By Amy Grundling
Portulacaria afra, or otherwise known as the Spekboom, is an indigenous South African succulent plant. It has bright green small, round leaves with a red stem, creating a refreshing appearance. The average Spekboom usually grows 1.5-2m in hight. The natural habitat of the Spekboon is warm, arid and semi-arid areas, especially renown in parts of South Africa such as Ado Elephant Park and the town of Prince Albert.
The Spekboom is increasingly drawing attention for its unique characteristics and various uses. One of the most important characteristics is that the succulent is effective in carbon sequestration. By absorbing free carbon for tissue growth, the succulent decreases the amount of pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels, acting as a carbon sink.
Spekbome is an ideal shrub to plant in a water scarce country such as South Africa. The succulent is a drought-resistant plant, which can survive on 250-350mm of water per year. Spekboom is easily propagated, which makes it an ideal plant to plant in your garden without spending money.
The following steps will show you how to propagate your own Spekboom:
Step 1: What you will need.
You will need the following list of products
Step 2: Select and prepare Spekboom cuttings.
Select a few healthy cuttings from a vigorous Spekboom, preferable in late spring. The ideal cutting should be between 10 and 15 cm in length. Look for vigorous branches with thick and healthy leaves. Make a 45° angle cut and remove the leaves at the end of the cutting.
Step 3: Dip the cutting in root growth hormones.
Moisten and dip the end of the cutting in a root growth hormone that will stimulate root growth. This step is not necessary, although it will increase the speed of the cutting’s root growth.
Step 4: Prepare a rooting pot.
Prepare a rooting pot that have several drainage holes at the bottom. Fill the pot with succulent potting mix or your own mixture of course and standard potting soil. Insert the Spekboom cutting into the soil and press lightly around the stem.
Step 5: Water the cutting.
Lastly, water the cutting and allow the soil to drain thoroughly.
Step 6: Watch it grow!
Place the potted cutting in indirect sunlight for at least five hours a day and apply water once a week. Rooting will take place within 14 to 20 days.
For more information, please visit the South African National Biodiversity Institute website:
By Renée Grundling
World Wetlands Day was celebrated on the 2nd of February, an annual day to celebrate the Ramsar Convention signed at Ramsar, Iran in 1971. South Africa was one of the first countries globally to sign the treaty. This year's theme is 'Wetlands and Biodiversity'.
There are currently more than 2300 designated Ramsar Sites, sites of international importance, all across the world. The above photo is one of the newest Ramsar Sites (no.2385), officially declared in September, 2019, and can be found in the Kgaswane Mountain Reserve, Rustenburg, South Africa. This wetland system is situated on a plateau in the Magaliesberg mountain range and has a variety of special characteristics including peat.
For more information go to https://whc.unesco.org/en/ramsar/.
In the following video, Dr. Piet-Louis Grundling discusses the importance of Wetlands:
By Adelene van Zyl
What is Sustainability?
Sustainability can be defined as the ability to be maintained at a specific level. It is important that the current generation should provide and maintain sufficient resources for future generations to live at the same economic and environmental level as the current generation does. In addition, sustainability entails maintaining changes in a balanced environment. The Earth has a certain carrying capacity in order to function at a good and healthy rate. When we exceed the carrying capacity of the Earth, we are no longer sustainable and put current and future generations at risk of depleting resources.
Sustainability is divided into three main components according to the World Summit of Social Development in 2005. The three components are economic development, social development and environmental protection. Sustainable development will only be effective if these components are interlinked. Sustainability will only attract investments if it promotes economic growth. By increasing economic growth, living standards in communities will be improved. In order for higher living standards to be sustainable, environmental protection and resource management must be applied.
The United Nations also saw sustainability as a key component in moving forward in unity, when 178 countries adopted Agenda 21 for Sustainable Development at the Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro in 1992. There are seventeen Sustainable Development Goals in the 2030 Agenda of which ten out of these seventeen goals involve agricultural practices. These goals are:
Sustainability in Agriculture
The main goal of sustainability in agriculture is to meet the current food and textile needs without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their food and textile needs. Sustainability in agriculture aims to improve soil health, decrease pollution and to improve the use of water in farming practices. It also aims to increase crop quantity and quality in an efficient and effective manner, without degrading the environment.
In conclusion, I would like to encourage you with a quote from Arthur Ashe to apply sustainability:
“Begin where you are, use what you have, and do what you can.”
Creators of the video: Adelene van Zyl, Amy Grundling, Calvin Cornell, Kaylin Dickson, Prince Lekame Moloto and Renée Grundling