Category: Seeds

Veggie Garden Club – August

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.

Urban Farmers container gardens

Lettuce growing in recycled plastic bottles.

Geodome chicken coop

The Urban Farmers brilliant geodome chicken coop.

Spring seedlings

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 image

Wicking bed

Wicking bed in the making…plastic lining attached.

square foot garden

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.

Wicking beds

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.

Pallet garden

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.

wself watering wicking 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!

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Seed ’em and reap.

Seeds are life.

The wondrous cycle from seed to plant, flower to fruit and back to seed.

Lets throw a few highlighted words out there for you. You probably know them all. If not, do a bit of research. Copy and paste them into Google search, chat to friends, read some books. Come up with your own thoughts on the matter.

I’m not going to write about GMO and its promotion in South Africa through the Green Revolution, the world of Biopiracy and its effects on Indigenous livelihoods, or the importance of Seed Sovereignty.

But I am going to share some of the enjoyment we experience from the seed cycle.

SEEDS

SeedsSeeds – begged, borrowed, bought or grown.

SeedsHomegrown seeds

SEEDLINGS

SeedlingsLettuce seedlings in the front row

PLANTS

Lettuce plantsSeedlings in the ground.

LettuceRenegade lettuce growing in the cracks. Saving this hero’s seed for sure.

Manchester turnipSelf seeded Manchester turnip in the lettuce bed.

CorianderCoriander grown from our own seed for about 4 years now.

Cucumber plantsCucumber plants – flowers have started.

FLOWERS

SunflowersSunflower

Pea flowersPea flowers

tomato flowersBaby tomato flowers

marrow flowersMarrow flowers developing into fruit.

FRUIT

Picking tomatoesPicking the fruits of our labour – tomato varieties.

MarrowMarrow

Rainbow radishesRainbow radishes

CucumbersCucumbers

Supper ingredientsSupper ingredients

Garden harvestGarden harvest

FOOD

Tomatoes and peppers for roastingTomatoes and peppers ready for roasting

Fresh veg and homemade pastaFresh veg and homemade pasta

Veg wrapsVeg wraps

Garden saladRadish salad

Tomato snacksSummer tomato snacks

Seared goat and garden veg saladSeared goat and garden veg salad

Garden veg seed savingMaking supper and saving seeds along the way.

and back to…SEEDS

SunflowersSunflowers seeds.

Sorting chive seedsChive seeds.

Shelling pea seedsPea seeds.

Radish seedRadish seeds.

Red clover seedsDecanting red clover seeds into jars.

SeedsAnd repeat.

Plants want to grow. We need to eat. So….

Grow food

And if you don’t have a spot of soil to grow in – support your local farmer.

Happy healthy eating everyone!