Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Products Reviews

Lets talk about Mulch

Today I tried a product that completely blew me away. I am thrilled to have found Rooibos Mulch by Carmién Tea (based in Citrusdal in the Western Cape) and I want to tell you a bit about it.

[note_box](For our foreign visitors that are perhaps not familiar with Rooibos: Rooibos – Afrikaans for “red bush”; (scientific name Aspalathus linearis) is a broom-like member of the legume family of plants growing in South Africa’s fynbos. The plant is used to make an herbal tea called rooibos tea, bush tea (esp. Southern Africa), redbush tea (esp. UK), South African red tea, or red tea. The product has been popular in Southern Africa for generations and is now consumed in many countries – source: Wikipedia)[/note_box]

A few weeks ago I saw Rooibos Mulch for sale at a nursery and saw someone walking out with a few bags. I was curious. I stopped the friendly gardener and asked her about it and she pretty much raved about it to me. As I had just finished laying bark mulch all over my garden so I decided against buying any that day but made a mental note to try out Rooibos Mulch before the next time I need to mulch all my beds.

Coincidentally, a few days later I received a mail from from Lize at Carmién Tea offering me a few free sample bags of their rooibos mulch, with no strings attached. I responded, admitted that I was considering using it and I offered to pay for a few bags to trial it. A few days later a charming young man delivered five bags of the mulch to me as a gift. The correspondence was clear – I would trial it and if I felt that way inclined I would blog about it giving my honest opinion.

So where to use? My vegetable planters have never been mulched with anything other than compost, I’ll give those some of this mulch. In the garden I have been pulling out spent annuals and overgrown ground covers, so I have a few blank spots of exposed soil that could do with some fresh mulch.

I decided to compare the Rooibos Mulch with the mulch I have been favouring – Bark Mulch. After all, the objective is to see which one I will use next time my entire garden needs mulching again.

I will let the photos do the talking …

[one_half]The trial gets underway … Rooibos vs BarkThe trial gets underway ... Rooibos vs Brak[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lets compare. Both look very niceLets compare. Both look very nice[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Close up of Rooibos MulchClose up of Rooibos Mulch[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Close up of the Bark MulchClose up of the Bark Mulch[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Lets compare them in a flower bedLets compare them in a flower bed[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Rooibos and Bark Mulch – Both are beautifulRooibos and Bark Mulch - Both are beautiful[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Before in the veggie planter …Before in the veggie planter ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]… and After with the Rooibos Mulch... and After with the Rooibos Mulch[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Lovely between pavers and dainty flowersLovely between pavers and dainty flowers[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Suberb around tender plants and bloomsSuberb around tender plants and blooms[/one_half_last]

[one_half]A newly mulched veggie containerA newly mulched veggie container[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Surrounding the Lemon GrassSurrounding the Lemon Grass[/one_half_last]

My “Wind Trial” shots

It was quite windy today. I only realised after I’d cut the bags open that it was gusty out. How would the wind affect the laying of the Rooibos mulch which is so much softer and lighter than the bark chips? Well lets see …

[one_half]Photo of the loose mulch taken at 16h18Photo of the loose mulch taken at 16h18[/one_half]

[one_half_last]And taken again at 17h15. Not much changeAnd taken again at 17h15. Not much change[/one_half_last]

Rooibos Mulch – What did I like?

  • It looks really fantastic! I love it! I think it looks better than the peach pips I used once and the bark mulch I currently use.
  • Compared to bark mulch, this was extremely gentle on the hands. I did not need to wear gloves to lay it! Wonderful!
  • It went down easily!! Much easier to put down than bark. Firstly, the bags are lighter and it is easy to control the flow of the mulch out of the bags as opposed to having to handle the bark to lay it. And it pours beautifully!
  • When laying bark I have to be careful around tender, soft little plants that I don’t damage them or even cover them completely if they are tiny. The Rooibos Mulch went over seedlings that are about 3cm tall without ease and without disturbing a single seedling. Fabulous!
  • Between pavers it is amazing! No mess, no fuss! Try laying those big bark pieces between a 3cm gap between pavers. Can’t be done if you want it to look nice. The Rooibos Mulch went into the gaps with ease, looks fabulous and I made hardly any mess (see Photo number 9 above – mulch laid, no cleaning afterwards).
  • You cannot easily “sprinkle” bark mulch around. Rooibos Mulch sprinkles easily so you can lay mulch even in hard to reach little places. It can be sprinkled over and around plants.
  • Its totally organic!
  • Snails dislike the slightly sharp stalk edges so its a good biological pest control. I have quite a snail problem so this is great news!
  • But … The VERY BEST Feature of Rooibos Mulch is the smell when you water it … OMG! It is absolutely wonderful to get the subtle smell of Rooibos when you water on and around this mulch. I’d buy it just for that!

