What better way to prepare for the KZN summer than with your very own, home-grown organic vegetable garden? So many of us dream of a fridge full of organic vegetables but don’t quite know where or how to start growing them ourselves.
Organic gardening means no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, but that doesn’t mean that your plants will be left to fend for themselves. With the right knowledge, you can boost plant health and ward off pests, leaving delicious and safe organic veggies for your plate. Here are five easy steps to get your organic garden started this spring.
- Preparing the soil
To get the best results from your new organic garden, make sure that the soil is properly conditioned and full of nutrients. Chemical soil treatments can not only seep into your food, but they can also harm the beneficial bacteria, worms and other microbes in the soil. Mix Farmyard Organics’ premium compost into your soil for the perfect enriching treatment.
- Choose the right plants
It pays off to select the plants that will thrive best in your specific area and its micro-conditions. Choose plants that will be well adjusted to each spot, in terms of light, moisture, drainage and soil quality. As a rule, September in KZN is a good time to sow summer crops like runner beans, dwarf beans, sweetcorn, pumpkins and squashes. You can also plant seedlings for tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Herbs like sweet basil, coriander and rocket can also be planted now.
- Companion planting is a must
It takes more than good soil, sun, and nutrients to ensure success in a vegetable garden. Plants have to grow well with one another. Some plants, especially herbs, act as repellents, warding off insects with their strong odors. Dill and basil planted among tomatoes protect the tomatoes from hornworms. Sage scattered around the cabbage patch reduces injury from cabbage moths. Leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard do well grown in the shadow of corn. A classic example of happy companion planting are green mealies and sweetcorn, pole beans and either pumpkins or squash grown together. Each contributes something to the relationship and together grow extremely well in the summer.
- Watering tips
The best time to water your vegetable garden is early in the morning. With water restrictions already affecting areas like Balito and Durban North, you’ll want to do your bit to save water. The mornings tend to be cool and wind free, so the amount of water lost to evaporation is reduced. An early morning shower will also help prevent pests and diseases from flourishing.
Pulling weeds by hand may sound like hard work – and it can be – but it’s also good exercise and will get you outside in the fresh air. Without throwing toxic chemicals onto your food, you can reduce the number of weeds by applying a good quality mulch. Farmyard Organics’ composted pine-bark mulch is the perfect fit for your KZN garden. It will help to hold moisture in the soil, protecting plants from drying out quickly while suppressing weed and disease growth.
For more gardening and growing tips, visit http://www.farmyardorganics.co.za/blog/