Vertical Garden update 25-01-2016

At our third planning meeting we decided on 3 systems to start prototyping; soil, hydroponic and aquaponic.  Our 4th meeting will be on Feb 11 from 19:00 until 21:30 in the Baumhaus.  We will begin the process of prototyping so we are asking team members and people who are interested in joining to do some research and start to identify materials and resources we will still need (with prices and places where we purchase them or get sponsored for cheap or free).  This meeting will be a continuation of the prototyping process.  As teams develop their plans we will begin purchasing materials.

20-01-2016 – Vertical Garden and Permaculture Planning Meeting #3

The night outside was frosty but inside the cosy Baumhaus space the air was warmly buzzing with good energy, groovy people and great ideas…

We were continuing to plan the vertical and permaculture gardens to grow on the walls of Das Baumhaus. After two productive planning meetings, we now had plenty of ideas for everything from watering systems to aesthetic design. This third meeting was all about moving forward; we set a goal to work out which systems we wanted to prototype in the coming weeks.

The options were vast. So we split into working groups, each to explore a different support system for vertical gardening: the soil system, the hydroponics system (water only) and the aquaponics system (water and aquatic animals). With people coming from a variety of disciplines and interest areas, each offering their own valuable input, it made for some very interesting discussion. Between us all, we had a lot of experience of permaculture, building vertical gardens and working with aquaponics! We considered how, and the materials needed, to build each system, as well as how sustainable and price efficient they each were, and sketched out some designs.

The team working on soil systems came up with some very innovative ideas, including stringing up plant beds in hammocks and a vertical tower garden that also functions as a vermicomposting system (scraps from the kitchen with added worms create a great organic fertiliser and soil amendment!). Benefits of a soil system are that it would be 100% organic, would support principles of permaculture in that species within the ecosystem benefit each other and would be truly sustainable – waste products can be recycled as nutrients for other plants in the Baumhaus.

The hydroponics group planned to build a living wall, complete with tank, multiple dripping watering lines, wooden frame and a rockwool rooting for the plants, covering a 4x4m wall in the space. This system is water-efficient (and it waters itself automatically) and has the potential to be very aesthetically pleasing, giving us the chance to play with different coloured and textured plants. On the other hand, it would take a while to get this system going as the plants are installed and then must be allowed to grow into the wall.

The aquaponics system works on the basis that aquatic animals, in this case fish, and hydroponics exist side by side, in a mutually beneficial relationship. The fish faeces in the water used to irrigate plants provides them with essential nutrients. The plants filter the water, in turn, and thus maintain a suitable habitat for the fish. One aquaponics group focused on the idea of plants having access to water both above and below the water of the fish tank. The other group designed a ‘Paternoster’ style system. Plant baskets are hung along a vertical, circular conveyer belt, which turns a bit more each hour (or any given time interval) to allow each plant basket to be watered. Whilst the circuit is stationary, the basket at the watering station is allowed to flood, then drain out at a slower rate than it was watered. This ensures nutrients within the water are evenly distributed. A benefit of this system is that plants demanding different mixes of nutrients can be separated by basket and watered accordingly. When plants need tending to or harvesting, there is also no need to climb up to the baskets. This system has the convenience of being able to alter the heights of plant baskets as desired.

After all these ideas were presented to the rest of the group, we hung out, chatting, networking and drinking delicious cocktails mixed at our bar prototype by the lovely Sarah from ‘The Wedding Space’.