As “sustainable living” become the watch words for those in the know, growing your own food is becoming more and more trendy – and it’s fun too. The great thing about food gardens is that you don’t need much space to work with.
Also maintaining an edible garden not only means that you know exactly where your food comes from, but growing vegetables and herbs in your backyard supplements the household food supply and if you have really green fingers – you’ll have enough to share the bounty with friends and family.
The most eco-friendly way to grow your veggies is following permaculture principles. This is a way of growing food that mimics nature rather than working against it. So, no nasty chemical bug sprays – instead companion planting and organic pesticides are encouraged.
The Durban Botanic Gardens Permaculture Centre has created an initiative known as the Food Garden Network, which offers regular courses in permaculture, container food gardening and roof- top gardening.
A recent workshop at the Corner Cafe Eco Restaurant in Glenwood was a mine of information for the would-be green-thumbed, covering soil types, sheet mulching, composting, companion planting, natural pesticides and liquid feeds.
Those of us on the course also got our hands dirty planting lemon grass, edible flowers like nasturtiums and violets, as well as rocket, basil, parsley, coriander, chillies, chives, lettuce, spinach, lavender and rosemary seedlings into containers at the restaurant.
From permaculture gardening principles and design to planting techniques, the theoretical aspect of the course was converted into practice in one afternoon. Also, the course was a great place to get hands-on experience and network with fellow growers.
The Food Garden Network evolved from an Imagine Durban Project that works closely with local schools in developing food gardens.
The main purpose of the network is to develop food gardening to promote food security, healthy eating habits and sustainable environmental practices. And to get children to eat more greens too.
The reason it’s called a network is because to be a successful gardener you need support, as well as a way of sharing ideas and resources.
One of the network’s aims is to connect gardens and gardeners in and around the city, offering network opportunities and encouraging the concept of sharing.
But if the thought of trying to be a super-gardener is making you wilt – don’t despair. For those who don’t have the time to learn about soils, mulches and seed germinating, help is at hand.
Home Organic is a company that delivers and installs instant veggie and herb container gardens, so far only within the Durban area.
You can select what you want to grow and they will get you started depending on what space you have available.
The best thing about having a food garden is eating it and those with children will know that children who are involved in the growing, harvesting and preparing of their food are much more likely to eat it.