Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Home Veggie Garden Stew Ideas

Growing organic vegetables can provide numerous benefits, including improved health, environmental sustainability, and delicious, nutrient-dense food.

Growing your own fresh organic vegetables is gratifying and easy because you do not need a green thumb to start, grow and maintain your soil and garden plants. If you are ready to grow your first vegetable garden start with this article to show you the steps to take when starting a vegetable garden and how to cook and naturally dry your fresh veggies.

Home vegetable gardens come in all shapes and sizes in Africa where there is a great deal of diversity in vegetables on the African continent. For many internally displaced Africans with access to land and water in internally displaced camps, planting a garden means growing vegetables and supplementing what is often an insufficient wage.  

Organic farming practices promote biodiversity, protect soil health, and reduce pollution. By growing organic vegetables, you can help to reduce your impact on the environment and support sustainable agriculture. Home gardening contributes to household food security by providing direct access to food that can be harvested, prepared and fed to family members, often on a daily basis.

Golden Rule Curried Okra Stew Recipe

Simple Vegetable Stew African Food Recipe 


1 pound fresh okra, sliced lengthwise

2 medium potatoes, diced

2 medium tomatoes, diced

2 medium onions, chopped 1/2 head small cabbage, chopped

2 teaspoons ginger paste

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon hot ground chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons red palm oil

2 cups vegetable broth or water


Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and fry onions with spices until onions are slightly soft. Add potatoes and broth, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, cabbage and okra, cook on medium heat for 10 minutes longer. Serve over rice.

Home Vegetable Garden Ideas

Home gardens, in particular, constitute a valuable part of the on-farm conservation of traditional varieties. Since women are often responsible for home gardens and the preparation of family meals, they play a large role in crop selection for the home garden. Considerable income may be derived from the production and sale of seed from indigenous and exotic varieties of garden crops.

Many home garden foods are perishable. This includes leafy vegetables, such as okra, tomatoes, sweet peppers, African eggplants, onions, roots and tubers, and fruits such as mangoes, bananas and papayas. Harvest surpluses of these foods are often wasted because people are not familiar with adequate processing, preservation and storage techniques.

After harvesting, loss of vitamin C can be high, especially for green vegetables, which lose substantial amounts of vitamin C after only a few days in storage. Other home garden foods like legumes and maize have relatively long shelf lives but must be processed and stored properly if they are to remain good for eating.

On the other hand, some roots and tubers, such as cassava, do not pose serious preservation or storage problems. If they are left in the ground, the household can harvest them whenever they are needed. A number of practical strategies can be initiated at the household level to increase year-round access to vitamin and mineral rich vegetables and fruits.

Crop Grow new plants from Harvest In Parts Used




Fruit, leaves


Bulbs, sets, seeds


Bulbs, leaves








Fruit, leaves

Hot pepper





Seeds and cuttings



Sweet potato



Leaves, tubers





How to Cook Freshly Grown Vegetables

Blanching Vegetables

Blanching improves the shelf life, flavor and appearance of some dried vegetables. Some vegetables should be blanched before drying. Slippery vegetables like okra and chili peppers, onions and garlic are never blanched or boiled. Tree leaves like baobab may be blanched or parboiled to soften them before they are dried.

Before blanching, freshly harvested leafy vegetables should be washed and sorted to remove the unwanted parts, such as stems and older leaves. There are different methods for blanching leafy vegetables. The food can be briefly boiled, but steaming is preferable, as it minimizes nutrient loss.

Steam Blanching Vegetables

Place a wire basket over boiling water and steam the vegetables for 1 to 3 minutes, only long enough to heat and soften them slightly. Alternatively, the vegetables can be wrapped in a piece of cloth and placed over a pot of boiling water.

Steaming can be done also by using a covered pot containing water about 3 cm deep. Place clean rocks in the pot covered by a piece of matting or some sticks. Place the vegetables that are to be steamed on the covered rocks.

Home gardening rice in Liberia
Home gardening rice in Liberia

How to Naturally Dry Vegetables in the Sun and Shade

Drying Vegetables

Vegetables and fruits can be processed and preserved by drying. Drying preserves food because the microorganisms that spoil food need water to grow. Drying also concentrates food's nutrients and preserves them for times when fresh food is not available. Improved technologies, such as solar dryers, retain higher quantities of vitamins in food than can be retained using the traditional method of sun drying.

Surpluses of different home garden vegetables and fruits like green leafy vegetables, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, okra, onions, sweet potatoes, cassava, papayas, mangoes, and bananas can be dried easily when these vegetables and fruits are in season. Sweet fruits such as mangoes, bananas and papayas do not need to be dried as thoroughly as vegetables because their high sugar content acts as a preservative.

Dried leaves can be added directly to soups and stews as required. Dried cowpea leaves can be fried, as well as boiled. These are especially tasty and nutritious when they are fried in oil like red palm oil, crumbled and then sprinkled over maize porridge, sadza or nshima as a relish.  Dried fruits and vegetables, such as cassava, sweet potato or banana chips, or slices of mango, pineapple, and papaya make excellent snack foods for children. They are delicious, sweet and contain a lot of energy.

Sun Drying Vegetables

Although the most widely used method of drying foods in Africa is sun drying, sunlight destroys vitamin A. High temperatures destroy vitamins A and C, as well as some other vitamins. As a consequence, it is better to dry food in the shade.

Shade Drying Vegetables

Shade drying requires full air circulation. It should not be undertaken inside conventional buildings but in an open-sided shed purposely built for shade drying. Most foods to be dried are sliced like peppers, okra, onions, tomatoes, eggplants, yams, sweet potatoes, and carrots, as sliced food generally dries faster. The slices should be only about 1 cm thick so that they dry thoroughly and quickly.

The food should be placed on mats or trays and well off the ground in order to avoid contamination from dust or soil. Turn over the slices daily to ensure that the food dries quickly. To store well, the slices should be quite dry. Because of their higher sugar content, this acts as a preservative, dry fruits only until they are leathery.

Leafy vegetables, such as amaranth, are dried whole because they are thin. Small okra may also be dried whole. Chili peppers, onions, and garlic are often left whole and hung in strands for drying and later storage. Shade drying takes a little longer than sun drying, but it prevents the loss of a food's natural color and better preserves its vitamins and minerals.

More economical easy lunch and dinner recipes to make right now so you never have to eat or prepare a boring meal again.

  1. Curried Tanzanian Coconut Okra Recipe
  2. Frikkadelle an Afrikaner dish of meatballs
  3. Senegalese Chicken Vermicelli
  4. Chadian Steamed Honey Cassava Buns
  5. Cameroon Smoked Bonga Fish Stew

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