Spring Vegetable Planting List

Spring Vegetable Planting List

Now is the season to be planting a huge amount of veggie seeds and seedlings.

Here is a handy planting guide for a family of five:

Veggie How much? Distance between plants How often?  Companion Planting Bad Companions
 Beans  1 x 1,5m row  10cm  2-3 weeks Marigolds, Petunias, Mealies, Sweetcorn, Carrots, Strawberries, Borage, Rosemary, Potatoes, Peas Tomatoes, Onions, Broccoli
 Peas  1 x 3m row 3 – 5cm 3-4 weeks Borage
Beetroot  2 x 1.5m rows 20cm 3-4 weeks Borage, Onions, Lettuce, Cabbage
Peppers   4 – 6 plants 40cm 4-6 weeks Basil, Borage
Carrots  2 x 1.5m rows 5-7 cm 3-4 weeks Borage, Rosemary, Lettuce, Peas, Leeks, Chives, Onions, Beans, Tomatoes, Wormwood, Sage
Tomatoes  2-4 plants 70cm 4 weeks Mint, Parsley, Basil, Roses, Peppers, Asparagus, Borage Potatoes, Cabbage, Rosemary, Peas
Lettuce  4-6 plants 30cm 2-3 weeks Beans, Carrots, Borage Celery, Parsley, Cabbage
Radishes  1 x 1.5m row 5cm 2 weeks Borage
Salad Onion  2 x 1.5m rows 5cm 3-4 weeks Borage
Parsley  4-6 plants 20cm 6 weeks Borage
Chillies  4-6 plants 50cm 4-6 weeks Borage
Courgettes  2-3 plants 1m 6-8 weeks Borage
Cucumbers  3-5 plants 60cm Borage
Eggplant  4-6 plants 70cm Borage
Marrows  1-2 plants 1m Borage
Mealies  3-4 x 1.5 m rows 15cm Borage
Melons  1-2 plants 1m Borage
Potatoes  4-6 plants 30cm Horsradish, Borage Sunflowers, Tomatoes
Pumpkin  1-2 plants 1m Borage
Squash  1-2 plants 1m Borage
Sweetcorn  3-4 x 1.5m rows 15cm Borage
Sweet Potatoes  4-6 plants 30cm Borage
Cauliflower  4-6 plants 75cm 4 weeks Nasturtiums, Rosemary, Sage, Celery, Borage
Onions  4 x 1,5m rows 30cm 4 weeks Borage
Artichokes  3-4 plants 75cm Borage

Pruning them prunes

Pruning them prunes

You have most probably never heard of Masanobu Fukuoka. Other than the rather unfortunate western pronunciation of his surname, he will most probably slip out of your short term memory quite quickly.

Well, let me introduce him to you. Born in 1913 in Japan, he is celebrated as a philosopher and creator of many natural farming techniques. He was a simple farmer, but his love of the land and of the way nature works, made him a proponent of no-till farming, no-herbicide cultivation and natural farming. One of his philosophies is called “do-nothing farming”, but is not the sitting-on-the-stoep-drinking-beer kind.

He believed that there is a difference between nature and non-intervention. When he left his citrus trees unpruned, they did exceptionally well in the beginning, as the balance between growth of roots and verge was re-established. However, soon enough, entanglement and insect attacks crippled and eventually killed his trees.

He found that if fruit trees are grown from a seedling and not pruned at all, they grow into a natural shape and maintains this shape, which leads to higher yields as well as healthier trees.

Pruning fruit trees

Pruning fruit trees

Enter reality.

My fruit trees have not grown into natural shapes and have a tendency to over-extend themselves and to break branches when they bear fruit. For this reason I have to prune.

Pruning boosts the budding process as well as the bearing of good quality fruit. If done well, entanglement is minimised and you can get to the fruit with ease. Furthermore, since I am genetically endowed with a ladder built it (according to my mother I was made on a long weekend), it is not only more comfortable to move under pruned trees, but it also keeps the smaller folk from stripping the trees before I got enough to cook my jam with. (Selfish, but nice).

And then, as I love my mulches and compost, I take these cuttings and put them through the mulcher. Interestingly, one of the best sources of organic food for trees is wood. So sad that the winter batch of poodle puppies chewed off the electrical wire of my mulcher. Ai, the work never stops…Correct Pruning Cut

Nature’s sweets

In science and engineering there is a field called bio-mimicry.

Gooseberry wrapped

Gooseberry wrapped

This is where some of the models and designs of nature are studied and copied for industrial applications.

Sweating away in the veggie patch, I munched my way through a nice quantity of cape gooseberries, and realised that these are also bio-engineering models in its finest.

Gooseberry unwrapped

Gooseberry unwrapped

Imagine this, a perfect little fruit, all wrapped up in its perfect little wrapper – and absolutely bio-degradable too!

And what an excellent wrapper! It does not touch the fruit, and as it is puffed up, the fruit does not touch the soil. It stays “afloat”, away from the ground and even thwarts insects wanting to get to the succulent little treat.

And how happy we are – the sweet and tart little treat is delicious to just pop into the mouth as you are labouring on the spring veggies.

