Growing your own vegetables is a wonderful thing to do. It can seem a little daunting if you aren’t quite sure exactly how to get started. Fortunately, it’s very easy and cost effective, and you can adapt it over time to your own circumstances, needs, and increasing skill levels.
What’s more, it’s also a healthy, fun activity that you can do with your children that will provide them with knowledge, fun, time outdoors and the wonder and excitement of watching their plants grow. There’s also the sheer delight of getting to eat what you have produced yourself, which is a rewarding experience, too.
Gardening with Your Children
The trick to gardening with children is to make it as fun and simple as possible. This means choosing veggies that they enjoy eating, as well as ones that will germinate and produce fairly quickly, to keep boredom from setting in. When starting your vegetable garden at home, small and manageable is always best. So, whether you have a large garden, a small yard or even just some space on a sunny windowsill, there’s no reason why you can’t get started straight away. This makes it less overwhelming, and you can always upscale your little farming operation later on.
If you are growing vegetables outdoors, choose a place that is not exposed or windy. You also want to stay away from too many trees, as their roots will tap into your enriched veggie soil. If space is a concern, you can start out in planting boxes or pots, and transplant these at a later date. Your chosen space should be easy to get to, or you might not give it the attention it needs. If it’s in a tricky place, that your children may not be able to tend to their garden, which will make the gardening more of a solo exercise for you. Ideally, your veggie garden should get about 6-8 hours of sunshine each day and be close to a water source, so that watering is fairly easy.
You can enrich the soil of your chosen planting area by mixing in some compost or bone meal, which is inexpensive and available at all hardware stores and nurseries. This will give your new green friends the best possible start!
You can start planting at any time of the year in South Africa, but close to Spring is ideal. To see which months of the year are best suited to certain veggies in each province, visit http://www.seedsforafrica.co.za/pages/vegetable-planting-guides and click on your region.
Veggies that grow quickly include: tomatoes, rocket, beans, carrots, lettuce, radishes, peppers, leeks, onions, aubergine, and peas. If you are planting peas from seeds, make sure you wash your hands after planting and do not allow your children to put the seeds in their mouths, as they are poisonous.
After planting, it is time to care for and nurture your veggie garden. It should be watered at least once a week, or 3 times a week if it is very hot. Your child will enjoy hours of fun as you water, remove weeds, and observe the wonder of the growing plants together.
Keeping Intruders Out
One of the joys of growing your own vegetables is that you know they are free from pesticides and preservatives. To make a natural aphid deterrent you can dilute eco-friendly dishwashing liquid (1:1) in a spray bottle and gently spray the plants daily. Another deterrent is to plant marigolds around your veggie patch, this is both pretty and effective.
Share What You Know!
If you’ve tried growing your own vegetables and have some tips for all our ‘budding’ gardeners, please tell us here. We’d love for you to share your knowledge so that we can get more veggies to the table.
Growing your own vegetables is much easier than you think! Here’s how to get started…