Saturday, July 7, 2012

Thinking about Planters, Space-efficiency and Aesthetics

So we're finally starting our urban food production project. We've decided to start indoors and expand onto the roof. Our apartment is quite small with three dogs and four cats, that like to get their little green paws involved in our gardening, definitely an added challenge. We decided not to start with seeds and to buy and transplant plants, just until we get our composter going (which is all cut and ready to be assembled, but I tend to be on the slow side of things). The Agricultural Research Unit in Mohandiseen, right by the Shooting Club, sells different edible and herbaceous plants at a surprisingly low cost (about 10 L.E a plant), they claim that they are organic and non-GMO, I must say I am slightly skeptical about these claims, but will go ahead and start off with this. We bought: Basil, thyme, marjoram, parsley, lavender, mint, rosemary and garlic.
The basil, marjoram and mint will do alright in partial sunlight and the rest need direct sunlight. So we cannot place all the plants in the same areas in the house. Luckily we have two small balconies and a lot of light in our apartment so the challenge is really about cramming as many plants as we can in the small spaces that we have.
For the kitchen which gets about 2-3 hours of sunlight right before noon, we will place the basil, marjoram, mint, thyme, rosemary and parsley. The kitchen is 2 x 5 m with a lot of shelves and cupboards that are full, leaving very little room for planters. I came across these fantastic sky upside down planters that can be constructed from old plastic bottles, some duct-tape, mesh and decorative paper. Keeping my herbs in the kitchen means I can just reach up and grab them rinse them and put them in my food. The biggest plus to upside down planters is that they not just extremely space efficient but also water efficient, something we always want to keep in consideration when living in a hyper-arid country.

According to my research it seems that basil, mint, thyme, marjoram, rosemary and parsley do quite well upside down. The garlic cannot be planted upside down because its roots are gravitrophic so they will be extremely confused when hung upside down and will grow downwards outside the soil.  
So now I will work on constructing the planters, of course having them match our decor is extremely important to us so it might be a few days before they we are able to repot and hang them up.

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