Since May 2014 an interesting new development has been in the 'construction phase' at the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme just outside Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal - a site Veggie Garden! Just 4 months into the 'project' and the veggie garden has had it's first very healthy harvest of turnips, an exciting achievement, even for a construction site!
In May 2014 the Executive Project Manager decided that the construction site of the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme needed a concerted effort in greening the office areas housing about 218 employees. Establishing a vegetable garden is a great initiative that contributes to sustainable awareness, dependencies on natural resources, and shows how easy it actually is to create and sustain your own garden at home. 30 Indigenous tree species were also planted around the areas to contribute to the office landscaping initiative.
Concrete test cubes which normally get disposed of were re-used to build the raised veggie gardens. The areas were filled with topsoil, enriched with some compost, and seedlings planted after the environmental team determined what types of vegetables were to be planted over the winter months.
Seedlings of root crops such as Carrots, Beetroot, Onion, Spring onion, Turnip, Radish; fruit /seed crops such as Peas, Broccoli, Cauliflower; and leaf/stem crops such as Cabbage, Celery and Lettuce were planted. Herbs including Mint, Thyme and Rosemary were used as part of the companion plants to either attract or repel certain insects which conveniently eliminate the use of harmful insecticides and herbicides. Bait plants like Nasturtiums also helped control unwanted critters from the veggies.
As part of the Mandela day festivities, the other project staff were also encouraged to get their hands dirty and helped to plant seedlings in the already prepared beds. By involving as much staff members as possible ownership and awareness on sustainability were realised. The freshly planted beds were mulched with grass material to aid soil fertility and as additional protection. After around two months and continual care the veggies showed considerable growth and we are looking forward to the first official harvest. Initiatives like this share our common vision to create sustainable environments and ensure real growth for people planet and business.
The harvested veggies will be donated to the staff members and surrounding communities while encouraging them to start their own gardens at home. Visitors to Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme are also encouraged to donate a packet of vegetable seeds as ‘entrance tickets’ to the site, which in turn will help sustain the ongoing veggie garden initiative.
Tips to consider when starting your own garden at home or at work:
Soil beds need to be well drained.
Watering in the early morning and late afternoon will help against unwanted fungal growth
Consider companion planting:
- Carrots deter the onion fly and onions deter the carrot fly.
- Cabbage and celery planted together prevent infestation of insects.
- Tomatoes are quite competitive, so keep them away from other heavy feeders.
Scatter strongly scented herbs to contribute to veggie success.
Brightly coloured flowers also show positive knock on effects.
Marigolds or Nasturtiums are used as insect bait plants which will be attacked rather than the veggie crops growing nearby.
A water spray mixed with chopped up strongly scented herbs, chilli or garlic act as a natural insecticide.
For bigger gardens, practise crop rotation.
Technicalities aside, enjoy and experiment in your garden.