Welcome to THE STOEP HARVEST, an exciting new addition to the Green Times. Once a month, Sam Adams will be writing an article that looks at how to design, create and maintain a successful organic vegetable and herb garden. There will be information for both first-time gardeners as well as those more experienced.
Learn how to reap a harvest straight from your stoep, balcony or garden. The content is entirely organic â€“ you won’t find any artificial chemical solutions here. Know where your food comes from â€“ let’s start a planting revolution in the suburbs!
now’s the time to plan your future food
Winter is the ideal time to start planning, designing and preparing your organic food garden. It is a time for working the soil, enriching it with fresh nutrients ready for a blitz of planting come spring. For the first-time gardener, it is a time for clearing the ground, making compost, and planning what you want to eat.
Before any work is carried out, it is imperative that a solid plan is created. All successful gardens (and most other enterprises!) begin with a well-considered plan. This helps to get your thoughts in order and list all the various inputs that are required to begin working on the garden.
Take a blank piece of paper and draw the garden roughly to scale. Then start dreaming! What would you like to grow? Would you like a rustic organically-shaped garden or one with formal straight lines? Be creative and also think practically â€“ such as stepping stones and climbing trellises. Use as much space as you can, although be realistic about your time and budget capacity. If it is your first veggie garden, I would suggest starting small and expanding later as your confidence increases.
When choosing the location of a brand new garden, there are three factors to consider:
1. Vegetables need 4-6 hours of sunlight daily for optimum growth.
2. Make sure the garden is protected from any strong winds. This is especially important in the Cape summers!
3. Accessibility is critical. Make sure the garden is easy to visit regularly and also has access to water. Don’t hide the garden somewhere you may forget about it. It is important to visit every day or two to check on weeds, pests, watering and harvesting.
Next, write down what you want to grow. I will look at companion planting in a future article. For now, plant the tallest plants on the southern side of the garden so no shadow is cast on smaller plants. Place smelly plants on the perimeter as a natural pest repellent. You can use lavender, scented geranium, marigolds, and any of the onion family.
It is also a good idea to plan your costs, keeping record of how much you spend. This will help later on when you record how much you harvest so you can tally your savings!
Once your plan is neatly drawn on paper, you can begin to gather the right materials for creating or expanding your garden. Buy, or harvest from your garden, some wood to build a trellis for climbing plants, some old bricks or logs for a neat edging, and some good quality compost and potting soil to enrich the ground. Next month I will look in more detail at soil preparation â€“ the most important element in any organic garden.
june planting table
Each month there will be a list of the correct seed planting in South Africa. We live in a country of incredibly diverse climates; South Africa is roughly divided into three sub-climates. These are:
1. Western and Southern Cape: broad beans, cabbage, carrot, lettuce, peas, and radish
2. Inland: cabbage and peas
3. Coastal KZN: bush & pole beans, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, peas, peppers, potatoes, radish, squash, spinach, tomato, and turnip
Happy planting! Future topics will include pest control, composting, mulching, and companion planting. I am open to your suggestions and requests for other topics, contact details below.
Â· Sam Adams runs Living Green, an organic food gardening company in Cape Town. He can be contacted on 021-7854847 or by email.