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Beginner Plan

Hi All

I am moving soon and our new place has a nice niche for a vegetable garden which is out of sight from my husband. Since most of my plants die i am forbidden to do my gardening where he can see it and am only allowed plants that I either have seeds for, can "steal" from family and friends, or can otherwise acquire free of charge... However since I have lost my job and am looking for alternatives to feed my family I am determined to make it work this year, with research and all. 

Here some details: We live in Windhoek, Namibia (Hardiness Zone 9?). The space I have in mind is behind the garage ca 2mx3m, receiving afternoon sun. I intend to go scavenging for a shade net which I want to pull from the garage to the fence on the other side. My soil options are sieved river sand, horse manure & compost.

The plants I am want to start out with are:

Veggies: Tomato, Bell peppers, Cucumber, Pole Beans, Potato, Onion Lettuce and Carrots (all stuff we use on a weekly basis in the kitchen)

Herbs: Chives, Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, Dill, Sage, Peppermint.

Flowers: Sunflowers, Cosmos, Enchinacea, Camomile, Marigold

The herbs and flowers I guess I can plant all over the garden, or in pots on my porch.

The Veggies I plan to mostly plant in old, thoroughly cleaned 20ltr paint buckets (I have 5 of them) or 7ltr water buckets (they were on special at PEP for N$10.00). Maybe I will build a raised bed from pallet wood. 

My question is: Did I choose to many veggies for the 1st time? Did I chose something that might be a bit too advanced, is the 2 x3m space enough? Will the flowers even if planted 5 - 10m away attract enough bees?

AND; why does my chive only grow in very thin grass like strands scattered all over the pot and not (like my sisters) in bushy little bundles?


  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,200

    Hi and welcome to the forumimage - exciting to have someone from Namibia - you may be the firstimage

    You may not have realised but the vast majority of posters on this forum are in the UK so I imagine our weather & soil conditions are somewhat different to yours. 

    Your plant list is very achievable in this country (although peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes often need protection from the cold here to achieve decent production).

    What is your rainfall like? Most of the veg you want to grow need a reasonable amount of water. If they're in the ground they may get this from rain. But if you have very low rainfall or if they're in containers you will need to water them regularly - every day if it's hot. Do you have the time and the facilities to do this? (outdoor tap is pretty essential and a hosepipe is easier than lugging watering cans about).

    The thyme, rosemary and sage prefer a hotter, drier location but the mint, chives, basil and dill need more moisture and might like some shade.

    Chives take a while to bulk up into nice sturdy little plants. Leave them in situ for a couple of years and they should start to form the thicker stemmed bushy bundles you describe. The thin wiry stems you have sound like new seedlings.

    I would suggest you sow a few of all the plants you want to grow and see how you get on. Don't sow or place plants too close together - give them room to grow and make sure they're well watered.

    Good luck - let us know how you get onimage

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Thank you topbird!

    We have very irregular rainfall and hot temperatures (max 35C - 40C). I have an outdoor tab and a hosepipe, I'm also running my business from home, so I will have 20 minutes to water my plants every day. 

    For the soil I am planning to do composting, as our sand is not too nutritious. My brother in law is the manager of a shop, was hoping he would be able to supply a box of rotten fruit & veggies per week, I also have 2 horses on the "plot" we are moving to, mixing rotten fruit and horse apples should be a good base for compost, right?

    I noticed that I landed close to the UK with this forum (actually googled "forums South Africa") after I posted my thread. 

    I will only start planting end August (Spring here), but until then I have quite a lot to do, as the garden is not established and mostly on hard rock, guess I will be well toned after working in it all winter.

  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,200

    Sounds like a job!

    Your soil doesn't sound too promising so I would make as much compost as you possible can. It will take time to produce enough compost though.

    Accept offers of spent vegetation and 'horse apples' whenever you can and have as many compost heaps as you can.  Don't forget you can also add things like shredded paper, spent animal bedding and plain cardboard.

    In the uk we make plant food by steeping either comfrey or nettles in a large covered container of water for several weeks. The resulting 'tea' is then diluted 1 part to 10 parts of water to make a weekly liquid plant feed. You may have the same or alternative weeds / plants you can use.

    If the soil is poor then growing in containers does sound like a sensible option until you have worked and improved the soil.

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,911

    I suggest you do some research into forest gardening. You don't need a forest. It's a sustainable method of food production which follows very well established traditions in hot climates such as yours. The basic principle is to mix different layers of planting that support each other both nutritionally and providing shade, micro-climate and physical support for things like the pole beans and cucumbers that need to climb. There's a fairly strong forest gardening movement in South Africa - here in the UK we've adapted our approach from the African one. If it works for you, you may even be able to spread it out into the more visible parts of the plot image

    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
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