You don’t need a farm to plant your own fresh veg for your family or to sell on a small scale. If you have even a little free space in your backyard, you can set up your own backyard garden.
Former township aquaponics farmer Mosesi Mosesi has set up his own backyard garden and is here to tell you how you can do it yourself.
Mosesi did a learnership in horticulture where he said he was exposed to nature and the urban methods of farming, especially those of hydroponics and aquaponics. He ran a successful aquaponics farm in the heart of Tembisa, a township on the East Rand of Gauteng, until the pandemic started and he had to close down his business.
“Everything seemed to go south. Then, fortunately for me, I was exposed to Soil for Life,” says Mosesi.
Soil for Life is a public benefit organisation that trains potential urban farmers by sharing valuable information about health and nutrition, along with skills for selling and bartering organic vegetables.
Why should you start your own backyard garden?
According to Mosesi, the Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020 made people buy food in bulk and there was not always enough to go around. Empty shopping aisles along with the rise in joblessness and poverty, also due to the pandemic, made people realise how important it is to be able to grow their own food.
He says that to teach somebody the skill of gardening, is to teach them to grow their own produce, and that gives power back to them. If somebody can grow and sell their own produce, they empower themselves and their communities.
“It’s a skill that is highly needed in these tough times that we are going through.”
Equipment needed in order to make your own backyard garden
A lot of the things you will use in your backyard garden can be reused items that would normally lie around your house or be thrown away. The first things Mosesi says you should find, are old tyres to reuse in your garden. They can be used as containers in which to grow your produce efficiently.
Here is a list of other things you need:
- Plastic bags to use as lining
- Soil and mulch
- Egg trays
- A watering can or hose pipe
- Used or old two-litre bottles
- Seeds or seedlings
Buying seedlings is okay, but Mosesi says that you should soon learn to grow your own seedlings from seed. This is much cheaper and efficient. You also need to learn how to make your own compost and mulch, he adds.
How to prepare your garden
Mosesi guides us step by tep on how to set up a garden:
- Take the used tyres and cut out the top rim.
- Line the bottom of the tyre with plastic.
- Poke four to six holes in the plastic lining.
- Take the 2-litre bottles and cut off the top of the bottle.
- Make 12 holes along the bottom sides of the bottle.
- Place the bottle in the centre of the tire on top of the plastic lining.
- Fill the tire and surround the bottle with mulch and soil.
- Draw a circle around the bottle that is a hand’s length away from the bottle.
- Use your finger to create holes in the circle you created. Also space them a hand apart from each other.
- Fill these holes with water and plant your seedlings in the holes. Each tyre should have six plants if measured correctly.
Watering your plants
To irrigate your plants, you need a watering can or a hosepipe. Pour the water into the two-litre bottles in the tyres and the water will flow out of the holes you cut in the bottom.
This will allow the water to go straight to the roots and minimise water loss through evaporation, says Mosesi.
“You check and apply water whenever the two-litre bottle is dry,” says Mosesi.
“You have to be careful not to over-irrigate the plants, as this will damage the crops.”
Do not use contaminated water, for example water that has oil or soap in it, to water your crops.
Farming requires a lot of patience, says Mosesi, and he encourages new farmers and gardeners to have patience. He also warns that it can be a lonely road, so you should use online platforms to find a gardening community where you can share your knowledge and learn from others and ask questions.