The video was shot this past December. The FARM:shop is now open and apparently thriving.
It appears that there may be lighting issues regarding the nutrient film technique (NFT) hydroponics wall system and the indoor plant vertical garden in the stairwell. Time will tell as it always does when growing plants inside buildings. Light is the limiting factor. The best thing to do is to measure the light with a light meter before planting.
Also note that there are no solid media (artificial soil) based sub-irrigated planters (SIPs). In my view that is a significant omission in what I view as a very progressive urban food production project.
At The Farm:Shop Something & Son are converting a derelict shop into an urban food 'Hub', cafe and arts venue complete with mini 'aquaponic' fish farms, rooftop chicken coops, indoor allotments and polytunnel.
The following is from the FARM:shop website. It is now open and there is much new information to blog about. It is all about local food, community and modern methods of growing such as hydroponics and aquaponics. Stay tuned.
This is the first effort at cutting glass bottles to make sub-irrigated planters (SIPs) or hydroculture planters. I believe it is the start of something big. Wine, champagne, liquor, water bottle planters to come. Who knows what else.
I pulled these small beer bottles out of the trash. The planter on the right is the same configuration as the plastic soda bottle SIPs.
The inverted neck portion of the bottle forms the planter. The bottom section forms the water and air reservoir.
There is a fabric wick/retainer at the end of the neck that holds the soil mix in the neck of the bottle and feeds water up by capillary action.
The planter to the left is hydroculture, which is a very simple form of hydroponics. There is no need for the neck. The bottom is filled with expanded clay pebbles. There is a ½” clear plastic tube going all the way to the bottom of the bottle planter. You can insert a piece of ¼” clear plastic tubing (or a straw) and oxygenate the water by blowing air. You do not need an electric pump or air stone.
This is clearly the rock star of the urban greenscaper photo collection. There is no close second. People from all over the world have viewed it 26,738 times as of today.
There is good reason for calling it the Rosetta Stone of container plant growing. Whether growing houseplants, herbs or vegetable starters it makes plant growing so much easier. You do not need a mythical green thumb to grow healthy plants.
Even with almost 40 years of horticultural experience, I continue to learn new things about plants using these recycled (or upcycled) soda bottle sub-irrigated planters.
They are not only better for plants than drain hole planters, they are free and you are helping the environment by using them. They are clearly (pun intended) better than what you can buy.
You can use them to propagate cuttings or seeds. Grow vegetable starter plants in them and then move them into raised bed, utility bucket, tote box or EarthBox portable micro gardens (aka sub-irrigated planters, SIPs).
Stay tuned for recycled glass wine and beer bottle versions of these planters. A YouTube instructional video is also in the works.
What a pleasure it was a couple of weeks ago to meet Philson Warner of Cornell University Cooperative Extension and have a tour of his lab. No, I did not have to travel to Cornell's home in upstate Ithaca thanks to a meeting and lab tour sponsored by Food Systems Network NYC and the Food and Finance High School in Manhattan.
To my utter amazement I discovered that Philson is in charge of Cornell's hydroponics, aquaponics learning lab housed within the Food and Finance High School right here in New York City.
I had no idea that Cornell had this food technology resource in Manhattan and wonder how many other New Yorkers know about it. I'm guessing not many.
Read the following article from the Cornell Chronicle Online and learn more. I will have more to say about Philson's good work in the future. He and the lab deserve much more recognition.
In the Q&A session, there was an opportunity to poll the audience by show of hands. I asked who of them were familiar with sub-irrigated planter systems (SIPs), micro gardens and simplified hydroponics. The response was less than 10% of the audience to all three questions.
It was most revealing to once again experience how little the subject of modern methods of personal food production are known in our society. The USDA fog machine (and others) have done a most effective job of keeping the focus on traditional dirt farming methods that are clearly less appropriate for personal use in city neighborhoods.
Simple-to-use personal food growing systems are safe, highly productive, produce no run-off and conserve water.
These systems avoid growing in often-contaminated city soil and produce in the range of 50% more produce per square foot while saving 80-90% of the water used in overhead irrigation.
People can grow on concrete, on balconies and rooftops. Space in the sun for a micro garden system is all they need. Unlike dirt gardens, micro gardens or micro farms can be certified organic from day one.
There is no need for time-strapped people to have to travel to a dirt garden to grow some fresh food. These gardens are fine for people who have the time and motivation to garden in a group but they should not be the sole option.
There is no reason for people holding two jobs to water plants two times a day during the heat of the summer. Dirt gardening as the norm makes little sense in the city. If we really want to reduce obesity and hunger, we need to live in the modern world and use some very simple but highly productive technology. The only thing holding us back is lack of education.
Will urban gardens save America? This lofty topic was taken on tonight by a panel of experts representing different aspects of the urban agriculture movement that provided an interesting overview of the issue.
Teaching kids to eat dandelion leaves, ensuring capital for commercially-scalable urban agricultural projects, and the impracticality of rooftop gardens were theme that punctuated the diverse conversation in an exploration of how we grow our food