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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 12 years ago

One Month Update


It has been a while since the last update so thought I should post some happenings. 

All in all things are good.  I have set up a series of planters of all varieties which have been companion planted according to what the yield I wanted to maximize from each would be.  Of the planters there is six 'store bought boxes' four recycled PP tubs, and two custom made wooden box constructions. 

In the store bought planters there exists (1) two mini tomato plants, some basil and parsley, and two hot pepper plants mulched with straw; (2) two colored piman plants, a petunia, some green onions, and a couple of zinnia plants mulched with straw; (3) two mizuna plants, a lupin, a nasturtium, a Nara type melon mulched with straw and underlayed with carrot and radish seedlings; (4) a kale plant and two marigolds along with some chamomile and basil mulched with leaf mould and underseeded with basil, radish, carrots, rocket, and likely some other things that I am forgetting as I got a little bit broadcast happy: (5) two blueberry bushes and a rose plant with some garlic and possibly an onion or two mulched with dried tea leaves, leaf mould, coffee grounds, and pine needles; (6) four varieties of lettuce, a lupin, some beans, a purple shiso, some sweet basil mulched with straw and again under sown but with clover and carrots. 

In the reclaimed recycled bins which have been raised off the ground in an effort to both catch more sunlight and eventually construct a water (and nutrient) trapment system for recycling there exists (1) one tomato, two kinds of parsley, two kinds of basil, some oregano, some celery, and a bush bean all mulched with straw and under sown with asparagus; (2) two tomato plants, a mini eggplant, a petunia, some sweet basil, a few climbing pole beans, and some chamomile all again mulched with straw; (3) peas, two kinds of broccoli (head and stick), some lemon thyme, a cucumber, and once more due to broadcast happiness likely some green clover, basil, carrots and who knows what else; (4) two kinds of lettuce and some baby leaf lettuce, a goya and some beans for climbing, a lupin, some radish and sprouts (?) and some onion.

In the wooden constructed boxes there exists (1) three kinds of tomatoes, two colored peppers, an eggplant, some basil, thyme, oregano, a Japanese hot pepper that is not so hot, and a regular hot pepper with some garlic, onion, parsley, radish, and carrots thrown in for good measure as well as a worm for experimental purposes; (2) three colored mini tomato plants, two colored piman plants, a plethora of herbs (basil, oregano, parsley, etc.), some carrots, onions, radishes, garlic, and likely things that I forgot I broadcast and will pop up sooner or later.  Both these boxes have been constructed with untreated wood lined with milk cartons to prevent rot and as well had a trellis of bamboo strips and rope constructed not to mention mulched with straw and given some good feedings of both worm tea and bokashi juice.

In addition, I have a small area set aside where I am growing some pumpkin, beans, corn, peppers, and cabbage as well as a series of pots that contains mints, sage, strawberries, peas, cherries, borage, daisies, petunia, shiso (a Japanese mint) lavender, and some other flowers. 

Inside I have constructed a germination spot for herb tops and have been successful at growing various kinds of mint, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, basil and lemon balm some of which have been used to interplant the above listed companion boxes and some that have went into planters.  I also have an outside space that I have been using to grow olive cuttings in both soil (mulched with soil and watered with the excess 'green water' from the blender of a morning smoothie of fruits and vegetables and rice/pasta water) and water (which I add alfalfa water a few times a week).  As for watering I have been recycling the bath water as much as possible to use in the plants (as the Japanese bath does not use soap), which seems to be working better than the chlorine water from the faucets or the hose.  I have also been experimenting with clover, onion, and mint planting alongside the cherry, apple blossom, and yuzu tree I have as well as germinating such things as apple, lemon, and various Asian brassica crops from seed as well as such herbs as coriander and basil.  I have tried to utilize the same method that works for these for marigold seedlings as well but for some reason I cannot get them to go - thus I have resorted to clipping seed from the plants I have grown as well as saving the borage, zinnia, and petunia seeds from the departed flowers - although I have yet to discover whether my methods for planting have worked yet. 

I can report in all of the above cases that the plants that I have placed in all boxes have been getting along with one another great and for the most part kept the bad bugs out of the garden and off the patio while attracting a plethora of good carnivores as well as bees.  I do however have one box that is giving me some trouble with ants (I have tried everything I can think of on the natural front) which I am at present trying to solve.  As for the bokashi I just recently set up - I am loving it.  I hope to bury it in a plastic bin for a couple of weeks with some soil and then utilize this for the raspberries or allocate it to the worm bin.  On the case of the worm bin I need a new one - one of those tray ones - for this two bin set up that I have although it works it too time consuming to harvest and takes a lot of care to keep the conditions right (I think that it is too deep and the plastic seems to keep it a little too wet which means adding tons of carbon to dry it only to have this carbon contribute to the problem a couple of days later). 

As for the next step of my project: 

(I) I have five raspberry plants that need to go in the ground as well as a number of strawberry plants (and germinated seeds).  I have a corner for the strawberry that I am working on a green wall for but at this juncture need to first construct a water catchment device for them. 

(II) I have been experimenting with plastic pet bottles and wicking to which I will line the patio of the south facing wall for flower type pest control plants.  I am hoping that when this wall is lined that the reflection off of the bottles will also provide a reflection toward the otherwise shade area that at the time of planning was fine but with the movement of the sun is getting less and less light for what is now there. 

(III) Water catchment solutions - some ideas thus far are to try to retrofit a catchment system into the existing garden with wicks (although this is going to be no easy task as the boxes are planted already and I don’t want to disturb them too much.  It is my attempt to build a system that uses no outside energy to move the water, or if that cannot be done, a minimal amount as possible.  The reasons for this are multiple but primarily concern the want to construct a system that will look after itself for an extended period of time without utilizing too much power. 

Anyway, for now I will let it be.  I have placed some photos here so you can have a look and please do offer up any suggestions should you have them.  As for the yield - tons of lettuce peas and beans beginning to be ready, some tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, pumpkins, and eggplant coming in, and enough herbs (basil, mint, lemon balm, rosemary, sage, chamomile, black clover, lavender, oregano, and parsley) to meet our dietary needs.

A note on the images: (1) sun mapping; (2-4) one month growth; (5) sun mapping on sit.  Also, for more images you can follow the link below.

P1010763 P1010779 P1010780 P1010781 P1010770

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James R. Diegel
James R. Diegel : https://plus.google.com/photos/109142908980994394956/albums/5742681295791509793
Posted almost 12 years ago

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