Wednesday, December 28, 2011

green finger tips - beans developing

The bean seed was planted on 14 November 2011 and germinated 6 days later.

The first true leaves of the beans appear, shiny and bright.

The first flowers of the beans appear on 20 December. The very first tiny baby beans are showing themselves 5 days later.

Beans are easy to grow and maintain. They need little attention, given the right amount of water, they produce plentifully.

This is the first handful of green beans harvested from the bushes. They are sweet, succulent and delicious when picked just at the right time. Pick the beans as they reach full length. If you leave them for longer, they will become less tender as the seed starts developing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Living Seeds Competition

The other day i entered the Living Seeds Harvest Photo Comp .

Here is one of my latest entries:

Here is the information from their newsletter:

Living Seeds Harvest Photo Comp

Summer is here, the first of your harvests should be coming into the home. This year we will be having two photo competitions. An early season and a late season. Have fun and best of luck.

We have two stunning prizes for the winner of this years early season Photo Comp.

1) A Limited Edition First Day Cover of the South African Green Garden Vegetable Stamp series including a recipe booklet for each of the 6 vegetables represented.

2) A R200-00 Livingseeds Gift voucher


1) Original Photo's only by the grower.
2) Any homegrown vegetables / fruit can be represented.
3) Any number of submissions
4) All submissions must take place on the Facebook page.
5) The single picture with the most "FB Likes" wins.
6) Please label the pic's Early Photo Comp
7) Competition ends on the 31st December 2011

Get your pictures in to the competition.
Like the pictures on their Facebook Page Living Seeds Harvest Photo Comp if you are gardenless.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

green finger tips - radish and carrot

Carrot and Radish

Mix the seeds of radish and carrot together. Plant them in shallow drills and cover with soil. Ensure that the soil is moist when you plant so that the seeds don't get washed away.

Why plant Radish and Carrot together?

The carrot seeds are tiny and the radish seed are larger. The radish germinate readily and assist the carrots by protecting the seedlings and opening the ground for the carrots to penetrate more easily.

The radish seedlings germinated two days after planting. The carrots followed about 3 days later. The day the seeds were planted, there was a great rain which helped with the speedy germination.

Thirteen days later the seedlings have developed quite a lot and the first signs of the radish root are appearing.

On day seventeen, the first radishes are ready to be plucked, washed and eaten. There is nothing that beats the sharp taste of a freshy picked young radish.

Freshly picked radish is nutritious and delicious. This trio went into a salad roll...more please!

To ensure that I have a continous supply of radish and carrot, I have planted more carrot and radish seeds.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Congratulations to this weeks winners!!

The winner for this week is Samantha Pickard. Earthworm Productions and Sprig blog would like to congratulate Samantha. Your signed copy will be on the way to you during the week. Follow this link to see the announcement Sprig Blog Winners

The Second lucky Winner is Nadia and the third is Julia.
Congratulations to Muffins who is the fourth and final winner of the competition.

Please contact earthworm productions to order your copies of the South African Planting and Companion Planting Guide

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Win a signed copy of the South African Planting and Companion Planting Guide

Comment on this link Sprig Blog Competition and stand to WIN

Sprig Blog, together with Earthworm Productions, would like to introduce you to the South African Planting and Companion Planting Guide and give four lucky gardeners a signed copy! Just in time for Christmas.

Companion Planting is the art and science of growing groups of vegetables, herbs and flowers, to create a diverse, flourishing vegetable garden that sustains without pesticides and chemicals to control pests. Do it all naturally with Companion Planting.

Companion planting gives you an understanding of each plant in the organic garden, including information on which plants can be grown together successfully and which do not thrive with each other. The guide is full of information about plant companions and antagonists, tips and uses for each plant, as well as nutritional and herbal uses as well as information on when to plant.

It includes 142 plant species and over a 100 illustrations of plants which include a variety of common food, herb, fruit, flowers and indigenous plants. Companion Planting is designed to guide you on your learning journey about organic gardening and companion planting. It is simply laid-out and easy-to-read and is always there as a quick reference.

Remember to purchase your copy by contacting

Friday, November 11, 2011

green finger tips - all about peas

The pea seeds have germinated. In this photo you can see the two day old growth emerging next to the lettuce. The important thing about staking peas is that the stake must be branched. You will find that if you stake them on a straight pole they will not grip and you will have to tie them onto the stake.

