Once you have collected the fruits, remove the soft flesh or outer casing, and throw away any worm-eaten or imperfect seeds. Sow the seeds as soon as possible, assuming that the season is right. Trees from the summer rainfall region germinate best between August and March: trees from the winter rainfall region germinate best between May and September.
It is best to wait until the seedlings are at least 500 mm tall before planting them out. If protection from wind, sun and extreme temperatures is provided, they can be planted out when smaller. The ideal time to plant is in the first half of the rainy season. Never plant during winter in frosty areas.
* Dig a big hole, at least 1 m square. Save the topsoil in a separate heap, and remove any big rocks. Make sure that the bottom of the hole has sharp corners: round holes encourage roots to circle round and round instead of penetrating deep into the soil.
* Backfill the hole starting with the topsoil, mixing three parts of it with one part of compost or old kraal manure. A handful of superphosphate or 2-3-2 fertilizer can be mixed in as well. The subsoil, also mixed with compost, ends up at the top of the hole. The reason for reversing the soil like this is that the good quality soil is more effective at the bottom of the hole where the tree is putting out new roots.
* Now plant the tree without disturbing the soil ball around its roots. If the tree does not stand upright, it is best to tilt the root ball in the hole until it does, before finally pressing the soil down. This is better than staking the tree.
* Finally tread the backfill down so that it is level with the original ground level. Saturate the hole with water just before it is completely back-filled. All the back-fill must be sodden, and so must the hard soil around the hole.
Many trees, if planted in the right place, should not need watering again. During a dry period all the water poured into the hole during planting will gradually rise, so the roots will always be in contact with damp soil. Water added soon after the tree has been planted encourages the growth of surface roots, which quickly dry out and do not anchor the tree properly. Such a tree is more likely to be blown over.
* In areas where frost is severe it may be necessary to protect the young tree in its first winter. Wrap dry grass around the trunk, leaving the upper leaves exposed.
* Pruning is not essential, and is usually over-done. Lower branches provide balance, and drop off when the tree no longer needs them. Never prune off all the lower branches at once, as this makes the tree top-heavy and likely to snap during a storm.
CATCHMENT ACTION: RIVERINE VEGETATION IN NATAL. I. Guthrie and J. Wyatt. Share-Net 1992. PO Box 394, Howick, 3290.
A TALE OF OUR TREE WORLD. S. Hart. Share-Net 1992. P.O. Box 394, Howick, 3290.
GROW YOUR OWN TREES FROM SEED. KwaZulu Dept. Nature Conservation. P/Bag X98, Ulundi, 3838. Tel. 0358-700552.
HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN TREES. J.H. Scriba. and H.L. Gerber. Pamphlet 109, Branch Forestry, Dept. of Water Affairs and Forestry, Pretoria. 1973.
TREES IN URBAN AREAS. J. V. Jordaan. Pamphlet 108, Branch Forestry, Dept. Water Affairs and Forestry, Pretoria. 1973.
INTRODUCTION TO PERMACULTURE. B. Mollison, Tagari, Australia, 1991.
GARDENING WITH INDIGENOUS PLANTS. K. Pienaar, Struik, Cape Town, 1992.
All books available from Russel Friedman Books, PO Box 73, Halfway House, 1685. Tel. 011-7022300/1.
Enviro Facts: Afforestation, Deforestation, The value of trees.
Tree Society. P.O. Box 4116, Johannesburg, 2000. Tel. 011-782 5473.
Botanical Society of SA. Kirstenbosch, Claremont, 7735. Tel. 021-7972090/1/2/3. Branches nationwide.
Trees for Africa. P.O Box 2035, Gallo Manor, 2000. Tel.011-803 9750.
National Botanic Institute. P/Bag X101, Pretoria, 0001. Tel. 012-804 3200. Eight National Botanic Gardens nationwide.