Vegetable Farming in South Africa

© Louise Brodie
Filled with vitamins and nutrients, vegetables are perfect foods. Eaten in a variety of ways - from raw to roasted or as part of a hearty meal - vegetables can add flavour and substance to any dish. Moms and doctors the world over know what they’re talking about when they tell you to eat your vegetables.

Vegetable farming in South Africa is not simply a matter of throwing some seeds in the ground and waiting for perfect produce. Optimal conditions vary from plant to plant and there is much to consider if you want a thriving crop. SouthAfrica.co.za covers the nitty gritty of growing healthy vegetables of all shapes, sizes and varieties from wholesome butternut to delicate asparagus in all 11 official languages.

Asparagus

Asparagus is a perennial plant or herb from the family Asparagaceae. The plant grows from a rhizome underground, commonly referred to as the crown. Numerous shoots sprout from the...more

Beetroot

During the first year which it is normally harvested it produces heart shaped leaves on a short stem of 10 to 15 cm and the swollen roots called the beet for which it is mainly planted....more

Brinjal

Brinjal is a plant with large dull green slightly fury leaves. Grows about one meter tall. The flowers before fruit set are light purple. The fruit is dark purple to black and some varieties are...more

Broccoli

Broccoli grows as a flare of 8 to 12 grey green leaves that form into a bowl shape with the flower head or broccoli head growing out of the centre. This head is the nutritious vegetable that is...more

Butternut

Butternuts are part of the cucurbit family of vegetables. Other cucurbits include marrows, cucumbers and pumpkins. They grow flat on the ground and the stems and branches develop into creeper vines....more

Cabbage

Cabbage can be grown on a range of soils but thrives on well-drained, moisture-retentive loamy soils well supplied with organic matter. It does not grow well on highly acidic soil. The ideal soil...more

Carrots

Carrots are a cool-season crop and can withstand moderate frost and is fairly adaptable to high temperatures of 28°C and higher....more

Cauliflower

It is descendent from a wild cabbage and after undergoing various changes, it appeared as the vegetable we know today over 2000 years ago....more

Celery

Celery belongs to the Apiaceae family and is related to parsley, parsnips, coriander and carrots. It originates in the Mediterranean region....more

Chilli Pepper

The chilli plant has green elongated oval leaves that narrow to pointy ends. The chilli plant can be in a bush that grows upright to about a meter tall or some varieties are more bush like and...more

Courgette

Courgettes are a relatively quick crop and can be harvested from as early as eight weeks from the planting of seeds....more

Cucumber

Cucumbers are produced commercially, in South Africa, in open land and in greenhouses. The cucumber is part of the family Cucurbitaceae, as are pumpkins, watermelon, cantaloupe and squash....more

Garlic

Garlic has been used for medicinal purposes as an anti-inflammatory, it is also believed to lower blood pressure and control cholesterol levels and has been used as a condiment for over 5000...more

Gem Squash

Gem squash originated in Central America. The gem squash is a trailing or vine cucurbit that bears small, dark green round fruit of about 80 to 100 mm in diameter....more

Ginger

Ginger is used in cooking and is used in most Asian style dishes. It can be used in the raw state or can be juiced, made into an essence or the oil is extracted for use in beverages, pickles, candy and preserves....more

Green String Beans

Can be a bush or a runner in which case must be planted with a trellising to keep beans off the ground. Can be consumed cooked or the young beans can be used raw in salads. They are processed...more

Growing An Organic Vegetable Garden

All methods improve soil fertility and are also helpful when money, water and soil is limited. Vegetables cultivated in this manner will be healthier than conventionally produced vegetables....more

How to Start an Organic Vegetable Garden

Soil is the most important factor in organic cultivation. Organic material helps the soil to keep moist for longer. Before starting a vegetable garden it is necessary to improve the soil by adding organic material....more

Leeks

Leeks are part of the same family as onions and while they share some of the same production practices as onions, they are a more sensitive crop to handle and market effectively....more

Lettuce

Lettuce is thought to have originated in parts of Asia, but the Egyptians are believed to be the first to start developing the plant for more palatable flavours from the wild and bitter taste of the first wild varieties....more

Onion

Onions are an herbaceous biennial in the family Liliaceae grown for its edible bulb. The stem of the plant is a flattened disc at the base and the tubular leaves form a pseudo stem where their...more

Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is an excellent source of energy, while containing substantial quantities of vitamin C and also contribute B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, zinc and iron to the human diet....more

Potato

The plant has uneven branchy leaves above ground that are not edible and tubers underground which make up the main source of food on the plant. Tubers can be almost round and some are...more

Pumpkin and Hubbard Squash

Pumpkin and squash do best in warm climates with ideal temperatures between 20°C and 30°C for the growing season....more

Spinach

A leafy plant with slightly glossy crisp dark green leaves 25 to 30cm long and 10 to 20cm wide. Leaves start out relatively smooth and round when immature but as foliage matures the leaves...more

Sweet Corn

Sweet corn maize is a mutant of maize that contains at least double the sugar content of traditional maize....more

Sweet Pepper

Sweet pepper is a tender plant with green oval shaped leaves that narrow to a pointy end. The pepper is a determinate plant that grows through its growing season then dies back after...more

Sweet Piquanté Peppers

Sweet piquanté peppers are members of the chilli family and are indigenous to South America. The brand PEPPADEW® is used to market a variety of processed and bottled food products...more

Sweet Potato

Sweet potato belongs to the morning glory family and produces edible storage roots....more

Swiss Chard

A leafy plant with glossy crisp light or dark green leaves 25 to 40 cm long and 15 to 20 cm wide. Swiss Chard is a cool weather plant and can thrive in a broad temperature range of between 8 and 25°C....more

Tomato

Table tomatoes are one of the most cultivated crops in the world and there are several hundred varieties of tomato available. The fruit is rich in lycopene and Vitamin C. Tomatoes are used in...more

Turnips

The turnip plant has dark green leaves with slightly serrated edges on a lighter green stem. These grow about 40 to 50 cm from the top of the bulbous root at the base of the stem, which is the main source of food....more