Love the idea of putting delicious, nutritious fresh veggies and herbs on the table for your family? Why not grow your own! Our guide will help you make the most of your backyard space – no matter how small it may be!
From crunchy cucumbers, sweet peppers and spicy chillies to bush beans and colourful squashes, the spring planting season is all about gearing up for those bountiful summer crops. Ahh what a glorious idea -fresh homegrown produce – delicious and the ultimate way to keep your family healthy!
You may think that this is only possible for farmers or people with lots of garden space. “I couldn’t possibly grow such an abundance in my own small backyard or urban balcony……could I?” You CAN!
People all around the world, living urban lifestyles in city apartments are tapping into their creativity and achieving garden abundance with their urban gardens and balcony veg patches. It’s so inspiring that we just knew we had to bring you this handy home-gardening guide so that you can grow your very own at home!
DID YOU KNOW? Spekboom is nutritious, TASTES GREAT and is so easy to grow!
Why Grow Your Own?
There are so many reasons why you need to hop aboard the home-gardening train! It’s good for you and the planet, it saves money, it teaches you new skills and is super fun and rewarding.
By growing your own produce you can ensure that your food isn’t being exposed or treated with harmful pesticides and fertilisers. This benefits your health and the health of the planet.
You’ll never eat a bland dish again because you’ll always have plenty of fresh herbs to pick from! Don’t have any veggies in the fridge? Growing your own swiss chard, spinach and lettuce will ensure that you always have fresh greens at the ready so you can add that extra jab of nutrition to your meals!
Check out this awesome article by Custom Creations for more amazing reasons!
The Basics – Soil Not Dirt
Growing abundant produce starts with growing good soil first! Soil can quite literally be called the ‘basis of life’, without it planet Earth would look VERY different! Soil actually sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and so is also a key component to combating climate change.
You want to be growing your produce in soil, not dirt. But what’s the difference?
Soil is rich with bacteria and microorganisms. In a single teaspoon of soil, you will find up to one billion bacteria, fungia, protozoa and nematodes!
These microorganisms are essential for healthy soil and healthy plants. They create nutritious soils by decomposing organic matter and nutrients and making these available for plants to utilise for growth and fruit production.
Put simply, dirt is dead soil. It is soil that isn’t at its optimum and devoid of all the wonderful nutrients and bacteria. This means that it cannot support the growth of healthy plants and so your garden will not flourish.
This is why before growing your veggies you need to grow your soil! You can do this by enhancing your soil with compost and organic matter. The more organic matter you add the more microorganisms you’ll attract and soon you’ll have soil teeming with life ready for your plants to grow in!
Start making your own compost at home so that you can ensure that you’re feeding your soils the richest compost full of microorganisms. Earth Probiotic offers excellent solutions to turn your kitchen waste into nourishment for your soil! The Bokashi Bin, which is available in their store is a handy method of composting that requires little space and will literally turn anything into nutritious black gold for your garden! This simple infographic explains how to Bokashi.
Water + Sun = Happy Plant!
Your plants will need gentle watering and adequate sunshine/light in order to grow into healthy happy plants. When starting your home garden you will want to consider how much light your garden site receives on average, this will impact which plants you decide to grow in your garden.
Most vegetables need between six to eight hours of sunlight per day. Some plants need more (sun loving) and some need less (shade loving).
The ideal location for a veggie garden in the southern hemisphere is a north facing space, but east or west will be fine too.
If your garden site is south facing you’ll be able to grow vegetables during summer, but not in winter as any buildings, structures of trees will block the sunlight from reaching your garden. This is why it’s a good idea to get to know your location and observe the hours of sunlight it receives.
Sun Loving Vegetables (6-8 hours of sunlight per day)
- Peppers & chillies
- Squashes, zucchini & butternut
- Bush beans & runner beans
- Herbs such as marjoram, oregano, thyme & perennial basil
Shade Loving Vegetables (4-5 hours of sunlight per day)
- Sweet Basil
- Brussel Sprouts
- Chinese Greens
NOTE: While these vegetables have been divided into sun and shade categories they can of course tolerate certain conditions – nature is very resilient!
However, you may notice that they are more susceptible to disease or may not grow as abundantly. Likewise, almost all vegetables can handle semi sun or semi shade, especially in the hot summer months or cool winter months. When the sun is scorching, even a sun loving plant will benefit from shade and if it’s very grey and cold, a shade loving plant will benefit from sun. It’s all about observing what works and what doesn’t – owning a vegetable garden will teach you a lot of wonderful things!
When it comes to watering your garden there are a number of ways in which you can do this.
Choose from a simple watering can or hose, or get creative with drip irrigation, irrigation pots and different water-wise styles of gardening.
You can also add natural organic fertiliser to your watering scheme to give your plants an extra kick of nutrients!
