Any South African SF gardeners?

zaleon(Gauteng ZA)June 25, 2008

Hi there. Is there any South African square foot gardeners in this forum?

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jbest123(Zone 5 PA)

I don't think so.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 3:54PM
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andymo

I'm in the Southern Suburbs, Cape Town.

I've only recently constructed my 'SFG' or more appropriately my 'Square 30 centimetre garden' (I admit doesn't sound as good as SFG). And just joined up on this board.

Just out of interest don't you think that with rising prices of food (worldwide) wouldn't SFG be ideal for the townships (shantytowns)? Black African farming methods are notoriously poor and its not uncommon to see wilted mielie (corn) patches in backyard plots.

I'm going to start a link asking about ideas for SFG on the cheap (for people who earn less than 10 dollars a day). Also an easy to understand pamphlet (for non literates) on the basics of SFG.

Andy

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 4:36AM
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zaleon(Gauteng ZA)

Hi there Andy. I'm into squarefoot gardening for a while now. Mel is an engineer, and would therefor have sorted out most of the problems associated with this method of gardening. I therefor bought his book, and went about it the way he explains (including calculating that each side is 4 feet, and therefor 1.2192 meters. I use 1.2 meters per side). Initially it was a struggle to get hold of vermiculite, only to discover that South Africa produces it for just about the whole world!!. My reason for enquiring about South African squarefoot gardeners, is because of the climate we have. From my experience with this type of gardening, I do agree that here we have a method which could have a huge impact on food security for those in our society whose financial means are challenging. Perhaps we should exchange ideas about promoting squarefoot gardening in the townships, and to subsistent farmers. I live in Pretoria, but have my roots in Cape Town. A;; my family is there, and most of my close friends are there.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 6:53AM
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angelady777 (was angelady on GW) - Zone 6(6)

Welcome to SFG and GardenWeb, South Africans!

Andy, you mentioned ideas for affordability. We have a forum here that has helped give me a ton of ideas for inexpensive gardening:

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/frugal/

If you look through posts and search, you'll find tons of good info. Although, I am sure you'll get some ideas that were posted by Americans for Americans, just pass over those. It might get your mind to spinning on some terrific ideas or you can post there and see what other people suggest.

~Angela

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 1:00PM
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susancol(7 Atlanta)

I believe "tanyak" is another poster here at Gardenweb who is in South Africa. She posts alot on the Harvest forum - where they discuss things like canning and preserving the foods you get out of your garden. Maybe she might have some ideas for you.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 3:51PM
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andymo

Thanks guys,

Zaleon you're right about perfect weather conditions - even now in the middle of winter I have been growing all veggies and herbs - except stooopid red and green peppers - the seedlings never take. As for sizes I do 210 cm x 60 cm (7 squares by 2 squares). I prefer the length for my porch.

Angellady - going to have a look through the frugal link you sent.

As for low cost SFG - here are a couple of issues:

*lumber or bricks for the sides are pretty plentiful - however the lumber in squatter camps is definitely treated. I suggest plastic sheeting with holes at the bottom be used inside the basin - plastic sheeting is R8 (1$) a square metre - which is affordable.

*we may produce the worlds vermiculite - but it is still flippin pricey. R100 ($15) a big bag. Canadian Peat moss is out of the question and alternatives (coconut husk) are equally expensive.

*Mel suggests only compost for 3rd world countries. Maybe we could add a bit of good soil to that mix.

*Need to introduce the concept of composting.

*Introduce the concept of crop rotation.

*Seed Prices - big issue - even I am put out by some of the prices. A good price for seeds is R10 ($1.50) a packet. Its great for tomato seeds because you get stacks, but you get very few seeds for beans and certain other crops. We need seed recycling.

*We need to identify those plants that give most bang for the buck. Easy growers that provide a big yield, quickly, need low maintenance and are nutritious.
Examples - tomatoes - spinach - kale - carrots - swiss chard - beans - african potato - standard potato.

till later.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 10:58AM
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zaleon(Gauteng ZA)

Hi there. As mentioned earlier, I try to stick to the Mel's plans, which include his mix. Vermiculite is essentially a one-off expense. I found it to be worth the cost, as it really conserve water. I usually buy it at an agricultural co-op, and a year ago paid about R40 for a big bag. In my most recent square foot garden I only used vermiculite and compost (homemade nogal), to plant tomatoes, sweet peppers, spinach, coriander, green onion and parsley. All of them are thriving, except for the tomatoes and three of the green pepper plants, with which the birds had some issues. It is truly a pleasure to have a squarefoot garden, since all it takes is the time to water, to do a bit of weeding, and to quickly inspect each plant for health and pests. All in all about 15 to 30 minutes. In fact, my family is going to expand this, and are aiming to get about 95% of our veggies from the square foot garden. I'm also doing vermicomposting, and in about 3 months will start using that for compost

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 11:02AM
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