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Various Ideas for gardening towers
Vertical Gardening; the Coming Revolution
Every farmer knows everything they require to grow their crops, such as the amount of water, nutrients required, the growing season, specific plant space requirements, diseases and pest threats and light requirements. From the beginning to the current day, agriculture has been done mainly in the open fields and subject to the multiple vagaries of the climate. With climate change going on, a major proportion of the food base is now under threat. We have the means to avert this crisis and some of us have taken tentative steps in this direction. Already, there are many items grown indoors in greenhouses in the dead of winter. Mostly it is flowers and in the underworld, crops like marijuana. So, why don't we take these lessons learned and apply them for food crops. We already have buildings where such activity can be done, or we can build specially made towers for that purpose.
In some areas, there are huge agribusiness buildings where food animals like chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, pigs and beef are raised. This however has proven to be an exercise in supreme cruelty to the animals in the way that this is done. In addition, it has proven to be an extreme nuisance to neighbours who live downwind of such operations. Growing plants within large buildings, however, is not the same thing as raising animals in enclosed structures. If we take some lessons in companion planting and biodiversity, this approach can be successful. We need only look at conservatories were various bio-diverse ecosystems are raised in an enclosed greenhouse type environment. This has been done since the early 19th century up to the current epoch. We can take this approach if we want to recreate a tropical environment in northern climes. We can also mimic any other environment as well. There is no problem in doing this. Indeed, some even go so far as to include tropical birds and apiaries, so bees can do pollinating.
In addition to creating massive greenhouse environments, we have the technology to deliver sunlight, water and nutrients. The art of hydroponics that is often associated with the growing of pot, is also useful for growing vegetables. There already exists product called Aero-Garden that uses just this technique for growing veggies, kitchen herbs and flowers. This product does live up to its claims amd comes in two basic sizes; one for herbs and small vegetables and a large size for tomatoes and other tall plants. The basic idea is to use oxygenated water that is cycled through an aquarium type pump combined with nutrients and timed lighting. Some plants work better with hydroponics than others. As we know that this works, it can be scaled up to agricultural proportions.
Agricultural towers can be built as free standing buildings or blended into sides of mountains where little can be currently grown. This would increase growing space tremendously and the towers can be incorporated in cities and towns. This would cut down the carbon footprint tremendously and bring growing space closer for the recycling part of the process. There is an organization that is already promoting this kind of approach (1). This approach is not limited to new buildings either, as existing structures can be retrofitted and use approaches like roof gardening in areas that now just “go to waste”. With increasing urbanization, there is the loss of greenbelt regions that originally served as the local agricultural base.
Agricultural towers can be automated to a large extent with delivery of water and nutrients to the plants on a cycle that is appropriate for what is being grown. Designs can be such as to allow for two or even three crops a year. In the winter, when the sun is closer to the horizon, there is better penetration into the interior where it will also serve to act as solar based heating. The towers can be built to maximize glass covered surface to allow in the most sunlight. There is yet another advantage, especially in this era of ozone depletion and geomagnetic reversal. That advantage is that harmful UV rays will be screened out along with other ionizing radiation. The one drawback of this is that the widows would require frequent cleaning, especially if they are sloped to allow the best and maximum exposure of sunlight. These towers can also be built on open sea in sheltered bays where they can also act as solar distillers to collect evaporated sea water to keep the plants watered. The agricultural towers can be built to serve a dual purpose with living and growing space combined along with the possibility of work and shopping space being also included.