Urban Agriculture Business Information Bundle

Growing Fruit and Vegetables

Growing vegetables is perhaps the simplest and least expensive form of urban agriculture.

You'll find lots of good advice on growing vegetables in the Online Gardener's Handbook.

Which vegetable varieties grow best will depend on your local climate and soil type.

For vegetables that need a head start on Ontario's short growing season, you can start your own seeds indoors or invest in a backyard greenhouse.

Associations

Growing Fruit

Setting up your own orchard or berry patch lets you enjoy the flavour of freshly picked fruit and grow varieties that may be hard to find at your local grocery store.

Keep in mind, however, that many fruit plants require a greater investment of time, money and effort than vegetables do. Tree fruit, for example, won't bear fruit for several years after planting. Most fruit trees, shrubs and vines require regular pruning to produce good yields, while managing insects and diseases can be a significant challenge that often require the use of chemicals - something restricted in home gardens under Ontario's Cosmetic Pesticide Ban.

You'll also need to contend with a wide range of mammalian and avian pests, from deer that browse on young trees to birds that nibble the fruit before it's fully ripe.

Since fruit trees, vines and shrubs are perennials, planning your orchard is even more important than planning your vegetable garden. Be sure to select the right cultivar for the local climate and soil conditions, choose the right location and spacing and prepare the soil in advance. For some fruit trees, you'll need plant a second cultivar to provide cross-pollination.

Food Safety

Food safety begins with the planning of your garden and extends to storage and food preparation, since contamination can occur at any step along the way. The primary sources of pathogens are poor-quality water, manure, pets, wild animals and poor personal hygiene. By following a few commonsense practices, you can keep the risk of contamination to a minimum. Note that although some gardeners use manure to improve the soil and add nutrients, this can create food safety risks. If you are storing manure or compost, bagged or unbagged, ensure that it is covered from the elements to avoid run-off into city sewers, neighbouring properties and ponds.

For details see:

The OMAFRA Advantage Good Agricultural Practices manual offers informative advice on food safety and discusses risk assessment and reduction.

OMAFRA also offers information on traceability and how to incorporate this feature into your project.

For new food safety products and advice, check the OMAFRA food safety website.

Legislation

Note that Ontario's Cosmetic Pesticide Ban limits the use of many pesticides in Ontario, including for household vegetable gardens, home orchards and berry patches.

For other laws that may apply to urban agriculture, see the Relevant Legislation and Regulations page.

Pest Control and Disease Management

See OMAFRA's Online Gardener's Handbook for information on plant injury and integrated pest management, as well as specific information on insects and diseases that affect vegetables.

It also discusses problem areas on fruit plants and insect and disease control on fruit.

Pollination

British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Lands' Pollination Factsheet

Specific Crops: Berries
Specific Crops: Nuts
Specific Crops: Tree Fruit

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca