Projects‎ > ‎

Micro-farming with containers

Having moved to the countryside from the “city”, I was unaware of any grandiose ideas of tilling the native soil and growing and maintaining my own crops. Apart from the nostalgia of farming, a handful of documentaries of farm life and a not-so-healthy bit of Green Acres as a child – there was very little I was exposed to regarding “farming”. Most farming I was familiar with was relegated to a few square feet of tilled earth to grow zucchini, squash, tomatoes and the common table fair.

Needless to say, a great deal of re-education happened while reconsidering how to best use the local rural environs to a mutual advantage. Having re-introduced myself to the inner conservationist/naturalist/farmer, a number of articles, books and case studies became the backgrounder to this undertaking. Much to my surprise at the time, I began to learn that many of the better techniques related to traditional farming and their real-time conservation of resources. Imagine my shock at this somewhat common fallacy of “Better living through technology” being sup-positioned with “but not always”.

Container Planters

One of the first things learned about this region was the higher than normal clay formations local people call soil. Many of the residents that planted vegetables had reclaimed a portion of the land and tirelessly maintained it over years to become more “friendly” to plant life. Some took a very naturalist viewpoint and did composting, soil reclamation, rainwater irrigation, and using heritage seeds. Others took a more engineered approach and fertilized their plants in chemically stabilized soils using hybrid seeds.

Regardless of the approach, it always comes down to the basics of plant life – sun, water, nutrients. The simplification of these things seemed to be a smart approach to capturing the best return on the energy used (both physical and mechanical). Being impressed with the approach of square-foot gardening for maximized yield, the advances of container based gardening, and research in the biological processes of composting – it seemed that containers were a likely place to start.

What type of container

When one looks at the sheer number of modern gardening conveniences provided to todays consumers, it is no wonder that we are awash with conflicting solutions to do something that occurs so naturally. This became our dilemma and it was somewhat quickly determined that while some products were very good in one efficiency (water use) they were predominantly plastic (kinda counter-intuitive). Others that were more natural, made of wood, lacked an appropriate water reclamation system, thermal mass, or longevity. Even in the re-purposed container approach urban gardeners use of anything that holds water and soil provided a diverse and inventive solution.

<next article is Our approach for a better container>