Jane rapidly became an experienced food gardener, and in late 2007 a friend who was starting his first vegetable garden asked her for help. “After spending hours in his garden and on the phone answering queries, I realised two things: One, there was nothing on the market for someone like my friend, and two, I knew quite a bit about the subject. “Being a television producer, I started writing a DVD script. Within a few weeks I had reached 20 000 words and realised that I was writing a book!” After she had reached 80 000 words she started contacting publishers, and within three days Jane had a ublishing contract with Jonathan Ball. “Sixteen months after I
began, my first book, Jane’s Delicious Garden, was published. Within two weeks it was on the Exclusive Books bestseller list and, three years later, it is in its sixth print run and has sold over 14 000 copies,” she enthuses.
In 2010 she published her second title, Jane’s Delicious Kitchen, which has also been met with much success – a development that speaks volumes about the renewed interest in planting food gardens. “Although some of the motivation is to save money, it also has to do with people becoming aware of what they are putting in their bodies. Organically grown food is healthier for us, and one way to make sure we know what is in our food is to grow it ourselves. “It is also part of a global shift to get back to our roots. South Africans are becoming increasingly aware of carbon footprints and food miles. Growing our own food is one way we can reduce our
impact on the planet – the shortest food mile we can create is from our garden to our kitchen table,” maintains Jane. Jane explains that the rewards of planting a food garden are plentiful. “The simple process of taking seeds that look like grains of sand, putting them in the ground and watching them grow into an abundant feast is miraculous,” she says. “The childlike anticipation of rushing out in the morning to see what has popped its green head above ground is invigorating. Above all, it is extremely gratifying to feed family and friends with wholesome, organic food from my garden. Once the cultivating bug bites, you will keep growing. No matter
how small or big your space, gardening stretches your body and expands your soul.”
Jane explains that you will need to spend both time and money establishing a vegetable garden, but once it is up and running this investment quickly pays for itself, especially if you sow from seed and choose plants that seed themselves. “For example, it costs R10 or more to buy a packet of fresh rocket, but once you grow your own it will seed itself to the point of becoming a weed!” she reports. She laments that, in the 21st Century of absolute convenience and consumerism, we have become disconnected from nature. “We somehow believe that we can live separately from nature, taking as much as we want without giving anything back. We are a part of nature, and if we continue to live as though we are a privileged and separate species, we risk losing everything. “If I have learnt anything from my garden it is this: By giving nature the respect she deserves, by placing her at the centre of things and by observing and learning from her every move, I have not only become a more successful gardener but also a much more content person,” she concludes.
Jane’s Advice for Green Novices
Start with a small bed and plant vegetables that are easy to grow, such as beans, lettuces, Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes, spring onions and a selection of
herbs. “If you have a small garden or a veranda, remember that many vegetables and herbs grow successfully in containers. If you are really spacechallenged,
mingle vegetables and herbs amongst flowers, but make sure to interplant them with flowers that have similar water requirements,” she explains.
Thanks to the economic pressures and a growing awareness of the need to care for the environment and our health, food gardening is again becoming a necessary skill. Author Jane Griffiths explains how she has turned her city garden into a delicious food garden extraordinaire, and how you can do the same.
Jane Griffiths has been growing organic vegetables and herbs for the last 16 years. “It began when I visited a friend
in California whose garden was bursting with chillies: red, yellow, purple and orange chillies in a wide variety of
shapes and sizes,” says Jane. “At that time in South Africa there were only little hot red ones. Jalapenos were hardly on the culinary radar. Although I knew nothing about gardening, I was so inspired that back home I removed some lawn, dug in compost, scattered seeds and sat back to watch my chillies grow. That summer I had about 20 varieties
of chillies and I was hooked. Every year I dug up more lawn and tried something new. I experimented with vertical structures and intensive gardening. I made many mistakes, but over the years I developed a method of growing vegetables that suits my busy lifestyle, maximising both limited time and space.”
Nurture Your Own Delicious Garden
by Laura Franz-Kamissoko