Growing your own baby veggies
WE LOVE YOU, BABY!
GROWING BABY AND MINI VEG
More than ever before city slickers and urban greenies are encouraged and empowered to grow their own healthy, organic vegetables, fruit and herbs and they are certainly spoiled for choice with the delectable range of baby and mini vegetables available at the moment. Space is no longer an issue as these yummy babies can be grown just about anywhere – all you need is a pot and a good dash of sunshine…yes, and soil.
Do I have enough space?
Of course, if you have a bigger garden space, you don’t need an excuse to grow them in containers alongside your vegetables or on a sunny patio, entertainment area, braai area or garden kitchen, but the reasons you should are aplenty:
- Firstly, there’s no denying that they are dead cute – there will be no shortage of ‘oohs” and “aahs” from guests.
- Baby veg grow fast and produce multiple yields.
- More of them can be planted closer together – a great space saving trick and more reward for your trouble.
- The taste and flavour of these little veg are usually finer and more intense than that of their larger or more adult counterparts.
- Growing conditions can be controlled better, pots can be moved at times of extreme heat and rain and harvesting can be done earlier to avoid stress because of external factors.
- If you’re a newbie gardener, this is a fun and easy way to try your hand at sowing and growing your own.
Baby vegetables can either be produce that is harvested before it reaches its mature size, or specially cultivated plants that only yield smaller crops. Not all vegetables lend themselves to being harvested prematurely, but one certainly can pick carrots, radishes, spinach, beetroots, potatoes, turnips, onions, spinach, lettuce and just about any other garden green before maturity without forfeiting taste.
What varieties can I look out for?
As far as specially cultivated baby veg goes, the following are available in seed packets in the Lifestyle Home Garden seed section:
- Baby tomatoes: ‘Red Cherry Sweetie’, ‘Cherry Yellow Pear’, ‘Bite Size’ and several other cherry tomato varieties
- Baby cabbage: ‘Baby Red Primero’
- Carrots: ‘Parisian’ and ‘Little finger’
- Squash: ‘Sweet Dumpling, ‘Barbara’ and ‘Honeynut’
- Watermelon ‘Sugar Baby’
On a leisurely stroll through our herb and vegetable section, you will find the following baby vegetable plants in pots, ready for you to take home and grow:
Tomato ‘Little Sicily’ and ‘Little Napoli’: Less than 61 cm tall, this determinate tomato flourishes in mid-size containers, stays a manageable size and produces abundant, tasty and meaty fruits over a few weeks in mid-summer.
Tomato ‘Tumbler’ and ‘Tumbling Tom’: These tomatoes have a very high yield of small, sweet cherry tomatoes. The plants have a cascading habit and are ideal for pots and hanging baskets.
Snack Pepper ‘Orange’, ‘Red’ and ‘Yellow’: A delightful and attractive sweet pepper plant with a high yield of snack sized fruit all season long.
Pot Pepper ‘Yellow Tomato’, ‘Red Tomato’, ‘Hot Cosmo’, Hot Burrito’ and ‘Hot Fajita’: Bred for compact growth, these decorative little peppers are ideal for container gardening and yield small, aromatic fruits of medium to high heat.
Squash ‘Honeynut’: A climbing butternut with an exceptionally rich and sweet, nutty flavour in perfect servings for one or two people. Can be grown in a pot with a supporting trellis or a squash hammock.
Eggplant ‘Patio Baby’: This little pot brinjal with supply you with tiny eggplants throughout the season until the first frosts. It is also a very attractive addition to your patio or balcony.
Caring for your baby veg
Plant your veg in a pot or container large enough to support the mature plant. Use a good quality potting soil mixed with the water retaining medium of your choice.
Place the containers in a position where they will receive at least 6 hours of sun per day, preferably the gentler morning sun. Ensure adequate air circulation between pots to keep the plants cool and prevent problems with mites and fungal diseases.
Your potted veg will need more frequent watering – every day during the hot season – and fertilising. Fertilise every 2-3 weeks with a water soluble fertiliser that contains both macro – and micro-nutrients.
Check your veg regularly for pests like aphids, whitefly and red spidermite and take immediate steps to curb an infestation. If needed, spray with an organic pesticide or fungicide. For more information on controlling pests, click |HERE|.
Harvest regularly and remove any over ripe or rotten fruits immediately.
Most importantly, have loads of fun experimenting with and growing these little delectables!