Sunday, April 22, 2012

Florida Permaculture Plant for Living Walls, Florida Green Roofs and Backyards, Seminole Pumpkin, Cucurbita Moschata

One of my favorite vines this year is the Seminole Pumpkin, Cucurbita moschata
Florida Green Roof and Living Wall plant, Seminole Pumpkin (Permaculture Food)

An adapted garden wonder to Florida, the Caribbean and Latin American, this variety of pumpkin or squash is acclimated to the harsh, humid climate of the region. 
Unripe Seminole Pumpkin, resistant to pests

A fast grower who provides ample shade, Seminole Pumpkin makes a great end of summer living wall and green roof plant.
Florida Living Wall plant, Cucurbita moschata

Thriving on neglect and drought, Cucurbita moschata, is ultra resilient to squash vine borers and other pests.  Here she is used as a cover to our geese pen, providing a wall of privacy, security, shade and food.
Seminole Pumpkin creates a living wall and green roof for the Urban Farm fowl
When thinking of drought tolerant plants for tropical green roofs and living walls, they don't just have to be wildflowers.
Seminole Pumpkin is a heavy food producing plant

 Nature has provided us with some awesome  food plants who will thrive well in the permaculture garden and on the hot roofs and walls.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Rooftop Permaculture for Urban Core Food

Rooftop permaculture holds the key to feeding the cities.

Here are a couple lightweight rooftop vegetable growing panels.

Easy to grasp and pick up, 52mm thick and they clip together allowing for many designs and layout configurations.

The wheat grass will be thick in a couple days.

MV Wheat Grass Green Roof Modules

MV Wheat Grass Green Roof Modules

The next photo is of the MV rooftop veggie growing area.

Rooftop permaculture - Veggies grow better on the green roof!

Not surprisingly, the rooftop veggies look better than those growing on the ground in the garden.

Garden soils here in Florida are widely inflicted with nematodes.

Nematodes burrow their way into a plant root, causing the root to swell into nodules and damaging the plant's vascular system - resulting in stunted plant growth and limiting produce production.

However the rooftop garden tends to stay nematode free.  Solarized by the sun's rays, rooftop garden soil tends to stay free of many of the common plant issues found in ground level soil.

Industrial Agriculture is one of the most intense forms of land use.  Machinery chops the soil and vegetation covering the ground, pulling up and discarding all native plant DNA.  The soil is graded and tilled, plowed and fertilized.  All traces of the original soil structure disappears.   Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are soaked into the ground.

But  it doesn't have to be this way.

We can reforest the farmlands, restore wetlands, recreate habitat and replant what we've destroyed.

We can use the millions of urban rooftop acres for green roof gardens.  Rooftop permaculture.  Feed the hungry.  Feed the cities. Provide habitat. Reduce heat island effect. 
Clean stormwater. Sequester Carbon and pump fresh oxygen into a stale atmosphere.

But we need to be smart about how we accomplish this.

Today on Twitter I read the pundits as they laughed about how Toronto was backing down from green roof legislation.  The industrial lobby may have successfully convinced the city that green roofs are not cost-effective alternatives when compared to white TPO or single-ply reflective roofing materials.

So there will be two types of green roof initiatives in the future.  One will grow stale and eventually disappear, relying on expensive, heavy planting systems and monocultures of non-native highly temperamental landscape plants. 

The other will become dynamically organic in growth, seek out eco-friendly components and methods using ultra-light weight (less than 10 pounds per square foot) systems with nature-based or highly efficient recycled rainwater & micro-irrigation systems.  Native plants for biodiversity contributions and ethnobotanicals such as food, fiber and medicine plants will flourish.

Expanded shale with it's huge carbon footprint will no longer be used for planting media.  On site composting of organic material for the green roof will become the norm.  Drainage technology advances will allow for this accommodation.  Moreover, composting and reuse of organic matter conserves a rather large water footprint.

Mega-heavy, expensive green roofs will give way to the small commercial building and residential rooftop garden.  Governmental efforts in the green roof arena will be overtaken by grassroots local initiatives and small rooftop gardens will appear throughout the neighborhoods, especially as food prices rise and the dangers of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers become known.

The potential is exciting.

We can feed the cities.

We can reforest our agriculture lands.

We can envision the urban core ripe with organically grown, open-pollinated rooftop gardens, supporting bees, insects, birds and wildlife.

Millions of acres of green roofs.

