Quickest Growing Vegetables for the Time Conscious Gardener!
For those who are short on time but eager to cultivate a garden, here's a comprehensive guide to rapidly growing vegetables suitable for South African spring. Unlike the pace of fast cars, fast food, or fast fashion, gardening demands patience, but these quick-growing crops will satisfy your desire for swift results.
Before you embark on this journey, ensure you've prepared your ground meticulously. Proper preparation enhances crop quality and yield, so don't cut corners. Choose an area that receives at least 7-8 hours of daily sunlight, as few vegetable varieties thrive in shady conditions. Invest in well-prepared soil with the right texture for even germination and nutrient retention. If your soil quality is lacking, enrich it with compost or organic fertilisers.
Once your soil is ready, it's time to start planting. The growth rates may vary depending on your chosen variety, so consult the seed packets for specific details.
When it comes to salad vegetables, there's a vast array to choose from. Leafy greens like lettuce, rocket, and mustard greens are quick to mature, typically ready for harvest in about 21 days after sowing. Diversify your garden with different lettuce varieties to tantalise your taste buds and add vibrant colours to your patch. To ensure your lettuce doesn't turn bitter, maintain consistent watering. Harvesting the outer leaves in a "cut and come again" manner encourages continuous production and prevents leggy growth. Consider using shade cloth to protect your lettuce.
The humble turnip is another fast-growing option that can be planted at any time of the year. You can enjoy its foliage as early as 4 weeks from sowing, while the roots are ready for consumption, either raw or cooked into a mash, in about 6-7 weeks.
Another speedy grower is the tangy radish, which can grace your menu in just three weeks. Although typically a cold-season crop, they thrive in South Africa year-round. Sow radish seeds thinly, and you'll see seedlings sprout in 3-5 days. Thin them out if they become crowded to allow room for root expansion. Harvest them early to avoid bitterness, and don't let the roots grow too large, as they can become woody. Plant small batches every 2-3 weeks for a continuous supply and use them as markers between slower-maturing crops.
Swiss chard, often referred to as spinach in South Africa, matures quickly, with a harvest ready in just 3 weeks during spring. You can maintain a continuous supply through succession planting for most of the year. Swiss chard does well in both pots and the ground, making it a versatile choice. Although it's better suited to handle heat than many other leafy vegetables, you may give it some shade. Keep the soil consistently moist for optimal growth.
True spinach might need a break from scorching summer sun to avoid pest and disease vulnerability. Consider a spot with afternoon shade and maintain soil moisture. With its rapid growth, you can harvest spinach leaves as it grows or cut the entire plant around 5-6 weeks after sowing. Spinach can be used in salads, pesto, or pasta dishes, offering a multitude of culinary possibilities.
With regular watering certain carrot varieties can be ready in just six weeks, particularly finger-sized types. Don't overlook the carrot tops, which can be used to make pesto.
You can also introduce herbs like basil, coriander, rocket, parsley, and thyme either as ground cover or in pots on your windowsill, even if you have limited space. Most of these herbs grow quickly and can add flavour to your culinary creations.
Beans, such as dwarf, bush, or runner varieties, are among the fastest-growing vegetables, typically ready for harvest in 6-7 weeks after planting. Succession planting every few weeks will ensure a continuous supply.
While you await the slower-maturing varieties like asparagus, tomatoes, celery, fennel, baby marrows, peppers, and mielies, you can enjoy these quick-growers. If gaps appear in your summer beds, fill them with these fast-growing food plants, providing quick and healthy homegrown produce. From fork to fork in no time, put your green fingers to work and achieve self-sufficiency this season!
Explore our vegetable seed range here: https://hadeco.co.za/collections/vegetable-seeds