Growing Vegetables at Home
On 22nd September 2013, 21,017 individuals and 437 companies have pledged to plant an organic vegetable in their home or office as a step towards becoming self-sufficient (Planting Season: 2013). This initiative aims to teach people to provide healthy home grown food for their families and in turn, care for our earth by producing organic foods that are free from pesticides and chemicals.
Growing our own vegetables doesnt necessarily require that we live on farms, ploughing the land and investing much time and energy into producing crops. There are compact-living alternatives to harvesting and being proud of our own fresh food with limited space and busy life styles. Being able to pick our own herbs to use in cooking our dinner, or serving a salad made with home grown tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber can be cost-effective and empowering, knowing we have taken a step to be responsible for the quality of food we are feeding our families.
A number of vegetables and herbs can be grown in containers which can be placed on balconies or patios, or even in kitchens and offices. Containers can range from DIY crafted tubs using old plastic bottles, pallets or even an old laundry basket or bathtub, to stylish ceramic pots chosen to complement your dcor and prevent becoming an eyesore in your garden, kitchen or living space. Your imagination is your greatest tool in creating an attractive indoor vegetable garden.
Before beginning, it may be worthwhile considering investing in a worm bin. Earthworms, natures little composters, are becoming popular in homes as a means of disposing of vegetable and fruit peels and producing rich, nutrient dense compost. Buying organic compost to prepare your soil for planting is another option. It is also important to use organic seeds or seedlings that have not been genetically modified, and to adopt organic methods of pest control as the plants begin to sprout, grow and produce harvest.
Plants that grow well in containers include tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, green beans, carrots, peppers, chillies, cabbage, lettuce, strawberries, parsley, basil, eggplants and courgettes. Surprisingly, potatoes can produce a large crop grown in a bag, such as a garbage bag or a large fabric shopping bag. A wooden stand with herb baskets can be an attractive addition to your patio.
Grow your own strawberries:
Alpine strawberries are easiest to grow. In South Africa, plant seeds in seed trays in August and plant out the seedlings in September and October.
- Pick your container a wine barrel, an old washing basket, a raised gutter or a flower bed make sure it has good drainage as strawberry plants will rot if they become waterlogged.
- Fill with soil that is well composted.
- Plant your strawberry seedlings.
- Water well 2 or 3 times a week in the mornings
- Strawberry plants take about a year to produce fruit.
- Once fruit appears reduce the amount of watering.
TIP: using hanging gutters to grow strawberries makes a pretty addition to a balcony or patio once the fruit appears – hanging down from the gutters.