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Towards Balcony Sustainability Despite Restrictions on Permanence
Towards Balcony Sustainability Despite Restrictions on Permanence
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Toyonaka, Osaka, JP
Climate zone:
Warm Temperate

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Project: Towards Balcony Sustainability Despite Restrictions on Permanence

Posted by James R. Diegel almost 11 years ago

The maximum scale of my 'container garden' two years previous before moving overseas and the problems according to permaculture principles associated with it.


    I have been gardening on my patio for about five years now.  Two years ago however I had to dismantle the garden as there would be no one to look after it while I was overseas for an extended period of time.  The image at the bottom shows what it looked like just previous to my departure. Most of these plants were donated to a friends garden where they were transplanted directly into the earth.  Although on an aesthetic appeal I quite enjoyed what I had established, I realize now after my PDC and personal sustainability research that there were multiple problems associated with the design - primarily those of nutrient and water recycling.  In addition, while in Hawai'i the building board conducted renovations on the patio whereby all the flooring was removed and re-water sealed.  This happens every 10 years or so and even had I have been here I would have had to remove all the plants to the inside for that time.  This in itself is not that big of a deal as the winter sun does penetrate the windows but does cause some problems for development of a low work system whereby catch and storage facilities can be installed.  This is a necessity in my opinion not only to conserve the energy waste back to the health of the potted soil, but in addition as there is no source of water on the patio makes more sense than using tap water from the kitchen faucet.  At present the entire system is pretty much a blank slate most of these plants and containers gone, however I have posted this image here to show the possible scope of growth that could exist on but a mere 1/4 of the patio space available. 

Present Implementations:

A) About a month ago I set up a worm bin on the patio to recycle kitchen waste and it is doing quite well.

B) I have planted blueberries, strawberries, marigolds, beans, and roses in containers that are presently on the patio.  The next step for these is to devise a PVC system that will trap the nutrients and water run off to be recycled and reused.  The bins themselves are small but companion planted to the best of the space allotment available and heavily mulched with leaf mold, straw, and/or tea leaves and spent coffee grounds (to acidify the soil in the blueberry container). 

C) Inside behind the shelter of the glass wall a seed nursery and mini herb container garden has been started.  I have had some success with utilizing the water from the sprouts that I am growing to water the herbs.  I have my suspicions that this water is nitrogen rich and enables the plants that I am using it on to thrive at more optimal levels that would not be the case with regular water.  Besides being edible in their own right, the sprout water is something that I will try to further maximize to promote growth for nitrogen hungry plants.  The next stage of this will be to transplant the lettuce, tomatoes, and portions of the herbs outside - however I am wanting to construct the PVC runoff water catchment system first. 

The Not-So-Distant Future:

     I am hoping that by the summer that the patio will be as full as the picture below but with the incorporation of principles learned in recent times much more efficient and less energy input intensive.  In addition, I am hoping that the worm bin (and soon to be bokashi) will yield a high nutrient soil that will help to better establish the plants.  In the winter I will try to construct a makeshift greenhouse to enable full year growth outdoors and in that time bring the yield up to an amount that can at least 50% supply our internal consumption.

Img 3071

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