Green-fingered Nix explains how she grew a flourishing food garden at our home:
"Our vegetable garden has taken quite some time to develop. It's been an ongoing process for the last ten years. I started with a very small area and it has progressed and expanded from there to take up most of our garden space! It's a beautiful and bountiful oasis for all sorts of wildlife."
"The key factor is getting your soil right. There are many ways to do this. I learnt the method I use from Pat at Soil For Life - an amazing local organization that shows people how to grow food to help lift them out of poverty.
This technique involves digging a trench and adding alternating layers of organic waste (veggies), brown waste, green waste and subsoil. Each layer should be around 20cm deep."
"Over time the layers will break down into compost, which will feed the roots of the vegetables as they start growing down through the layers. Thereafter you just keep adding compost on top and never have to turn the soil."
"As it's midsummer here in Cape Town, we are now harvesting an abundance of peppers, kale spinach, tomatoes, celery, spring onions, leeks, lettuce, squash, sweet potatoes, red cabbage, carrots and lots of different herbs. We have just finished the season for cauliflowers and plums. We're busy growing broccoli, radishes, cucumber, bananas, lemons and limes. It's all about getting the rotation right and not growing too much of the same thing."
"It's been quite a learning curve. I found that in the first year or two we had issues with all sort of insects and plant fungi. But as the years went by, the plants became stronger and more resilient to attack as the soil became more balanced. The process of trial and error is a great teacher.
The tips I can share with anyone wanting to start on their own food garden are:
Diversity is best.
It helps to draw out a rough sketch of what you plan to do with the garden.
If you have not got any experience, start small and build your garden up as you learn. You will be amazed at what you can grow in a small space.