The future of rooftop gardens

Photo credit: Pictures.Dot.News

New York’s Riverpark Farm

Citizens Take Back Power in the Food System


In their article entitled Deepening Food Democracy, Jill Carlson and M. Jahi Chappell highlight an innovative new take on democratic rule, known as deep democracy that is being used to address the problems in the food system. In theory, deep democracy is a system of governance in which all voices must be heard in order to fully understand and act upon a current issue. Instead of rule by a simple majority, deep democracy is accessible to everyone. It particularly ensures that marginalized and minority populations are involved and heard in the process of creating policy and implementing change. No issue, even the most divisive, is off-limits, according to the authors: in smaller, local contexts there is less emphasis on winning or losing, less expectation that everyone will agree. Instead, say Carlson and Chappell, the deep democracy formats allow for all citizens to share knowledge and experiences and engage in valuable compromises that result in the best scenario for the most people.

So while vertical farm concepts are to be applauded, their construction deserves much more.

New York has been the focus of intensive urban planning, especially in relation to urban farming. Fantastic concepts have been designed that create imagery of giant lush vertical forests, and amazing futuristic spaces, all of which have a very distinct focus on the US city. Perhaps because of its chic nature, stereotypically trendy population and dense population, New York has become something of a Mecca for urban farm concepts.

What some designers are missing in the maze of bright greens and blues of stylish concept images, is that for some time now, New Yorkers have been making the most of their extensive rooftop space and creating their own ground up rooftop farming systems.


Read the full article: FoodTank

African style raised beds for the drylands (You Tube)

VIDEO seen at :

Keyhole Garden – How to make an African style raised bed

Keyhole Gardens are a great garden to make – here is one being built in Uganda. This organic technique is part of Send a Cow’s training in sustainable agriculture and is a great home garden idea too. Keyhole gardens survive floods and arid conditions well as the raised bed holds moisture and is ‘fed’ via a central compost basket. Help support African families and buy the charity gift of a Keyhole Garden for a friend at​build-a-keyhole-garden

Keyhole Gardens African Style (You Tube / Send a Cow / Michael J King)

VIDEO seen at :

Keyhole Garden – How to make an African style raised bed

Keyhole Gardens are a great garden to make – here is one being built in Uganda. This organic technique is part of Send a Cow’s training in sustainable agriculture and is a great home garden idea too. Keyhole gardens survive floods and arid conditions well as the raised bed holds moisture and is ‘fed’ via a central compost basket. Help support African families and buy the charity gift of a Keyhole Garden for a friend at​build-a-keyhole-garden


African Keyhole Style Garden, Vegetables, Copper tools, and Bio Char!!

Uploaded by

The Aftrican Keyhole garden is a very simple and effective way to grow vegetables in a small amount of space, nothing is hard to reach which makes planting and weeding simple, great for Kids and the elderley. the central compost bin acts as a source of food and water, like a biogenic battery,

I had a zero budget this year for my garden so I used recycled building rubble for the stones and an old unused compost bin, I just layed newspaper on the grass, applied some garden compost, added Bio char and some old tin cans, another layer of newspaper and then a layer of garden compost, the only material I bought was a few growbags to top up the soil and seeds.

Detailed instructions, support packs, etc about this are available from this African charity website:



Farming or gardening with old tyres instead of containers (Comment Dev Raj Paudel)

A new comment on the post #251 “Great ideas for container gardening” :

Author : Dev Raj Paudel
E-mail : merodev@gmail.comComment:
Has anyone heard about farming on old tyres instead of containers on rooftops? If yes, please kindly send me details at

MY REPLY (Willem)

Farming or gardening with old tyres

I don’t have any information on the use of old tyres instead of containers on rooftops, but it seems to be an excellent idea, taking into account that ways should be developed to canalize the percolating drainage water on the rooftop floor. Maybe some clever “developers” will come up with interesting solutions to recycle the leaching water.

Neighbours of mine use old tyres in their garden to construct “special accents” or “attraction spots” with particular colourful flowering species. They even paint the tyres in corresponding colours.

