This is an idea that has been used by the UN in countries that have suffered natural disasters. It was used extensively after the earth quake in Armenia, Columbia. I cannot claim any originality for the idea which came from this site around 2001. The original article seems to have gone.
Although developed as a simple method of growing food in developing countries it has a place in food production in urban areas of the UK. Many inner city districts share common problems with less developed countries. Low fixed incomes; the lack of easy access to fresh food and the lack of personal and public transport to reach out of town shopping areas. Add to that no space for a garden plus long waiting lists for allotments and it is clear that this way of growing could be very useful.
The growing system consists of a waterproofed wooded box with a hole in the centre. My box has a plywood base and softwood sides. The waterproofing is black plastic and the drainage hole uses a grommet with a 15mm plastic pipe with tap pushed through from the bottom. The tap is not really required but was added so that some measurements of water added and waste water flow to the can could be taken.
This way of growing could be called hydroponics because it does not use soil and all nutrients are added to the irrigation water. Any organic gardener growing using organic grow bags, or pots, would also fall into this category although many would not like that label!
Research is being carried out in many parts of the world on the integration of organic growing and hydroponics. Hybrid hydroponics is being developed in Australia where food waste from a restaurant is being used for worm composting which is then used to make a nutrient solution to feed to beds of salad crops which go back to the restaurant. True closed loop recycling. In some cities the growing takes place on roof tops making use of waste heat and CO2 from the building beneath.
Updated 25 March 2020.
With many people asking about growing food and not have a space for garden, container growing is the answer. We plan to repeat this trial using reclaimed timber where possible and reclaimed butyl rubber pond liner.The compost will be a mix of our own garden compost and with some from our food waste composter which should be high in nutrients. If any extra feed is needed it will be dilute liquid Comfrey form our own plants.
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