Ready, steady, start…planting spring veggies – Roodepoort Record


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There’s a great range of cool season crops that can be sown right now as well as later summer crops that can be started early in seed trays. Seedling trays are generally used for sowing smaller quantities of veggies, or when the soil is too cold for germination.
Here is a suggested sowing schedule from Kirchhoffs seeds:

Early September: sow beetroot, carrots, radishes, peas, lettuce and Swiss chard. These veggies germinate in lower soil temperatures. Lettuce and Swiss chard can also be sown in seed trays.
Mid-September: sow bush and runner beans, and bush squash such as patty pan squash and baby marrows. All these are best sown directly into the soil.
End September: as the soil warms up, it is safe to sow tomatoes, brinjals, chillies and sweet peppers, mealies, pumpkins, melons and other trailing squash.

5 easy veggies for beginners
Garden beans

Bush and runner beans are prolific producers. When planted close together, bush beans support each other. Runner beans will climb up a trellis or a tepee, taking up less space. Water regularly, especially when flowering and setting beans.
Runner bean ‘Lazy Housewife’ is an heirloom runner bean that has been grown by generations of gardeners. The beans have a delicate flavour and taste best when picked young and tender. Train it up a trellis or tepee and it will produce beans throughout summer as long as the beans are picked often.
Swiss chard

Plants grow best in morning sun with afternoon shade and light frequent watering. Harvest two or three of outer, large leaves per plant at a time.
Heirloom Kirchhoffs varieties are ‘Fordhook Giant (deep green leaves), ‘Lucullus’ (light green curly leaves),’ Swiss Chard mix’ (multicoloured stems) and baby spinach,’ Lazio’.

Soak seed overnight before planting, and space plants 10cm apart, or closer if grown only for their leaves. They grow best in soil that drains well.
Kirchhoffs varieties include the red-leaved ‘Bulls Blood’, and heirloom variety ‘Detroit Red’.

If you like it hot, radishes are a winner. They germinate quickly and are ready to eat within 20 days of sowing. Even the tops can be eaten when young. A great starter crop for kids.
Kirchhoffs varieties are ‘Sparkler’ and ‘Cherry Belle’.
 Baby Marrow

These plants need space, at least 1m by 1m, but bear so much fruit, that one plant is enough for a household. Plant two to three seeds, on their sides in one hole; it seems to improve germination. Keep the strongest plant that germinates. Water around the base of the plant and keep the leaves dry. ‘Bush Caserta’ is Kirchhoffs heirloom variety.
Getting started

Veggies sown directly into the soil will germinate and grow better if the soil is well prepared beforehand. Loosen the soil and break down hard lumps. Rake out sticks and stones. Add compost and work it into the topsoil. Rake the bed level, water and leave overnight so that the seeds are planted in damp soil.
For seedling trays, fill with a germination mix, and water with a liquid fertiliser like Margaret Roberts Organic Supercharger. Leave overnight and plant the next day.
Follow the instructions on the seed packet for depth of sowing and spacing. Generally large seed (beans, beetroot, peas, squash, mealies) are sown in individual holes. Fine seed like carrots, and lettuce or small seed like Chinese cabbage, cabbage, radishes, parsnips are sown in rows.
Lightly firm down the soil after planting so that the seed comes into contact with the soil
Don’t let the soil, or seedling mix, dry out while the seeds are geminating Water every day during the germination period. Use a watering can with fine rose that will not wash away the seedlings. Most seed germinates within seven to 14 days.

Growing on

Thin out seedlings that are too close together. Leave the stronger plants and snip off the others at ground level with kitchen scissors. Thinning out is very important for a good crop.
Transplant seedlings in trays when the second set of true leaves has developed or when they are big enough to handle. Disturb the roots as little as possible by keeping a clump of soil around the roots.

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