How to start a veggie garden

13 Jun 2016

Growing your own veggies and herbs is still a major trend that continues to grow, only they are not only grown in a vegetable garden, but added to flower beds amongst flowering plants like the old cottage gardens of the past. It’s all about saving space, knowing where your food comes from and having fun!

[title text=”Here are some tips on getting started:” link=”” link_text=””]

  1. Choose the right place
    Veggies like at least six hours of sun. A north-facing space is best.
  2. Prepare the soil
    Vegetables like fertile, well-drained soil. The more effort you put into the preparation, the more success you will have. Remember these steps:

    • Clear the area of all weeds and plants.
    • Turn the soil over to a depth of 2 spades.
    • Remove any stones or rocks.
    • Rake the area.
    • Leave for 2 weeks.
    • Weed again – add these weeds to the compost.
    • Place a 5 cm thick layer of compost over the area.
    • Dig into the soil.
    • Rake smooth.
  3. Feeding the soil
    Vegetables need feeding to get the best results. Making your own compost is the best way to do this or use old and dried (never wet) manure.
  4. Sowing the first crop
    Use these easy tips to sow seed:

    • Use string and sticks to mark out straight lines.
    • Mix the seeds with flour, mealie meal or river sand. This spreads the seed better and allows you to see how you are spreading the seed.
    • Make a small trench along the string line. The depth of the trench depends on what seeds are sown. See the back of the seed packet for instructions.
    • Spread the seed mix along the trench.
    • Cover the seed and gentle pat down.
    • Place a label in the row so you know what veggies are planted.
    • Water the seeds gently, making sure they do not wash away. Keep the soil moist but not wet during germination. After that, water regularly and feed every two weeks up until harvest.
    • Once the seeds have grown to about 2-3 cm high, thin out the row by pulling out seedlings so that the spacing between each plant is correct according to each variety. Pull out the weaker seedlings and keep the strong, healthy ones.

    Some seed can be sown individually: Make a hole with your thumb or make a stick for this and measure 5, 10 and 15 mm markings on the stick to make it easier to get the right depth for each seed you are planting.

  5. Always follow the instructions on the back of the seed packet
    It is your best guide for sowing depth and spacing, when to transplant and basic care.
  6. Spread out sowing times
    Plant a few seeds of each variety every 2-4 weeks to ensure an on-going harvest throughout the season. Sow leafy vegetables at two-weekly intervals, legumes about three weeks apart, root vegetables about four weeks apart and fruiting vegetables 6-12 weeks apart.
  7. Water and feed regularly
    Water your vegetables more frequently in hot, dry weather. Fertilise vegetables according to variety. Root and bulb vegetables need phosphates, leafy vegetables need nitrogen and potassium, and fruiting vegetables need nitrogen when planting and potassium before flowering.
  8. Mulching
    Use mulches such as compost, straw, grass clippings, leaves, etc around all your plants to keep moisture in the soil. Use a layer of mulch 50-75mm thick for the best results.
  9. Most importantly
    Have fun and enjoy the freshness of homegrown veggies in your cooking.


  1. I saw a your show on the home channel yesterday where you showed how to plant veggies. You used lovely planters… looked like plastic and was foldable. I would really like to purchase these and I googled with no success. I am in Cape Town. Would love to know where you source these.

  2. Good morning Tanya
    Do you sell herbs at your nursery please? I am looking to start a potted herb garden in the court yard of our apartment in Hillcrest, on an estate. The court yard is West facing and has roughly two to three hours of sun in summer and not much sun in winter.
    Any advice would be most welcome.

    Thanking you in anticipation.

    Kind regards

    Marcella Hunt

    • Hi Marcella
      There are a few do’s and dont’s – please take a look at my article on my website… this will get you going with the basics. Hingham Garden Center in Ronaldo Road have a great selection of herbs.

  3. Hi Tanya, A few months ago I watch your programme where you planted up a pot using conifers and a few other plants. I wrote it all down, and have now lost it? Please could you send me the group of plants you used, it looked so lovely. I want to pot 2 pots with a smaller pot between them, and wondered what should I use in that one. Love your shows. Kind regards, Sylvia Keys

    • Hi Sylvia thanks so much glad to hear that you like the show. The tall golden one is called ‘Goldcrest’ , The blue one is Chamaecyparis boulevard and the round golden one is ‘Rheingold’ The blue star shaped flower is called Browalia.

      Hope this helps and happy gardening!


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