Clinic Spring Garden
Photo Credit: Greta Hoffman from Pexels

If you are spending your evenings and weekends keeping warm indoors, it’s the perfect time to start planning a spring food garden; we have some tips.

 

South Africa (28 June 2023) – So, the Winter Solstice is behind us and every day we are blessed with a few extra minutes of sunshine; all leading up to the excitement of the coming Spring. Since 2020, when South Africans started taking their food security into their own hands, we have shared articles on preparing your gardens for the coming seasons. This one is always the one we love most!

They say that Summer bodies are made in Winter, well the same can be said for summer gardens. We have the tips you will need to start preparing for Spring.

If the rising prices of living are making you stress a little, trying to subsidise some of the food you buy with food you can grow, could be a practical option. We are seeing more and more garden novices taking to social media to share their new ventures into growing food.

Before the world became one of convenience, most families grew some of their food at home or had other homemaking skills such as cheese and bread making. These skills all helped balance what they needed for home-cooked meals. As the cost of living rises, many people are turning to these skills and bartering to fill their fridges.

We thought we would look at how to start a small veggie garden in your own backyard or balcony.

Over the last few years, we have promoted several stories celebrating home and community gardens. As families became reliant on food parcels that lacked nutritional diversity, turning to growing greens and herbs was a great way to bulk up family meals and add some extra nutrients.

Whether there are food shortages or a looming financial crisis, being prepared and self-sufficient can’t hurt; plus, once you have set up, it is easy on the bank account.

So, where do you start if you have never grown anything in your life? We will start with the basics and work our way through to the more complex ideas, but this article is for beginners, so we won’t go too in-depth.

This is everything you need to know, to start growing food at home.

It’s Seasonal.

The first thing you need to know when starting a garden is what season you are in. Different fruits and vegetables react and grow differently, depending on the weather.

As we are currently in the middle of Winter, now is the time to start planting for spring and summer growth.

For the best resource to know what to grow now and in what province, check out the Livingseeds Gardening Group. Each month the group moderators share a growing list for each province. You can find the monthly grow guides here – note, you will need to be joined to the private group to access the files.

These guides are helpful because South Africa has several different kinds of climates. For example, there are areas where frost is a significant threat, others will be experiencing winter rains, and some will already have temperatures soaring towards the 30s. Knowing your growing climate helps make decisions about what is safe to grow now.

The Seeds and Seedlings.

To grow fruits, herbs, spices and vegetables, you need seeds. Most grocery stores sell a basic selection of seeds. Garden centres, nurseries, hardware and specialised seed companies are also great ways to get seeds in South Africa.

If you have friends that grow their own, ask them to share a seed or two. We have learned gardeners are super generous and will share any surplus they have.

Seeds can also feel overwhelming, and that is ok; many garden centres will also sell seedlings. These make everything go a bit faster as you don’t need to baby the seeds.

Knowledge and Lessons

There is so much information out there in fellow gardeners, YouTube videos, websites, podcasts, books, and so much more.

It is important to understand what is needed to be a successful gardener. From growing requirements, soil and nutrients, companion planting and more. The key is to start slowly and learn as much as you can at the same time. We recommend selecting two to three vegetables and learning everything about them before taking on more. Garden overwhelm is a thing, but it can be helped.

Here are some pointers on learning about growing your own.

  • Select a fruit or vegetable.
  • List its growing requirements.
  • Learn about the pests that could affect your plant.
  • Collect all the tools, soil and nutrients that a plant would need throughout its lifetime.
  • Run into any issues? Troubleshoot using all the resources above.

If you do this each year, before long, you will know how to grow enough fruit and vegetables to feed your family and maybe even your neighbours too.

Find a Community

Community is everything in gardening. In South Africa, there are several Facebook groups that offer the community feel for gardening. We are joined to most of these so take a look below and select which ones work for you.

You can also start smaller communities where you can do seed and vegetable swaps, bartering, community projects and discuss weather that affects your immediate climate.

So what can you do now for Spring?

  • Go into your garden and select an area where you will garden.
  • If you have grass in the area, put down cardboard to kill it off.
  • Decide if you will do raised beds or in-ground beds. If raised, start the process of building those up.
  • Collect your seeds as per your seasonal research.
  • Fill your garden bed(s) with good compost and topsoil.
  • Start planting.
  • While you wait for the first things to grow, learn and learn some more.
  • Engage with your selected community, ask questions and learn some more.

Have more questions? Pop them in the comment section, and we will try to answer them, but joining the groups above will be your best bet! Happy growing! And before you know it, Spring will be here.


 Sources: GTG
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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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