A balcony, stoep or small piece of ground at your entrance can easily be turned into a patch that produces vegetables and gives you a sense of achievement.
You’re not aiming to provide ALL the vegetables you need to feed your family, just a selection that you can grow easily.
Experts all agree that using bigger pots, rather than small ones, helps retain moisture and gives space for roots to grow.
What containers to use?
Troughs, old buckets or bought containers will all do the job, just ensure there are holes at the bottom so your plants don’t get waterlogged and die.
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Tip: Large pots that allow you to plant a number of seedlings means more variety.
1 Assess the area and ensure there is space to get around the pots without damaging the plants. You are not going to be producing huge crops, so don’t overcrowd your limited space.
2 If you’re setting up on your balcony, cluster your pots together in one corner with bigger pots at the back, going down to smaller or lower containers near the front.
Tip: Your containers will need to be in a place where they get good sunlight and ventilation.
3 Place broken bricks or pieces of clay pot in the container over the drainage holes and cover with a layer of gravel or river sand.
4 Now fill the container with a potting mixture, but not up to the brim, so that you can water the plants without spilling over the edge.
5 If you’ve bought seedlings, remove each one gently from its tray and plant them at the depth they were in the tray, pressing down lightly around each plant to ensure its roots do not dry out.
Tip: Follow the advice of your nurseryman in spacing your seedlings, because if they are planted too close together, they won’t thrive.
6 It is usually a good idea to water your plants straight away, so that they don’t wilt. This also allows the soil to readjust and pack around your individual plants.
Don’t fret: If your plants are looking a bit wilted and distressed after all your hard work, relax! The coolness of night will give them a chance to perk up and you’ll be surprised when you see how plucky they look in the morning.
Watering your seedlings to ensure they don’t dry out will become an important job if you expect a harvest. Liquid fertilisers and fish emulsion can be applied every two weeks to nourish your plants and promote good growth.
Your new patch of seedlings will be needing all the love and care you can give them, and as the old adage goes, the more you put in, the more you get out.