Since the pandemic, you, too, have dreamed of becoming a backyard farmer, but you have no idea where to begin. You wish you could be cooking it up in the kitchen with your homegrown harvest but feel overwhelmed about what, when, and where to plant. If that sounds like you, look no further because here are the easiest vegetables for beginner gardeners.
Just a note before we begin, though: start small! Instead of trying to become an agricultural expert overnight, choose two or three manageable fruits and vegetables that are almost guaranteed to succeed. You’ll gain the confidence, motivation, and knowledge required to take paced but consistent steps to growing your garden (pun intended).
First on our list of vegetables for beginner gardeners, Peas; they thrive in South African spring and fall. They do well in the cold and taste best when grown in these seasons. They’re perfect for vertical gardens, making them a wonderful choice for the urban balcony gardener. The method is simple: install a trellis, plant seeds in healthy, fertilized soil, and keep watering until they pop up. When peas appear, harvest them daily – this will lengthen your harvest duration.
Unlike peas, you can grow Kale all year long. It does, however, also do best in colder seasons. It’s also a plant that doubles up as a vegetable filled with nutrients and colourful decorations in your garden. Be careful of planting kale in direct sunlight in the height of summer, though; it’s sensitive to extreme heat. Partial shade with around 6 hours of direct sun is best.
Plant them 40cm or so apart in fertile soil. Also, keep them moist because kale grows quickly. You can harvest the outer leaves at the bottom when it reaches around 30cm in height.
Butternut squash is loved by (most) South Africans. The squash themselves love full sun and well-drained soil. However, they require warmth in the seedling stage, so they plant well in spring and summer. Plant them 90cm apart, and keep the soil moist but not soggy. Keep the leaves dry if you can, and look out for bugs (but don’t panic, because if you notice them early, you can simply wipe eggs off with a cloth). They take 12 to 15 weeks before they’re ready for harvest.
And lastly, basil deserves a spot on our list of vegetables for beginner gardeners. Basil is delicious and easy! Try for morning sun if you live in a hot area and midday or afternoon sun in cooler areas. Water them in the morning, and water them often. Basil is also a great companion for tomatoes. In fact, his duo helps each other fight pests and improve their flavour. Your seeds should pop up in 7 to 10 days and be ready to harvest in 3 or 4 weeks.