What to do in your veggie garden now

BroccoliBroccoliUnless you live in the sub-tropical regions of South Africa, it’s too late to plant slow maturing summer vegetables this month, but in the cold winter regions it is time to sow many winter crops and to start preparing and planning your winter veggie garden. In the warm sub-tropical regions continue to sow seeds of vegetables that can be planted out into the garden once the weather cools down. Try sweet peppers, chillies, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, baby marrows, Swiss chard, green beans and cabbage. In the cooler regions continue sowing winter vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi into seedling trays, for planting out in early autumn. If you started sowing last month, feed the seedlings with a liquid fertiliser that is high in nitrogen. In cooler regions it is also a good time to sow lettuce directly into well-prepared beds.

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GarlicGarlicIn all regions, but especially in hot and dry areas it may be necessary to protect newly planted seedlings from the sun for a couple of days. Always plant in the late afternoon and water thoroughly afterwards; this will give the new transplants time to settle in before the next hot day. Continue sowing or planting summer vegetables like; celery, turnips, leeks, beetroot, carrots, parsnips, radish, parsley, Swiss chard, and spring onions.

There’s just enough time to get a second planting of potatoes into the ground for a late autumn harvest. To check if your existing potato crop is ready to harvest; remove one or two tubers, if you can rub the skin off with your thumb then they need another week or two to harden up. However, if you can't rub the skin off then you can lift your entire crop. If you want to store your summer crop for winter use, do not wash the potatoes, rather lay them out to dry and then gently brush off the excess dirt before storing them in cardboard boxes or hessian sacks, in a cool, dark, well ventilated place.

Its garlic planting season again, and in the good old days gardeners planted garlic which had started to sprout in the kitchen straight into their gardens and it produced good crops. Unfortunately this is no longer true of garlic purchased from your local supermarket, which may sprout, but if planted out never amounts to anything. This is because our garlic is largely imported, and to pass customs it needs to be irradiated to ensure that no live soil borne pathogens are carried into the country. This process of killing off any potential soil borne pathogens also destroys the viability of the garlic you have bought. Garlic is renowned for its health giving properties and growing your own is easy and best for your health. There is a very specific planting season for garlic, which starts from February and all the way through to April for Giant Garlic. If you plant at the wrong time of the year you will not have the best results. Organic garlic cloves are available from South African suppliers online.

Because onions prefer a cool growing season, February is also a great month to sow short day onion seed. Onions take anything from 4 to 7 months to mature, so prepare the beds thoroughly and ensure that they are well drained. Onions can be sown into seedling trays, or directly into garden beds in shallow drills and covered with +-10mm of soil. Thin the seedlings out to +-7 to 10cm apart, in rows +-22cm apart; never plant onion seedlings too deeply. To encourage growth, about a month after transplanting; feed with a fertiliser which is high in nitrogen, and water regularly until the onions mature. Once they start to mature cut back on watering.

Cut out the flowering heads of rhubarb, and if you want to collect seeds of Swiss chard, allow 1 or 2 plants to go to seed. Cut back artichokes to promote new growth for next season. Remove all flowers and very small fruits from your pumpkins and Hubbard squashes because they will not have enough time to develop fully before the cold sets in, and just sap the energy from the plant.

Read all about growing your own veggies with a minimum of fuss; “Growing Vegetables in South Africa” e-book is written in a way that is easy to understand, yet complete with all the facts you need to know about growing vegetables; without getting too technical and boring.

All 100 pages of this e-book are jam-packed with good advice and lovely photographs; and the instructions are so easy to follow that even a child could understand. In fact, growing your own veggies can be so much fun that the whole family will want to get involved. Small children are especially fond of growing vegetables and this is sure to encourage them to eat them too.

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