\

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



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

February Vegetable Calendar

At this time of year, you may feel a bit intimidated by the sheer quantity of vegetables your garden is producing. The pumpkins, gems, butternuts and related squash should be starting to fruit. If you have too much of these to cope with, don’t forget that you can pick as soon as they appear and use as a baby vegetable, best steamed. Often, the leaves can be used much like spinach and the flowers can be battered and fried.

Keep the weeds from seeding at all costs - especially in and around your compost heap. The last thing the gardener needs is to spread compost and weed seed on their vegetable beds. If you feel you are not getting on top of the weeds then as you clear beds, rest them for two weeks with the normal watering schedule and then spray the weeds that have come up with round up. You can plant within days of doing this.

Brinjal/ Eggplant

One vegetable which is enjoying the season is brinjal/eggplant. Now after the holiday, a lot of us are watching the calories. Brinjal is traditionally sliced, sprinkled with salt and white pepper, left to bleed for 20 min. and then fried in oil. It can absorb and retain oil like blotting paper and though it tastes delicious, it does nothing for the waistline! I cannot handle oil at the best of times and have come up with an alternative, healthy way of cooking them without loss of flavour. I season and bleed as above, but cook them by covering them in water and broiling them with the lid on until the water has been absorbed or evaporates. They are, in fact, more full of flavour and can be frozen in this form for later use in Moussaka or other dishes.

Chives

 

This perennial herb grows to 40 cm. in height; soil should be moist and fairly rich - in full sun or partial shade. It can be propagated from seed or by division.

Chives have a round hollow leaf with an onion flavour. It grows from small bulbs in grass-like clumps. The plants should be planted 12 cm. apart in spring. Rose-purple flower heads appear in mid-summer and they can be used in salads or as decoration on various dishes. If you want to propagate new growth, you should pinch off the flowers as they appear.

The plant is pretty enough to be used as an edging for flowerbeds and can help control aphids. An Allium species, similar to common chives, are garlic chives or Chinese chives. They resemble chives in their clumping growth, but the leaves are flat rather than round and are a powdery, grey colour. The flowers are white and can also be used like the chive flowers.

In mild climates, chives are evergreen but go dormant where winters are more severe. Garlic chives are less cold tolerant. Use chopped chives in salads, cheese and egg dishes. They are an essential ingredient in sauce tartare and fines herbs. Best used fresh, you can also dry or freeze them.

Compost

 

You should start to turn your first compost bed. You should find that the plant matter at the bottom is now usable. Don’t forget to rotate the plants in each of your beds i.e.; from root crop to leaf crop, etc. Each time you replant, you must first feed the bed with compost and turn it into the soil. This ensures that you continue to get excellent growth. If plants are small and weak, look to your feeding.

Enjoy the fruits of your labour!

Return to Gardening page

Return to Home