Over the last year and a bit I’ve discovered I really love gardening. More specifically, growing veggies. I had a bash at it back when I was living in Little Mowbray, but the garden, while delightfully overgrown and cottagey, didn’t really have a great space for veggies. I grew about five green beans and a baby cauliflower, before I gave up. There wasn’t enough sun and there were snails.
Milnerton Ridge was far too windy, and again I didn’t really have the right kind of space – especially since we were in a complex. So when we moved down south and in with my folks for a few months I bought some pots and planted strawberries, tomatoes and onions and had great success.
Then our move into our new home in Parklands came with its own set of concerns. Wouldn’t the sand be too sandy, the wind too gusty and the sun too strong, compared to the moister southern climes? But I took a deep breath and planted my veggies out into the ground anyway, watered them every day and hoped for the best. And behold – my veggies survived and some of them thrived.
To the point where friends have even asked me advice… Me! Of all people. So I thought maybe I should capture some of my wisdom on screen and put it out there. Here goes:
- I know pretty much zero about gardening. I don’t what to plant when and where (unless it says so on the packet), and I know zilch about “feeding” plants with all that numbered stuff.
- The most important thing I’ve learnt about gardening is: it’s all about sheer onslaught. When I first started out I planted a couple of seedlings and sprinkling of seeds. No. You need to go big, or go to Pick n Pay. If you plant a bunch of things they chances are at least one of them has to make it. It’s a theory that seems to have worked.
- A small veggie garden is highly satisfying, but you’re not going to survive the Zombie Apocalypse on a baby carrot, a tomato and a red pepper. Once you’ve worked out what works and what doesn’t in your garden you’ll be wanting to expand. I’m on the verge of digging up more grass and getting a little more focussed.
- The dog is probably going to dig up your veggies at least five times. It’s okay to cry the first and second time. But beyond that you need to start working out ways to dog-proof your space. I still have the odd “moment” when I see my butternut (at least that’s what I think they are, I pulled them out of the worm farm) seedlings have been dug up, but I’m getting better at taking a deep breath, filling in the holes and ignoring the skulking, penitent furry figure down the other end of the garden.
- It’s okay to pick and eat one strawberry a day. Or pull up one baby carrot rinse it off and crunch it right then and there. Unless you have a large scale operation (or it’s that time of year that the tomatoes are going nuts) you probably won’t grow enough at one time to sort out a whole meal. But there’s still something so lovely about eating something you grew yourself. And when the tomatoes do go crazy – I have a perfect tomato soup recipe for you, watch this space.
- Gardening is expensive. In that when you go to the nursery for just a couple of seeds, you will almost certainly leave with seedlings, compost, seeds, trellises and any number of other bits and pieces. So far I’ve managed to avoid the garden gnomes, mainly because I know the dog will eat them. I’ve had to accept that I won’t be able to buy all the things I want for my veggie garden right now. I’m waiting for payday to splurge on a few paving stones to arrange around the edge where the dog has run a sandy furrow, but otherwise, proper fences and bigger trellises will have to wait. And that’s okay, because I have some things growing nicely enough now to keep me happy.
I’m sure the list will grow as I go along. But at the moment, my little veggie garden makes me happy. And just because I’m seeing success with some of my plants doesn’t mean I won’t eventually learn all about plant food and proper growing conditions. But for now, more than anything, it’s a joy. I love seeing teeny specks of green poke their heads through the soil, blossoms burst open and fruits swell. It’s tonic for my soul.