South Africa has undergone a farming revolution in recent years with everywhere from rooftops to primary schools being used to grow food for the country’s population of 55 million. You don’t need anywhere fancy to grow your crops – everything from an old TV set to a disused toilet will do. Urban farming initiatives are helping to tackle not just hunger and poverty, but they’re creating a revolution in the way South Africans eat.
This type of small-scale urban farming is helping South Africans reconnect with where their food comes from. By putting the means of food production back in the hands of small producers, it is helping address issues of food security when just 100 square metres can produce all the veggies a family needs for a year.
Starting your own urban farming initiative
You’ll need to find a sustainable and available site if you don’t intend to use your own land. You can also experiment with ways you can use vertical spaces to extend your growing area by using walls and flat roofs for extra crops. Test your soil and enrich it using plenty of compost, and then plant what you like to eat. Focus on creating a real diversity of crops. Finally, plant every two weeks and pick often to avoid a boom and bust harvest.
Using no till farming methods, where crops are simply cut and left to enrich the soil, will provide valuable nutrients for future crops. Try methods like square metre planting in raised beds where the plants will help to both crowd out weeds and trap the moisture better so that they need less watering.
Plant crops like carrots, lettuce, strawberries and potatoes in the spring with indigenous flowers that will attract bees to pollinate for higher yields. Over the winter, try crops like cauliflower, broad beans, snap peas and spinach to harvest in the spring and summer. Experiment with different vegetable plants and seeds from Flutter By Nursery and use companion planting to control pests in an organic way.
Urban farming irrigation
Techniques for irrigation, such as using grey water and rain water harvesting, are crucial to the success of any urban farming initiative and that’s where Aquatec Solutions can help. Drip irrigation is a particular favourite for dry climate urban farmers as it precisely delivers water right where your plants need it most – to the roots. Aquatec can supply everything you need to create a drip irrigation system including all the fittings, pipes and controllers you need for a successful system. Watering directly to the roots of plants significantly reduces water evaporation meaning every drop will work harder.
Grey water salvaged from washing or bath water can be effectively used to water non-edibles in the garden, but be aware that the chemicals it contains will not be suitable for your fruit and vegetable crops. Instead, set up a rain harvesting system that will store runoff from your roof and capture rainwater for use with watering cans and with your drip irrigation system.
Ask the professionals
If you’re interested in urban farming or you simply want to improve your family’s diet with fresh fruit and vegetables, then we can help you to create and irrigate your vegetable garden. Simply contact us for more details and our friendly and knowledgeable team will be happy to help with all your irrigation and gardening queries.