The tyres are simply laid down on the garden soil and filled with potting soil, which is in direct contact with the local garden soil, offering earthworms a possibility to penetrate inside the “tyre bed“.  The inner side of the tyre (its cavity) is also filled with potting soil. Thereby, a certain part of the irrigation water is also running inside the tyre cavity, where less evaporation occurs. Thus, the overall mass of potting soil retains irrigation water much longer. Its water retention capacity is even higher when mixing a water absorbent soil conditioner with the potting soil. It has thereby been shown that less irrigation water is needed to keep the potting soil inside the tyres moistened over a longer period. This can be an interesting aspect for gardening in the drylands, on rooftops or in containers.

For sure, half tyres or quarter tyres could be used to produce hanging baskets. It suffices to fill the inner side of these parts of tyres with potting soil and to perforate the lower part of the tyre to enable drainage.

Moreover, I strongly believe that old tyres will be very cost-effective materials to create “raised beds” or “small-space gardens“. Instead of using wood for the outer limits of a raised bed, or instead of installing “earthboxes” (see former postings), an old tyre could certainly do the job.

My neighbours use tyres to create circular raised beds or circular “square foot gardens (a meaningful contradictio in terminis !). In fact, why not recycle the old tyres to make our environment greener. The tyres are getting almost invisible when planting pendent (hanging) species at the outer edge. Cutting the tyres diametrically, half tyres can be used as crescents on slopes to limit soil erosion.  They are positioned horizontally at the contour lines of the slope.

Why should people not use an old tyre to construct a small herb garden ?

Supposing that one gets a set of identical tyres (same dimensions), it would even be possible to create a table garden by superposing e.g. 4-5 tyres, of which the outer side can be painted in a green colour. The inside cylinder of the 4-5 towering tyres has to be filled with potting soil, so that the surface to be planted comes at table height. Probably, this “cylinder gardening” will be a nice idea for elderly or handicaped gardeners.

Believing that it could also be a constructive idea for school gardens, I like to recommend teachers setting up trials to show youngsters how to recycle the tyres, taking care of their environment, while growing vegetables, fruit trees and the like in otherwise landscape-polluting tyres. Let me also recommend to offer to every boy or girl working in the school garden one single tyre to cultivate. It would be “their” own little garden for which they are personally kept responsible. School gardens in developing countries could consist of a high number of such circular beds (the tyres), one per pupil, on which vegetables can be produced for the school cantina or for the pupil’s family. Once the pupils are trained at school to “garden with tyres“, they would also have the capacity to transfer these ideas to their own house and invite their family to apply the same method. Knowing that less irrigation water would be needed to produce more food, this “tyre system” could possibly contribute to ensure food security for the rural families in the drylands.

Wherever old tyres are used for farming or gardening, the system seems easier to sustain than practicing it in the field or an open garden space. Tyres seem to be an ideal material for sustainable gardening, in particular for urban gardening. From time to time a small part of the potting soil can be replaced with fresh compost to enhance the organic content of the rooting zone.These are but some simple ideas about possible uses of old tyres. I hope many visitors of my blog will react upon this posting and come up with good examples, preferably with pictures, to show what one can do with those tyres. Looking forward to your contributions.

Easy Container Gardens (commercial) – (KidsGardening)

Read at :

“ Store Special” <>

Easy Container Gardens

Welcome to the Gardening with Kids Store Specials! Here are this week’s specials. To view this e-mail online, visit
Sales advert.
Pictures can create ideas !
See  also : Product search to browse the departments.

Planning Urban School Gardens (KidsGardening)

Read at : KidsGardening

© 2007 National Gardening Association,

Planning Urban School Gardens

Author: Sarah Pounders

There’s a lot in the news lately about “nature-deficit disorder,” a phrase coined by author Richard Louv to describe the behavioral problems suffered by children who spend little or no time in contact with the natural world. Many studies show that it’s vital for children’s health and development to have regular access to natural settings, but this is extremely challenging for children in urban locations. Although cities across the country are recognizing the importance of green space as a community-building tool with psychological, social, physical, and economic benefits, daily access to nature through outdoor experiences is often minimal or non-existent for urban American youth. The answer to this predicament? Install a garden at every school! Fortunately, it’s possible to design a garden to fit any space and budget. Even if your schoolyard is paved, you can plant in containers and raised beds on concrete and asphalt-covered surfaces, on rooftops and balconies, or at the very least, in hanging baskets and window boxes. Gardens like these are affordable and achievable, and do provide students with the chance to observe nature, learn about lifecycles and ecosystems, gain respect and appreciation for their environment, and to simply soak up the abundant sensory delights offered by the green earth. Continue reading “Planning Urban School Gardens (KidsGardening)”

