Anyone Can Grow a Garden

In our eagerness to grow our own vegetables, we often forget that most vegetables and herbs need at least six hours of sunlight to grow and produce fruit efficiently. This is a challenge when you live in a built-up urban area, complexes or in small apartments. But knowing which herbs and vegetables to plant and harnessing the sunlight energy that is available to you, you are able to grow your own. You might not end up with the vegetable garden that your gran had, but there is always hope. Nevertheless, its all about clever planning and knowing your surrounds. Where does the sun come up? Do you get afternoon rays hitting a particular wall? Do you have space for a nifty trellis to grow some patio variety vegetables? Many new patio varieties were bred especially for you, the small space gardener.

But before we get to the vegetables and that perfect salad bowl…Herbs have long been banished to the corner of the garden, and I have no idea why. We were taught that specific plants should go into allocated areas of the garden. Herbs come in a variety of colours, purposes and beautiful textures, as long as my arm! Why not plant up a pot or an old bucket with these beauties. You can have a pot for braai, a pot for salads and a pot to add flavour to your stir fries. These do not need to take up a lot of space in your garden or on your balcony. Take a look at this handy zinc bucket for herbs. As long as you remember, good afternoon sun and a warm wall could be sufficient to grow herbs. Surround your seating area with textures and aromas and be inspired to try them in the kitchen. Sage, thyme and rosemary for braai. Rocket, parsley and mint for the freshest salads and Vietnamese coriander, chives and fennel for those Asian stir fries. Add some flowers to your pots, nasturtiums and pansy flowers are edible. The good news is, to give any dish a bit of flair, you can grow microgreens! Jam-packed full of goodness and so easy to grow. Read my blog on microgreens to show you how to grow these little guys. You could even go all-out and install a square metre garden.

Don’t be afraid to experiment, try different spots and see how your plants do. They will be quick to tell you that they are not happy – lanky growth and fewer flowers are usually the first signs. These signs are messages to cut your losses and try again. The following edibles can grow in your garden or on your balcony or patio, with less than 6 hours of sun…yes there is hope for you the avid gardener!

Celery, coriander, fennel, oregano, rocket and parsley to mention but a few. Chives and leeks will survive too.

Lettuce, kale, cabbage and many oriental green varieties like pak choi and tatsoi. Spinach will grow in dappled light in hot areas (remember that afternoon sun against the wall?)

You can train your fruits and vegetables to grow upwards using a trellis, as long as the plant receives sun, the roots can be shaded. Look out for those special patio varieties.

Start planning your spring garden now, sow your seeds and enjoy the fruits of your labour!

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