Saturday, October 17, 2015

Urban Container Farming

By Anton Antonio
October 18, 2015

Environmentalism or environmental rights is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental protection and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements.  As a social movement, it should not only be confined to group or community initiatives alone.  We should realize that shared and similar individual initiatives, taken collectively, translate to a group and/or community initiatives as well. 

Urban dwellers are often discouraged in embark on any form of environmental initiative because of the urban environment they find themselves in.  An urban infrastructure should not prevent city dwellers from environmental initiatives.  Please read the following researched material…

By Carlo P. Mallo
April 10, 2014

Who needs a hectare of land or even a garden to grow vegetable?  Here’s a step-by-step guide to container farming.  The rising global healthy lifestyle movement has driven entrepreneurs to benefit from the growing demand for natural and nutritious produce amid the challenges of shrinking farmland and mass volume food suppliers.  A creative solution to this conundrum is container farming, or the practice of growing plants, particularly vegetables and herbs, in containers instead of directly planting them on the ground.  Waya Uy, owner of Cebu-based container farming business Green Organics, says, “this is suitable for people who like to have their own vegetable gardens but have limited or no space for one, especially in urban areas.”  Vegetables are at their freshest when harvested from container farms, says Uy.  Warmed by the sun, washed by the rain, and without pesticides, they can be eaten on the spot, she says, adding that vegetables grown in containers are tastier and have higher anti-oxidant levels.  This practice however requires the right conditions in the environment and the right disposition by the farmer to thrive.  Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up your own container farm.
  1. Determine whether you are fit for container farming by asking yourself the following questions: (a) Do you have the time to tend your plants every day? (b) Can you bear the heat of the sun on your back for several hours a day? (c) Are you particular with measurements? (d) Do you easily manage failure?  If your answer to all of these questions is yes, container farming may be for you.  Hard work and coping with failure are some of the traits that are requires from container farmers.
  2.  Evaluate environmental conditions to know if container farming is viable in your area.  (a) Sunshine – Plants need at least six hours of sun a day.  And they need it direct from the sun, and not just reflected sunlight or any artificial form of light.  (b) Water – Water helps carry nutrients from the soil to the various parts of the plant, so supply them with enough water.  (c) Soil – Good soil is especially critical to plants in containers as they need to get more from so little.  Loamy soil is best as it’s considered the healthiest.  Loam is airy and looser, making it easier for the plant to expand its roots, yet porous enough to hold and store water without drowning the plants.  (d) Compost – Plants vary in the kind of trace minerals and nutrients they need.  The cheapest yet more effective way of keeping your plants healthy is by adding compost to the soil on a regular basis.  The eggshells you often see in gardens are not for aesthetics, but a source of calcium for plants.
  3. Research about the plants you want to grow to learn whether your setup and the environment in your area could sustain them.  Some crops may be sown directly in the container, while others need to be transplanted to the containers after germinating elsewhere.  Your garden materials and implements will also depend on the crops you’re planting and tending.  Basically, any container can be used, but the most popular are PET bottles.  With PET bottles, you can create an efficient draining system for the plant.
  4. Growing herbs and vegetables through container farming allows you to transfer them from one location to another, in search of the right conditions or to give room for expansion.

“The rewards that you reap during harvest make up for all the hard work, sweat, and sunburn that you go through,” says Uy, “but there are times when the plants do not only fail to bear fruit, but also die in the process.”  Here are some common problems in container gardening and what you can do to prevent them.

  1. PROBLEM: Plants wilt even with regular watering.  CAUSE: Insufficient drainage and aeration.  SOLUTION: Use lighter soil mix, increase number of drainage holes, use mix with higher percent of organic matter.
  2. PROBLEM: Leaf edges turn dry and brittle.  CAUSE: High salt content.  SOLUTION: At regular intervals, water the plants so the water will leach away the salt content through the drainage holes.
  3. PROBLEM: “Leggy” plants, spindly and unproductive.  CAUSE: Not enough light, too much nitrogen.  SOLUTION: Relocate plants to area receiving more light;  Apply fertilizer less often and allow water to drain through drainage holes.
  4. PROBLEM: Plants yellowing from bottom; Lack vigor and have poor color.  CAUSE: Too much water; Soil’s not fertile enough.  SOLUTION: Water less frequently and check for good drainage; Use fertilizer with high level of nutrients.
  5. PROBLEM: Leaves with spots or powdery and rusty areas.  CAUSE: Grown at temperature that is too low; Low phosphate level; Plant diseases.  SOLUTION: Move container to a warmer area; Use fertilizer with higher concentration of phosphate; Remove diseased portion of the plant and use fungicide; If the problem is severe, discard entire plant and replace soil.
  6. PROBLEM: Leaves with small holes or of irregular shape.  CAUSE: Insect damage.  SOLUTION: Use insecticide suited to the insect causing the damage.”

Urban farming not only conforms with good waste management practices --- recycling of plastic bottles --- but is also a healthy and economical alternative to commercially produced agricultural products.  Environmentalism, as a social movement, can also be promoted through urban container farming.

Thoughts to promote positive action…

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