At our latest veggie garden club meeting, we focused on soil, wicking beds and spring planting.
Each meeting is held at a different garden and this time we were kindly hosted by Pete and Germain of the Urban Farmers.
Lettuce growing in recycled plastic bottles.
The Urban Farmers brilliant geodome chicken coop.
Their seedlings for spring.
We started off the meeting by discussing what we will all be planting for our Spring gardens. And of course the essential baboon proofing – a lot of gardens have been raided recently and there is a great need to find low cost materials to create a secure cage system.
A few very interesting conversations included
- Shade effects on growth of plants (inhibits growth)
- Plant memory. If you plant your Spring veg too soon, they will get confused with the changing weather (hot and cold spells) leading up to consistent warm Spring weather. They will count the hot and cold conditions as seasonal changes and you will end up with premature bolting (going to seed).
- Nitrogen needed in the soil for onions. Added to the soil this will help your onion crop grow bigger and faster and generally good for promoting leafy greens.
- Soil improvement. For sandy coastal dune soil one should add compost (balance the alkalinity) and for sandy mountain soil one should add kaolin (balance the acidity) Getting the PH balance right is best for optimum growth. You can get a little PH soil testing kit to see how your soil is doing.
- Compost. To make an excellent quality compost, make a huge pile of 50% horse manure and/or chicken manure and 50% straw.Cover with a plastic sheet and in 4-6 months time you will have a beautiful pile of ready to use compost.
Then Pete gave a great show and tell on wicking beds.
Here is a diagram for those of you unfamiliar with these water-wise container gardens, .
Wicking bed in the making…plastic lining attached.
Square foot gardening…seedlings planted up and ready to grow.
Franz suggested planting 16 lettuce plants in one square which would give yout 6 – 8 weeks of harvesting lettuce from your wicking bed garden, giving them space to grow as you harvest.
Pete showed us some of the containers in the process of being built and told us how they work, above he is describing the 16 squares to plant in.If you are interested in these fantastic units for growing in but are not great with tools, you can contact them on their website or find them on their Facebook page to order one.
There are many different sizes to choose from. For a mini version using the same capillary action they use plastic bottles cut in half and inverted as a mini wicking system, lined up in a neat pallet-shelf vertical garden.
The same idea can also be used in the ground.
And if you use the same ratio of 30cm of soil (1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite. 1/3 peat moss) under 6 cm of mulch in a normal garden bed, you would also have a great water wise garden and only need to do a long deep watering once a week.
Start with the basics and you can grow anything. Its all about your soil.
Franz Muhl’s Vegetable seed sowing chart for the Cape Peninsula in August:
X – Optimal sowing time
x – Possible, depending on the seasonal weather
o -In the greenhouse or similar warm space
(D)irect or (T)ransplant * Final spacing-cm * Germination time-days * Maturation time-weeks * Heavy/Mod/Light feeder
Baby marrow – xxx
D 60-80 cm 7-14days 6weeks MF
Basil – ooo
T or D 20-30cm 7-14days 8-10weeks MF
Beetroot – xxx
D 8-12cm 7-14days 8-9weeks HF
Brinjal – ooo
T 40-50cm 14-20days 8-10weeks HF
Broccoli – xxxx
T or D 30-40cm 5-10days 8-9weeks HF
Cabbage – xxxx
T or D 40-50cm 5-10days 8-9weeks HF
Cauliflower – xxXX
T or D 40-50cm 5-10days 8-10weeks HF
Carrot – xxXX
D 4-7cm 7-10days 8-10weeks LF
Celery – ooxx
T 30-40cm 10-18days 12-14weeks HF
Cucumber – xxxx
D 40-50cm 7-14days 8-10weeks MF
Kale – xxxx
T or D 40-50cm 5-10days 6-8weeks HF
Leek – xxxx
T 10-15cm 6-14days 8-10weeks MF
Lettuce – xxXX
T or D 25-35cm 3-7days 8-10weeks LF
Pea – XXXX
D 4-5cm 5-10days 8-10weeks LF
Peppers – ooo
T 30-40cm 14-20days 9-11weeks HF
Potato – XXXX
D 30-40cm – 11-14weeks MF
Radish – XXXX
D 3-8cm 3-5days 3-4weeks HF
Spring onion – xxXX
T 4-8cm 6-14days 8-10weeks LF
Squash – xxx
D 80-100cm 7-14days 2-15weeks MF
Swiss chard – xxXX
T or D 25-35cm 7-14days 8-10weeks MF
Tomato – oooo
T 40-50cm 5-10days 7-10weeks MF
Happy planting everyone – Spring is almost here!