It begins with a rooftop wheat grass tray and small veggie garden.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Urban Rooftop Permaculture, Bringing Organic & Healthy Food to the Urban Core

"Gene manipulated corn fields feed people"

The above comment was a response this morning to one of my suggestions rooftop permaculture can help.  It is really sad because some truly believe this.

Fortunately - people around the world are beginning to grow their own food, on patios, in windowsills and on rooftops in the Urban Core.  I believe rooftop permaculture and vertical permaculture is well on its way to replacing the old and becoming the new frontier in volumetric and rooftop green.

Green Roof Rooftop Permaculture - Brassica

Green Roof Vegetables - Broccoli
The broccoli here were pulled from the roof garden this week.  We had the Brassica growing in 4" of light weight highly organic composted and very well drained soil on a 4/10 slope.  You can see just how the vegetables became with no additional fertilizers and zero pesticides and herbicides.

Understanding permaculture principles and integrating those maxims into rooftop gardens can pay off with substantial results.  Organic greens, which cost four or five dollars at the market can be grown in masse on a small roof plot from an inexpensive packet of seeds.
Unfortunately, large corporations view rooftop permaculture and the citizens taking the task of feeding themselves back into their own hands as a serious threat to profits.

But I reject the above statement that "Gene manipulated corn fields feed people" as the only successful approach.

Many people may want to eat GMO corn products.  Yet I believe a large portion of the population may not want to.

So I see a grassroots movement arising to support rooftop permaculture, one where common people can make nutritional decisions for themselves rather than having the State or a Large Multi-national Corporation do so.

Check out just how big the Brassica grew.  Look at the root architecture.  We planted them close together to brace against wind issues and ate the greens daily. The plants adapted to the 4" soil (100mm) dispelling the myths of need for deep dirt to grow.
ECHO, see is a great resource for rooftop permaculture practices, tips and design guidelines from a cost-effective approach.

Our $2.00 worth of seeds provided a daily bunch of organic greens and broccoli tops that would have cost US $ 5 in the store for six months.  As I see it the numbers work out to be close to $1000 savings in food costs, not to mention the health benefits.  That is just for organic broccoli alone.  Add the collards, mustards, sugar snap peas, pok choy, turnips, potatoes, tomatoes and the benefit of fresh air and gardening companionship and one can easily see the economic advantage.

No thank you to GMOs and to the outdated, stale industry guru's that are old news.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Green Roof Root Architecture, Understanding Water Adsorption

Today brought the monthly watering of a 1/4" H2O for the Alliums.  Within a matter of hours they were bright green.

We've been working with Resurrection fern also - and I love this plant.  Resurrection fern,  Polypodium polypodioides, was the first fern in space - going up on a 1997 Space Shuttle Mission to see if the roots would absorb water in a space capsule.

Both of these plants, the Allium and Resurrection fern have unique root characteristics.

We call plant root structure by the name - 'Root Architecture'.

Green roof design has unique root structure and root architecture requirements.

Unless you have a huge potable water or well water source and are going to pump all that water up on a roof to keep plants up there watered, then your green roof plants need to be somewhat drought tolerant.

Certain root architecture patterns support plant acclimation to drought conditions better than others.

Remember, Florida's rainfalls usually are short, afternoon events of 1/2" or less and because rain generally occurs between the hotter months of the year - June - September, there is a tendency for it to evaporate quickly.

Except for hurricanes and tropical storms, rain events in Florida are usually over relatively quickly.

Meaning green roof plants have to scramble to grab the rain water.

Also recall, most green roof plants do not like wet roots (wet feet) so the soil must be well drained.

Proper green roof plant root architecture is crucial for providing a Florida extensive green roof plant with the advantages needed to survive a Florida vegetated roof.

Examine the diagram below showing the root architecture of a green roof plant raised in a one gallon standard nursery container and then a green roof plant raised on a green root mat.

The plant raised on the mat possesses 8 times the amount of Root-Rain surface contact area as the same size plant grown in a nursery container.

Green Roof Plant Root Architecture - Florida Extensive Green Roofs - MetroVerde

So when the afternoon 1/2" rainfall (13mm) event occurs and every drop is important - the green roof plant with the appropriate root architecture will sequester the most water.

More stormwater is captured, runoff is reduced, plants acquire necessary water volumes, plants have less of a tendency to uproot in high winds, and more.

Green Roof Plant Root Architecture is important to the success of a green roof.