Shipping Container Hydroponic Farming The Way Forward?

shipping container farm

For me its a bit of an odd one for sustainable development as an assessment of multi-crops is needed to see if it really is viable for every day use in city dwelling surroundings. Ok we are saving on transportation and lighting,pumps and heat come from solar panels but is it viable?

Many neighbourhoods would see kids running around on the roofs of these units damaging the solar panels at the same time in an upmarket area they don’t blend in. So where do they go?

Not scrapping the idea just trying to see where its viable in urban surroundings as the concept seems mainly to do with reduced travel. Places such as the middle east without a doubt these would be highly useful and productive but in the middle of New York or London?

I think if anything they would be more suited to being hidden away in things like railway arches and other spaces that are often not practical for other use as daylight doesn’t seem to be needed although if doing it myself I have to admit I would look at Louvre ventilation and a roof that allows light to pass. I’m out in the Philippines my main issues are electricity and bugs container farming would work urban scale here but the way things are developed to the West is very different.

Mono-cropping with shipping container farms may be useful for locations such as hospitals,military bases and other high volume and subsidised food locations but still trying to see how this concept fits into Joe public’s way of life. I can see how it works but like many things with shipping container homes and other buildings its to do with planning and surrounding areas more than anything else. Roof top gardens are probably a more viable project in many locations which makes me wonder are we better trying to get people away from daily gardening introducing automated systems or trying to educate people to be more green with the land they have?

SNAP Hydroponics

SNAP Hydroponics Ideal For Off Grid Living (No Electric Needed)

SNAP Hydroponics

A system developed in the Philippines which involves nutrient solutions seems to have answered one of the big issues here in the Philippines but also makes it an ideal grow method for container housing or other off grid homes, it doesn’t need electric! Basically the method involves a polystyrene tray that has a lid (often found for food delivery) that you cut circular holes for polystyrene cups to use as plant pots in it before lining the bottom of the tray with plastic sheet to waterproof it. In goes the cheap solution mixed with water and pretty much that’s the pots near enough setup except for a bit of medium to secure the plants but also means that once you have established your tray garden you can literally pick your food from the leaves for lettuce and other crops. I am sure the formula can be adapted for other types of plants as well.

Now bearing in mind a shipping container home has a large roof area which is not only flat but suffers with heat build up I am sure this may be a solution to help drop that temperature down while keeping your greens out of the reach of many garden pests. Adding a ladder to the side of your container means your plants are happily growing away on your roof and the fact they are self watering from the solution your not constantly worrying they dry out continuously. The other obvious benefits of SNAP Hydroponics is it can be up scaled or downscaled for winter or personal needs. I am currently researching it more here and going to put an order in for the SNAP solution so I can trial it but it does appear to be a very cheap option of growing greens, which are often overpriced in the Philippines.

SNAP Hydroponics

SNAP Hydroponics

Container Gardening Soil Test

plant pot with plant nutrientsNot 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

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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.