Urban Farming: What to grow in November & December!
There is nothing more satisfying than home grown veggies, but right now in Cape Town the budding urban farmer needs to think very carefully about what is possible with the drought and ongoing water shortages.
We got in touch with one of our fantastically verdant, farmer friends, Paul Barker, who goes by the hashtag #Greenfella and #MotherCitySeed, to get some useful tips for the home gardener this summer.
As a micro farmer (someone who uses small pieces of land to farm), Paul follows a 7 and 14-day succession planting cycle (also referred to as rotation planting) throughout the year which keeps food availability constant.
What is succession planting? Its planting the next crop of food in exactly the same place so if planned carefully, this method improves your soil quality because the different types of plants have different compounds that they either take out or put back into the soil.
Right now our BFF (Big Friendly Farmer) Paul is planting baby greens, radishes, coriander, and sunflowers every 7 days and head lettuce, Asian greens, bush beans, beets, carrots, rocket, zinnia, and cosmos every 14 days.
Here are his 5 tips for the smaller home garden:
- Plant on a small scale- one to four plants of each type
- Choose plants that give a quick return such as; peas and beans.
- Use planting boxes to control the growing environment.
- Plant flowers because they are beautiful, satisfying and invite pollinators
- He cautions against planting fruit trees after July because fruit trees need to settle in before the spring.
Paul is also a resource for local seeds, which he distributes through the Slow Food Mother City Seed Library #MotherCitySeed. The Library can be found at the Kirstenbosch Craft and Food Market on the last Sunday of every month.
Plants can be bought as individual “plugs”, six-packs or trays which often come in easy to grow packs of vegetable or salad mixes. The packs can include starter plants of onion, carrot, spinach, and beetroot or mixes of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, radish, and pepper.
If you’re pressed for space with apartment living, you could always try DIY vertical gardening by making your own pallet garden. For ready planted gardens, delivered and installed, check out Melanie Farrell’s cool work at Pallet Gardens Cape Town or visit Saskia’s Urban Farmstead (previously mentioned), for a variety of fabulous planters made by her husband Rex.
Have you heard of the “grow food not lawns” movement to turn entire lawns into food gardens? A wonderful example of that is Cliff Rosen from the Let it Grow Foundation in Johannesburg who started his farming journey by ripping up the tennis court of his suburban home and turning into a thriving, abundant and biodiverse food garden.
With all of those tips and resources you are now armed with everything you need to overgrow the system! Good luck!
We’d love to hear from you and see what you grow so keep us posted and send pics!
- If you need help setting up your urban micro-farm in Cape Town or for more information about getting seeds from the Mother City Seed Library, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- You can also get seeds from thegravelgarden.co.za or livingseeds.co.za who both have a wonderful heirloom selection and organic range of seeds.
- Our favorite nursery is Hart Nursery, the most established organic retail nursery in Cape Town for all your ethical gardening requirements. http://www.hartnursery.co.za/wmenu.php
- To get your own pallet garden contact Melanie at email@example.com or visit here page https://www.facebook.com/palletgardensct/
- Go and visit Saskia the Garden Coach at her fantastic urban farm in the southern suburbs and pick up your planters and seedlings https://www.facebook.com/urbanfarmsteadtokai/
- For ambitious home gardeners who want to turn their lawns into gardens:
- http://www.foodnotlawns.com. The founder, Heather Jo Flores is launching a series of online courses around permaculture, decolonization, and self-improvement.