Garlic planted in rows in the garden. (Photograph: Ngcebo Mhlezana of Who Are We)

You have probably been thinking about starting a vegetable garden and growing your favourite vegetables and herbs, but never quite got around to it. You are not alone, as many people would love to grow their own food but never do. This is mainly because many of us think that gardening requires lots of time we do not have.

The secret to striking a balance between your busy schedule and eating healthy, nutritious meals directly from your garden, is to design a garden that matches the time you have available. Do not start by imagining how much time the garden will take. Rather start by determining how much time you can set aside for gardening each week. In other words, add a garden to your busy lifestyle, rather than centering your life around the garden.

Manti Mafaidi in the garden. (Photograph: Ngcebo Mhlezana of Who Are We)

Design a garden to suit your lifestyle

Here is how you can start gardening based on the time you have available:

  • If you have ten to 15 minutes per week, start a container garden. Grow your food in containers and pots on the patio or windowsill. You will be surprised at how well vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce and spinach fare in pots. You can also grow your own herbs and microgreens in pots. Find a sunny spot that receives at least eight hours of sun.
  • If you have 15 to 20 minutes per week, you could consider a raised bed. Raised beds provide an easy way to start gardening, especially for beginners, and they work well in small spaces. Plus, they do not have to be fancy or expensive. Use materials you already have to build your own raised beds – you can use wood, corrugated iron, rocks, large logs, etc. Position your raised bed in a sunny spot close to the house so that you can have easy access for harvesting.
  • If you have 20 to 30 minutes per week, you could grow your food farm style, directly in the ground in rows and plots for large harvests.

Plant of the month

The plant of the month is wild garlic (Tulbaghia violacea). This is a proudly South African plant that will grow where little else does. Although it loves full sun, it can also flourish in semi-shade conditions, making it a very versatile garden plant. Its purple flowers will not only make for a stunning addition to your vegetable garden, but its garlic smell will keep pests away.

Manti Mafaidi holding some of the wild garlic grown on the farm. (Photograph: Ngcebo Mhlezana of Who Are We)

Did you know that wild garlic is edible?

The leaves, flowers and bulbs are rich in antioxidants and have excellent antibacterial and antifungal properties. Add the flowers and leaves to your stews, roasts and salads in much the same way as its domesticated relative. Or better, drink it daily as a tea with a splash of honey to boost your immune system.

Plant properties

  • Indigenous: Yes.
  • Evergreen: Yes.
  • Frost tolerant: Yes.
  • Great companion plant: Yes.
  • Drought resistant: Yes.
  • Edible: Yes.

Three questions about your garden

  • In what ways has the soil shown you generosity?
  • In what ways have you shown kindness, humility and respect to the soil?
  • What practical steps are you going to take to reconnect with the soil?
    Manti Maifadi, Naledi Farm

Biography of Manti Maifadi

As a child Manti Maifadi used to follow her father everywhere he went – leading to her curiosity about plants. Beyond her father’s influence, her early development consisted of conversations with her grandmother about plants and nature, a peculiar upbringing to anyone growing up in the modern world. This upbringing has led Manti to a life filled with the abundance of nature and a passion for doing things with her hands.

Manti owns Naledi Farm, a three-hectare farm that was named after her youngest child. Here visitors can find healing by interacting with the land. Manti holds an MSc degree (cum laude) from the University of the Witwatersrand and has more than ten years’ experience in public health. She is author of the children’s book Tshimong Ya Meroho le Naledi and a published author in the field of science.

For more information on Naledi Farm or for advice
on growing veggies at home, contact Manti on cell 082 800 2327
or email