Rooftop gardens

Veggie-Patch-Co-300x300As cities expand in size and precious farmland is buried below layers of concrete, it’s hard to imagine how the world will continue to feed its growing population.

The concept of “sky gardens” is well established in Europe and North America and now is being incorporated into building designs in Australia, along high-rise walls, rooftops and balconies to improve the health, liveability and sustainability of cities.

But what if these green oases were to provide much more than that? What if we started growing our salad ingredients on these rooftops high above the ground? For one thing, they’d certainly have a good view.

As people feel the need to start producing their food locally again, urban farming has taken off, with rooftops and any small city vacancy being snatched up to construct an edible garden.

Claimed to be the largest urban rooftop farm in the world with over two acres under cultivation, Brooklyn Grange in New York has sold more than 18,000 kilograms of salad ingredients to restaurants and the public through weekly farm stands.

Last week I came across a pop-up veggie garden, that was once a car park, in the CBD of Melbourne (see photo). People pay $3.50 a day for their own little veggie patch within the space and can plant whatever salad ingredients they like. This means they can come before or after work, even at lunchtime, to get some dirt under their fingernails and do a bit of planting, weeding or harvesting. Imagine a short stroll from your office building to your own veggie patch in the middle of the city, to harvest salad ingredients for your lunch every day. You can’t get fresher than that!

Now there’s even talk of building skyscrapers in cities solely dedicated to growing food.

Despite these advances, let’s not forget our farmers on the land who continue to work hard to produce fresh food for us every day. Without them, we would be very hungry indeed.

Click here to read more of my Love My Salad blogs.

Enjoy your salads! Louise.



TODAY’S HARVEST: Peanuts Do you know where peanuts come from? From a vine, from a bush, from a tree or from the ground? Perhaps the photo below will give you a hint. Unlike other nuts that grow on trees like almonds and cashews, peanuts are legumes. The peanut plant is unusual because it flowers above ground but the peanut grows below the ground. Peanuts need full sun. If you have heavy soil, ensure good drainage by working in enough organic matter to make it loose and friable. Peanut seeds come in their shells and can be planted hulled or unhulled. If you do shell them, don’t remove the thin, pinkish brown seed coverings, or the seed won’t germinate. One inch of water a week is plenty a peanut plant. Being legumes, peanuts supply their own nitrogen, so avoid nitrogen-rich fertilisers, which encourage foliage rather than fruits. The crop is ready to harvest when leaves turn yellow and the peanuts’ inner shells have gold-marked veins, which you can check periodically by pulling out..

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