What didn’t I like?

  • Not a single thing. Zero. Zip. Nudda.

My Verdict

I am very tempted NOT to tell you where to get it because I want to keep this little secret all to myself!  Just kidding, but Im going to be a upset if they can’t supply me when I order my next load of mulch in September because y’all have bought every last bit of Rooibos Mulch in the country! I fear that once this product becomes known there will be a shortage! Please leave me some then I’ll share my secret …

Contact details for Carmien Tea

To order the Real Rooibos Mulch, contact the farm directly on:
Telephone: +27 (0)22 921 3405/7 or via e-mail
The bags cost R6.00 per 3kg bag, excluding delivery. (Those are 3kg bags you see in my photos).
You can get the full details, all the features and benefits etc. from the website at: Carmien Tea – The Real Rooibos Mulch.

PS: This product is going to the very top of our “Recommended Products” list which you can see here: Recommended Products by The Gardening Blog.

Other Benefits of using Rooibos Mulch

  • Rooibos mulch forms a crusty layer on the soil after a few waterings. This layer reduces water loss through evaporation and is thus ideal for reducing stress on young transplants and contributes to considerable water saving in gardens and potplants.
  • A 10 – 15% better growth was observed on young plants when using the rooibos mulch.
  • The mulch is a natural organic product and will not harm the environment – it is attractive and will not blow away once watered thoroughly.
  • The tea reduces germination of weeds through formation of an insulating layer above the soil, thus facilitating cleaner seedbeds and potplants.
  • The leachate, which is low in tannins, is beneficial to plant and root development. Tea has been used by gardeners since Grandma´s days for maintaining healthy growth.
  • Mixed with potting soil, it provides an excellent growing medium – light and well drained.
  • PH is between 5 and 5.5 – ideal for plants requiring slightly acidic medium. Bonemeal or lime can be added to modify pH for plants requiring more alkaline conditions.
Barbie's garden Design Do it yourself Gardening Home page features Miscellaneous Perenniels

Before and After

I have been watching the growth of my garden and, with the gentle prodding from our friends, I had to do this post to showcase the tremendous change that happened in my small part of the world in the short 6 months since I started my whirlwind, one-woman landscaping exploit. I will do each part separate: I have divided the garden into front, veggie patch (along the side), the fruit tree area (back east section) and the back garden (the entertainment area).

The Front Garden


Remember the front area with the huge lavender bushes that took over the whole bed? They also hid the dry river bed that I so lovingly created…for no one to see! The grass was dry and patchy. I loved my garden like this….. funny how we grow as gardeners! These pictures were taken right in the beginning of our blog in January.

[one_half]Remember my huge lavender bushes?[/one_half]

[one_half_last]My pride and joy, but outgrew their place[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Already starting to look tatty and woody[/one_half]

[one_half_last]The protea bush and the patchy lawn[/one_half_last]


The action starts in earnest round about April – it all began with the Leopard Trees then the redesigning begins……

[one_half]The hard work starts ….[/one_half]

[one_half_last]The lavenders are a memory now[/one_half_last]

[one_half]My rose patch at the end of June[/one_half]

[one_half_last]The new grass patch in June this year[/one_half_last]



These photos were taken this week, so this is how my garden is looking like NOW!

[one_half]Its all looking so green and healthy[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Tall corn flowers are temporary as gap filler[/one_half_last]

[one_half]My rose patch is thick and bursting with health![/one_half]

[one_half_last]Can’t wait for the roses to bloom[/one_half_last]

[one_half]I love how lush and full it all is![/one_half]

[one_half_last]The fuchsia is also happy and well mulched![/one_half_last]

I am really pleased that all the love and care you give to your garden, it gives it right back! The mulching and feeding and watering. It is all so rewarding.

Wait until you see the before and after photos of the back garden – you will not believe it is the same garden! Well, I’ll leave that for tomorrow’s post!

Unfortunately, my roses are still shy, so I will have to wait some more before I do a rose post!

