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Garden Adventures 02/28/12

My adventure in discovering what it takes to grow your own fresh greens in the backyard. By Laura Cooke.


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I recently decided that it was time for me to start growing my own veggies. Vegetarians are quick to point out to meat-eaters that they aren’t aware of what actually goes into the creation of their bacon and eggs, but how many vegetarians honestly know what goes into the veggies on our plates?

Modern life means that, sadly, we are often completely ignorant of how nature really works. We buy our neatly packaged fresh produce and forget that there’s a lot of hard work that goes into getting those veggies from seed to plate. Did you know, for example, that it takes a pineapple plant 20-24 months to possibly flower? And then another 6 months to make just one pineapple? The plants look like this, by the way.

That’s why I thought it was a great idea to get growing and thanks to Ben from Urban Harvest we’ve now got three veggie crates in our back yard ( R650 per crate, R250 for installation). Although this is a much pricier option than growing your own veggies in the earth, when you live in the city, sometimes that’s just not possible.

Over the last three weeks, I have been amazed by the explosion of growth in these little crates. I have a feeling most of this has to do with the quality of the soil that Urban Harvest uses, plus I actually remembered to water them everyday.

What I’ve learnt so far:

  • Caterpillars and aphids really like broccoli and cauliflower (Just this morning I found about a million which, overnight, took great chunks out of the broccoli leaves)
  • Lots of bugs want to eat your tasty vegetables
  • Chilli plants are awesome – we’ve already had about 5 chillis
  • Basil seems to be growing really well and all the plants are producing sweet yummy leaves
  • Coriander also has a tendency to grow pretty fast and it’s a constant battle to keep it from flowering. Not entirely sure that I am pruning these back correctly, but we’ll see
  • Lettuce grows very quickly – but now comes the decision to harvest the entire head in one go, or pick leaves off (which will apparently make them more bitter)
  • Fresh spinach is delicious. So sweet!
Take a look at the process in the pictures below.

6 February 2012. Urban Harvest sets up the crates in the yard

The seedlings are all in the soil. Ben has said that the crates are going to be quite jam-packed. At this stage it doesn't look like it.

27 February. Three weeks after installation and nothing has died! I am constantly amazed by how well these plants are doing

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Laura Cooke is the editor and creator of the Veggie Bunch website and community.


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