food garden

What to Plant in the Cape Town Winter?

Hell to All,

I have a flat with a smallish balcony. I am not from Cape Town and am wondering what the best food plants to plant in the autumn and winter are? Any suggestions most welcome.



food garden

Truck Farm

This guy has great initiative!


When Ian Cheney moved to New York City after making King Corn, a film about growing an acre of America’s most subsidised commodity crop, he wanted to grow something a little different. After all, he’d seen firsthand the problems associated with growing a crop like yellow dent #2 corn — the raw material for high fructose corn syrup, countless processed foods, and confined animal feeding operations. With America reeling from epidemics of obesity and diabetes, it was high time to try planting a garden of one’s own. But where to do it? He didn’t own any land, all the community gardens were full, and the asphalt seemed to stretch on forever. Taking a good long look at the 1986 Dodge his grandfather Fayette Rumsey Plumb II had given him upon college graduation, Ian decided to give truck farming a whirl.



The design and installation of the Truck Farm was simple, and took less than a day once materials had been collected, all for less than $200. Victoria Foraker of Alive Structures donated the green roof materials for the bed, with Paul Mankiewicz of the Gaia Institute providing the lightweight soil necessary for keeping the truck from buckling under a heavy load. Heirloom seeds were ordered from Iowa’s Seed Savers Exchange, and planted in compost donated from Added Value Farm in Red Hook (and some topsoil purchased from the local nursery!).



Seeds sprouted in a matter of days! A time-lapse camera, powered by a small solar panel atop the truck’s cab, captured the progress of the plantings every 5 minutes, thanks to the clever gadgetry of physicist Dan Larsen. Once the seeds started to grow, Ian moved the Truck Farm to find shade on hot days, to borrow a bit of water from the hose spigot of the Italian restaurant down the block, and of course to dodge the street cleaners on Mondays and Fridays.



Spring gave way to summer, and the crops began attracting the attention of the neighbourhood Ian began visiting neighbourhood nursery schools, giving many youngsters their first glimpse of food crops growing in soil. The reports back from teachers were enthusiastic! When Ian’s longtime collaborator Curt Ellis moved to New York later that summer, the two friends set to work expanding the Truck Farm project into a fully-functioning, mobile-education device.

The first Truck Farm tour occurred in two parts in 2010, first roaming far beyond NYC’s borders to visit 9 schools and participate in the USDA’s Earth Day celebrations at The People’s Garden, and then focusing special attention on New York City during a concentrated 2-day spring tour.
Despite a blown gasket in rural Connecticut, the old Dodge had a merry time seeing the countryside. Seed packets, courtesy of Katie Rehwick and the America the Beautiful Fund, were distributed to thousands of students all along the eastern seaboard.



source: Truck Farm

food garden permaculture

A Well (G)rounded School

The Creating Schools Programme adopts a holistic approach to education, focusing not only on the development of the learners in the schools, but also on the advancement of the community as a whole. The food garden at Vele Secondary School is a great example of how a school can form the nucleus of a community, bringing residents together, and helping to educate and sustain both the leaners, and the community as a whole. David Ramabulana is one of three community members who were originally selected to care for the permaculture food garden at Vele. David’s story and his devotion to the school garden, and to the process of permaculture gardening, is truly inspiring!

Due to unfortunate circumstances David had to drop out of a degree in Applied Mathematics in his third year, and was tending to the garden when he came to the attention of one of the trustees. He was asked to join the school’s staff as a computer administrator, and very soon became an expert in hardware and software, using Cami and Autograph to teach the learners Maths. David now assists the Maths Teacher, and holds lessons in the afternoon and before school. The Creating Schools Trust have offered him a bursary to complete his degree, and it has been agreed that David will train local unemployed villagers, who have an interest and an aptitude for computers, so that there will be somebody to carry on with his good work once he’s gone.

Despite a return to the classroom, David has maintained his interest in the permaculture garden. Below are some of the highlights from a recent report that David wrote on the garden:

The beauty of the food garden at Vele Secondary School is that it’s surrounded by Comfrey, which acts as mulch and provides nitrogen and magnesium to other crops. You can use comfrey to help mend broken bones.Vetiver acts as a windbreaker, helps to prevent flooding in the garden by creating a barrier and can also be used as mulch. Vele food garden produces beetroot, carrots, mustard, spinach, cabbage, onion, butternut, muxe (for Venda people), chillies and brinjal, amongst other things. The crops act as a test, and we continue to produce the crops which teachers, learners and the community like the most, and which grow the best. During the harvest we keep the seeds to avoid having to buy more seeds. We sell the crops to everyone who needs it. The cost starts at 50 cents and goes up to R1.50 for the root family (carrot, beetroot, garlic), and R10 for the leaf/cabbage family (spinach, muxe, cabbage, kale, mustard). The school also feeds the learners with the vegetables from the garden. We recently attended a workshop in the Mutale district on Sustainable Food Production. I told them what I knew about permaculture because they rely on chemical pest control and chemical manure. At Vele we use organic pest control and feed crops with compost or earthworm tea. We use the the money that we make from the food garden to buy seeds that we don’t already have, to pay for transport if there’s a meeting far away, and to buy gardening equipment and petrol for the lawnmower which we use to create mulch. We have formed a committee to look after the food garden, and are now ready to enter any competitions about gardening.

Viva Vele Secondary School food garden! Viva!

Source: Creating Schools

food garden

South Africa Planting Guide

Have a look at the attached infographic – it takes you through the planting season in South Africa. Showing you what plants can be planted in every month of the year.

Helping you to create your own vegetable garden in your home!

By Jade, Durban

food garden


These are pretty cool Spriggers!

GROWbag is a unique outdoor planter that serves only one purpose: To fit into ones life and any living space! The easy way to grow own vegetables, herbs, plants and succulents regardless of the size of the garden, balcony, driveway or wall and roof space. We have taken old billboard vinyl skins that would normally be thrown away and converted them into our own unique planters. This recycled vinyl is highly durable and incredibly long lasting – which makes it the perfect material for our GROWbags!

We are collaborating with the Soil For Life organization and have created the planter that makes growing one’s own food a simple and effective solution for all the participants of the Soil For Life programme. With every GROWbag purchase, one can help fund a XL-size GROWbag for a family in the communities in which Soil For Life is active.

Each GROWbag is handmade in Cape Town by skilled producers who pride themselves with quality work and ethics – empowering their staff members and creating jobs.

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