mobile garden website
In September of 2008 the mobile garden idea arose from a graduate seminar class at the University of Illinois at Chicago addressing sustainability and design. The basic concept that artist Joe Baldwin came up with is to build a garden on a flatcar train and to let it travel with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) as part of their regular transit service. Because of the conditions that would subject plants to the ideal plants for the mobile garden are native plants that require low water and low maintenance. This also allows the opportunity to highlight the importance of native plants in the community.
What a great idea for an urban art project. New York City has had two significant art projects that included edible gardens over the past two years. This year we had the Waterpod Project and last year Farm1 at the PS1 museum. Both offer valuable experience to draw on.
Artist Joe Baldwin proposes to utilize a CTA maintenance flat car to create a mobile garden to be part of the Green Line transit service for approximately 3 to 4 weeks in April, 2010. Check out his mobile garden website for more.
Both gardens would have been far more productive had they been sub-irrigated instead of top watered. The WaterPod garden was hand watered and Farm 1 by drip irrigation.It may not seem like a significant factor to a casual observer, particularly those who have been indoctrinated with “drain hole” propaganda but it does make a major difference in plant growth and health.
Whether hand watered or by drip irrigation, gravity feed of water in a container is highly variable. It is conducive to dry pockets and unevenness of water distribution throughout the soil mass.
Sub-irrigation provides a consistent supply and even distribution of water that allows edible plants to produce more fruit. Plants don’t like uncertainty and stress any more than we do. Providing light and water on a consistent basis results in dramatically increased production.
Even though the the Waterpod Project had some bucket type sub-irrigated planters (SIPs), vegetable production would have been much greater had the built-in planters also been sub-irrigated.
Farm 1 was planned to have a farmers market. It never happened. There simply wasn’t enough produce for a market. The irrigation methods chosen in both cases were based on “conventional wisdom” that is clearly outmoded.Whether native, edible or cultivated decorative plants, this garden project would clearly benefit from the installation of a sub-irrigation system. Local Chicago experience with EarthBoxes at the Museum of Science and Industry Smart Home will be most helpful.