Grow Your Own Vegetables
If you’re thinking about starting a small vegetable garden but feel like a total novice, here are some simple ideas to encourage you to grow your own vegetables because it gives you access to your own organic produce and saves you money. You can easily convert a small yard into a lush vegetable garden by growing vegetables in plant pots and containers. However, not all types of vegetables can be grown in planters because their root systems require more space to fully mature.
A garden to suit any need
Not all gardens or outdoor areas are created equal and there is a need for people from all walks of life to access sustainable, nutritious and safe food.
– Go vertical. It saves space and is visually appealing.
– Square-foot gardening. The idea behind square foot gardening is to plant a variety of plants in a small amount of space. You’ll have to spend some money to construct the raised beds and fill them with soil, but once you put in the work, you can get consistent organic vegetables.
– Container gardens. You can repurpose wine crates, polystyrene boxes, old paint cans or even tyres to use as containers. The best part is that they are portable and easy to assemble. You just need to ensure adequate drainage and vegetables that will do well in smaller spaces.
– Windowsill boxes. If you are really tight on space, consider starting as basic and as small as growing some lettuce in your windowsill.
– When deciding what vegetables to grow, ask yourself: 1) Where do I want to start my garden? 2) How much sunlight does that space get? 3) What box or pot will the vegetables grow in? 4) Which produce or herbs will I use most in the kitchen? 5) What season is it?
How to water efficiently
With the country experiencing water restrictions, it is becoming increasingly important to find ways to save water and thereby work more efficiently with the water you do use. Here are some guidelines for a water efficient vegetable garden.
– It starts with the soil: Well-amended soil is the foundation of a vegetable garden that will tolerate drought. Prepare your garden’s soil by adding lots of rich, organic compost that will help trap moisture and encourage deep root formation in plants. Biochar aids soil fertility.
– Plant smart: Plant your vegetable garden in block style layout rather than in rows to create microclimates, shade and reduce water evaporation.
Layout your vegetable garden so that plants with similar water requirements are grouped together. For example, cucumbers, zucchini, and squash all have similar water needs. Focus on vegetables that produce abundant crops like tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplants. Avoid broccoli and cauliflower that require a lot of water.
– When plants need water: If your vegetables are planted before the hot and dry days of summer arrive, they’ll have time to establish a root system that will allow them to survive the hotter days. Deep watering will train roots to grow deep into the ground. A drip irrigation system will deploy water where it is needed and potentially reduce your water consumption by as much as 50%. Soil amended as described above should be able to go between two and seven days between irrigation. Knowing at what stage of development your vegetables will need water can also help you reduce the amount of water you use
Drought tolerant vegetable crops:
– Asparagus. This is a perennial. You plant it once and let it grow in that same area. Don’t move it! A well-prepared bed will produce spears for at least 15-20 years. And that is a cost effective bargain!
– Beans (bush and pole)
– Broccoli (Sun King Hybrid)
– Eggplant (Aubergine)
– Lettuces (leaf varieties, harvest young and early in the season)
– Onions (sets and plants)
– Peppers* (sweet and hot peppers)
– Spinach (New Zealand, Malabar)
– Sweet Potatoes (Georgia Jet, Vardaman, Wakenda)
– Tomatoes (thousands to choose from-Solar Fire, Sun Leaper, Sunmaster, Equinox, many cherry varieties)