Growing nutrient dense vegetables on a small-scale

Growing food for yourself or your community at a small-scale can be very rewarding, particularly if you use an approach that is promotes the growth of ‘good bugs’ in the soil, increases the nutrient density of the food you are growing and is not harmful to the environment.

Recently, Vuna Agri worked with the Golder Trust for Orphans and Philangethemba to establish a community Food Garden that will produce spinach, lettuce, carrots and beetroot for the community in the Molweni Valley located just outside the town of Kloof in KwaZulu-Natal. Importantly, the food in this Food Garden is to be grown using a mix of biologicals and organic fertilisers.

Philangethemba means 'living through hope' and is a collaborative program between the social outreach ministry of St Agnes Anglican Church in Kloof and the Molweni Valley community. Philangethemba was started in order to empower the community within the Molweni to address their poverty related challenges.

Planning for the Philangethemba Food began just after the start of #lockdown in South Africa where discussions around how the gardens were to be prepared and which inputs would be needed for vegetable growth. The first priority when establishing any garden, let alone a food garden is to make sure that your seedlings and plants develop a healthy root system. Once healthy roots are in place, it’s a matter of ensuring that the symbiotic microbes that work with the plant have enough energy and nutrients to flourish and pass important products for plant growth onto the plant. More good bugs = more nutrient density!

To establish healthy roots, we use combination of three great products from Madumbi Sustainable Agriculture, a South African market leader in biologicals, we call the Root Health Combo Pack, namely:

  • Eco-T - Eco-T is a fungal inoculant used for the suppression of common plant root diseases and for enhanced growth of a wide variety of vegetables, field crops, ornamentals and Eucalyptus species;

  • Humate Granules - Humate granules are a soil conditioner and provide microbes in the soil with energy with which to perform their important functions; and

  • V12 Initiate - A kelp-based fertiliser and is an important source of nutrients for soil microbes and plants. V12 Initiate also contains slow release silica which assists in strengthening plant structures.

To further feed and support the microbes in the soil, we use GROBEST, our fish hydrolysate, organic fertiliser, applied as a weekly drench to the growing seedlings. Our objective in applying GROBEST is to optimise the growth and development of the plants so that a good yield can start to be harvested over the coming weeks. Fish hydrosylate is versatile fertiliser and provides important nutrients to both the plant and soil microbes.

The Team at Philangethemba did a great job of preparing 10, 5m x 1.5m planting beds and we got down to planting on the 20th of August 2020.

For those of you who would like to follow progress more closely, you will see regular updates on our social media accounts.

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