Few things provide the satisfaction of knowing that you are eating a hearty homecooked meal, but moreover knowing that it is homegrown too. So, let Adriaan guide you through growing your own winter soup garden. A project such as this is also an excellent opportunity to get kids involved. The process of seeing their hard work slowly come to fruition exposes them to principles such as patience, diligence and perseverance that often gets lost in today’s fast-paced and technology-driven society where everything happens at the instant push of a button. Growing a soup or food garden such as the one described in this article can also be used as part of your community gardening project. And if you do not have one – even more reason to start one!
Pop into Heckers to see how Adriaan’s garden progresses over the following weeks. Be on the lookout for updates on our Facebook page and to see when he will be serving a taste of his first soup batch!
You will plant your vegetables in stages to ensure that you can harvest the final crop for your soup together. Choose a spot that receives full sun for your soup garden. For each stage, follow the planting instructions on seed packets or seedling trays. Water well right after planting and twice a day to ensure that seeds sprout and seedlings take root. When plants are well established you can water every two to three days depending on the weather. Rather water in the early mornings than evenings as this will help to prevent fungal diseases.
Step 1: Prepare soil
The first step to ensuring that you have the healthiest vegetable crop is to prepare your soil. Add one bag of 30dm compost and 50g to 70g of bone meal to 1.5m2 of soil. If you are planting peas, add 30g of Lime. Mix well and leave the soil to rest for about two weeks. If you want to start planting immediately, make sure that you do not use anything that can potentially burn the roots of plants.
Step 2: Plant slow-growing plants
The second step involves planting slow-growing crops such as onions, garlic, parsnip, and peas. Follow planting instructions. If you are planting peas, remember that they will need a trellis or other structure to support them. Grow these for four to six weeks before commencing with the next planting session.
Step 3: Plant medium-growing plants
Next, you will plant medium growing crops. Sow carrots, leeks and celery.
At this point, it is also a good idea to add fertiliser to the crops you planted in step 2. For your onions, garlic and parsnips add Talborne Organics 2:3:2 and for peas, 6:3:4. Then add mulch to aid in water retention and temperature regulation. Mulch can even help to prevent young crops from succumbing to frost.
Step 4: Plant fast-growing plants
Roughly six to eight weeks after planting your medium growing crops, you can plant your final set of crops such as turnips and parsley. Now you can add fertiliser to your medium growing crops. For carrots and leeks use Talborne Organics 2:3:2 and for celery, 6:3:4 and then add mulch.
Step 5: Feeding
After two weeks, you can add fertiliser to you fast-growing crops, followed by mulch. For turnips use Talborne Organics 2:3:2 and for parsley, 6:3:4. Keep in mind to adapt your watering as the temperature starts to drop and sunlight becomes less intense.
Step 6: Harvesting time
Roughly 180 days after planting your first crop you should finally be able to harvest. When picking parsley or celery leaves, be sure to pick the outer leaves first. When harvesting root vegetables, it is best to take a strong hold of the stems and wiggle them first to slightly loosen the roots and ensure that the stems don’t break off.
With these crops, you should be able to make a variety of vegetable soups where you can mix-and – match ingredients according to your personal taste.
- 1 Packet beef or sheep shins
- 2 Beef stock cubes
- 3 Packets thick vegetable soup
- 1 Small packet pasta letters or any kind of pasta
- Corn starch (Maizena)
- Oil for cooking
- 2 Glasses of red wine (one for cooking and one for the cook)
- 4 to 5 Carrots
- 1 Potato
- 1 Parsnip
- 1 Onion
- 2 Leeks
- 2 Turnips
- Fry the chopped onion and garlic in oil.
- Dissolve stock cubes in 1l boiling water in large pot and 1 glass of red wine.
- Add spices of your choice to meat and cook in stock water until tender.
- Remove meat from pot, cut into small pieces and return to pot.
- Grate 4 to 5 carrots, 1 parsnip, 2 turnips and 1 potato roughly and add to pot.
- Chop parsley, celery and 1 leek finely and add to pot. Also, add peas if you feel like it.
- Dissolve the 3 packets of powdered soup in 1l of cold water and add to pot.
- Add another 2l boiling water.
- As soon as the water starts to boil add pasta.
- Stir well and cook on low heat until veggies are cooked for about ± 15 to 20 minutes. Stir regularly and be careful not to burn.
- Add salt to taste.
- If soup is too thin, take 1 heaped tablespoon of cornstarch and mix with a little bit of cold water and add to soup.
- Enjoy and share!