They say "necessity is the mother of invention”. With the extreme drought phenomenon that’s currently affecting many areas of the country, there are many who have packed away their gardening gloves and succumbed to shop-bought greens. Luckily one innovative Capetownian has risen to the challenge and provided a solution for small scale water-wise vertical gardening and I just can't stop raving about it!
Introducing the GroPro: an ecosystem which accommodates an array of plants in a small space using minimal water consumption and offering all the benefits of vertical gardening (easy to harvest, low maintenance, no need to bend, and visually pleasing). Oh, did I mention that it has a built in worm farm (my favorite feature)?
My client was looking to grow fresh produce in her apartment’s courtyard. As we were discussing terra-cotta pots (a major capital outlay), I remembered the clever system and recommended it to her. The larger available surface area and water conservation appealed to her and so off to the store we went.
The installation process turned into a fun, family activity thanks to my young, energetic assistants. The exercise formed an ideal opportunity to teach them the basics of gardening as well as the appreciation of fresh organic produce. The kit comes with everything you need to get started:
- 3 large bags of high quality compost,
- A metal tripod stand (so that the system is elevated),
- Some gravel to ensure the water drains from the bottom,
- A bucket to catch excess water,
- A cylindrical worm farm with cap,
- 25 red wrigglers (the most suitable worm species).
All that’s left to be sourced are a few trays of veggies, herbs, or flowers depending on the application. In this instance the client was after fresh greens and herbs but wanted some flowers as the courtyard can be used for entertaining.
Okay - so about the worm farm. I know many of you will read this and think that it’s just a little too ‘green’ for your gag reflex to handle. But let me assure you, it really is a ‘no mess no fuss’ system. All that’s needed is to drop a few kitchen scraps (non acidic and non cooked items) down the PVC pipe from time to time in order to feed the wormies. They munch on the food and crawl out into the soil cavity where they aerate and fertilize the soil so that it continuously improves.
I’ve tried and tested three other worm farms systems and this one is by far the simplest. If one considers that 30% of South African landfill sites is made up of (methane emitting) organic waste, then this system’s carbon friendliness shoots up even higher. When combined with recycling and EcoBricking practices, this system offers the final step towards Zero Waste living.
City dwellers commonly assume they have too little space to grow their own fresh ingredients and deny their green fingers of the satisfaction they deserve. All this micro-farming system needs is a corner of your balcony, some sun, TLC and an occasional sprinkle of grey water.
Don't let the drought stop your edible gardening this Spring. Order yours or learn more at the GroPro website.