Saldy, none get to the kitchen to be preserved. But then, life is for the living. Why store everything when you can munch and enjoy them now?

Since winter has never really arrived in Bashewa, it is nice to walk around the garden and enjoy some of the skeleton of the cottage garden that refused to die. (Similar to Pretoria, some of my annuals have become perennials). It is even nicer to have some of the winter fruits to munch on! I am so looking forward to extending the gooseberry patch this spring with all the seedlings that are bound to spring up around the bushes.

Your Summer Fruit starts now!

Your Summer Fruit starts now!

Now this may be the strangest time to talk about your summer fruit. If you were industrious through the summer, the only summer fruit that you have left is in the jam pantry and the chutney jar.

So why talk about summer fruit in late Autumn?

There are numeeerous reasons, most of them obvious, and one that may be new. It was new to me, I tried it, and as the song goes “I’m a Believer!”

The typical reasons:

1. Mulch you fruit trees to retain the moisture right through winter. Your trees will say “I love you soooo much”.

2. Remember to still water your trees in winter.

3. Pruning season is coming – prepare for it (I will have more on this end of May).

4. You should plant new trees now, and perhaps take out some of the dead or dying.

The interesting bit:

Last year I read a snippet somewhere (sorry, author, can’t remember) about controlling fruit flies. And I tried this strange method. And it worked REALLY well. Out of all my fruit I munched and jammed I had about five fruit (yep, FIVE) out of more than 100 kg of fruit, that had larvae in them.

Now, just how is that possible, you may ask? And this is just the place to find out. As you may have gathered, I hate poisons. So, it will have to be organic? Also, I love recycling, so it has to involve that as well? Yes.

And here is the whole story:

Take an empty 2l cool drink bottle. Keep the cap on, and make a hole on the side, about 10cm from the top of the bottle. The hole is bout the size of a new R5 coin. Careful when you cut it, easy to cut yourself doing this. I use a hole drill, as its a zip-zap process then. (Just because I like recycling does not mean I like drudgery).

Now put in about half a cup of sugar. Fill it with water to about 1l. Tie a string to the top and hang it from your fruit tree, one bottle per tree. (No, this will not stop you dogs from pooing under the trees).

And that’s it!

But how does it work, you may ask?

Apparently, according to Author Unknown, in winter, the randy little male fruit flies come along and put some pheromone trails on the fruit trees. This attracts the females in spring, where they then get a chance to fertilise them and there are your larvae in the fruit.

So, if you get the men in the winter time, or before spring, you stop the cycle? Yep.

Ok, I was a skeptic. But why not? I asked myself.

What I found was that right through winter there were drowned fruit flies in the bottles. (You have to fill them up when they are empty, just with water, the sugar stays. Mine freezes solid, but I chose sunny spots, so they thaw quickly.)

Also, I found a few coddling moths (nasties, those). But, no bees! So, if the bees use my traps, they are too smart to get caught.

So, are you a skeptic? Try it, I challenge you. I am so confident now that I can pick fruit at night and much them without even worrying if I’m getting in some additional “protein”.

fruitfly infested

fruitfly infested

Time to prepare for winter (cough, cough)

Yes, it’s that time of the year. And as winter arrives suddenly in Bashewa (I always look for autumn but seem to miss it, other than the cosmos in Garstfontein Road and the Golden Amber trees changing colour), we need to prepare ourselves very quickly for the colds and flu’s.
What better way to do this than with nature’s medicine chest?

There are two plants in my garden that has a lot of power in this regard: My humble garlic (Allium Sativum) and my Cone Flower (Echinacea pupurea).

garlic1. Garlic
Even Louis Pasteur documented the anti-bacterial properties of garlic in 1858.
Garlic has been used in many cultures to treat diarrhea, coughs and colds and heart conditions.
(It does have some side effects, though, as those among us with sensitive noses may agree).
Garlic has been proven to be very effective in preventing colds and coughs.
How to use:
As it is a delicious culinary herb, the best way too take it is in food.
As cooking does lessen the effect of the garlic severely, the best way to take it is like a capsule, popping a whole clove in your mouth and swallowing it.
for the less adventurous, crushing it in olive oil and adding lemon and using as a salad dressing is the better way.
Remember, the effects of the fat bulbs of “Chinese garlic” (Allium Tuberosum) are not the same as Allium Sativum. (Especially if you want to pop one in your mouth and swallow it – you could choke to death!)
Then you also get
echinacea2. Echinacea (Cone flower) Russian garlic or Elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum) which is actually a family member of leeks. Delicious, if you can find it, but not really garlic at all.

Other than being a very attractive feature plant in my herb garden, this is a giant amongst medicinal herbs. It is one of the most studied herbs in science. Interestingly, the studies do not prove that echinacea can prevent you from getting a cold. It is curative, and can cut the effect of the cold down as well as the duration of the cold.
How to use:
Steep 1 or 2 teaspoons of echinacea leaves or flowers in 1 cup of boiling water.
Alternatively boil one teaspoon of root 1 one or two cups of water for 10 minutes.
Sweeten with honey and enjoy!

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