Gro-Urban has made growing veggies from seed fun and foolproof

Rather than supplying individual seeds, Gro-Urban has combined them into biodegradable squares that are planted as a sheet. Inventor Dewald Daniels tells us more

03 May 2020 - 00:00
By Leana Schoeman
Gro-Urban's rainbow chard seed square.
Image: SuppliedSupplied Gro-Urban's rainbow chard seed square.

What makes Gro-Urban seed squares different from the seeds of other suppliers?

Gro-Urban seed squares are created to be an easy and fun DIY educational product. I believe the best way to learn to grow your own food is by doing it together and visually seeing how things grow and finding out which plants help each other thrive with companion planting.

The seed squares are made from recycled cardboard boxes and used coffee grounds, and the seeds are perfectly spaced for planting.

The packaging is unique in that the instructions on the back are simple yet engaging and fun for the whole family. The packaging is also 100% environmentally friendly, including the plant markers that come with the seed sheets. Going forward we are looking at wholly compostable packaging.

What motivated you to develop this product and how long did it take?

My motivation for creating this product is to help educate and make it easy and fun for anybody to grow their own food. I always found it quite daunting to stand in front of those seed walls in gardening outlets and nurseries trying to make sense of what to grow when, where and how.

A Gro-Urban seed square made from recycled cardboard and coffee grounds.
Image: Supplied A Gro-Urban seed square made from recycled cardboard and coffee grounds.

I have been working on this project for three years to perfect it, and our first 14 varietals are vegetables that are easy to grow and that can grow most of the year.

The weather is cooling down, so what kind of veggies can we plant now to feed us in winter?

Great things to grow at the moment are rocket, beetroot, chard (spinach), lettuce, winter beans and peas, to name a few. Basically anything with roots and leafy greens.

How does one keep those pesky insects away from crops without using nasty chemicals?

Make nature work for you. The more you try to control nature the harder it gets. Using companion planting methods reduces pests — so some of our varietals come as perfect pairs, for example the Beetroot & Rocket or Kale & Spring Onions seed squares. There are also handy hints on the back of each sleeve about good and bad planting companions.

If you have to, there are amazing organic methods that can be used to control pests.

Do you need an actual garden or can these seed squares be planted in pots?

Gro-Urban can be used in gardens and pots or planting squares. The product is perfect for urban gardens like small balconies or rooftop gardens but the seed squares can be planted in any size garden.

Dewald Daniels.
Image: Supplied Dewald Daniels.

The seed squares can also be cut to create your own fun combos. I have created Gro-Urban squares as a modular system to be fun, educational and user-friendly.

What would you say are the key factors to keep in mind when growing your own veggies?

Patience, good healthy soil, water and lots of love. Getting children involved is a great way of tending to the growing plants. It becomes a project for them, especially in a time such as this.

What are the best varieties to start with for a novice?

All of the current Gro-Urban varietals are easy varieties for novice growers. But if I have to say, I would go with chard, rocket and radish.

Gro-Urban products are available from Plantify