Start your own veggie garden

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Start your own veggie gardenIn our previous going-green articles we mentioned starting your own vegetable garden as a sustainable way to lower your carbon footprint. Now we show you how to make one.

It’s still chilly out, but spring is around the corner, which means plants are gearing up to make a whole lot of whoopi, so now’s the perfect time to start planning your own veggie garden.

Where should I put it?

• First off, it’s most important to make sure your veg garden is located in a place that’s easy to get to – if it’s not, you’re more likely to neglect it, and veggies are attention junkies.
• Secondly, the area will need to get plenty of sun, about six to eight hours a day (though some veggies, such as leafy greens, can get by on four hours, but they may take longer to develop).
• Thirdly, your veggie garden needs to be close to a source of water, so you can easily give them a drink when thirsty.
• Lastly, you need to make sure you have good quality and well-drained soil. To find out (re: drainage), dig a hole about 60cm deep and fill it up with water. If the hole still has some water sitting at the bottom after 30 minutes, it most likely has bad drainage. You can improve your soil’s drainage by digging the whole another 20cm or so deeper and lining the bottom with about 15cm of gravel, then topping up with soil.) You’ll also want to enrich your soil by mixing in some compost and bone meal.

What equipment do I need?

You only really need the basics, such as a garden spade, pruning sheers, trowel, twine and stakes (to lend support to tall plants once they get going), but you may find it convenient to invest in a wheel barrow (to transport bags of compost – they’re heavy!), a compost bin (to make your own – it’s cheap, easy and green), gardening shoes, buckets (for collecting weeds) and a rake (to level soil). Oh, and a sun hat is also a good idea.

What should I plant?

Whatever you like! But if you’re just starting out and feel a little nervous about looking after plants, it’s best to start out with ones that give you more bang for your buck [] (and are fairly easy to grow), such as Swiss chard, green beans, carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, peas, radishes, zucchini, onions and beets.

Should I plant seeds or seedlings?

It depends. Some plants can take months to mature from seed, so it can be easier to buy these as seedlings. You also want to make sure they transplant well (i.e. don’t die when you plant them); these include basil, Swiss chard, aubergine, leeks, onions, parsley, peppers and tomatoes. Plants that work well directly seeded in the ground include rocket, beans, beets, carrots, lettuce, peas and radishes.

How do I make sure my veggie garden keeps going?

Well, you need to water it, obviously. You’ll want to give it a good soak at least once a week – up this to two or three times a week if it’s extremely hot. Remove weeds whenever you see them (they steal water and nutrients from your veggies), and put down some mulch to prevent the moisture in the soil from evaporating – it also helps discourage weeds and keeps your plants’ roots cool.

What should I do about bugs?

You have several options. You can invest in (expensive) organic insecticides and snail traps, or you can simply remove snails as you encounter them. You can also make your own aphid insecticide out of eco-friendly dishwashing liquid (just dilute it with water and decant into a spray bottle).

Image: auremar/

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Written by

Rachel McGregor is a Cape Town journalist (and part-time narcissist) specialising in food, health and lifestyle-related features. In her spare time she loves to cook and poke fun at hipsters. Sometimes she dreams of giving it all up and becoming a millionaire.

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  1. Tamy Botha

    I just love gardening! It is so therapeutic to me! I’m busy preparing my winter veggies and herbs

    5 months ago •

  1. Fouzia Damon

    Well i have never really had a garden but I have always wanted a herb garden ; this artical gave me the motivation i needed !

    1 year ago •

  1. Saidat Rabiu

    I don’t really have a green thumb but managed to plant chickpea and sweet potato. Feel so glad watching them grow.

    2 years ago •

  1. Humaira Motala

    This is neat ! Thank You for the tips .

    2 years ago •

  1. van Tonder

    Thank you for the tips. Hopefully my second attempt to have a veggie garden will be successful.

    2 years ago •

  1. Cheryl

    I started my own vegetable garden 3 weeks ago and I wish I could post pictures here. I am super proud of my veggies, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes and pets grass for my doggies. Growing my vegetables will save me money and promote healthy eating at home. Next project is a worm project to generate fertiliser for my veggie garden.

    2 years ago •

  1. Mialise Tolmie

    I love growing my own fresh herbs! It’s so cheap and easy to just keep them in the window sill and they are so easy to grow.

    2 years ago •

  1. Tatum Sieni

    Should research into aquaponics, the results are the best out of any veggie garden I have ever experienced and the veggies grow much quicker as well!

    3 years ago •

  1. Tanya

    Now this is a must! I will save so much money as well!

    5 years ago •

  1. AndreaM

    My sister and I want to start a garden, this is so much help. Wow thanks @beautysouthafrica.

    6 years ago •

  1. AndreaM

    I want to start a garden so I should start asap.

    6 years ago •

  1. Pulane

    I tried the veggie garden last year but the soil was not healthy enough, I’m doing it this year.

    7 years ago •

  1. Vadapalli

    I was always an avid gardener. Just love looking at my garden. I grow herbs and veggies and one day would love to be self sufficient.

    7 years ago •

  1. Tasha

    I have been meaning to do that for some time, but now only can have few plants, since I live in flat.

    7 years ago •

  1. gerrit

    Oh i gave it a try so many times but my job sometimes takes me away for weeks, so i gave it up, but i love the article maybe if i hit the lotto i will climb into it with a passion and start all over again because it gives you such pleasure to see things grow.

    7 years ago •

  1. BeautyBloggess

    First thing I did when I moved into my new place was to create a veggie garden. Now I have peppers, cabbage, spinach, broccoli and beans growing. Also added in some herbs in between the vegetables and they’re doing great.

    7 years ago •

  1. Charles

    Would love a veggie garden, but don’t think my four-legged children will allow it!

    7 years ago •

  1. DIVA

    Thanks for the inspiration, would love to get my own Garden.

    7 years ago •

  1. wyona

    Sound very relaxing, think it’s a good idea to start one, little things in life always gives you the greatest pleasure.

    7 years ago •

  1. Zu

    I like the idea…
    I must add this o my bucket list

    7 years ago •

  1. Angelisha

    I’m Vegetarian and I Love fresh fruits and Veggy’s from the Garden. Food is always Earthy and tasty!

    7 years ago •

  1. ricebunny

    lol i would rather not get my nails dirty i think i prefer buying my veggies

    7 years ago •

  1. Maddy

    Great ideas, i only grow herbs , this article sure gave me some food for thought.

    7 years ago •

  1. Lorraine

    Usefull tips for growing your own veggies.Nothing so nice as to going into your own garden and picking fresh veggs.

    7 years ago •

  1. Mpbutterfly

    Love the ‘green’ articles that you have been posting lately! Keep it up!

    7 years ago •

  1. Crystal

    yes yes yes – i have started a herb garden in my kitchen in containers (old cans) – loving it:)

    7 years ago •

  1. Sam

    This is a wonderful idea. I’ve always wanted a veggie garden.

    7 years ago •

  1. Firefly

    I have recently started my own veggie garden :) Great info thanks!!

    7 years ago •

  1. Gee Whiskers

    Don’t know if anyone else has tried this – but instead of throwing your avo pip away – stick it in the ground and you’ll have a little tree growing in no time :) It does however take years before producing avos for your kitchen,

    7 years ago •

  1. clint

    Great article, i have my own herb and veggie garden and it’s my pride, my tomatoes and spinach and parsley are like my children, i put a lot of attention into my veggie garden and find it very relaxing.

    7 years ago •

  1. Chicara

    I love this. It always seems like such a great idea. And now that I have my own garden I could probably give it a go. :)

    7 years ago •

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