Vegetables Veggie garden
Photo Credit: On File

South Africans are using the lockdown to learn so many skills… one of which is how to garden and grow your own food at home.


South Africa (23 April 2020) – Many readers have been asking for an article about growing your own vegetables, herbs and more. We are not experts so we can only give you the basics and point you in the right direction, towards the experts.

As we have all been stuck at home and had to witness the shelves of stores sit empty when the panic first set in, (thankfully, the panic buying has stopped), the thought of food security crossed many minds. It was then that the seed packet shelves were stripped bare.

Many South Africans have taken up the hobby of home gardening during this lockdown but are lacking in the confidence to make a thriving garden.

All we can offer is a few simple tips! These will help any newbie gardener find their footing and gain a little confidence. It can be very overwhelming hearing words like permaculture, hydroponics and more. These are end goals as they will guide your gardening style, but in the beginning, it is best to focus on the following:

First and foremost…

All it comes down to is that your vegetables and herbs need sun, water and good soil! That is it! That is the basic formula for a happy garden. The detail comes when you can’t give your garden the correct amounts of these three essentials. If you don’t have enough sunshine, grow crops that can cope with less or go find the shine. With water, you are better off watering less, than over watering! And soil, you need nutrient-filled soil so you need to do a bit of research to see what kind of soil you have and how to fix it if needed. This leads to tip 2…

Knowledge is power!

You cannot grow a successful garden without a little bit of knowledge. Sure, a lot of it will be learning as you go, but a grasp of the basics is very helpful. Learning about feeding your soils is step one. Then learning about your selected vegetables is step two. They all have their own set of requirements. Some feed heavily and some don’t need anything at all.

Every bit of information you can absorb will help your garden thrive! It isn’t hard to access this information. Sure, being in South Africa, the international information doesn’t quite fit right but you can still learn from it. You can find hundreds of gardeners on YouTube, follow self-sustainability groups (here is a great SA group), follow South African based authors like Jane Griffiths or buy gardening magazines that are South African based.

There is knowledge out there, you just have to dig it up!

Start Small

Speaking as a novice gardener, it is very easy to jump straight in and become overwhelmed. It is better to start small and grow from there. A good way to start is to pick 3 to 5 vegetables and focus only on those. Learn everything you can and become the expert in them.

A good place to start, for an easy harvest that is currently in season, is to grow lettuce, radishes, peas, leeks and swiss chards. These are five simple vegetables to grow that will be quick, will be easy to learn about, and are useful going into winter and the soup season!

Seeds are classed as an essential so many shops should be selling them. If your local grocery store isn’t allowing the sale, you can purchase seeds online.

What does the future hold?

Another gardening tip is to learn patience. After planting your seeds, you may find yourself checking them obsessively. This isn’t going to calm your mind. While you wait, get tidying in your garden. Start a gardening journal or watch more gardening videos. Before you know it, your first seedlings will pop up!

So where do you go from there? Just keep doing what you are doing, asking questions, learning and before you know it, you could have more than your share of vegetables. Sharing with neighbours and family is a great start, they might even become inspired to grow their own. Then you can do regular swaps and access more vegetable varieties than you expected.

In the end, growing your own helps you learn to plan for the future. Sometimes we don’t get instant gratification from the garden, sometimes it takes a little planning and a lot of time. As Darrell Putman’s famous quote goes “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”.

Let us know if you have started a food garden during the lockdown and what your goals are with it? We would love to hear from you, see your pictures and more!

Sources: Various (linked above)
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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