Gardening can be considered as a relaxing activity that also ensures the cleanliness of one’s surroundings. It is the practice of growing and cultivating plants as part of horticulture. In some gardens, ornamental plants are often grown for their flowers, foliage, or overall appearance; useful plants, such as root vegetables, leafy vegetables, fruits, and herbs, are grown for consumption, for use as dyes, or for medicinal or cosmetic use.
All these vegetables have their different benefits and nutrients, as well as some common features and nutrients. Every vegetable with strong colouring contains vitamins, often very much. Green (in vegetables) indicates Vitamin B9, C or Pro-Vitamin A. Red or orange in vegetable signals Pro-Vitamin A.
Leaf vegetables such as cabbage, chard, lettuce, spinach, sorrel are usually low in energy and rich in Vitamin B9. They usually contain high levels of Pro-Vitamin A and as Vitamin C.
Root vegetables such as radishes, beet, carrot etc. usually have few calories. Instead, they have much fibre, and some contain high levels of Pro-Vitamin A.
Seed vegetables such as flageolet beans are higher in calories (60-90 kcal/100 g). They are also very high in fibre, iron and magnesium.
Pod vegetables such as wax beans, mange-tout, green beans, runner beans, peas and fruit vegetables are low in calories. They supply fibre, Vitamin B9 and Vitamin C.
Flower vegetables and bud vegetables such as artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower etc. are low in calories but high in fibre.
Considering that leafy vegetables are the order of the day for us in this part of the world; knowing what to do and how to construct a garden that best suits the purpose is key. Leafy vegetables in this stance include spinach, scent leaf, broccoli and the locally known ugu.
Garden Site Selection
Whether the construction of a garden is for business (sales) or pleasure (family consumption), when considering sites for garden purposes, one must take into consideration field topography, soil type, and water availability and quality.
Topography has to do with physical attributes of the homestead and takes conditions such as contour, soil depth, water and air drainage, and, the presence of rock outcropping and trees into consideration.
Soil type refers to the physical composition or properties of the soil while water availability refers to the ease with which water can be accessed.
It is important to note that leafy vegetables usually need more water than most other agronomic crops do, and this should be accounted for during site selection.
Another important factor to consider when constructing a garden for the purpose of cultivation is the crop and variety selection. The greatest limiting factor to successful production from a pest stand-point is the high incidence of disease outbreaks. There is great need to cultivate mainly disease resisting species, to greatly increase the chance for success.
Once you have got the above settled, here’s what you do next:
Raise beds: this may not be a very necessary practice especially if the site space is not so much. Raising the ground and ploughing would suffice for little spaces or small budgets. Ensuring that the soil gets enough sunlight is important.
Plant: this is the actual sowing of the seeds into the ground. It is advisable not to burrow holes before putting the seeds. Using the finger to insert a 5cm hole before planting is ideal.
Mulch: mulching is an important aspect of gardening. This is the act of covering the surface of the soil and root with materials to help reduce sunlight and induce cool.
Water: this can be done using a watering can or the occasional watering with a bucket or pipe.
Pest spray: some sprays are either pre-emergence or post-emergence. Read the label properly before spraying any pesticide.
Maintaining a garden could be easy as well as daunting. But the above guidelines would help a starter know what to do during site and crop selections. Also, it will help to understand what to do before and after planting.