Happy gardening to you all xxx

Let’s all send our love to Christine who misses her home and animals and her garden and her gardening buddies!! Send her home safe on angels wings xxx


Christine's garden Do it yourself Fertiliser Gardening Home page features Products

Composting confessions and a solution

Composting … I know it’s the “right thing to do”. I know it saves money. I know it would be great for my plants … bla bla bla.

So I ordered a compost bin. When it arrived it was one of those that needs to be ‘planted’ in the garden and couldn’t just be put in the space I’d specifically allocated for it, being in a concrete alley way down the side of the house where the trash bin lives (and a few other things). I didn’t want to ‘plant’ a plastic green container in my garden. Sorry, but it doesn’t fit in with my gardening plan. I don’t consider an upside down plastic green thingy-amy-bin an appropriate garden feature. And I have no hidden places in the garden – with my penchant for impulse buying of plants, every nook and cranny in my garden is reserved for something pretty … so out with the unused green plastic monstrosity!

But I am still “into” the idea of composting. We have been collecting the leaves and debris from gutters etc (branches and twigs from the trees are used as kindling for our indoor fireplaces so there is never any surplus of those) but we now have 8 11 large green bags in the alley way full of leaves in various stages of ‘mulchiness’. But still no real compost solution here at Number 13! Egg shells and greens from the kitchen are still going to waste here. Not good …

What I wanted is an easy solution for adding and mixing compost. I did lots of research and came to the conclusion that a free standing bin or box is not a good idea for me – I honestly don’t have the time, inclination or strength to mix compost myself on a regular basis and the result would be a neglected compost heap and resultant mess! I like working with dirt in the garden – my hands can take it, but climbing into a pile of it and turning it with a fork on a regular basis … well I just know thats not going to happen. Compost mixers (with handles that you crank) looked like a solution but I’ve never found one here. Until I discovered the Compost Mixer by Keter online.

So I bought one on Saturday! It was darn pricey, a whole lot more than I ever intended to pay for such a thing but it looks great and ticks all my requirements. It is well constructed, very sturdy and offers a number of other benefits and I believe that given the quality of this compost mixer it will last a very long time. I can stand it in the alley way – in fact, it is a requirement that it stands on a sturdy, level surface in the sun – and I have the perfect full sun position for it right in the alley. I really think this is the right composting solution for me.

[one_half]The mounting bags of leavesLeaf mulch[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Vacant spot perfect for my new compost mixerThe Perfect spot![/one_half_last]

[one_half]Its a VERY large box!A big box![/one_half]

[one_half_last]Complete with instuctions etc.The Compost Mixer[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Compost Mixer by Keter (photo © Keter)Keter Composter[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Compost Mixer by Keter (photo © Keter)Keter Composter[/one_half_last]

Some of the features & benefits of it are:

  • Innovative gear allows effortless tumbling even with a full load
  • Extra large mixing fins for faster decomposition (increases compost cycles per season)
  • Controlled ventilation improves composting
  • Positive locking latch secures door closed
  • You can collect compost tea via the drippy thingy
  • You get a load of compost about every 8 – 12 weeks (depending on the season and what you put in there of course).
  • It holds 230 litres or 60 gallons at a time

Right now I’m sitting with the instruction book and it looks rather intimidating to me – I think I need some help with it. There are scary warnings that say “incorrect use can lead to death …” Yikes! Hows that for a warning? I will take photographs of the whole process and do a post on the set up of my new composter and show it in action over the next few months. Hopefully it does exactly what it promises. Then I will finally be able to do a post entiled “Admissions of an ardent composter”, or something similar 🙂 🙂

Please note that this is not a product endorsement or some sort of paid review. In fact, when I enquired via their website about where to purchase one of these in South Africa, I received such a curt response that I almost didn’t want to purchase it. In this instance the actual product sold me, certainly not their PR! #Just so you know!

Easy-go gardening cartNext on my “wish list”:

Can you believe I don’t have a wheel barrow? Seriously … I lug everything around by hand. And its very tedious. So this is a little hint for my family that may or may not read this! For my next birthday I would LOVE one of these – its also by Keter, its call an Easy Go gardening cart and it looks perfect for me! I would be so, so happy to get one of these!

Features include that it is a lightweight, heavy-duty work wagon that allows you to load and move heavy loads “with the greatest of ease”, its multipurpose use is ideal for garage, basement, recycling, and yard maintenance and it won’t rust, dent, stain, or peel which is great, so I can leave it outside overnight – which I often do with gardening tools and things when I don’t feel like packing up after gardening! I’d also love one of these … its called a “Planteo“, it’s like a little green house! Maybe one day … Right now I first have to get the composter out the box and set up before I start thinking about more things!

