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Whether you live in a city or a rural area, you can take the food that you grow or produce and sell it at local farmers’ markets to earn an income, as well as feeding your own family and friends. Herbs like basil, parsley and mint are easy plants to grow and sell, as well as a variety of different vegetables such as chillies, beans, spinach and carrots.



  1. Choose a place for the garden that has plenty of sun, enough space and close to your garden hose or water source.
  2. You may want to plant some vegetables in containers such as pots, an old bathtub, old sinks or half barrels. This works well for most herbs and makes it easy to cut them when needed.
  3. The most growth of plants will be in the summer when the sun is up and out the longest as the growing season is generally from spring to autumn.
  4. Prepare the soil in the space you have chosen and make sure there is enough space for the plants to grow.
  5. Select the vegetables you want to plant.
  6. Plant the seeds or seedlings.
  7. Water regularly and make sure the soil does not dry out.
  8. Take out any weeds that may grow next to the vegetables.


How to prepare the soil

The soil where you place the plants must be tilled which means that it must be loosened and turned using a spade and fork so that air can circulate, and drainage of water is improved. This brings fresh soil to the surface and buries any weeds. This also makes it easy for the roots to penetrate more deeply, helps to retain water in the soil and makes the vegetable patch more productive. You may have to add some water if the soil is too hard to turn over. Fill the bottom of this area, or containers, with a layer of leaves, grass clippings, straw, wood chips, tree bark, aged manure and other organic materials, with a layer of cardboard on top. Next, add your soil. This mixture will break down into rich compost over time as the soil must not be sandy or compacted. Then level the prepared area so that wind and rain do not take the soil away. The depth of this aerated soil needs to be between 12-25 cms deep for the vegetable roots to grow. Wait a few weeks before planting, letting the soil settle for planting. Aim to plant in triangles rather than rows to get the best yield of the crop. In this way you can fit 10-15% more plants in each area.


Choose which vegetables you want to plant

Some vegetables grow faster than others and the following will give you an idea of how many days are needed from planting the seeds to harvesting the crop.

  • Radishes – sowing to harvest: 25 days
  • Salad leaves – sowing to harvest: 21 days
  • Bush beans – sowing to harvest: 60 days
  • Carrots – sowing to harvest: 50 days
  • Spinach – sowing to harvest: 30 days.

Other vegetables include chillies, tomatoes, onions, cabbages, peppers, okra, eggplants, and cucumbers, cowpeas and soybeans. Grain crops include sorghum, millet, maize, corn, wheat and barley and rice. Yams, cassava, potatoes and plantains can be grown in the dry season,

The following are some of the easiest and most common vegetables that can be grown from seeds.


Bean plants are fast growers and grow well in warm, moist soil. Bush beans need no support, but pole beans do need to climb something, such as poles or strings.


Beet roots develop fast and if you prefer to harvest small beets, double the number of seeds per row as crowding results in small roots. A mix of seeds from red, yellow, and white beets will yield a variety of flavours and colors. Buy packets of mixed seeds or blend your own.


It is essential to thin carrot seedlings to the proper spacing so that they form properly.


Pre-soaking the seeds in warm water (not hot) before planting will help speed up the germination process. Plant seeds in trays filled with good compost. Transplant the seedlings individually into 9-10cm pots when two true leaves have formed. Leave in pots for 10-14 days before planting outside.


If possible, plant cucumbers in the sun next to a fence. The fence will serve as support for climbing and act as a shelter or plant them near corn which will trap the heat that cucumbers crave and serve as a windbreak.


Super-nutritious kale is an easy member of the cabbage family to grow. You can set out plants any time from early spring to early summer and kale will grow until it gets too hot.


Lettuce does well in some shade and in extremely hot weather prefers a shady space. Lettuce growth slows in shade; it is also slower to go to seed which means that it can be harvested for longer. If you want full heads to develop, thin them and allow for 15-20cms between plants.


To harvest a continuous supply of peas during the summer, sow varieties with different maturity dates. Then sow more seeds about 2 weeks later and continue this pattern throughout the summer.


Growing pumpkin is easy and just needs warm soil that is rich in compost. Water often and plant seeds on a mound, giving them plenty of room (one metre diameter) for their vines to sprawl.


Mix radish seeds with carrot seeds especially if your soil tends to develop a tough crust. The radishes will push up through the soil, breaking it up for the later-sprouting carrots. As you harvest the radishes, the carrots will fill in the row.


Summer squash and zucchini also like well-composted soil and need plenty of space (1-2m apart), warm soil, and lots of sun. Always water at the soil level (not the leaves) to avoid powdery mildew.

Herbs add flavour to foods, and they can also discourage harmful insects. Plant herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary and chives in among the vegetables, as well as marigold flowers.

Nasturtium and rosemary deter beetles that attack beans, thyme repels the cabbage worm, chives and garlic deter aphids and oregano is a good all-purpose plant to deter most insect pests. Marigolds repel many species of insects so you can plant marigolds around tomatoes to inhibit the ugly green hornworms. Plant marigolds around your entire vegetable garden to add bright color and keep the insect predators at bay.


The list below shows the best way to combine certain vegetables in the garden.


Vegetable Companion Plant Don’t Plant Together
Asparagus Tomatoes None
Beans (Bush or Pole) Celery, corn, cucumbers, radish, strawberries and summer savory Garlic and onion
Beets Bush beans (not pole beans), cabbage, broccoli, kale, lettuce, onions, garlic Pole beans
Cabbage Family (cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts) Beets, celery, dill, Swiss chard, lettuce, spinach, onions, potatoes Pole beans
Carrots Beans, tomatoes None
Celery Beans, tomatoes, cabbages None
Corn Cucumber, melons, squash, peas, beans, pumpkin Tomatoes
Cucumber Beans, corn, peas, cabbage None
Eggplant Beans, pepper None
Melons Corn, pumpkin, radish, squash None
Onions Beets, carrots, Swiss chard, lettuce, peppers All beans and peas
Peas Beans, carrots, corn, cucumbers, radish, turnip Garlic, onions
Potatoes Beans, corn, peas Tomatoes
Squash Corn, melons, pumpkins None
Tomatoes Carrots, celery, cucumbers, onions, peppers Corn, potatoes, kohlrabi


Seed and seedling preparation

  1. The seeds you use must be clean and healthy.
  2. All seeds need water, oxygen, and proper temperature and light to germinate.
  3. Seeds must be sown uniformly and at proper depths and should be covered with soil after sowing to prevent damages from birds.
  4. Seeds are much cheaper than seedlings and they often keep for at least a few years.
  5. Seeds offer much more varietythan the choice of transplants in a nursery
  6. Some vegetables do not survivebeing transplanted from one place to another.
  7. Starting from seed means that you can sow seeds directly in the garden, which is best for corn, melons, squash, beans, and peas, all of which do not grow as well when transplanted from one place to another.
  8. Starting plants from seed means you can ensure they are healthy and strong right from the start


It is worthwhile to plant most seeds (except those in #7 above) in a seed tray first and then transplant into the garden when the seeds have sprouted as shown in this picture.



Free online websites on how to grow a vegetable garden are



  • Start-up Capital: $100
  • Space required: Enough garden space for the garden
  • Equipment:  Garden tools, seed trays and seeds
  • Specific skills: Ability to plant and harvest vegetables