Herbs and vegetables are natural companions. If you grow fresh herbs you’re bound to also love the idea of harvesting your own home grown tomatoes, beans, lettuce and anything else in season. We can dream after all!
Here’s our top spring vegetable growing tips and a proven list of popular veggies that can be sown in the garden or in pots in South Africa from mid August to the end of November.
- Tomatoes – good varieties are Heinz 1370, Moneymaker, Oxheart, Floridade
- Cucumber if you have space because it’s a vigorous creeper
- Lettuce – especially those that don’t form a head, like Lollo Rosso and Lollo Biondo because the individual leaves can be harvested for up to three months
- Sprouts – one of the easiest ways to get fresh salad greens
- Radishes – Sparkler and Cherry Belle.
NB: For lettuce choose a spot that gets afternoon shade or dappled sunshine because full sun in summer is too hot and the lettuce will quickly go to seed.
Vegetables for Small Gardens
Spinach (especially ‘Bright Lights) beetroot, lettuce, bush beans, eggplant, chillies, summer cabbage (‘Cape Spits) and leeks. All these are compact growing vegetables and veggies like lettuce, beetroot and spinach can be used as borders. Chillies also make beautiful pot plants.
Find out How To Start Your Own Herb Garden!
Vegetables in Pots
Tomatoes can be a bit overwhelming for a garden bed but you can plant a tomato bush in a large pot (about 20 liter) and train it up a trellis or pyramid. To contain its growth pinch off the growing tips when it reaches the desired size otherwise you could have a monster. The small cherry tomato ‘Sweety’ is particularly good in pots.
Other runner plants like peas and beans can also be planted in pots and supported on a frame. Try chillies and eggplant in pots as well.
Vegetables for Large Gardens
If you are lucky enough to have plenty of space you can also grow the more rambling types of vegetables like squash, patty pans, cucumber, and watermelon.
Vegetable Growing Tips
Like herbs, vegetables do best if grown in a sunny position. Prepare the beds by digging them over well and mixing in compost. Growing veggies from seed is much cheaper than buying seedlings and most veggies can be sown in situ. Just store the left over seeds in the seed packet in the fridge or in a dark drawer and they will remain viable for longer.
There’s a saying that ” a good gardener always plants three seeds – one for the grubs, one for the weather and one for himself.” It seems to work.
Keep the soil moist during germination and thin out the seedlings when they are big enough to handle. For a good crop fertilise with a balanced organic fertilizer two weeks after germination and at monthly intervals after that.
All the planting instructions are on the seed packet (planting depth, final spacing etc) so don’t forget to read the instructions!
To control insects spray with Ludwig’s Insect Spray or Margaret Roberts Organic Insecticide. Both are ECOCERT approved for use by organic gardeners.
And a last word from Prince Charles:
To get the best results you must talk to your vegetables.
This article wad first published in September 2015 and updated on 26 October 2016.