Time to get back to some proper posts! 🙂
Note this piece isn’t called “how to start a veggie garden” and for good reason. I just did my own thing, totally winged it & it mostly paid off. As it turns out, I’m a little better an gardening than keeping an orchid alive!
We’re 16 months into our new home & the reason I haven’t written this particular post sooner is because as I got deeper into the gardening thing, I joined a few forums/groups and they left me feeling totally overwhelmed & like I wanted rip everything out and
start over quit. There’s so much technical information out there & you can Google all that stuff. This post is just about what I did, what worked/didn’t work for me & if you’ve been thinking about it just know its totally doable.
I’ve always wanted a veggie/herb garden. I remember taking a bean as a kid and planting it & that immense satisfaction & marvel at seeing it come alive & grow just because I put in in the ground and gave it some water. My veggie garden still gives me that same feeling today but it feels like its x 100.When we lived in the CBD I made a half assed attempt at one in a few pots that were standing around & it didn’t work. At all. I gave up & mentally parked it for when we had a proper garden one day. I probably started it around a year ago now, so what I’m sharing is a little dated but it has been a good learning journey…
1. Think about the location carefully
This is assuming you’re planting directly into the ground. Where my veggie garden is now (in the back yard), is actually its second site. I initially put it in the front garden & it just didn’t work there aesthectically. Within a week we dug it up & “transferred” it to the back yard. Please save yourself this pain.
If you live in a flat/townhouse you can definitely still have a few things. All you need is a small porch/balcony/window sill. Even though I couldn’t make this work back then, it can definitely be done.
2. Plant what you (already) eat
I know, I know it sounds logical but I got so ahead of myself that I planted some weird & wonderful things that well, wasted. Start with the basics you regularly head out to buy. My garden will never be without lettuce (3 different kinds), spinach, coriander & basil for example. You can expand later but rather start small.
3. Plant what’s (going to be) in season
You want to work with nature. Most seeds will tell you this info on the back of the pack.
4. Seeds vs. seedlings
This is totally personal choice.
If you’re starting out I recommend seedlings – they’re a couple of weeks along already & its kinda like getting instant gratification & will keep you motivated to keep going. I started with seedlings too right at the beginning – it was alot less intimidating. These days I’m doing seeds because its cheaper & feel like I want to start from scratch. There’s noting quite like the day you see your seeds turn to seedlings & push their green heads above ground for the 1st time literally over night.
If you’re going with seeds I find it easier to plant them in trays 1st – these live out on my patio for a few weeks where they’re easier to get to water & if something crazy is up with the weather you can shield them (remember last year when we had those hail storms?!).
5. Think about sunlight
Again, you’ll get this info on the pack for seeds or if you’re buying seedlings ask the nursery or Google!
If you’re for example putting seedlings into the ground rather eye the space you have in mind for a few days. How much sunlight does it really get (vs. what it needs) in the mornings & afternoons?
6. Keep the markers
Seedlings usually come with a little plastic marker in the tray. Don’t toss this – when you’re starting out and have even just 6+ types of veggies on the go it can get a little confusing at the beginning & you can’t always tell what’s what. You can also buy a variety of super cute markers at nurseries/craft stores.
7. Make time to water
Ya so you cant skip this one I learned. And it can get tiring quickly. We don’t have an irrigation system so its all manual (with watering canisters) or with a small sprinkler. Obviously please water off peak in the mornings/evenings (I much prefer evenings). I keep hearing these rumours of water restrictions coming in Jozi…
8. Gear helps
I’m not suggesting you go pro here but you will need a few things like a hose, sprinkler, tools. gloves (if you want). The most important things for me turned out to be shoes. I kept heading to the garden in whatever shoes I was wearing & no matter how hard I tried they would always get ruined (it is impossible to water a garden & not get your shoes wet – take it from me I’ve tried).
And this is really important: don’t forget SPF (even if you think you’re only going to be outside for 5 minutes). I love doing a pampering hand scrub & treatment after (with Crabtree’s Gardeners range obviously!). A hat can help too.
9. Eat your harvest
This is the best part!
I love sitting down to a meal that in part, I grew & earned. It’s just so damn cool to be able to head down to my garden & pick a few things for a side salad for supper than have to get in my car at peak hour & have to go buy something. I mean, it doesn’t really get fresher than this!
Mostly, my advice is that if you’re keen to just start!