Saturday, September 20, 2008

Take a Risk, Grow a 19th Floor Garden

This is the first of what will be my gardening series. I live in crowded Taipei, Taiwan, where people are mashed together, and so are the buildings. If you are interested in gardening and live in an apartment, there aren't many options. Sometimes you must take your life into your own hands and grow a garden. Mine happens to be on the 19th floor of the tallest building in the area.

As you can see, I have what you might call a desperate situation. Working with what really can't be considered a balcony, more like a man-made cliff, I tend my sprouting crops. It is a location not meant to be used. There is no door. I actually have to climb out the window! As of right now, I have tomatoes, basil, a stunted coffee plant, thyme, and papaya seedlings, the basics that any life-threatening garden should have. It's a meager and almost depressing "garden."

However, I do follow the most up to date gardening practices:

In the red trash bin, I also have compost, or my attempt at compost. What it really is is a kitchen scrap bin left outside. It is too small to adequately compost. If you have the resources, check out How to Compost. However, I prefer mulching as a method to build the soil.

I've implemented the permaculture theory of making your garden like a forest. I try to recreate the forest floor with decaying plant matter. In my "bed" I use scraps as fertilizer (don't know what I base this on or if it works), kinda like sheet mulching, but without the sheeting and carbon. I do know that it does attract micro organisms that may or may not benefit the plants.

Companion Planting/Guilds
Another gardening technique demonstrated here is companion planting or guilds, as it is called in Permaculture. This uses plant diversity as a way to build a mutually beneficial situation. Just as some insects are good for plants, plants can also create a symbiotic system. Tomatoes and basil have been said to be a so called "guild." The onion pieces are just there because several months ago my girlfriend bought a huge bag of them (as can be seen in the first picture). I used all of one of them, and they proceeded to grow in the refrigerator so my roommate put them outside.

As far as I know, all my to-be products will be organic and natural. Until the day I can have a plot of land that I can implement permaculture on, this approximately 2sq. meters (and 60 meters up), will have to do. Even in this smallest of spots I cling to the hope of not falling to my undramatic death and of creating something I call grand. Unfortunately, there would be no honor, only stupidity, related to my death.

To all of you who risk something for a greater good, I commend you.

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