So we started our vegetable garden last year April. We have not had much success to be honest. We’ve been fighting with snails and finally put our lack of success down to poor soil quality. So we’ve been finding ways to improve it. We have to still start our compost heap, and the worm farm has only just started and we need to get the number of worms up. But we have made a concerted effort to mix normal potting soil and compost into our beds. We also now have beds that have been worked over two to three times, so the weeds are definitely less.
We decided to try a completely new strategy with our planting as well, and it’s one that combines a few different theories, so we can only hope it works. Firstly, we decided to only plant veggies that can apparently be planted in the Western Cape in any given month. This sounds obvious, but when we started, I was throwing everything in the soil and was keep to just see “what sticks”. Chris gave me a copy of “Jane’s Delicious Garden” for Christmas, and this has become my planting bible. She clearly states what should happen in the garden in each month, in each province of the country. it’s super handy. So we follow the planting guide set out by Jane.
Then there’s the theory that certain pays are more fertile to plant seeds based on the position of the moon. I’m not sure of the science behind this, though I will definitely do some more research at some point. It makes sense though, as the gravitational pull of the moon has so many other effects on our world. So far, by following a moon calender. the plants have come up fast, stronger and have grown quickly, compared to the things not planted on “more fertile days”. How do I know this? When we added better soil and compost to the beds, I transplanted tomatoes that have been struggling. They have definitely picked up, but the growth is no where near the ones planted by the moon calender.
So, then we come to theory number three: companion planting. The idea that some plants benefit and are benefited by certain plants, and others are harmful to their development. So, to give you an idea, in January we planted runner beans, gem squash, butternut, mustard and lettuce. Why? Because we had the seeds, they are all companion plants and they can all be planted in January. What we have just over a month later, is a wild rose bed with green beans intertwining with everything and big beautiful squash leaves. The mustard is growing nicely, but the lettuce has died (I think cos the cats like walking where it was planted).
For February (or two weeks ago), we decided to plant in two of our newly renovated beds. The one has the transplanted tomatoes and carrots. There’s a little girl in Somerset West who is looking at saving up for a new bicycle and is selling plants. We’ve bought some, so this weekend, this little bed will be introduced to green peppers, chillis and basil. All of these are companion plants.
The second bed has runner beans, cauliflower and pak choi. All growing beautifully together. March is the first time we can plant parsnips, so we’ll be adding some to this bed, as they are companion plants of the greens. I’ll definitely do an update by April as to what we have planted where and when, and the proof will be in the harvest, but there are already lots of little white bean flowers that have popped up :).