Our next garden lesson involves the planning and planting of your seedlings, in your veggie beds.
Just to revise… some plants that are not suitable to transplant are: carrots, radish, beetroot, peas, beans, corn, pumpkin, melons & butternut. These are generally to be planted straight into the veggie beds.
Veggies suitable to be transplanted from a seed box or tray are lettuce, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, onions, spring onions & garlic.
Alternating rows according to plant needs
To understand veggies better we can put them into 4 groups & plant them in alternating rows in a crop rotation type of manner.
Group A: heavy feeders
These veggies need a great deal of manure and fertiliser.
These are the following:
- brussel sprouts
Group B: light feeders
These need little fertiliser and don’t need additional manure before sowing.
- sweet potatoes
Group C: medium feeders
These like soil that is rich in manure and compost. They are sensitive to Fusarium wilt and soil borne disease.
- swiss chard
Group D: soil builders
This group belongs to the legume family and they build the fertility of the soil after harvesting. They seldom need additional feeding.
- bush beans
- broad beans
- runner beans
Group E: anywhere
These veggies can be included anywhere in a crop rotation system, because they do not present any problems in respect of soil.
Alternating root and leaf crops
You can also plant the rows alternating root and leaf crops, like this:
- Row 1: a root vegetable like onions (a good border for either end of the bed to keep off pests).
- Row 2: a leaf vegetable like peppers.
- Row 3: a root vegetable like carrots.
- Row 4: another leaf vegetable like lettuce.
Alternatively you could use companion planting.
How much space in between plants?
Just like people, some plants need more space than others. Those who need 20cm of space between them are peas, turnips, lettuce, parsley, kohlrabi, spinach, celery and coriander.
Those who need more space (30cm) between plants are cabbage, beetroot, bulb onions, broccoli, cauliflower, broad beans, kale, tomatoes, peppers, chilies and peppers.
Support the tall growers
Some plants grow tall and lanky and need a stick or frame to hold onto – also like some people? Anticipate this when planting beans, peas and tomatoes. I have found the sooner you add a nice tall stick or stick tepee, the better.
Some plants like to be snuggling close together, for example spring onions and leeks only need a 3 finger (5cm) spacing between them.
Then there are the roamers who like to play all over the place. Pumpkin, butternut, melons and watermelons need a large area of ground space, or they are happy to climb if you provide a secure support system (think little jungle gym).
Sweet potatoes must have a large ground space as they root in many places as they grow and spread.
Natural cures for insects and pests
Once new seedlings have been planted they are still fragile and weak. They may be the target of many garden insects and pests, so all precautions have to be taken to divert them.
- First of all if your soil is healthy and filled with nutrients, your plants will be stronger, just like humans who eat plenty of nutritious and organic foods. So always ensure you’ve composted well and apply your natural fertiliser weekly – remember the horse manure juice?
- We can also avoid pests by planting veggies that pests don’t like – all types of onions and garlic, marigolds and other pungent herbs like rue and wilde als. These must be planted on the edges of your veggie beds or between the rows of vegetables. I always pop marigolds in between and they get eaten up in no time, but that means my vegetables are left in peace.
- Herbs can also be planted between your vegetables, as their strong scent helps keep bugs away. Certain weeds left to grow in peace will also provide the pests with food and so protect your vegetable plants.
- Rooibos tea can also be sprinkled around all new seedlings as snails don’t like crawling on grisly surfaces.
- If we find non of these are being effective enough, we can be a little more proactive and make up some organic pesticide mixtures that we can spray on our plants to keep snails, worms and other bugs away: Chop onions, garlic and chilies very finely or in a blender and soak in warm water for a few days. Strain off all the pulp and place the liquid into a spray bottle. This liquid can be sprayed on all your plants and because of its pungent smell, most insects stay away. The only disadvantage is that the liquid has to be sprayed on almost daily as rain or watering the garden will wash it off. Vinny had a terrible problem with the little black centipede worms eating her tomatoes and this spray worked like a charm.
- There is also organic insecticide available.
- Tobacco dust or egg shells sprinkled between your plants are good as a snail deterrent. Of course ducks are wonderful snail patrols.
- For aphids on your cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, a solution of grated sunlight soap (the green solid bar type) can be soaked in warm water for a day and then drained. This liquid can be sprayed on the leaves affected with the bugs.
- Cutworms are OK to have in your compost heap, but definitely not in your garden as they will eat your roots, so make sure to keep them away from your veggie beds. (Safer to remove them from your compost too – the chickens love them.)
There are many other garden bugs, so drop us a line if there is a specific problem you
have, we will help you.
Vinny and Elma
- Read more food growing stories.