How to zone your food garden
Johannesburg - With rising energy and water prices likely to be rolled out during the next decade, gardeners need to look for cost-effective ways to look after their families. This spring, Rand Water launches the progressive #waterwise food gardening campaign in 50 garden centres across Gauteng.
Using the now ubiquitous social media hashtag (#), the #waterwise campaign is a reminder that the best information on waterwise techniques is to be found in Google searches and across the social media (on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) – and look for #waterwise rather than the separate words, water wise.
Against this wealth of international information, the #waterwise food gardening campaign also divides vegetables into 1, 2 and 3-drop categories:
l 1-drop vegetables (low water use): Cabbage, cauliflower, radish, bay tree, thyme.
l 2-drop vegetables (medium water use): Parsley, broccoli, rhubarb, Brussel sprouts, potatoes, onions, beetroot, carrots, parsnip, peas, peppers, beans, broad beans, mealies.
l 3-drop vegetables (high water use): lettuce, celery, watercress, swiss chard, rocket, spinach, leeks, spring onions, asparagus, cucumber, tomatoes, brinjal, pumpkin and butternut.
The aim of the campaign is to encourage people to plant a water-wise food garden this spring by grouping vegetables into low, medium and high water zones. With three zones of plants in a single vegetable garden, you can irrigate the 3-drop vegetables in the high water zone, three times a week. Conversely, you only need to irrigate the 1-drop vegetables in the low water zone once a week.
The concept of zoning a garden with plants that need high, medium and low water is well established. Each year, Rand Water celebrates successful examples of garden zoning by awarding a Rand Water, Water Wise Trophy for water-wise landscaping.
“We hope to encourage gardeners to reduce the amount of water they consume by implementing water-wise practices like mulching, zoning, rainwater harvesting and reducing lawn area,” says Mulalo Mphaphuli, a senior horticulturist with Rand Water.
At the recently launched Garden World’s Annual Spring Festival (which ends on September 1), Water Wise awards were presented in three categories – professional show garden, young designers and the children’s garden.
The Rand Water Water Wise Award for the best professional show garden went to “Delicious Cottage Garden”, designed by Jane Griffiths, Grant Gove and Claire Slabber. This creative and functional garden design emphasises the ability of home food gardens to be organic, sustainable and practical while retaining their aesthetic appeal.
“The overall appeal of the garden was boosted by the use of old recycled items of interest, like the old-fashioned bicycle and milk can. Water Wise practices like mulching, zoning, permeable paving, rainwater harvesting and a low-splash water feature ensured this garden uses water in a very conservative and sustainable way”, says Mphaphuli.
Tshwane University of Technology’s (TUT) garden design, “Sustainable Sensation” won the Water Wise award in the Young Designers category. “This functional, sustainable garden incorporated Water Wise practices like container gardening and zoning to ensure that low, medium and high water-use plants used waterwise irrigation”, she says.
“The use of mulch reduced water loss and added colour and texture, while the permeable paving allowed rainwater to infiltrate into the soil, reducing irrigation.’
Mind Set Home Facilitation Centre’s inspirational design was awarded the WaterWise award in the Children’s Garden category.
“It is essential that children understand the importance of water so that they take these values and ethics with them into the future as custodians of our environment”, says Mphaphuli.
“Their effective zoning and use of low water-use plants showed that these children understand the importance of conserving water in the garden, even from an early age. Bright stone pebbles acted effectively as both mulch and permeable paving, ensuring the infiltration of water into and preventing the evaporation of water from the soil.”
The Garden World Spring Festival ends on Sunday, September 1. It is open from 8am-5pm at Garden World, Beyers Naudé Drive, Muldersdrift. R20 entrance. Contact Magriet on 083 997 6142. Visit www.gardenworld.co.za
GENERAL GARDEN TIPS
* Sow seed of bedding dahlia, gomphrena, marigold, nasturtium, portulaca, salvia, verbena and zinnia for a bright summer display.
* Why buy herbs when you can grow them yourself? Parsley, chives, basil, thyme and marjoram used in cooking and for flavouring are easy to grow and will add interest to containers and garden. Mint should be grown in pots, as it has invasive roots.
* Why shouldn’t your containers be as colourful as the flowers you plant in them? The gardener has many colour options - to be conservative and stay with forest green, to be bold with pumpkin yellow and hot pink, or trendy with mango and purple.
* Camellias produce beautiful large flowers in spring. Water regularly and deeply to prevent bud drop, and conserve moisture in the soil by mulching with a thick layer of compost or pine needles. - Saturday Star