Happy Gardening

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

Mulch more mulch

Hi Barbie – Finally a day without rain and/or wind – I managed to take the afternoon off work and get into the garden. I didn’t do anything exciting but I planted out all my tulip bulbs (at last!) and did some composting and some more mulching. By the time I was finished it was getting dark so unfortunately the photographs were not up to scratch, but here is one for you to see the apricot pip mulch that I laid today on the beds under the office windows. I think it looks great. And because he was so sweet and “helped” in his bizarre way, here’s a photo of Dexter too. Isn’t he handsome?

[one_half]Mulch more Mulch[/one_half]


Happy Gardening


Christine's garden Fertiliser Gardening Home page features Miscellaneous Products

Thank you very Mulch

Hi Barbie – I wanted to thank you again for the ten bags of apricot kernel / pip shell mulch you brought for me and thought you might like to see the results. I decided to tackle the two front beds first as I am waiting for the tree fellers to come on 6 June before I create the walkway at the back (which is what the apricot pip shells were actually intended for).

But you know me … I couldn’t wait to experiment so the two front beds got “mulched”. I used up two bags doing the Rose Bed and one in the Gardenia Bed so I might need to get hold of your contact to get a few more as I would like to do this everywhere … if you think it looks nice?

Here are a few photographs I took of the new “Rose Bed” which I did this morning. I took a few “before” and “after” photos so you can see the results.

[one_half]Close up of beforeBefore mulching close up[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Close up of afterAfter mulching close up[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Large view beforeBefore[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Large view afterAfter[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Another close up viewCloser view[/one_half]

[one_half_last]And another closer lookCloser view[/one_half_last]

So what do you think? I really like it …

Happy Gardening


Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

Controlling weeds in the garden

Weeds in the gardenOur blog has been going for all of a week and we’ve had our first real gardening question. I set up a Facebook page (The Gardening Blog on Facebook) and a Twitter account (@ourgardens) for our blog and as is to be expected, we’ve had few followers so far. In fact, I recognise only our daughters and ourselves following our Facebook page. But then somehow we’ve already managed to attract a few followers on Twitter and we’ve had a real live question! So Liesel, this post is specially for you … you asked; “@ourgardens thanks for the follow. Tips on how 2 get rid of weeds in garden without gardener?”

In August I had my entire garden “replanted” by a gardening expert. It cost a lot and I was determinded not to let all that go to waste by not taking proper care of my “new” garden, so the ongoing battle with the weeds started. Every day I would do a walk around the garden and pull up any new weeds … and it took a lot of time. I’m very busy with work and other things so I found it quite annoying. I am spoilt – I have a garden service who come once every two weeks, but they are not very good at removing weeds – they get rid of all the leaves (I have so many trees and keeping the garden tidy is a huge mission, so that is what they concentrate on) and they do a general clean up. But weed-removing does not seem to be their forte, so I have the ongoing battle of removing the weeds myself. And because all the plants are new and we are waiting for them to grow, there are lots of bare patches just waiting for the weeds … so it really is an almost daily mission. Or at least, it was!

Bark MulchOnce again, Kathryn (my garden expert!) to the resue – At the beginning of December she recommended we lay down bark mulch which makes the soil look more attractive, as well as feeding the acid loving plants and keeping the water in the soil. We did this and an added bonus is, it seems to have totally controlled the weeds! Yes there are still a few stragglers that get through the mulch, but considering that it is summer and prime growing season, the weeds are now few and far between! Another thing I did was plant annuals in some of the bare patches – lots of Impatiens in the very shaded areas and Dianthus in the areas that get more sun. This not only looks pretty, but having plants growing in those areas snuffs out the light so the weeds can’t seem to get through.

I am seriously no gardening expert and am learning as I go along. Experienced gardeners will probably cringe at my advice … but its working for me! The only area I still need to remove weeds from daily is the area outside the property – on the verge – where we did not lay mulch and I haven’t planted anything else. So thats my answer … mulch! You can get it delivered to your house and then you’ll have to throw it down yourself or get a gardener just for a day to do it for you.

On these two photographs you can see how the bark mulch looks in my garden (apologies for the poor quality of the photographs) but it shows that it does look a lot better than bare soil. Click to view the enlargements.

[one_half]Bark Mulch with Impatiens[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Bark Mulch at the back[/one_half_last]