"" Family Veggie Garden: May 2019


Wednesday, May 29, 2019


Let's have fun now!
Harvesting your organic vegetables is usually the best part of having an organic garden.  The whole family will usually volunteer to help even if only one or two has actually helped during the growing season.  The harvest time for your organic vegetables varies depending upon the plant with many vegetables ripening all season long. 

It is important that you harvest your vegetables as soon as they are ready instead of letting them stay out in the sun.  Many vegetables will rapidly deteriorate if left out after ripening losing flavor.  They will also become too mushy and tender losing their appeal entirely. 

There are some plants that can be left out after they have ripened or even harvested before they are fully ripe.  The following are a list of typical harvest times for vegetables growing in winter in Southern Africa. Make sure you check your gardens constantly around harvest time since some vegetables will ripen virtually overnight.  Even after you have brought in a large crop keep checking your garden because some vegetables simply produce more vegetables after the first crop is removed.

Woman Harvesting Veggies
Woman Harvesting Veggies


Harvest beets when they are the right size you want. Remember the beet tops can be eaten too!


Harvest carrots when they are crisp.  Younger carrots are tenderer but older carrots are often sweeter.  If you like younger carrots pick them as soon as they are big enough and plant more for a fresh crop.


Harvest garlic when the tops of the bulbs begin turn yellow and dry out.  The bulbs must be put on screens to dry and once they have dried trim the roots close to the bulbs and remove the loose outer sheaths before storing.


Harvest lettuce 50 to 60 days after planting. They can often be harvested before when they are small but they will reach their maximum size in 60 days.


Harvest onions after the tops have fallen down.  After digging them up let the onions air dry for two days before storing. 


Harvest peas when the pod is green and full but still tender.  Pods are usually ready to be harvested a week after the plant flowers.  Harvest regularly.


Harvest radishes from the time that they are the size of large marbles and do not let them get to large.
squash when the plant is between 6 and 8 inches in diameter.  They are usually ready to pick 4 to 8 weeks after the plant flowers.

Swiss chard

Harvest very regularly for continues growth.

Instructions on harvesting vegetables might seem silly but if you do not harvest your vegetables during the correct time frame you will be unable to use them later.   Do not let all of your hard work go to waste.
Vegetables that require thinning or constant harvesting make sure you or a family member harvest the vegetables once a day or once every other day.  If you do not harvest the vegetables often the plants will soon become inactive. 

Keep on adding items to your compost pile. You will need lots of compost in future.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


You have now planted your own organic vegetable garden and have done everything that you can to get it started.  Unfortunately the seeds have not started sprouting or your started seeds have not grown much if it all.  

Before you throw in the towel and give up on organic gardening there are a few things that you should be doing.

First of all, have you been hand weeding your garden daily?  This might sound like a pain and stupid chore but it could make all the difference in the world.  Make a point of visiting your vegetable garden each day and carefully checking for weeds.  Do not rely on a glance from your back window to tell you whether weeds are growing or not. 

Many gardeners have done casual checks and later realized that the sprouts they thought were growing in their garden were really weeds.  Make a close inspection each day and weed by hand to make sure the job is thoroughly done. In order to get the best results dedicate 20 minutes each day to pulling weeds.

If you have been weeding your garden each day and your plants still seem to be growing slowly start adding rich, aged, compost to the slow growing vegetables. Spreading some aged compost from your composts pits will help your vegetables grow properly.

Various Vegetables
Various Vegetables

After adding compost to your vegetables every few days leads to no results consider investing in some manure from your local garden supplier.  They will often have organic manure on hand for your gardening needs and this will act as a stronger fertilizer than your compost.  If you are afraid to try manure you can invest in some aged compost purchased from a nursery first.  In many cases your compost pits will only be a few weeks old when you are trying to use them to encourage growth some older compost might just do the trick. Feed your veggies with organic liquid fertilizer, worm teas every 2-3 weeks for healthy growth.

Do not be afraid to increase the amount of water that you are giving your garden.  You should be careful not to over water your plants but you want to make sure that your plants are getting enough water to survive and thrive.  When you water your plants in the morning always check to see if the soil appears dry.  If the soil seems dry one day after watering you might want to consider increasing the amount of water you are giving them.  The soil should always be a little damp around your plants.

