South Africa has a proud history of horticulturists, but that trend perhaps hasn’t extended to younger generations. With the average age of South African farmers hitting 63, institutions are setting out to try and bring more people into the fold. With more South Africans building an interest in gardening, it’s not a bad idea to begin it in the home.
For a first time gardener looking to make a first step, but hoping for a productive and professional setup, it’s important to plan ahead. You need to deduce what sort of setup you’ll employ to nourish the plants, what nutrients they require, and how to maintain the setup. With that in place, observation is crucial.
The first step – soil or water?
Professional home gardening setups generally come in two forms. The first, soil, is the classic type. Soil is more complicated than you may think – Garden and Home note that there are certain qualities plants enjoy so do your research first. The second is water based gardening systems, and this is the foundation of hydroponic systems – hence the ‘hydro’. These will commonly deploy fish slurry and other nutrients, tailor made to your plants. However, there can be little crossover with plants on such a setup. Both have benefits and cons; soil is typically easier to maintain, whereas hydroponic will generate higher yields from harvests.
Maintaining the setup
You might think that plants can be left to flourish once established, but this is far from the truth. In soil based systems, several species of gnat transmit funghi between old roots, according to a 2007 South African Journal of Science study, and will destroy your plants. So too will frost and rot, or plants outgrowing their environment. In hydroponic systems, insufficient lighting or incorrect pH levels will completely alter the health of your plants. It’s crucial to continue monitoring your plants, regularly, to keep an eye on them.
How to monitor
Monitoring soil and water based systems is easier today than ever before due to smart technology. PH can be monitored on an automated level, as can the balance of soils used in traditional planting. Use this convenience as a starter gardener; many services will also provide information on-the-go to show you how things should be going and how to alter them.
Gardening is a classic past-time and, in times of climate change, may be more and more important. Becoming self sufficient can be achieved through soil or through water. Careful monitoring and maintenance of both is important to success.