Tel:082 923 4087 | Mail: jningram@iafrica.com

Month-by-month information on how to grow your vegetable garden in South Africa.


What you will need this month:

  • Pickaxe
  • Garden Fork
  • Wheelbarrow or large container
  • Building materials – budget dependant
  • LAN fertiliser
  • “Roundup” herbicide

The beginning is always a very good place to start. Remember, the sustainable health of your vegetables is what you feed them.

Step One: “Sun Food”

Choose an area which has about 10% shade, 20% semi-shade and the balance full sun.


Go and look at the places where a garden would be possible every three hours and see if it meets the requirements. You do not have to have full shade but you mustn’t have less than 70% sun.

Step Two: “Root Food”

Build a compost heap in the sun outside of the designated veggie garden.


If you cannot afford to put up a rectangular box structure resembling a cot, then you must dig a pit. Into this you will put all the leaves, kitchen scraps as well as any horse, cow or kraal manure (if you can source this.) DO NOT include too much grass cuttings or citrus fruit - it makes the compost acid. DO include the ash from braais and fires - carbon is good. If you’re in a rush and can afford it, water the compost regularly and add LAN to break it down quickly.

If you’re fortunate enough to be able to buy ready-made compost of good quality, then use this to kick-start the garden but do the other as well, so that you have your own later on. This is always better because you are not introducing bugs and/or disease from outside.

If you have a local dump, you will find very good compost if you dig. Often the municipality burns so this will be a good source of nitrogen, which is plant food.

The Garden

Assess potential problems for your plants. A lot of effort, love and money will go into producing the vegetables and herbs, so the last thing you want is to have this wasted because your dogs have dug it up or chickens, monkeys and birds have said “thank you very much.”
If necessary, fence the area, leaving a gate wide enough to take a wheelbarrow. Try not to choose an area surrounded by bird and monkey cover in the form of trees and reeds. If monkeys and birds are going to be a problem, you need to enclose a portion of the garden entirely. You can do this with bird netting or with chicken wire, though the latter is an expensive option.
Some people swear by hanging tin foil or discs on string or on scarecrows; these help but in my experience the animals soon get used to them and familiarity breeds contempt!


Plan how the end result will look. Is your garden going to be one big bed with internal paths to reach all areas OR are you going to divide it into individual beds? Always remember that you need wheelbarrow and foot access. Perhaps you want to build beds up to waist height so you don’t have to bend too much. You can do this with bricks or wood and have a central path. Plan on paper, it’s better to make your mistakes here.
Put a portion of the garden aside to build a seedbed area.


Dig up the entire area to a depth of 30-45 cm. If your soil is clay or poor, you will have more work to do. Clay needs organic material such as leaves to aerate it. You can buy a “clay buster” from a nursery for quicker results. If you have to put in a lot of raw organic material, it is a good idea to add LAN to help the breakdown process. Water twice a week for five hours to aid the process. Do not plant anything yet.
If you have a lot of ready-made compost, lay it on the top about a grown carrot depth and then work it into your soil with a spade. Water it twice a week for two weeks as indicated above.
Buy Roundup or a similar product, which kills grass and broad leaf weeds but does not poison the soil.
Two weeks will bring up the immediate weeds, which you will then spray with Roundup as per instructions. It will take a further three days to take effect and for the invasive plants to die. DO NOT leave out this step unless you love weeding or want to grow vegetables among weeds, which looks horrible and which steals the nutrition meant for the vegetables.

Now you are ready to start planting - which we will deal with in the September issue:

“What to collect and budget for going into Spring”

Building materials for a seedbed and/or seed trays
A large spade
A trowel and small fork
Gardening gloves
A plastic bowl for fertiliser
A stick or pipe 3cm. in diameter and 30cm. long
3.2.3 fertiliser
3.2.4 fertiliser
All 250 ml. plastic bottles
Toilet rolls
Sheets of glass the size of your planned seedbed or trays
Sprouting potatoes

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