For many people, the biggest barrier to growing fresh food is space and for city dwellers, the struggle is real. But with a little space, adequate light and a good amount of TLC, a food oasis could be at your fingertips!
Byron Smith of Urban Growers is someone who's passionate about bringing the many benefits of edible gardening back to the urban lifestyle by giving people the tools and information to do it themselves. Along with providing folks the means to grow food in urban environments, he's also created innovative green spaces in places like Three Blue Ducks, Kitchen by Mike and more recently the QANTAS community garden in Mascot.
This week Byron shares his top tips on edible gardening for those wishing to reconnect back with nature and grow their own food in the (limited) space they have...
1. Grow what you will enjoy eating.
For small spaces start with your favourite herbs, then grow your leafy greens so you have something to pick weekly and if you have more space start thinking fruit and vegetable varieties.
2. Make sure they see the sun.
Location of your pots or patch should receive at least 6 hours of sun per day. Edible plants (mostly annuals) are usually grown as a cool or warm season crop (compared to perennials which live for years), so they need good sun to keep growing the leaves you want to pick each week. Keeping your crop open to rainwater is beneficial as it washes your plants and adds nitrogen to the soil.
3. Soil education.
The health, texture and structure of your soil is generally more important than the plants or seeds you buy. 'Clay breaks your back and sand breaks your heart' some gardeners will say as they peer into the sunset. You need a nice loam! So educate yourself on the soil you have and rejuvenate if necessary. You could do this by adding composts, manures, rectifying pH, or getting physical with the fork etc. With potting mix, you get what you pay for - pay the extra for premium and give your herbs a head start.
4. Save some for later.
What are you going to do with all those radishes? So many colourful varieties and they grow so quickly! Pickling is the answer for much of your surplus veg harvest.
5. Stay connected.
Gardening is one of those hobbies, passions and jobs that will transport you into your flow, keeping you pottering outside in the rain or sun for longer. Just being connected to the simple things in life will always, I believe, be where we'll all turn to for real satisfaction and fulfilment.