After a few weeks the tendril begin to form and the pea looks for a stake to climb up. You can see the tendril realising that there is something to hold on to.

you can see the way the plant has moved towards the thinner part of the stake.

the pea finally found it's grip and is holding on. The first two photos of the pea taking hold were taken within an hour of each other. The third photo was taken the next morning.

Two days ago the peas started flowering. Waiting in anticipation now for the fruit to form.

UPDATE 20 November

Here is the first pea on the bush

the first pea in the hand

the first pea half eaten - so good!

on 6 dec - a handful of peas

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

green finger tips - october extension of the organic garden

the next part of the bed

the next section of the organic garden is developing. the cardboard boxes have done the job of killing the grass. i pulled all the dead grass out and mulched it alongside the barrier of rocks. the boxes have moved the next section now. will soon have to get more rocks.

softening the soil

the soil was pretty hard, so i irrigated until it softened up and i could get the little fork to penetrate. as the soil softens, so it becomes easier to dig in and aerate the soil.

soil - minimal disturbance

i avoid turning the soil over. when the soil is turned the structure and order of the microscopic life is disturbed. when the soil is turned, the number of weeds that germinate increases significantly.

new seedlings in the organic garden

i planted some frilly lettuce and flat parsley seedlings. mustard, fennel and linseed seeds were sprinkled inbetween. everything has germinated and the seedlings transplanted well. lettuce and parsley are good companion plants. the mustard and linseed are soil conditioners. the next post will show how things have grown.

Monday, October 10, 2011

green finger tips - one months growth - before and after

before and after

i took the second picture about a month after the first. the mustard went wild. it was swamping everything else. i had to thin it out. i laid the plants i pulled out on the ground as a green manure. green manuring is a process of growing green materials like mustard, clover, lucerne and linseed and pulling them out to use as soil improving materials.

i took the next photo a while later, after i had radically thinned the mustard and i took some of the fennel out. the mustards are starting to bolt.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

green finger tips - the seedlings germinate

placing the border

i went out and got some rocks from around the neighbourhood to create a border. they stop the weedeaters getting in (there are a troop of garden service men who come through with edge trimmers every so often and they trim everything in their path). I scattered mustard, fennel, linseed and mung bean seed. I added a few chilli seeds for a dash of spice. in a day or two the germination started.

mustard and fennel germinate

the mustard and fennel just after germination. there is a chilli skin lying in the soil. The mustard is a great soil improver. It gives nitrogen to the soil if pulled out before it goes to seed. although fennel is generally an antisocial plant, it has come up well, but i will thin the seedlings as there are too many for the space. young fennel salad coming up soon.

mustard and linseed

the mustard and linseed popped into existence next to each other. linseed improves the soil.

the next post will show how the the plants have developed since 28 august.

Monday, August 22, 2011

greenfinger tips - starting a new city organic garden

gardening the lazy way

i have just started a new garden and being pushed for time am using the assistance of cardboard boxes. i leave the boxes standing on the grassy area for about 4 days. the grass yellows and it is easy to pull up the roots, especially if the soil is damp. i have not disturbed the soil at all. there is a delicate order of organisms that live in the soil. when you dig the soil over, that order is disturbed and can take a long time to restore.

seeds going into the soil

the first few mustard seeds have already germinated and i am waiting for the flax/linseed, fennel, mung beans and chillies to pop their sweet tender green leaves out of the soil. i am going to plant peas, parsley and lettuce in the next section.

fetching rocks

the garden service at the property is vicious. you have to protect your garden bed somehow. so on sunday, i went rocking in my neighbourhood. i looked for places where there were excavations going on and there they were, now nicely lined up. i hope they are adequate protection from the edge-trimming men.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

the recycled doily

i went to the cafe up the road and was served coffee (which was rather repugnant)but none-the-less when i looked at the doily and read what it said i was amazed, considering some of my latest posts about the situation with the litter in this country.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

green finger tips - butter lettuce and oregano

growing butter lettuce and oregano together

butter lettuce can be difficult to grow. snails and grasshoppers love to chomp on the lettuce you are growing. combining the butter lettuce into your oregano bed is a great help. the oregano keeps the insects away. this is great companion planting for your organic garden

butter lettuce germinate easily

butter lettuce seed will germinate in a day or two after planting, especially if you expose the seed to light before planting. generally lettuce seeds can be scattered where you want them to grow or in seed trays. if planting in seed trays, transplant when the seedlings are about 4 - 8 cm tall. a good dose of liquid fertilizer is helpful when transplanting seedlings.

oregano is a great ground cover

oregano grows wild and will cover up soil that is exposed. it can be grown from root stock and cutting. oregano is a valuable culinary and medicinal plant. you can open up little sections between your established oregano and plant butter lettuce seedlings into the oregano.

