Food gar­dens make sense and cents

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Al­li­son Cooper Wa­ter of­ten:

With in­no­va­tion, ded­i­ca­tion and pas­sion, al­most any­one can grow their own food.

This is the be­lief of food gar­den ex­pert Amon Maluleke. “If the ma­jor­ity of South Africans started grow­ing their own veg­eta­bles, im­mense strides would be made in a very short time to ad­dress food se­cu­rity and poverty al­le­vi­a­tion,” he said.

Grow­ing food in ru­ral ar­eas is eas­ier be­cause of ac­cess to rivers and land, but any­one, any­where can grow their own food. “If you buy a pump­kin for around R10, you not only have a meal, but can use the seeds to grow more pump­kins. One seed can yield two to five pump­kins and each pump­kin has dozens of seeds,”

Maluleke said.

Maluleke’s tips for easy plant­ing

Pre­pare the soil: In ru­ral ar­eas, get hold of some goat or cat­tle ma­nure and work it into the soil. In ur­ban ar­eas, in­vest in some com­post or make your own from veg­etable and fruit peels, egg shells and even card­board egg car­tons. If pos­si­ble, raise your veg­etable bed by mak­ing a bor­der of bricks and fill­ing it in with soil. Th­ese raised beds help stop weeds and pests, pre­vent soil com­paction and pro­vide proper drainage.

Pick the right spot: Veg­eta­bles need around five to eight hours of sun a day so avoid shady ar­eas. En­sure you are near a wa­ter source and avoid very windy ar­eas. How much space: A piece of land five me­tres by six me­tres in size can feed a small fam­ily. If you live in an ur­ban area with­out ac­cess to land, you can make do with very lit­tle space, how­ever, by grow­ing food in con­tain­ers, such as pots, or old tyres stacked on top of each other, or even by mak­ing a bag gar­den us­ing old sacks. This is also good for older peo­ple who can­not bend.

The soil should al­ways be slightly damp to the touch.

Maluleke, who cur­rently works at Rand Aid’s Them­bal­ami Care Cen­tre ad­ja­cent to Alexan­dra town­ship, is a pi­o­neer of in­ner city gar­den­ing and was one of the founders of Jo­han­nes­burg’s Ber­trams In­ner City Farm.

Amon Maluleke with com­mu­nity vol­un­teer Lekau Nkoko at Them­bal­ami Care Cen­tre’s food gar­den.

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