An urban garden for the healthy

Kathryn Kimberley

FROM worm tea to organic tunnels and now organic seeds, more and more Port Elizabeth residents are finding innovative ways to go green.

And for former high school geography teacher Trevin van der Walt, his love for greenery stretches further than his finger tips.

Three weeks ago, Van der Walt and business partner Tom O’Brien opened the garden gate to Port Elizabeth’s first organic nursery.

While they are still building up a clientele, residents have responded well to Urban Gardens, situated at the Valley Harvest Nursery in Walmer.

“It is still a work in progress but new products and systems are being introduced regularly,” Van der Walt said.

He said the nursery would offer the community an opportunity to experience, learn about, and do their own organic gardening.

A wide variety of natural products to condition and re- establish soil’s natural microbial life is also available for anyone wanting to grow their own vegetables and herbs.

No chemical products are kept on the premises.

Van der Walt, who started the worm tea craze in the Bay five years ago, is currently pushing the idea of recycling your own organic waste.

Worm tea is a nutritional liquid made from worm castings which have been soaked in oxygenated water.

The extra oxygen causes a bloom of the good bacteria, plus the added benefit of nitrogen, phosphate, calcium, magnesium and potash.

The liquid that drains out of the worm composting bin is leachate (bacteria), which is also useful for growing plants.

Van der Walt said similarly, with the Bokashi Recycling Bin, there was no reason to send any waste to landfill.

He said the system enabled one to create your compost at home.

He said in the long run, the nutritional value of the plants would be higher because the compost created in the system did not contain any chemicals. The system also eliminated all odours.

“People will once again be able to eat tomatoes that taste like tomatoes, and produce vegetables that contain the nutritional values they are meant to contain, and sustain our bodies in a healthy condition.

“Organic solutions are even available for treating and recycling a wide variety of industrial waste including oil pollution,” he added.

Worms, worm farms, concentrated microbes, organic fertilisers, box gardens, cages, aviaries, cat enclosures and seedlings and plants are also available for purchase at Urban Gardens.

“We hope to introduce the Eastern Cape community to heritage seeds and seedlings in the near future, enabling gardeners to produce vegetables with flavour and nutrients of the past,” he added.

His next venture is to create an aquaponics garden, which is a small-scale, low-hassle food growing system or “fish tank” that ultimately cleans itself.

The fish secretion is pumped up to the plants growing above in small pails filled with pebbles. This provides the nutrients.

“In the last four years attitudes have changed towards the environment.

“Organic herbs and vegetables are far healthier and kids grow up stronger,” Van der Walt said.

Urban Gardens designs and implements sustainable food gardens and tunnels at household, school and agricultural levels.

“We also do training and do information sessions to assist people growing healthy food. We do training in the techniques and methods of organic food growing.”

Urban Gardens will be selling organic vegetables every Saturday at the Valley Harvest Nursery from today.

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