Roots 'n' Shoots: Garden Talk - SA Women's Day Special: Growing your own Food & Jane Griffiths

Friday, 9 August 2013

Garden Talk - SA Women's Day Special: Growing your own Food & Jane Griffiths


"To receive the same amount of nutrition of 1 apple grown in 1940; will require you to eat 26 apples grown today."
-Jane Griffiths-


I am going to give you a short report on the garden-talk I attended at Garden World nursery not too far from us:

Garden World


Jane Griffiths is based in Johannesburg (not too far from us ~65 km) and has a 50 square meter garden filled with all things edible and medicinal. She sees herself as a Spiritual Gardener and tries to maintain a healthy balance in her garden. She is the author of 3 books:

Jane's Delicious Garden (2009) - how to grow food in your South African garden

Jane's Delicious Kitchen (2010) - how to prepare & cook the food you grow
Jane's Delicious Herbs (2012) - how to grow herbs in your South African garden & use them

Jane's Delicious Garden has outsold books by Keith Kirsten (Expert SA Gardener) and Margaret Roberts (SA Herb Guru).


Website



"People stop me in the supermarket and show me picture of their vegetables (not their grandchildren)"
-Jane Griffiths-


2   The event was more than I expected; there were a lot of people there (~85 people), the venue was nicely decorated, the food was yummy, lots of prizes (sadly none for me) and Jane gave us a full 1h 30m talk!

Jane's philosophy on gardening is slightly different to most gardeners and gardening books. She wholeheartedly believes in Reuse, Recycle and Re-invent; so much so, that she feels each organic garden should have a junk pile AKA goodies that can be re-purposed for the garden. Now I am all for re-purposing, but I don't want to use broken or rusted things that make my garden look like a scrap yard J  On that note, organic is more than just a way of gardening, it a mind-set, and involves more than just replacing your chemical pesticides and fertilisers with organic alternatives. 



This leads to one of her first guidelines; no dig gardening. In order for your soil to maintain its ecosystem of beneficial insects, fungi and microbial life; you need to leave them be. The soil quality, nutrition and structure is built up with layers of organic matter creating that all important humus layer on your topsoil. Also not treading in the beds, least you want to dig them over again! I agree with not walking over your plots, but the no-dig policy can only be applied to good loam soil - so I think mine would be 'dig as little as possible'.




"We are a generation that has forgotten how to feed ourselves."
-Jane Griffiths-


Interplanting and companion planting make up the staple of her food garden for maximum produce from the minimum space without depleting the soil's nutrients. Lettuces and onions are good interplanting partners as they provide enough space for each to grow (lettuce leaves take up the space above ground, onion bulbs below). Her companion plants are also a tad bit from the traditional. Nutritional additions to the soil/compost/as liquid feed include Comfrey and Yarrow. Plants that repel insects are strongly aromatic such as herbs, and flowers attract pollinators and predators. She has a special term for plants that physically hide others by rambling over them (such as nasturtiums over a cabbage might confuse cabbage moths) - these plants are known as 'Shapeshifters'. By planting different families of vegetables together (tomatoes, beans, radish and squash all in the same plot) reduces the occurrence of diseases/pests, because no large single planting (or monoculture) exists as a feast. This basically eliminates the need for crop rotation and exerts a more balanced pull of nutrients from the soil. It is important to replace soil nutrients with organic fertilisers and organic matter (mulch, compost).





The practises of interplanting and companion planting, as outlined by Jane, assists with building a soil & insect community. They in turn assist the gardener in preventing and fighting disease and pests, reducing crop losses and increasing productivity whilst working with nature and her cycles.





"Anyone can learn to grow their own green fingers."
-Jane Griffiths-


A vegetable garden is a growing space, never completed and always 'under construction'. It is a place for food and nutrition, but is also a place for exploration, experimentation, creativity and relaxation. Starting a vegetable garden is fun and fulfilling - anyone can do it! "Its not rocketsurgery".





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