Grow to Eat
The new gardening trend reports for 2018 are out, and we can still put growing your own food near the top of the list, both as a trend and a probable necessity in the future. The trend forecasters are saying that we need to try new and unusual edibles to diversify our growing habits, and also go a bit further with the idea and share and swap our crops and seeds within our communities. As gardeners we love to try new things and we love to share, so I think we could help to make this trend a reality. And if you were to do a search for unusual edibles to grow from seed in South Africa, your results would include some marvellous sounding plants like Caveman’s Club Gourd, Chicoree Angel Hair, Egyptian Walking Onions, Jelly Melon and Nyimo Beans (www.livingseeds. co.za). We will have to try our hand at sowing some of these (hopefully tasty) edibles and let you know how we do. Back to the present, we have a great line up in this summer issue of Grow to Eat.
Whoever thought that you could make yeast from potatoes, or cook up a batch of honey and chilli potato koeksusters with your harvest? And who wouldn’t love to serve a pink panna cotta with pickled trimmings from a beetroot harvest, or blend up some goodness for yourself and your garden with smoothies? From the inspirational scenic food garden at Boschendal to the serious business of growing potatoes, beetroot, spinach, brinjals, basil and pineapples, plus some interesting tips on problem solving and understanding diatomaceous earth, this issue is packed with ideas for practical food gardening.
With some parts of our country in desperate need of water, this may not be the time to suggest getting out and planting, but you will be surprised at the number of drought-tolerant plants that can withstand a dearth of water for a while. These plants are often those that have short maturation periods, or you can try the miniature varieties that need less water for fruit development. There are also some tips to reduce the need for much watering, like planting in raised beds or in containers that retain water more than open-ground growing: Add a 10cm layer of mulch around you plants to keep the soil cool and reduce evaporation; consider companion planting where taller plants provide shade for smaller plants, and water efficiently using drip systems in the early evening and early morning. And don’t miss our tips for using grey-water on page 44. But there’s lots more for you to read, so enjoy leafing through these pages, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
The Gardener Team