Beginners Guide to Growing Vegetables
Growing your own food is exciting, rewarding and fun. But, it can seem like a lot of hard work and overwhelming if you don't know where to begin or what to plant. If you have tried and failed or would just like to know where to start, here is a guide to help you along the way.
1. Pick the right location
Vegetables and herbs need around 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day, however there are a few leafy veggies that are more shade tolerant. Good drainage is also essential to avoid rotted roots.
2. Nutrient rich soil
Choosing high quality potting soil right from the beginning can make or break your growing experience. Your plants will only thrive if you give them the environment to do so, so topping up the nutrients every few months or when you plant a new crop is also important.
3. Choosing the right vegetables
A common starting point is to grow what you usually eat, however it may be better to start with crops that are easiest to grow. This includes: - Beetroot: This is a "plant & forget" vegetable that needs little maintaince and is ready in a few weeks. - Salad leaves: Generally all leaves are great for continual harvest, pick the leaves and wait for them to grow back again. - Bush tomatoes: Normal tomato plants can get a little out of hand, however bush tomatoes don't require support & continuous maintenance. - Potatoes: Another "plant & forget". Harvest when the top of the potato sticks out the ground. - Peas: A sturdy plant that's easy to grow. Requires support as it can grow quite tall. - Chillis: These bushes usually remain quite small. Just pick the chillis as they turn ripe. - Radishes: "Plant and forget", no need to even thin them out!
4. Be realistic
Be prepared that it takes (fun) work to take care of your plants through a season. Be realistic about how much your family eats and organically grown veg might not look like what you're used to buying in the shops.
5. Learn about seasonal planting
It may seem obvious that we get certain vegetables and different times of the years, however each part of South Africa has different climates that affects when its best to grow in your area. Have a look at Seeds for Africa's Planting Guide to make the best decisions based on your province.
6. Planting at the right time.
When planting seeds, be careful to read the instructions on the back of the packet. For example, some winter seeds require planting in autumn. Similarly, we all love an abundance of lettuce, but not at the same time. So plant your seeds or seedlings a few weeks apart so you have your veggies staggered for continual harvest.
7. Research and learn!
Growing your food is a continous learning curve. Gardening in general is about adapting to the weather changes, finding out what works in your garden set up and what doesn't, and finding out what grows nicely together in the spaces you put it. Trial and error is your best friend (and so is google!). But it is an amazing hobby full of joy - nothing tastes or feels better than something you grew yourself.
There's so much to take into consideration when growing your own food, which is why Vegepod was created to take as much hassle out of it as possible! Container gardening allows you to control the environment and soil quality easily, while the canopy keeps out harsh weather elements and pests such as birds and bugs. No more worrying about over watering or under watering with the water reservoir, plus you can move it where ever you like!