Make your own raised beds (Dave’s Garden)

Read at : Dave’s Garden Weekly Newsletter

Raised Beds Why and How

By Paul Rodman (paulgrow)
March 7, 2008

Poor soil? Rocky hard pan slow drainage. No organic materials, nothing will grow? Bad back or other disability? A raised bed may be the answer to your problems; I’ll explain how to build them and where they should be placed.

The first step in building a raised bed is site selection. You want a location that has full sun; that means a minimum of 6 hours per day, preferably more if possible. After you have selected a site you need to choose material from which to frame your bed. You have a vast selection of materials to choose from.  I was fortunate to have a friend who owned a large farm. Each spring before plowing he had to clear the field of large stones; he would pile them up and give me a call. I had an endless supply of field stone to use for our raised beds. They are decorative as well as functional. Cement block as well as wood also makes an excellent raised bed. Pressure treated lumber is probably the most economical type of lumber to use that will last the longest. Prior to 2005 pressure treated lumber contained arsenic. Since that time it is no longer permitted; if you use pressure treated lumber older than that don’t grow vegetables in that bed. This will eliminate possibility of some of the harmful substances being absorbed by the veggies. Cedar and Red Wood are also good choices although red wood can be a bit pricy. If using lumber there are corner brackets available from home centers, and catalogs that makes joing the corners very easy. Cement block is also an inexpensive material from which you can construct a raised bed.

Continue reading “Make your own raised beds (Dave’s Garden)”

Wide Row Raised Bed Gardening (Dave’s Garden)

Read at : Dave’s Garden Weekly Newsletter

Wide Row Raised Bed Gardening-The perfect plan for the lazy gardener

By Catherine Smith (doccat5)Rather than plant single straight rows in your garden, try planting wide rows. Several advantages are listed below along with some general instructions for creating wide rows. You’ll get more yield in less space, and your garden will require less maintenance.

This method is very similar to using Square Foot Gardening, except the area is larger and the planting not so particularly spaced.

Wide Row Gardening

Rather than plant single straight rows in your garden, try planting wide rows. Several advantages are listed below along with some general instructions for creating wide rows. You’ll get more yield in less space, and your garden will require less maintenance. You can make your rows as long as you need and have the space.

The advantages of using wide rows vs single row planting:

More space in your garden can and will be used to grow plants. You will see an increased production per square foot. You are creating and controlling a micro climate. You can add amendments selectively if necessary. If you are gardening in limited space this method allows you to get much more production per square foot than many other methods.

You save time because you have fewer weeds and properly monitored, less watering is necessary. You only need to mulch heavily between the rows. The shade provided by the growing plants eliminates the need for heavy mulching in the rows.
Harvesting is much easier, you will be able to pick more produce from a single location. You can control the height of your beds making picking much easier on your back. Many of the cool weather crops will produce longer with less bolt if inter planted among taller plants.

Companion planting is much easier. By inter planting root crops such as carrots, beets and radishes with other plants, you cultivate and aerate the remaining plants as you harvest the root crops.
Your plants stay cleaner and healthier. Heavy rain is less likely to splash mud on your growing vegetables.
Continue reading “Wide Row Raised Bed Gardening (Dave’s Garden)”

Raised bed gardening : some tips (Google Alert / Howdididoit)