DIY Organic Comfrey Tea Fertiliser:
Comfrey is one of the best plants to have in your garden because it is beneficial for so many things. It’s a fantastic companion plant and It’s deep tap root pulls up nutrients to its surrounding plant friends. The leaves are packed with nutrients which is why it makes an excellent organic fertiliser!
To make your own comfrey tea fertiliser, simply pick a bunch of fresh comfrey leaves. You’ll want to wear gloves as the leaves are quite prickly! Chop, rip or tear the leaves up and place them in a bucket. Cover the leaves with boiling water, put a lid on and allow it to rot for one month. Stirring it occasionally. Dilute the mixture one part tea to 10 parts water and use it as a soil drench or foliar spray. Your garden will love it!!
Creating Your Garden
Designing your unique backyard garden is a fun and exciting venture, but it can also be a bit confusing….where do you START? Lucky for you there are several methods and techniques of gardening suited to whatever space, size, location and goal you have.
Square Foot Gardening
Square Foot Gardening is a fantastic way to grow a lot of veggies without using up too much space! It’s perfect for those of you with some green space and is a very rewarding method of gardening.
Raised Bed Gardening
Raised Bed Gardening is great if you don’t want to put too much “back” into your gardening and you can be super creative with how you raise your beds. From simple wood or brick lined beds to crafted planters or vegetable boxes. You can even upcycle old bathtubs or wheelbarrows and grow your plants in there for an extra touch of personality!
Vertical Gardening is all the rage right now as it’s great for growing lots of plants in a small space – instead of using up space horizontally you’ll be growing your garden vertically!
Hydroponics is a soil-less method of growing plants. It’s great for growing things like lettuce and herbs and works well with vertical gardening!
There are many more methods and ideas of gardening. A quick Google search will bring you a plethora of ideas, but these are some of the most popular ways of growing your garden abundance!
Give Yourself Some Garden Love!
It’s no joke that getting those hands stuck into your garden can definitely result in a serious case of gardener’s hands! We love tending to our gardens, mending our soils and giving our plants love, but we need to make sure we’re giving ourselves some of that love too so that we can ensure many more happy years of gardening.
Always make sure you’re wearing proper sun protection, especially during the warm summer months.
Sunscreen and a good sun hat are always a good idea to keep you protected from those harsh UV rays.
Try out Beaucience Botanicals Day Cream. The cream is SPF15, so will offer your skin some light sun protection and comes with a free hand sanitiser!
Faithful to Nature offers an awesome range of non-toxic and natural sunscreens! Brands available to purchase online include: Gaia Organics, Sunumbra, Eli & You, Oh-Lief, Le Naturel and Badger.
Take Care of Your Hands
Wearing a good quality pair of gardening gloves will keep out some of the dirt and help prevent you from getting hard callused skin. It can also protect you from cuts or scrapes that could get infected by the bacteria in the soil.
Washing your hands straight after gardening is great to ensure that you’re keeping things clean and the dirt doesn’t get caked into your skin or your nails. Give your hands a good old scrub and scrape any dirt out from under your nails, as this can lead to infections.
Check out Faithful to Nature’s extensive range of hand washes available for purchase online.
Moisturiser is a Gardener’s best friend!
You will find that your hands can get quite dry and hard after gardening. Using a good moisturising lotion or hand cream will keep you skin hydrated and supple. You can be a gardener and still have beautiful hands!
The Body Care from Africa hand and nail creams are glorious for keeping your skin and nails smooth and moisturised!
Wash it Away!
Earthsap’s foam bath range is perfect for soaking away a hard day’s work in the garden and keeping you fresh and sparkling. Earthsap products are free of preservatives, petrochemicals, synthetic fragrances, dyes and SLS.Ingredients are biodegradable and eco-friendly!
We LOVE Eco Diva’s hand purifier as a gentle and convenient way to keep any nasties at bay, the natural way! It includes moisturising argan oil, tea tree & essential oils to keep your skin soft and smooth.
A Few Handy Extras
Once you’ve sunk your hands into that beautiful soil it’s very easy to become a little obsessed. The next thing you know your dinner table will be loaded with veggies and herbs grown in your garden!
A good garden requires some planning so having a place dedicated to all your garden plans is a great way of keeping track of what’s growing in your garden, as well as future crops.
You can enhance your garden’s growth and production by planting in tune with the seasons and phases of the moon!
This is a fascinating aspect of gardening, so investing a good planting calendar is a definite must for any avid garden grower!
HOT TIP: Do yourself a favour – get yourself the Custom Creations Planting Calendar and Garden Guide!
The 2021 PLANTING CALENDAR AND GARDEN GUIDE will enhance every day of your garden journey!
PLANTING CALENDAR INCLUDES:
- Inspirational local photos
- Moon phases with SA time
- List of seeds for SA seasons
- Colour coded activity guide
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