Top tips for urban farming

Passionate urban horticulturalists are turning unused land at local schools into productive market gardens with help from our Local Food Launchpad program.

Farm Raiser aims to engage kids in local, sustainable food production and provide boxes of veggies for schools to use in fundraising drives instead of chocolates. Find out more in the video below.

We invited Farm Raiser founders Kirsty, Charlotte and Patrick to share some top tips for growing your own food in the city, even if you live in an apartment.

1.       Pick your plants
If you are growing on a balcony, shade-loving plants are ideal. Native finger limes flourish in the shade, as do crops such as silverbeet and other greens, and tough herbs such as mint and rosemary.

2.       Time it right
With the shift in seasons, you may want to run out and plant all of your summer veggies now, but as the soil is still very cool, growth will be slow.

As our friend’s Nonna told us, tomatoes should not be planted until the day after Melbourne Cup (Tuesday 6 November), and she grew the best tomatoes. If planting in October, choose a variety that can fruit at cooler temperatures, such as Siberian tomatoes.

3.       Fertilise
Add organic matter and mulch to your garden to get the microbes and worms going. It improves the soil structure, aiding its ability to hold water and helps create space for new roots, too.

4.       Attract insects
Plant flowering perennials in and around your veggie patch to encourage beneficial insects into your garden. These insects not only to help pollinate your vegetables and control the unwanted pest insects, but they also to add to the ecological diversity of your neighbourhood while looking beautiful.

Plants such as lavender, Kennedia prostrata and native daisies (to name a few) play important roles in the food supply for indigenous insects such as the Blue Banded Bee, butterflies and wasps.

The City of Melbourne believes a food system that can support our rapidly-growing population, and enable all to thrive, needs to be healthy, sustainable, resilient and socially inclusive — from paddock to plate.

Local Food Launchpad, a partnership with Doing Something Good and Open Food Network, helps Melburnians bring to life their bright ideas for local food enterprises and community food projects.

Find out more about Local Food Launchpad.

Interested in insect biodiversity? Check out our recent research into the secret life of urban butterflies.