Lunch at Sixpoint The roof

Lunch at Sixpoint The roof

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There are about as many ways to grow your garden as there are to cook the food it produces. For this rooftop, we had very specific conditions to wrestle with. Here, Ill explain them, but read on for general tips on how to build a green roof, grow out of containers, and conserve resources by setting up a rainwater collection system and a compost bin. Theres links for further reading from some of my favorite experts and mentors.

All the plants on this roof grow in containers, most of them salvaged old kegs. These kegs had been battered and broken over time with use, and were destined for the scrapyard. Instead, theyve found a new life as planters, with their tops sawed off and holes drilled into the bottom. Their height allows us to try growing roots that require depth, like potatoes. And the size of the mouth is perfect for one plant, like a tomato vine. Some of the kegs have black rubber coating and were spray-painted white, so that they dont soak up as much heat from the sun. A few of our containers are noticeably antique enameled cast-iron bathtubs. Rub-a-dub-dub.

To begin, the rooftop was inspected by experts for its weight capacity. Its an industrial building, so it has an extra-strong foundation. The brewery is directly beneath. It generates heat, which will help the plants out during the winter and colder months. But because theres already warmth emanating from it, during the summer, when a plants roots generally spread deep into the earth for coolness, theyll be faced with more heat below. Weve taken precaution by adding a layer of loosely stacked, crumpled styrofoam boards at the bottoms of all the keg-containers. This is for lightness as well as to absorb some of that heat.

Above that is a round sheet of mesh netting, and on top of that, weve filled the bulk of the container with ultra-lightweight GaiaSoil. This is a soil specifically designed for rooftops by the Gaia Institute. Its made of mostly recycled polystyrene foam coated with pectin, which simulate the pebbly earth that most plants are used to, only without the weight. On top of this is a layer of rich compost soil, either from our compost bin or from the Lower East Side Ecology Center (we began composting later on in the spring). For plants that were transplanted to the containers as seedlings, theres an extra sheet of mesh in between the GaiaSoil and compost, to help prevent pest. Then, scattered on top of the soil and around the plants is coffee chaff from nearby Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Chaff is a byproduct of the roasting process, the husks of the beans. The chaff provides a soft, protective layer on top of the soil which helps it retain its moisture.

Lunch at Sixpoint The roof

Composting

At a recent talk about urban agriculture at WNYCs Green Space, the topic of starting an urban farm was always addressed with mention about growing your own healthy soil. Sure, you can use potting soil but to continually create superior soil for your garden while responsibly disposing of organic waste, youll want to start a compost bin. We have a CompostTumbler. which stays closed and rotates with a crank so you dont have to reach in and turn your compost yourself. You can see tips on how to build something like that here. You can also vermicompost. or attend composting workshops and programs to determine what works best for your household. Our compost bin takes just about everything that comes from our garden that we dont use, so weeds, stems and other plant clippings, eggshells and the chickens poop, and food scraps from the kitchen. Everyone in the brewery staff is encouraged to bring their household kitchen scraps to toss in there, too. Though we only set up the tumbler in April, theres plenty of rich compost that weve used to plant with already.

Harvesting rainwater


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