About 4-5 months ago, I shared a few snap shots of my MIL’s newly installed garden beds. Everything was still frosty and barren in the Spring.Fast forward to now, we helped her bring in a pretty nice harvest this year.
And yes my MiL is really that tall; the woman is a Viking.
- Water tank: Filtered water is kept in the tank and slowly released into the breadbaskets below
- Vegetables growing in breadbasket: Breadbaskets filled with porous lava stoned are used to grow vegetables. The stones and vegetables roots trap the nutrients and filter the water which then flows into the fish tank below.
- Fish droppings enrich the water with nutrients for growing vegetables
- A variety of small vegetables can be grown such as swiss chard, cows peas, eggplants, sweet peppers, etc.
- Pump: A solar powered or had pump recycles the water to the top tank, ready for the cycle to start again.
- Chickens provide meat and eggs for consumption and/or for sale. Their droppings are captured and used to feed the fish.
This unique system integrates fish, poultry and vegetable farming using recycled water. It is designed to maximise the yield of each component, whilst minimising the amount of water required. Our research has shown that Haller’s aquaponics system uses only 2% of the water conventionally needed for the same vegetable production. This is particularly important in drought-prone areas in Africa. Haller’s aquaponics system is also affordable, it is made with low cost materials that can be found locally.
We have made several changes to this initial design – in particular to the fish tanks. A revised illustration is currently being worked on.
So my boyfriend just bought a house and it came with this dinky little glasshouse. Over the past couple of days I have been scavenging all the organic matter I could from around the property to make some nice hugelkultur-themed raised beds that will hopefully be functional and productive.
1. Harvested old bricks to build the walls.
2. Raided the kindling box for pinecones and small sticks.
3. Layered all the cardboard we had in the house for unpacking.
4. More kindling.
5. Added compost from the pile that was in varying stages of decomposition. Did a bit of weeding and chucked those in.
6. Began dismantling an ugly old camellia that was blocking the drive and added those bits plus some soil I stole from an outside bed.
7. Pruned a kowhai (native leguminous tree) and piled on the trimmings. Added another layer of bricks with gaps.
8. Discovered a bin full of two years’ worth of fallen leaves. On they went. Planted strawberries in the gaps in the walls.
9. Found a deep litter of needles under the one massive pine tree. Covered this with a generous sprinkling of lime to balance the p.H. and add calcium.
10. Finished it off with a thick layer of more soil borrowed from the tired old outdoors raised beds. Planted it with a first crop of salad greens and broad beans to help improve and stabilise the soil in preparation for summer when I will be planting tomatoes, basil, capsicums, chillis and aubergines.
Dobby the kitten approves.
Veggie Bed #5
Using a combination of mulching techniques, I turned this former triangle of grass around a radio tower into a productive polyculture growing space, comprised of:
- A rectangular raised bed, with barriers made of mycelium-rich rotting logs and mulched with straw, and fertilised by rotating worm towers
- And a living fence/espalier of 15 quince trees, bordering the interior sunken plane around the radio tower. Vines of all sorts use the tower as a trellis.
I am growing many things in it this year, but it is slowly transitioning into a dedicated space for perennial vegetables.
Currently, this area contains:
- Jerusalem artichokes/sunchokes (the flower stalks are almost 3 metres high!) - perennial
- Asparagus - perennial
- Artichokes - perennial
- Egyptian Walking Onions - perennial
- Chinese celery
- Swiss Chard
- Morning Glory
Growing food instead of lawns is good, but can we PLEASE stop with the condescending bullshit that implies that people who choose to grow lawns must only being doing it for shallow ‘sheepish’ reasons?
Maybe instead of snidely saying ‘trying to impress your neighbors?’ give people instructions on how to work with and/or fight their home owner’s association, how to appeal to a landlord, how to address local ordinances, and how to grow stealth food crops as ornamental plants in areas where food gardening is banned. Seriously, they will come bulldoze your shit and then bill you for it.
There is always a lawn alternative. Always!
Really solid commentary from moniquill: you would be surprised in a lot of areas how much architectural controls and zoning ordinances limit what you can do with your own land, or land you rent.
There is also the omnipresent issue of soil quality and contamination of residential lots, which usually means folks have to so a lot of soil building and sheet mulching before this kind of thing is possible.
I “harvested” potatoes from my tower experiment today, and goddamn, was it depressing!! I legitimately got 5 potatoes from the entire bin. That was a lot of effort for nearly zero return.
Other takeaways: there were dozens of worms in the bin that resembled snakes in composition. They were thick and muscular ( versus your standard filmy night crawler ), moved as fast as snakes across the top of the soil and were iridescent in color, not dissimilar from a rubber fishing lure.
I imagine their color was from the soil I used and am still hoping it was the organic potting soil it claimed to be—not that it even matters with this many potatoes to eat.
I’m so sorry that this didn’t work out for you. What do you think happened? These potato towers are my favorite method and has produced well for me consistently.
Were you using commercial soil? Sometimes it is too much in the way of humus for potatoes, and you need to add sand or other inorganic matter to improve drainage and soil mobility. They grow best in a sandy, well-drained, cool loam soil.
Potatoes also require cooler weather to produce tubers: were they in a warm location, or did you have an unusually warm year? I can also theorise that the decomposition of the raw straw mulch heated the soil too much: I’ve seen potato towers done with newspaper, and this might be a lower heat solution.