The year 2019 was the start of my vegetable growing experience, which shows what can be achieved with limited knowhow. However, it was also a difficult time for me.
I had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2016, and being a doctor, I knew that this meant I had only a short time left on this planet.
I spent most of 2017 going in and out of hospital receiving cytotoxic therapy. I was wheelchair-bound and in constant pain.
Although my cytotoxic therapy had saved my life, it left me with peripheral neuritis, mainly in my feet and lower legs which impaired my balance and made it difficult to walk.
However, I was determined not to give in, and in 2018 I began to become mobile again and decided to start to grow organic vegetables, which I knew very little about, to get my mind off myself. Still, I knew that I might not see the product of my endeavours.
Starting to grow vegetables
The two immediate problems I faced in 2018/9 were learning to grow organic vegetables in a small garden constantly raided by baboons.
I have described how I met the baboon challenges in the 2019 - baboon problem section section.
During this phase, my learnings about vegetables are described in the Micro-ecosystem. I describe the specific biological, biochemical and physical growing requirements needed to grow high-quality organic vegetables and herbs in a small home garden ecosystem.
The pictures below show my 2019 garden and some vegetables I grew with my fledgling knowledge about growing vegetables.
My 2019 small organic vegetable garden
Vegetables grown in 2019:
I obtained the plants for the raised bed garden by purchasing seedlings from a local nursery and by growing seeds in a home-made growlight box. At that stage, I did not know much about the various varieties of vegetables but purchased vegetable varieties and seeds that were available at the time and grew the vegetables in three sections of my caged raised bed garden.
The pictures that follow show the progress from seedlings to mature vegetable bearing plants.
At that stage a tomato was just a tomato to me and I enjoyed the tomato taste. I realsied that some tomatoes tasted better than others but did not spend too much time thnking about it.
2 Cucumbers and eggplant
I had always enjoyed the taste of cucumbers and eggplant and was keen to grow them.
I knew little about the different varieties of cucumbers and eggplant, although I had seen diferent shapes and sizes on sale, and in the literature and grew only the Ashley cucumber and plack beauty eggplants. Their growth from seedlings to mature plants is shown below:
Anther favourite of mine is eggplants. Their growth from seedlings is shown below.
I also knew little about the varieties of spinach and grew what was available in nursaries. The spinach grew well, expecially kale and was very tasty.
No garden is complete without lettuce. Again, I grew what was available.
Towards the end of the season I had built a third enclosure to house the vegetables I grew in containers, and I started to learn about their value in a small vegetable garden.
The system worked well for about 18 months - then the wooden sides of the raised beds in the main enclosure started to deteriorate due to water damage.
However, the garden Micro-ecosystem was working well, the vegetables were flourishing and my spirits were improving, and I was looking forward hopefully to the next growing season, but first I had to attend to the leaking sides of the raised bed gardens!
At the end of the 2019 I was starting to live in the present, and not looking back.