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Going vertical with vegetables

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There are ways to make a food garden work in a complex, but first check the body corporate rules

Vegetable gardens are becoming a household standard these days, and even in sectional title units it is not uncommon to find vertical gardens hanging outside and planters on the window ledges, says Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of Re/Max of Southern Africa.

While it is possible to grow a vegetable garden in a home without a spacious backyard, he warns those living within sectional titles to check the conduct rules issued by the complex’s homeowners’ association or body corporate.

“In certain complexes you might find homeowners and tenants are prohibited from placing things in front of windows, on window ledges, or hanging from exterior walls without first gaining written consent from the complex,” he says.

“If you do not comply with these rules, you can be held liable to fines.”

For those who want – and are allowed to – create their own vegetable garden, but don’t have any open soil, there are ways of working around this, Goslett says.

The first is to purchase pots or create wooden planters that you can put on your balcony or outdoor patio, or near a window inside your apartment.

“If you are going to keep your planters indoors, remember to clean underneath them regularly to ensure they do not leave stains on the floor as this will come out of your deposit if you are renting the space.”

Vertical gardens are another way of getting around the issue. These work best if installed outdoors on a patio or balcony, but can also work indoors if your apartment gets lots of light and has good ventilation.

“Tenants would be better off to avoid this option,” says Goslett.

“Installing a vertical garden indoors will require permission from the landlord as it must be constructed.

“Instead, tenants can purchase hanging planters which they can hang from curtain rods,” Goslett suggests.

Of course, if you want to live as a subsistence farmer and grow all your own fruit, vegetables and herbs at home, these suggestions will fall short of a solution for you.

“There is a limit to how much one can do in a small living space within a sectional title.

“If you are passionate about growing a vegetable garden, perhaps you should consider relocating further outside of your CBD, where plots are generally larger and more affordable.

“What you end up saving on your grocery bill once your vegetable garden is ready can then be rerouted into the higher petrol costs of having extended your commute to and from work,” Goslett says.

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