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

March Vegetable Calendar

The potato plants have died down and I eagerly removed the tyre pyramid expecting a pocket of potatoes to appear. What a disappointment - a mere handful! On average, seven per seed potato planted. I suppose numerous factors could have played a role: seed potato quality, amount of water, soil….
When I dug up the ones I’d planted using the tried and tested furrow method, I got much better results, even though the seed potatoes used were small, the soil poorer and the conditions a lot dryer.

It is now too late to start any summer crops from seed and even with seedlings, you’re taking a chance that there won’t be an early frost. Start planning to plant winter seeds in your seedbed. The cabbage family is a good place to start.

Herbs – Potting seedlings for winter

At this time of the year, seedlings from the garden can be dug up and potted as soon as they have formed four true leaves. Leave some of the garden soil around the roots to form a root ball. The seedlings should be at least 3 cm. from the top of the pot, in an equal mix of topsoil, sand, ground bark and leaf mould. Add a tsp. of bone-meal. You should water so that both the new soil and root ball are damp.

Put the new, potted plants in the shade for three days to allow them to settle, then move them to where you want them, taking into account that they need at least 5 hrs. of sun per day, moving air and good light. Check water daily, if the soil is dry just below the surface, then water with room temperature tap water. They like having their foliage sprinkled or sprayed with water. Rotate the containers frequently in the same direction (clockwise/anti-clockwise) so that they grow evenly. This way you can have fresh herbs through winter.

Coriander

 An annual - growing to 30 cm. in moderately rich soil, in full sun. The dry seeds and the fresh leaves are used for culinary purposes. The seeds, not the plants themselves, are called coriander. The fresh leaves often go by the name Chinese parsley or cilantro. Coriander is part of the same family as parsley. Coriander is an ancient herb and the seeds have even been found in Egyptian tombs. The ancient Romans used them to preserve meat.

Coriander is grown from seed in early spring. If you want to grow it primarily for fresh leaves, put it in outdoor or indoor containers and harvest when about 18 cm. tall. By sowing seed every two weeks, you can have an almost continuous crop. Lovely with seafood and oriental dishes, it combines well with fowl, meat and spicy foods. Mature seeds are pleasantly aromatic and flavourful and can be used to flavour beans, stews and boerewors. Harvest in mid-summer when they start to turn brown.

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