Filled with edibles and herbs, this tiny vegetable garden is proof that good things come in small packages
In 2004, when Angelika and Iain Edwards built their house north of Jo’burg, the garden was just veld. “But I was determined to grow my own food,” says Iain who has been a keen vegetable gardener since he was a child.
He set about turning a 100m² space into a formal kitchen garden with pathways and rectangular beds. “In those days our friends and neighbours thought us strange. You could see them thinking ‘Can’t you afford to buy your own vegetables?’” he recalls.
Iain increased the small growing area by making use of vertical space with tripods and supports. A trellis, which
hides the washing line, is entwined with a lemon tree, while runner beans and cucumbers climb the sides. Enveloping a pergola, a Catawba grapevine provides shade for a bench underneath.
All the vegetables are grown from heirloom seeds. Salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, butternut, citrus, herbs, kale, chillies and more are grown in this small space providing fresh veggies all year round. Any excess is turned into tomato-chilli jam, chutney, vinegar and salt-free capsicum sauce or given away to neighbours and friends.
The garden is 100% organic and fertilised with home-made compost, and companion planting is used to minimise pests. “At the moment, nasturtiums are attracting bugs and saving the tomato plants alongside them,” explains Iain.
The garden has provided more than just food. “When Angelika was diagnosed with breast cancer, we had to make a complete lifestyle change,” he recalls. “Part of this involves eating fresh, organic vegetables, particularly dark green cruciferous varieties such as kale and broccoli, which contain cancerfighting compounds.”
Other plants like stinging nettles and the cancer bush ( Sutherlandia frutescens) are used to make health-boosting tonics. “Angelika is a pre-op continuing breast cancer survivor and I know this garden and its abundance plays a vital role,” he says.
THIS SPREAD, CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: This small productive courtyard garden is well designed with pathways and edged beds. A Catawba grapevine provides shade for the bench in front of a bed filled with herbs. A birdbath containing a sundial is a focal point in the garden. Vertical supports maximise the planting area. Beans.
THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Companion planting and home-made compost are used to keep pests to a minimum. Nasturtiums are used as a trap crop to protect tomatoes. Stinging nettle is used daily to make a tonic. Beans and cucumber trained up a trellis hide the laundry line.