Lastly, do not be afraid to spray your homemade pesticide or even a bit of diluted soapy water on your plants to get rid of insects.  If you notice a lot of pests are attracted to your vegetable garden consider spraying once every ten days or once every two weeks.  Also, spray diluted soapy water directly onto vegetables that have insects on them all the time.

Our winter veggies are growing very well in our garden. This winter we have Swiss chard, Beetroot, Tall telephone Peas, Rondo Peas, Kohlrabi, Red Onions, Carrots and Garlic in the garden.

What is growing in your garden?

We enjoy reading gardening books.  If that is also your passion click gardening books.

Thursday, May 9, 2019


Your seedlings should be doing well by now. As tempting as it might be to relax and watch the fruits of your labour you must remember that there is still work to do if you want your organic veggie garden to grow and thrive.


First you must remember to water your garden. During the spring and summer you will use watering as an excuse to go outside and enjoy the warm weather. On rainy days you do not need to worry about watering your garden.

One thing you must avoid is over watering your garden! When you are out looking at the garden check to see if the soil is very wet or soggy. Watering the veggie garden should be done early in the morning, before 10.00am if it's possible. Just remember, too much watering eventually drowns plants and is just as harmful as not enough watering.
Watering consistently is your ultimate goal, watering your plants consistently with the same amount of water each day will do wonders.

Tasty Swiss chard in our garden (7/05/19)
Tasty Swiss Chard in our garden 7-05-19

Weeding is another important part of having an organic veggie garden. Weed will quickly overrun a vegetable garden killing the veggies and leaving you with a garden filled with weeds. If your garden is checked every day it is possible to pull weeds quickly before they have a chance to get out of control. Since you are growing an organic garden you cannot turn to tempting weed spays and chemicals, instead you should rely on old fashioned hoeing and weed pulling.  Enjoy the excersize with your family.

Insects are another thing that must be watched for when growing an organic veggie garden. Some insects are useful for helping a garden grow. But too many will eat your veggies before your family even has a chance to bring in an harvest. One way to help get rid of insects is to create your own organic pesticide. This can be done by taking two teaspoons of dish liquid soap and mixing it with one cup of vegetable oil. Add a couple of spoons of this mixture to water in a spray bottle and spray the areas most heavily affected. Onions and Garlic are two veggies that are perfect for repelling insects and certain herbs like Basil can also help.
There are other things that organic veggie growers have to look out for in addition to insects. We will discuss all of these in future posts.
Keep on enjoying your veggie garden.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


Now that you have decided what to grow it is time to plant your garden. First, take some time to plan out how you want to set up your garden. You should have a good idea of what to plant and exactly where you want to plant it. Get a piece of paper and sketch a plan for your veggie garden.
Make sure the area that you start out with is not too big. You want to start out modestly and then built up once you are comfortable with veggie gardening and know what you want to plant more of. Dig up the soil in the area where you want to plant, a few inches to loosen it.  Spread the compost and manure and dig in to about a spade depth (500mm).

Beetroot in our garden
Beetroot in our garden 30-4-19

It is getting closer to winter now for us in Africa so we will start with our family favourites.

Garden peas, Beetroot, Lettuce

Always pay attention to the seed packets instructions regarding how deep and far apart to sow seeds. Now be patient and wait for your seedlings to appear.

Apart from the above 3 veggies we suggested to start off with there is off coarse a lot of other veggies to grow in winter. Let us look at the others.

For direct sowing like our 3 favourites.

Broad beans, Carrots, Onions, Leeks, Garlic, Radish, etc.

For sowing in trays and to plant at a later stage.

Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Swiss chard, Celery, Parsley etc.

You can also buy veggie seedlings from your local nursery, but sowing seed is so much more exciting. We always enjoy the moment when the first seeds sprout. Keep the area where you have sown your seeds moist but not soggy and watch them grow into plants that will give you your veggies to harvest.

Let us know when your first seeds sprout and enjoy the moment.