciate comments and ideas too! J
_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, 3 August 2013

South Africa Climate & Hardiness Zones

My research is in Agriculture and as a result I am always on the lookout for climate & agricultural maps of South Africa. The government doesn’t do a good job at updating this information and the weather bureau wants you to pay them a lot of money for such info – on a student budget, buying information is unpractical – the university I study at does have their own archive, but it a bit out dated (maps from 2000).

So, I have scouted the internet since 2011 and last year a very nice updated climate map was made available by the CSIR and D. C. U. Conradie, I have posted it on my About page; but here it is again.



Recently I tried to get a hold of South Africa’s Hardiness Zones, and yet again without fail, I seem to turn up with nothing, nada, niks!

Some of my vegetable books from Australia have the hardiness zones of South Africa, since the two countries have very similar climatic patterns. To prevent plagiarism I remade my own based on several sources. Most of the zones coincide with South Africa's annual rainfall patterns.

South Africa Hardiness Zones
Reconstructed visually from maps supplied by
Grow Your Own Fruit & Vegetables the easy way (AUS book) and Food From Your Garden (SA book)
Constructed with ArcGISOnline tools

Just a note on the map above; it is based on the Australian Hardiness Zones and not the USDA. Therefore it requires some clarification:

Zone 1: Hot arid
This region has a low rainfall (350mm per annum) and is very dry. Rain falls during the summer in the north and during the winter in the south. Extended periods of drought are a regular occurrence. Daytime temperatures are 38oC-45oC, with little humidity. Night time temperatures drop drastically and frost is a regular occurrence in winter. Frosts can be severe in the southern regions and occur during late autumn to early spring.
Zone 2: Mediterranean
Zone 2 correlates with a winter rainfall pattern (350-1000mm per annum), usually between late autumn and early spring. Summers are hot and dry with periodic droughts with an average daytime temperature below 30oC. As with most of SA, frost occurs more towards the inland than on the coast. This region has similar climate to the northern Mediterranean and southern California.
Zone 5: Cool subtropical
This zone contains a large chunk of the fynbos biome and the montane forest of SA. It is a coastal region with warm, moist conditions with an average temperature of 18oC to 24oC. Rainfall occurs throughout the year, 750-1250mm per annum, with the heaviest during mid-summer and mid-autumn. Frost doesn’t occur along the coast, but towards the inland and around the mountains during mid-April to early October.
Zone 6: Warm Subtropical
This is an ideal zone for gardens with a hot, humid climate and summer rainfall pattern. Average temperatures are 20oC to 23oC and 750-1250mm of annual rainfall. July to September is warm and sunny with little rain. Night temperatures don’t fall below 15oC – a good thing for growing peppers!!! J Some inland areas experience frost, but the zone is mainly frost free.
Zone 7: Warm Semi-Arid>
Average summer temperatures are mid-30oC or higher. Rain is monsoonal and occurs mainly during summer, 250-850mm per annum, with more rain towards the coast. Extended periods of severe drought can occur far from the coast.  In the northern parts frost is restricted to July, but can occur throughout the winter in the south and can be heavy around mountains.
This is a general guideline to SA and given the amount of season shifting we have experience the last five years it may differ slightly at local regions and microclimatic conditions. To convert your AUS hardiness zone to USDA, simply add 7 to your AUS zone (for example, Roodepoort is Zone 7 AUS = 7 +7 = Zone 14 USDA).

I hope this helps any other people looking for this info on SA! For any of those who want to create your own maps, check out www.arcgis.com; where you can create a free ArcGISOnline account to make basic maps!



Which zone is your garden located in? Do you any specific problems with your climate?



- Update: 13 Oct 2013 -

Warming of Southern Africa linked to the Antarctic Ozone hole

Nature Article - Ozone loss warmed southern Africa
Original Article - Link between Antarctic ozone depletion and summer warming over southern Africa

______________________________________________________________________________

Please share with fellow gardening enthusiasts via the various sharing buttons at the end of posts/pages! Else you can vote for posts through the Google reactions bar at the end of articles. To stay up to date I have provided several reader and social networking platforms with which to subscribe: TwitterPinterestRSS Feed Reader or Email/Follow directly using the Blog Followers widget on the left hand side toolbar. Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask if questions arise - I appreciate comments and ideas too! 馃槅
_________________________________________________________________________________

Let your friends know!

Affordable Medical Insurance for All

Affordable Medical Insurance for All
Take care of your whole family.