Roses are red, Violets are edible…


Ok, along with my self imposed cooking challenge I’ve upped the ante by giving myself a few other milestones I’d like to achieve in the same time frame, one of which is a salad and herb garden.

I’ve wanted one for a while and actually bought myself a book months ago by the incredibly talented Jane Griffiths, called “Jane’s Delicious Garden”, filled with everything you need to know about starting one with the most comprehensive information on there cultivation, set in a South African context (great for me, since it is where I reside, if I was in Greenland, it probably wouldn’t be all that helpful…).

I decided to build a raised bed, the benefits of which are numerous, though key ones include having control over suitable drainage and soil quality, 2 MUSTS.

I’ll be honest, I had hoped to build it as a tabletop garden and even built legs for it, not knowing that the weight of the compost would cause the bottom of the table to bow out, so I ended up making it a floor bed and have earmarked the legs for an outdoors table (when life throws you lemons…).

I built a frame out of some untreated Meranti and made 3 compartments, or beds, each 60x90cm in diameter. I chose untreated wood as most of the treated woods use creosote and formaldehyde as preservatives, not exactly ‘diet friendly’. Instead I chose to try a locally produced ‘green’ sustainable option made by Pro Nature called   ProNature Outdoor which is 100% natural containing linseed oil, wood oil, gum resin, plant oils & essential oils, it smells SOOOO good and works even better!

After 2 days and couple coats it was ready to be installed. I’d earmarked a sunny, sheltered location out in our backyard and set the frame down, with a layer of shade-cloth underneath, just to stop the grass growing up and then filled each compartment with a layer of drainage chips, very important as you don’t want the roots to sit in water as this WILL cause root rot.

Since I wanted to get a head start on the planting I went with organically grown seedlings from a couple sources, though largely from St Omers Farm in Paarl. It was there I also discovered the most AMAZING organic compost made by a company called Reliance, and purchased a few bags from Starke Ayers. It feels so good: loose, well textured and black as the night.

Now, I can’t tell you how much time I spent deliberating WHAT to plant, obvious calls were to plant in season plants along with a selection that I’d need to cook many of the recipes with: Coriander, Sage, Parsley, Basil etc, but I also included some salad greens and edible flowers for light snacks.

Now this may come as a surprise to many of you, but plants love or hate each other, weird, but true (okay partially..). For centuries North American Indians grew certain plants together and saw how their mutual growth lead to higher yields and healthier plants, which today we call ‘companion planting’.

So I hunted down ‘companion plants’ and drew up a list of what I wanted and what worked best with what and then planned each bed and came up with the following:

Bed 1: Spinach, Beetroots, Chives, Spring Onions, Parsley, & Sage

Bed 2: Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, Oregano, Marigolds, Nasturtiums & Borage

Bed 3: Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Asian Greens, Coriander, Rocket & Thyme

I’m also growing pots with Rosemary, Fennel and Mint and have mixed some edible Pansy plants into each of the beds.

It is important to follow the planting guides to maintain healthy plants, for example planting lettuces too close to each other will stunt their grown and yield, but in a smaller boxes adhering to these rules is tough and I compromised somewhat on almost all the guidelines (yip, I’m a risk taker!), but it should still yield a suitably ‘wild’ garden without over-planting… well that is my hope, time will tell.

So what does it look like?

Now all I can do is let nature run its course and hope that soon enough I’ll be adding them to mine.

posted under In the garden
4 Comments to

“Roses are red, Violets are edible…”

  1. Avatar August 31st, 2010 at 4:45 PM Elise Says:

    Can’t wait to start my first garden in a few weeks! Thanks for the info….

  2. Avatar September 12th, 2010 at 10:11 PM Recipe #11 - White bean, bacon and tomato soup | I'm no Jamie Oliver Says:

    […] vegetables and topped off with some smoked bacon and garnished with some fresh chives (out of the vegetable garden of course!), it gets the 20 minute meal thumbs […]

  3. Avatar September 13th, 2010 at 12:06 AM Ishay Says:

    Amazing how a small space can be converted into a sustainable source of food for the family. We are, in many ways, going back to the ways of our ancestors and trying to unlearn the habits of rampant consumerism. I have a beautiful herb garden, created by a landscaper but in dire need of tending. After reading this, I reckon my hands will do! Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Avatar September 15th, 2010 at 3:03 PM Recipe #14 - Chilli corn chowder | I'm no Jamie Oliver Says:

    […] at the Earth Fair Market on Saturday and they tasted great, mixed in some corn, a bit of thyme (out the garden of course!) and a couple other veggies, not forgetting my lovely Nomu Vegetable […]

Email will not be published

Website example

Your Comment: