Toronto has its advantages. Culture. Numerous restaurants. The eyesore of the CN Tower. However, with the city’sdrastic temperatures and the inaccessible housing market, many people have put to rest the idea of owning a garden.
Enter Christopher Wong. After completing a business degree from Queens, he found himself throwing around ideas for entrepreneurial efforts after graduation. Young Urban Farmers was born – the city slickers solution for growing food in the city.
We spoke with Chris on a rainy late spring day to get more details on his vision and to knowwhat to plantin our own starter gardens.
Thanks for talking to us! Do you get a bit of a break since it’s a rainy day?
The rain doesnt prevent us from getting to the garden! Were still weeding and putting in some shrubs and berries and things like that. We arent planting peas or things that should be going in the ground earlier than now.
Peas need more time in the ground?
Yes, peas and spinach and arugula are cool crops. They like the spring and the fall. They dont like the weather of the summer quite as much.
Tell us more of your secrets!
A lot of science and knowledge can go into gardening but I dont believe it has to be arduous. I want to make it fun and simple. No matter what the size of someones space, its possible!
Even in Toronto condominiums and basement apartments?
Yes, we can make it easy and accessible. We have branched into indoor herb gardens using LED glowing lights so that basement apartments can successfully grow all kinds of plants. They have low power consumption and no toxic heavy metals. You dont need to switch from one bulb to the other. Its a bit of an initial investment for the lights but it will more than return your investment. It can also help with flowering plants like tomatoes.
Are herbs and tomatoes good choices for starter gardens?
Many herbs are low and easy maintenance. Also, many are drought tolerant, unlike many vegetables. Lettuce can get bitter if there is not enough water. It doesnt mean you cant grow it, but you will be tending more to the plants.
If you would like to grow greens, there are three varieties that I suggest quite often that are not lettuce. Swiss chard, kale and mizuna. Mizuna is a Japanese green and youve probably eaten it without knowing it. Its a common ingredient in those spring salad mixes. All three of these greens not only produce abundantly, they can stand up to the heat of our summer without wilting. They will continue yielding through our hot 30-degree summers. Some of my clients have spoken about harvesting kale into November!
Are there other misconceptions about gardening?
Many people put the same plants in the same place, every year. They need to build and feed the soil. This is the foundation for the plants. This strong foundation coupled with good structure through good drainage goes a long way to ensure good results.
How can people reduce the back pain associated with gardening?
Heavy clay is the makeup of a lot of the soil in Toronto. This can be difficult. There are a couple of ways to minimize this work: we can do it for you ORadd a good amount of organic matter to build up the soil structure. This will improve the condition of the soil to make gardening simpler for many years to come.
When you get old, will you change the name of your company?
(laughs) Well cross that bridge when we get to it.
Well look out for Old Urban Farmers in the future, Chris
5863 Leslie St. Suite 616