SNAP Hydroponics is something that has been developed in the Philippines for sustainable living and livelihood. What makes it a little unique compared to most hydroponics setups is that it doesn’t need any electricity which is a huge difference in money cost for production. Obviously the Philippines climate is a country receiving 12 hours of sunshine as well as constant heat which helps. But the SNAP solution which is mixed with water is a cheap solution for plant production that is initially designed for leafy plants. Maybe this is the first step towards developing different solutions for different types of plant to get maximum growth while still being organic. But for me living out in the Philippines with these lightweight boxes how many would you fit on a shipping container home roof? The boxes themselves come from discarded fruit boxes normally carrying grapes which means your recycling a product that is normally scrapped. How to make a SNAP hydroponics setup from a fruit box can be found here.
With the downward spiral of the economies around the world one thing is for sure the housing market has well and truly stalled. The main reason being not that there is a lack of demand but the mix of speculative building and the crazy loaning of before 2008 has left many homes oversized for what people can afford. I worked in social housing before and could see it all over the UK where 1 – 2 bedroom homes are shunned for 4 – 6 bedroom luxury homes. Often the smaller homes were remodelled and extended or bulldozed to build a bigger home. Issue with this today is there is a lot of spaces out there that aren’t seeing construction take place as corporations and landowners sit waiting for the next bubble to begin before starting construction again. This leaves many empty construction lots all over the world which could be utilized for urban farming as we see in the photo above. Its all being done in crates so highly mobile. This feeds local needs as well as creates jobs on land that is currently stuck in limbo hope we will be seeing more of these styled projects to remove eyesore land into useable farm lots.
Another interesting container gardening idea is the recycled football hanging basket. Not only does it give you a waterproof container to stop things dripping on your table but could easily be used for scented herbs or flowers to add an aroma to the room to freshen the place up. You can learn how to build this one over at instructables
We live out in the Philippines and these plastic drink containers can pretty much be found all over the place disguarded and dumped. The idea of reusing them for not only container gardening as seen in the photo but also even for transportation as “watering pots”. Makes a lot of sense as well as gets rid of disregarded plastics, making them more useful and recycled. But also even if a flower vendor you could just stick these under a flower display to keep the flowers watered while awaiting customers. Great idea!
Not always relevant as you may be getting soil from a garden centre at the same time you could be out in the back of nowhere or wanting to use your own soil. Identifying your soil types and the types of plants/crops they can be used for will improve your chance of good yields. At the same time doing a bit of research also means you can adapt the soil to the purpose of the types of plants you want to grow by adding in whatever nutrients the soil could do with being added if any.
Testing soil is necessary and easy to do, doing it at the beginning also means you can adapt it quickly without plant disruption and more importantly won’t suffer with failed plants due to the wrong type of soil used for them. This is why soil testing is the first step in your container garden and you will need to know that it has the right nutrients for certain plants to flourish.
This is also a good way to monitor your soil for its nutrients, the soil will need Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium to continue providing healthy plants. Where possible take the test at the end or a few months before the growing season (plan to plant) to correct the soil problems. Also just as important the soil should be dry as false results could be given otherwise.
There are various test kits available and some are easier to use than others. I would advise checking reviews on places like Amazon to see how other people found them. Some kits are also designated to only test specific nutrients.
Now as this is a container garden and not a general household garden or field I would say try and select soil from areas that you know have good nutrients already (as obviously you don’t want to be repairing an entire field with nutrients when your only needing your container soil improved).
Grab a bucket and a shovel and head to where your looking to select your soil from. Dig around 7” deep with 6 holes and take a shovel of dirt from each hole dug. When dug mix the samples together and remove 2 cups from your test sample.
Then read the guidelines given to you by the test kit purchased.
Soil test completed you are no doubt going to have some results at the same time going to be looking at transferring your soil to containers. The problems your likely to face are below, some of them it would be easier to select soil elsewhere but pretty much everything can be dealt with.
High PH: Mix some sulpher into the soil.
Low PH: Mix some lime into the soil.
Low Nitrogen: Mix nitrogen rich fertilizers into the soil.
High Nitrogen: Water well, and avoid adding fertilizers for three to six months.
Low Phosphorus: Mix super phosphate and bone meal into gardening area.
High Phosphorus: By growing more plants will aid in absorbing extra phosphorus
Now there is also the chance of the figures being out simply because there are other layers of soil below the sample level that could have affected the results. If using the field these are relevant but as we are taking the soil away for planting they won’t be causing anymore disruption in future but will also be a reason why you monitor the soil on a regular basis to get its levels right.
When I started container gardening myself I could see the benefits for having a small space and being able to grow some of our own food. But as you look into it further its surprising where you can grow food in containers. Take for example on top of your air conditioning unit. In an old sink, or pretty much anywhere that has enough space to plant a crop and won’t cause damage to the building or equipment.
In shipping container living adapting roof and wall space for container gardens is often overlooked but something that can be easily done with extra benefits. First one is those who don’t like the look of the metal container wall start to see it disappear amongst your food crops and plants. Secondly its shade that helps reduce heat build up on your shipping container home. Add to that a hobby that is not only interesting to many but offers up a fruitful supply of various types of food on a regular basis. Container gardening has many advantages and not as difficult as it may seem to get one started.