They say that money doesn’t grow on trees, which is true even though I do keep checking the 5 cents I dropped in my garden back in 2006. But what do grow on trees are fruit and vegetables, so if you grow your own it might save your mom the odd trip to the shops which may result in a bit of extra dough being sent your way. To help green your opposable digits, here are 5 steps to help start your very own veggie garden:
Whether you have a garden, a balcony or a beaten up bakkie with a marsh in the back; you need to ensure that the area is best suited for your seeds. The patch of land needs to receive adequate sunlight with an average of around 6 hours a day. You do not have be too stuck on uprooting the spot in your garden with the most sunlight, (your dad’s prized petunias perhaps?), because leaf and root vegetables like a little shade.
2. Till the land
Tossing your seeds in soil and expecting a beanstalk to take you to a giant’s castle is as improbable as the fairy-tale itself. Spending a bit of time to prepare your beds will ensure your veggie garden success. Loosen the soil before you plant using a tiller or your hands. Once the soil is loosened, cover lightly with compost and work it into the soil. Then smooth the surface with a rake and water thoroughly, after which you should let your bed rest for a few days.
3. Sow the seeds of love
Head to your local nursery and ask what seeds are in season, it is important to sow your seeds at the right time. If it is too cold or wet your seeds will rot and you will have nothing but tears, fears and grubby hands to show for it. Sow thinly along the row into small holes known as drills, at 1 cm for small seeds and 2 cm for bigger seeds. Cover with soil and water with a fine shower from the hose.
4. Maintenance with patience
Keep an eye on your budding buds and ensure that you keep them watered and free of weeds. To ensure steady growth, the beds must be moist but don’t overdo it as the roots will drown. Keeping your veggie garden free of weeds is vital for plant growth as they can rob your young seedlings of moisture and nutrients. So remember when it comes to weeds… Just say no!
When the seedlings are about 3-5cm high you will have to start thinning your seedlings. It may seem cruel and wasteful but it is important so pull each plant out very carefully.
5. Reap what you sow
The moment of truth! After all your hard work, it is time enjoy the fruits of your labour. Don’t be sheepish about picking your produce because many vegetables can be harvested a few times. The rule of (green) thumb is that if it looks good enough to eat, it probably is! Remember, with most vegetables, the more you pick, the more your plant will produce.
Head over to the Fry’s Guy’s blog (www.thefrysguy.com) to see the progress of his veggie garden and drop him a tweet if there are questions you may have on @the_frysguy
Image: Saskia Schelling – Permaculture Southern Africa