this is a winning companion planting combination

butter lettuce and oregano are great companion plants in the organic garden. the oregano will keep your butter lettuce healthy.

dustbin diggers - the price of dignity

meeting belinda and sibongile

on thursday morning i met belinda and sibongile from amalinda squatter camp. they were in my road, digging through dustbins, finding bottles to recycle.

belinda and sibongile earn R15.00 per day digging in dustbins

they said that they can earn about R15.00 per day, (0.30c per bottle). they dig though the dustbins to earn a living. they are not alone. there are hundreds and thousands of people all over South Africa digging in dumps and dustbins to eke a small living by recycling waste.

the price of dignity

as the average consumer in south africa, we all throw away the rubbish. people are starting to think, talk and action recycling on a household level. each person can help the dustbin diggers by just keeping the 2 litre bottles aside, (and any other recyclables) for collection by these people. it would save their dignity, and yours, by not having people going through the litter you throw out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ag! Rubbish Man

i have this bug bear in my life.

it goes around the amount of waste that each individual generates daily and how much of it can actually be put to better use.

this plea goes to all my fellow South Africans.

the request that we consider everything we throw away.

what are we throwing away and how can we make it easier for these people to sustain themselves.

how easy would it be for you to start recycling?
please share your ideas with me.

here is to living in a cleaner greener environment

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

grapefruit for breakfast

picking the first fruit off the grapefruit tree

what a treat to eat the freshest of the fresh - grapefruit straight off the tree. we waited about two weeks for them to ripen. thinking we would eat one each, we picked two and then had piles of fun photographing them.

grapefruit's botanical name

what better way to keep healthy in the winter, with citrus paradisi in hand, which is full of vitamin c and antioxidants. grapefruit contain a polyamine called spermadine (ref wikipedia) which is said to promote longevity...all the more reason to eat them. we were awed by the size and the taste.

consuming grapefruit nutrition

the amazing thing about eating citrus straight from the tree is that you can eat the skin and pith, and it is not bitter like fruit that has been chemically grown. we managed to consume one grapefruit between us and we were full. the other we ate on the following day. i think it may be one of the best breakfasts i have eaten in a long while.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Green finger tips - tomato, basil , rosemary and marigold

Tomato pests in the organic garden

A gardener knows that tomatoes are prone to all sorts of attacks during the tomato growing season. They are vulnerable to blight and bottom end rot. Red spider mites also love to take advantage of tomato plants in your organic garden.

Grow tomato, basil, rosemary and marigold together in your garden

Create a terrific combination of companion plants in your organic garden tomato with basil rosemary and marigold. Basil and rosemary are both aromatic plants which are great insect repellents. The strong aromas of these herbs help the tomato plants to thrive, keeping the tomato plants healthy and virtually pest free. Adding the marigolds helps to keep the nematodes away and attracts hoverflies. Hoverflies pollinate plants and the larvae of some species eat pests like aphids.

Companion planting yield healthy tomatoes

Growing tomatoes can be easier and more rewarding when companion planting them in the garden. The other advantage of growing your basil and rosemary with the tomatoes is that when you come to cook the herbs with the tomatoes, you are in for a taste explosion. The combination of cooking with basil and tomato is superb. Any dish with tomato and rosemary is guaranteed to be a winner, especially when it is grown in your very own organic garden using companion planting.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Green finger tips – city organic garden bed developments

The city organic garden bed is developing

The soil in the bed is still washing a little. The rain has been pouring for a few days and the drum gets full quickly. The excess water is washing the soil away. I need to get some more mulch and plants growing where the soil is washing.
The gas guy managed to crack the paving stone I put in place when he brought the new gas bottle, so now it looks like a mosaic.

Plants planted in the city organic garden

I have placed a potted fern next to the rainwater harvesting tank. I am going to leave it in the pot as otherwise it will get too large for the space. I have thrown a few mung beans and flax seed (linseed) into the bed. I am about to plant some mustard.

Volunteer plants in the city organic garden

There is a volunteer potato (which shouldn’t really be growing this close to winter, but let’s see what happens) I am debating about moving it as it is growing right in the pathway.

The “weeds” that are volunteering are mainly clover, dandelion and chickweed. All of them are soil improvers. It is amazing how the soil knows what is needed to balance and improve it. Clover and dandelion are well known for their nitrogen fixing qualities. Chickweed adds Potassium to the soil and is a great green manure crop.