food garden sustainability

Bringing vegetable gardens to heel

Hi, so firstly well done on your award for best green blog in S.A.! A shoe-in. Awesome.

My wife and I have this rambling garden in Hout Bay. It’s quite a thing. But we are taming it bit by bit. Got an army of snails but that’s another story. Moles, too. And so many clivias bunched up that none of them flower! Like seriously, if anyone wants to come get a clivia or two, you are welcome.

I generally do the grunt work in the garden, being strong but stupid; while my wife Christelle has grand visions for how to re-landscape it (and re-do the house) – she really has an “eye” – it’s quite amazing. So, her latest thing: the back garden/veggie patch. Huge shambles previously.

Last week she/we decided to turn the area into a raised, bordered veggie garden – comprising 2 sections, one measuring 3m x 1.3m, the other 2m x 1.3m, using treated rough wood (i.e. borer proof) and simple river stones for the pathway and perimeter. R50 per bag of stones and we need about 12! Eysh. The wood we got from Oh and R10 per bag of compost at Builders Warehouse, but hurry. You can win a house if you shop on your Mastercard. Its their birthday or something.

The border was simple to do, we just nailed them together, and then sunk the frame about 5cm in. Filled it with compost, coastal sandy soil and a layer of topsoil. Plastic under the stones to prevent grass coming up, but inside we just yanked out all the grass roots.

Transplanted the broccoli, the baby cabbages (pictured at front of veggie patch), as well as mint, rosemary and strawberries at the far end. Strawberry plant look great – grows well – but never any fruit!! Suggestions welcome.

We’ve got lavender x 30 all along the border of the wall, still growing, so we hope to attract bees. Bees are endangered, you know. ALong with frogs and chameleons. Think about it: when did you last see a chameleon?

Then I seeded 12 x runner beans and 12 X beetroot. Snail bait and garden gunned the whole thing. Now we wait.

I don’t know how it will go. Watch this space. Any advice re raised, bordered veggie patches welcome…

Gareth Pike Hout Bay

Ps that green thing in the corner is a Green Genie; great for compost especially with some worm powder thrown in. Takes a while though.

Make every word count.

17 replies on “Bringing vegetable gardens to heel”

wow – this looks amazing! I want to make raised beds as soon as I get the space.

are planting any marigold or wild garlic as a natural pest repellent?

Hi Patrick

Marigold or wild garlic – thanks, we’ll look into that. We smashed a Honeysuckle in the middle, but that’s more to attract bees.

BTW for buying stones in bulk, always go look at wholesalers before you go to nurseries; we got a ‘cube’ (like, a bakkie load) of stones today, from Builders’ Yard in Hout Bay, for R350 or so.

Firstly to sprig – what does it mean to you winning the blog award? Apart from the kudos of course! A night out? A trophy?

Gareth,love the raised bed thing, looking good We were lucky in taking over a neglected council area, it is already contained by a nice brick wall. It means that chief gardener (husband) has somewhere to rest one foot on when he stops for a swig of Peroni’s, and I don’t have to bend low at harvest time.

Hi Elsa

Yes, we are the proud owners of a small trophy! Will take a pic and post it up here.

Gareth – will let my housemate know about the stones. She is filling in a section of the garden one bag at a time. Your garden is looking great. Plant some beetroot (if you like it) as it tastes completely different out the ground to any you can buy.

Your dogs haven’t explored the new garden yet?

We’re putting up a fence(let) as we speak, to keep the buggers out! As for beetroot, I’ve actually seeded 12 in there, just yesterday. Very excited. Re stones, not sure where exactly you are based, but any builders’ wholesaler should be able to help/deliver. Better than a bag at a time!

Thanks Mouldy, will forage in the Guide. If there’s a chameleon on the tree but no one sees it, is there really a chameleon?

Cool patch Gareth.

Would love some clivia thinnings – whereabouts are you in HB – I’m in Northshore.

Would also love to show you my small veggie garden – got lettuce, carrots, beetroot, mealies, tomatoes, onions, squash, peas, rocket, potatoes, radishes, peppers, parsley and chives doing well – my garlic aren’t that happy though. Two peach trees and lemons trees – laden with new fruit.

Have got a solution for you re: snails (which we have / had plenty of, too) and other pests (i.e. cabbage / broccoli worms) Help you do away with pesticides of all kinds, if you’re interested?


Congrats on the award btw. Your site deserves it!

Apart from companion planting (of which there is a wealth of info on the internet) the answer to my problem is shadecloth – in a simple diy tunnel bed (

No snails – shadecloth dug under the three sides of the bed and the front fastened / weighed down with bricks – no butterfly access = no cabbage worms.

I have just installed 40% shadecloth 3 – 4 weeks ago, and I have yet to find any pests in the bath bed, or the raised one that I made 10 days ago.

It has apparently been established (Ads & Agri edition 112 Sept 2010 page 32)that using shade netting (availabale cheaply in CT at Alnet’s factory shop in Epping 2) increases your yield by 100 – 200%, reduces the use of pesticides, prevents wind damage, reduces weed growth, reduces water evaporation and protects against birds.)

But would really like to contact Gareth and Christelle – could you please let me have their e-mail address – or give them mine.


Congratulations – well deserved!

Any responses to my mole- question?!

i have another question – this time about dogs weeing on the grass and killing it in the process (leaving yellow patches that turn to death) Any ideas what to do to avoid the death-part?

Will send you pics of my happy collection of co-habiting pelagoniums, spinach, herbs and other flowers…

Well done on your garden layout Gareth. I am on my 3rd permaculture garden and recently found catepillars on some old lettuce plants. Previously I would have pulled up the old lettuce plant and discarded it, but now I know that all creatures have to eat and so leave it for them hoping they’ll ignore the new stuff.
It works with monkeys if you have a patch away from your garden they can feed off, they ignore the garden.

I agree with Helen and sacrifice a few plants to the insects and animals in exchange for them leaving the rest of my crop alone


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