According to the calendar it is early autumn, enjoy this special month by running around with your wheelbarrow filled with dark compost to cultivate the soil. Feed everything that has given you pleasure so that they do it again!
Container gardening is becoming more and more popular as people appreciate the flexibility and extra growing space it provides. Growing edible plants in containers does come with its own special challenges however. Most vegetable plants like lots of sun, so it’s important to site your containers where they will receive at least 6 hours of direct light a day. Choose a sheltered spot for your pots, so your plants are kept out of cold, drying winds. Walls, fences and hedges are good locations, or try to screen the pots to reduce the effects of the wind, especially in places known for its strong winds. Using your window ledges and balconies is a great way to get started if you don’t have a garden but make sure your pots are properly secured to prevent them from blowing off.
Place your containers as close to your house as you can for easy access and as close to a water source as you can to make watering the plants an easy job. Remember that plants in containers do not have access to moisture below the ground so regular watering is very important. On a hot sunny day your plants can dry out within hours and might not recover again. The best times for watering is early morning or evening, making sure that you don’t just wet the surface but allow it to soak down to the roots. Drip irrigation can also be installed and is particularly useful if you will be away from time to time.
When it comes to containers, plastic and wood are tried and tested materials but you can use any recycled containers – just make sure they are clean and won’t release harmful chemicals. When you choose a container, make sure it is big and heavy enough for the plant when it is fully grown. There must also be enough drainage holes and they must be free from dirt or blockages. Rather use purchased potting soil or your own homemade compost for your plants, soil from the garden may contain weeds and other pests. Rather safe than sorry! Remember that the plants will use the nutrients in the soil, refill your containers when planting new seeds. The top three edible plants for containers are salads, tomatoes and potatoes.
According to our sources there are some tips for planting herbs:
- Decide on a theme. If you want a culinary herb garden, select those herbs used in your favourite dishes. A medicinal herb garden will be guided by the ailments you want to cure.
- Make a complete list of all the herbs that you would like to have and then refine your list to between five and 10 herbs. This is a good number to start with.
- Newly planted herbs need regular watering. It’s better to water deeply and less frequently than little and often.
- All you need is a small sunny area and a couple of pots and you can grow healthy, tasty herbs all year round.
Sources: growveg.com; gardenandhome.co.za, www.herb.co.za, healthyliving-herbs.co.za