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The Rise of Urban Garden Design

While you may not know it yet, the private gardens and streets of local neighbourhoods across Australia are undergoing a revolution in sustainability that harks back to the old days of growing your own fruits and vegetables. That revolution? Urban garden design.

Whether it be for your own use or for the neighbourhood in which you live, the food street movement may sound very modern and hip but is really based on traditional farming skills underpinned by an objective to save money and reduce living costs.

An urban garden is in fact a tangible reality that can be achieved with a little know-how and advice from the experts.

On the heights of the Sunshine Coast, just 10 minutes from the popular beachside suburbs of Maroochydore and Mooloolaba sits the retirees’ enclave of Buderim. A beautiful part of the world with panoramic views and a light, cool air.

It is also home to the burgeoning, blossoming Food Street. The street has effectively taken the urban garden concept out from the confines of an individual’s property and out onto the street.

An urban garden is in fact a tangible reality that can be achieved with a little know-how and advice from the experts.

According to an article in November 2014 in Sunshine Coast Daily, Bill Hoffman shared the story of Buderim’s forward-thinking residents, who over a period of five years, developed Food Street into a thriving garden of fruit and vegetables for the taking.

The idea started when Duncan McNaught and John Cockrane, two residents, were up in arms over the cost of limes. This got the men thinking they could grow their own for a fraction of the cost. They both planted lime trees on their footpaths. With some general conversation and curiosity, the idea (and the food) grew.

Now, a handful of interconnecting streets provide herbs, spices, fruits and veggies in abundance. And bees, another important, but often forgotten lifeblood of the garden scene.


Another amazing example of the urban garden phenomenon at work is in the United States when every month of every year, on the third Friday of September, creative, ingenious residents transform their pocket-sized parks and gardens into multi-dimensional platforms for political expression, entertainment, crafts and pop-up gardens.

“PARK(ing) Day has become a catalyst for igniting discussion about the way cities plan urban industrialised areas,” writes Tierney VanderVoort in an article for website, Urban Gardens.

Getting back to basics, it appears that everyone has the ability to transform a space — from a window sill to a rooftop garden into their very own mini-farm.

Here’s how:

Start by considering your space and its ability to capture light.

Prepare Your Garden Space

Start by considering your space and its ability to capture light. These important factors determine what types of containers you can use and the plants you can grow.

Ideally, you need to find a spot where plants will receive six to eight hours of sunlight each day, along with access to water.

Soil is another consideration. Shallow-rooted plants — think lettuce and spinach — only need about six to eight inches of soil while vegetables like tomatoes and squash, which are deeper-rooted plants, will need around 12 inches of soil.


Jars: For single plants, you can display them in mason jars which are great for sitting on shelves or window sills, or can be mounted on walls to make a vertical garden. Terracotta pots, buckets and wooden boxes are good alternatives if you have more space. Just make sure they have drainage holes, and use a good quality potting mix with fertiliser.

Pallets: Talking of vertical gardens, discarded pallets are useful in many ways, be it for making cubby houses and indoor/outdoor furniture of all shapes and sizes. When cut down to size, they are the ideal framing solution for both a horizontal and vertical garden.

Hangers: While small apartments may lack space on window sills and ledges, they make it up in ceiling height which is perfect for hanging your plants. If you are not allowed to hang anything from the ceiling, your landlord may approve the installation of a suspension rod on which to hang your baskets and planters.

Besser Blocks: If you have a spare corner of your garden, concrete besser blocks are prime to build your own stacked garden.

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Compost & Soil

Soil is the source of nutrients, minerals, microorganisms and support for your plants.

In Australia, Jamie Drury is the go-to, gardening guru. In an article with Sarah Ranawake on Sportluxe, he has valuable gardening advice. “Soil structure is the key to a thriving garden,” he says, “because soil is the source of nutrients, minerals, microorganisms and support for your plants.”

Begin a compost heap or bin. Save veggie scraps from dinner prep, grass clippings, yard waste and coffee grounds. Uncoated paper products will biodegrade too.

You’ll be surprised at how many things are compostable! All these make for a great soil addition for even more wonderful produce in the future. Check out this tutorial on composting.

You could also start a worm farm, which helps the garden to achieve and maintain good PH levels for nutrient production. Drury says that there are many organic additives that help the composition too. These include: gypsum, lime, blood and bone, seaweed extracts, manure, mushroom compost, peat moss and worm castings.

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Some creepy crawlies are good. Leave these be because they’ll help to keep the pests under control. For the pests, deter with eggshells, lemongrass or catnip.

Garlic is very easy to grow. Plant the clove (or seed) in six inches of soil, again with around six hours of sunlight.

What to Plant?

Want some easier plants to start with, try these first —

Tomatoes: Need to be south-facing, receive up to 12 hours of light and be watered two to three times a week.

Salad Greens: The container size may vary. These need around six hours of sunlight a day. Keep soil moist but not saturated.

Garlic: Garlic is very easy to grow. Plant the clove (or seed) in six inches of soil, again with around six hours of sunlight. It needs well-drained soil that is kept moist but not saturated.

Mint: Mint is a wonderful addition to any kitchen garden and requires a little more soil, a depth of around 12 inches. Position it to receive morning sun and water once a day.

Basil: A delicious base of pesto or a topping for pizza and tomatoes, basil is a must-grow. Plant in four to six inches of soil and water once a day. Fertilise once a month to keep the herb robust and healthy.

Having fun in the garden is also about relaxing. And home and contents insurance with a trusted insurer like Budget Direct can provide some additional peace of mind. Get a quote today.



This post was brought to you by Budget Direct Home Insurance

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