With the burgeoning interest of city dwellers in growing their own food, one of the key challenges to food gardeners has been resolved with a new release of the www.cityfoodgrowers.com organic gardening web site. At the click of mouse, gardeners from any location in Australia, USA and New Zealand can select by day, month or plant on the correct times to plant, cultivate or harvest their food plants. The web site stores temperatures from over 5000 weather monitoring points in those countries, temperature profiles of 130 of the most common food plants and daily planetary information.
Food gardeners will no longer need to use the complicated and sometimes inaccurate broad zonal and regional planting systems. The web site allows for localisation of the garden climate profile down to the level of town and city and even suburb within large cities. This greatly improves the potential for successful planting. For gardeners interested in taking advantage of planetary forces, such as moon planting and Biodynamic planting data, the web site integrates the often complex planetary information directly into the planting calendar.
When a food gardener starts using the web site, they create a local temperature profile for their garden and can even provide for shade factors in their garden and vary this over the year as the sun’s position changes with the seasons. When they use the site planting calendar, their search result will display whether it is ideal to work with a plant on month or day. It will also show which months during growing period where the gardener should expect extremes or heat or cold, so they can take some precautions in advance to protect their food plants.
‘The Cityfood Growers website is one of the most impressive sites I have encountered. The geographic specific detail eliminates many mistakes home gardeners make in planting the wrong plant in the wrong zone’. Mary Trigger, CEO SGA online, Australia
‘We used the planting calendar on the Cityfood Growers web site today and last week with some interns to plant crops in our demonstration garden. It was extremely helpful.’ Thea Carlson, Angelic Organics Farm and Learning Centre, Illinois, USA
‘The information on planting times and companion planting for a wide variety of plants on the site will be a well used and valuable resource for me.’ Daniel Hutchins, Wellington, New Zealand
Once a gardener decides on the appropriate plants to work with, they can access a large resource of information on each plant. Easy to use search tools on the web site make it very fast for gardeners to answer their common questions. Over 30 key plant attributes can be easily searched, for example: soil and planting requirements, ease of growing, space needed, container growing, water requirements, organic treatment of all pests and diseases for each plant, companion planting, rotation requirements and beneficial flowers.
The web site also provides a range of community features which are mostly free to access. Cityfood Growers is based in Brisbane, Australia and released the first version of its web site in May 2008 for Australian users. It has backyard gardeners from all states of Australia as web site members and is working with schools on integrating the web site into their organic gardening courses. The new release of the site in June 2009 incorporates many new site features and opens the site to gardeners from other countries of the world.
‘The Internet provides the capacity to be local and global at the same time and I feel that our venture can play a strong part in helping to transform our food systems to be more locally based. We have attempted to use the power of the Internet and smart design to help food gardeners tie together often complex information so they get answers fast and can spend more time in their gardens and connecting with other people of like mind.’ Peter Kearney, founder of Cityfood Growers www.cityfoodgrowers.com