Start your own garden – Slab of Seed

Moneybags journalist Jessica Anne Wood tried the ‘Slab of Seed’ from Sow Delicious, which offers easy step-by-step instructions of how to grow the various vegetables and herbs they offer.

While the drought in the Western Cape, and even the flooding in other parts of the country, may make this difficult, growing your own vegetables and herbs is a great way to cut down on your grocery bill.

By growing your own vegetables and herbs, you can control what chemicals or pesticides you use (if any) and also know how fresh it is. However, not everyone has green fingers, which can make the idea of growing your own vegetables daunting.

However, the people from Sow Delicious which sell slabs which include a variety of seedlings claim to make it easier for gardeners to grow their own herbs and vegetables. I couldn’t resist the temptation to try it out myself.

My experience

I have to admit that my seedlings did not get the best fighting chance from the onset. To begin with, I live in the Western Cape and we’re in the middle of one of the worst draughts ever recorded. Had the water restrictions not been an issue, I feel the herbs that I planted would have grown well.

The slab of seeds looks almost like a slab of chocolate, however, when you open the packaging, instead of blocks of chocolate, you get blocks of seeds, which you can break apart as you would a slab of chocolate and plant them.

The packaging offers clear instructions as to the time of year the seeds should be planted, with the Sow Delicious website offering additional tips and advice. The packaging offers the environment that the seeds/plants need, such as full sun, shade etc., the season that they should be planted and when you can expect to harvest your goods.

Even for those who have little or no gardening experience, the Slab of Seeds seems to be a good way to start, helping you along each step to growing your own herbs and vegetables.

The cost

The cost may be off-putting for some. According to Vanessa Jacobs, chief innovator at Sow Delicious, the average cost is between R69 – R89 depending on the variety and stockist. Vegetable and herb seedlings at outlets like the Cape Garden Centre sell for a more reasonable R19.95, while Pick n Pay sell their Mayford seed packs for R21.90, for example.

However, unlike some of the other seed offerings at stores, Jacobs highlights that each Slab of Seed grows a mix of three different delicious heirloom vegetables or herbs from one Slab of Seed. Jacobs highlights: “On average our Slab of Seed costs R80 but most grow R500+ worth of food per slab which is a 600% ROI (return on investment).”

For those with a failed history in the garden, you may be unwilling to take the plunge and start your own vegetable garden. While the instructions make it easy to follow the process from planting to caring for and harvesting your crop, if you don’t have the desire to care for the plants, particularly during this drought, it may not be a wise decision to spending money on seeds which may yield no results.

However, for those willing to put in the time and effort, not only do you get the satisfaction of growing your own produce, but along the way you may save money, as the cost of groceries continues to rise, especially as the effect of the drought in the agricultural sector makes itself known.

Furthermore, a feature of these seeds is that they are water wise. Jacobs explains: “The biodegradable organic ingredients of the slab retain water three times longer than the soil it is planted in, making it 70% more resilient against sun scorch than plain seed.”

Jacobs adds: “Our slabs are pre-fertilised with organic nutrients that not only aid in quicker germination but also faster seedling growth than plain seed.”