Read at : Google Alert / gardening

Raised bed gardening

Raised bed gardening is enjoying a new popularity with space and time being more limited. A raised bed garden is built so the soil level in the garden is higher than the surrounding ground. This is usually achieved by using landscape timbers or a similar material. Very common in colonial times they can be made to enhance any landscaping that you have done and made to fit your needs. The most common size is about four feet wide and whatever length is convenient for you to manage and fit in with your decor. One of the reasons for a raised bed aside from conserving space is that you usually get a much higher yield per square foot because you can maximize the space by planting rows closer together as you don’t need to have enough space to walk between the rows to plant or harvest. At 4 feet wide everything is easily accessible from either side. Another reason for high yield is that in a small area it is much easier to control the soil quality. Continue reading “Raised bed gardening : some tips (Google Alert / Howdididoit)”

Lasagna Gardening (Google Alert / My skinny garden)

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Google Alert -gardening

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Planning MSG 2008: Lasagna Gardening

After reading Colleen’s review of Lasagna Gardening, I started thinking this could be exactly what I need to get ready for next year’s garden. I picked up a copy last night after work.

Book Review

What I like most about this book is the no-nonsenseness of it. After a short description of how she thought up the idea of Lasagna Gardening, Patricia Lanza gets right to explaining how to build a Lasagna Garden and describes a few of the ones she’s built herself. I don’t like garralous how-to books so this is right up my alley. Unfortunately, this makes the actual information of this book more suitable for a pamphlet – the rest seems to be general plant information but that didnt make me regret the purchase. I hate reading how-to books and thinking chapter after chapter “GET TO THE POINT, ALREADY!!” So, about MSG 2008, I’ve already thought of 5 different places I could try this lasagna gardening!! I’m so excited! Continue reading “Lasagna Gardening (Google Alert / My skinny garden)”

Raised beds : also interesting for the drylands (Vegetable Grower)

Read at :

The Vegetable Grower (see my blogroll)

Seven Good Reasons to Install Raised Beds

….a wider selection of vegetable varieties can be grown in difficult soil or an unsuitable pH level. Once constructed raised beds can be filled with your own soil mix -consisting of top soil and organic matter of well rotted compost or manure.

….built high enough they can eliminate bending for those of us who suffer with bad backs, are in wheelchairs or incapacitated in some other way. There really are ways that most of us can enjoy and experience growing fresh delicious vegetables.

….drainage is improved because the beds are not walked on. Raised beds are usually built to be 120cm(4ft) wide and be of any length with a path around the edges. This enables all areas of the bed to be accessed from the pathway for weeding, sowing or planting.

….soil warms up more rapidly in spring allowing for earlier planting. This can be further enhanced by covering the raised bed or at least parts of it with a black polythene covering for even earlier plantings.

….no digging is required because you don`t walk on it. Just keep topping up with well rotted compost and let the worms and soil bacteria take the strain and do their job.

….makes it easier to protect your vegetable seedlings and plants from pests such as birds, butterflies like the Cabbage White (Brassica pest) etc. or protect against frost.

Frames can be built over them supporting netting or fleece. A low fence can be erected around the edges to keep out rabbits. Use your imagination for many other ways.

….erecting or installing several raised beds make it simple to plan for crop rotation as explained in the February newsletter. If you have`nt got room then split one bed into three sections.

If your not in the mood to construct your own then view a selection of raised beds here which just need assembling – easy peasy!

(see some pictures at


Organic gardening: Kick the chemicals (Google Alert / Telegraph)

Read at :

Google Alert for gardening

Organic gardening: Kick the chemicals

Look after your soil – and your soil will look after you, says Tom Petherick

Having dealt with slugs last time, I’ll turn to the heart of the organic garden: the soil. It is the most important element in any garden, for soil, in combination with the miracle that is photosynthesis, allows plants to grow. The priority for the organic gardener must be to have the soil in the best possible condition to act as a mechanism for growth, and to supply nutrients to the plants. This will enable them to grow strongly and help withstand attacks from pests and diseases. In modern-day conventional agriculture and horticulture, plants are fed directly by artificial means using systems that more or less bypass the soil as a source of nutrition, acting merely as a rooting mechanism. So it can come as no surprise that we see chronic soil erosion, appalling pest problems, poor food quality and an even deeper dependence on chemicals that has led, ultimately, to genetically modified crops. Continue reading “Organic gardening: Kick the chemicals (Google Alert / Telegraph)”

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