SNAP Hydroponics Ideal For Off Grid Living (No Electric Needed)
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.
Although this shipping container isn’t a home I thought its design was a bit interesting in the use of trellis work to hide the metal side at the same time still allowing air to grow through no doubt once the plants develop it will give the building a bit of shade similar in the way I was talking before about building trellis slightly away from the sides of containers to allow airflow as well along the gap formed between trellis and container side. But also looking at the container more closely it becomes pretty obvious a simple restaurant or canteen can be formed without too much work with the ability to add extension roof canopies off the shipping container to extend the seating area etc. Which many people may assume isn’t ideal at the same time like here in the Philippines most people are concerned about the quality of the food and a bit of shade over most other things. So for a budget restaurant could easily see it working here.
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.
You will often come across negativity on building shipping container homes as people generally see a big metal box with a logo written up the side of it but at the same time these same people will never understand the concept of why you are doing it in the first place.
At the same though nobody says it has to be a simple box design although for many they choose this type because of environmental reasons or budget. Personally if even a box on the outside it doesn’t mean you can’t grow plants on a trellis to give a bit of shade as well as a practical wall cover. For me its not just about looking at a box but more the thought of children getting a Christmas present disregarding the present for the large box it came in to fill 101 dreams all day with the box the gift came in. Shipping containers offer that for the person who isn’t the architect or house builder a box to build from, a modular piece of a puzzle that they can envisage their ideas and turn from a simple or complex idea into a home that has their personal stamp on it. I’m an environmentalist, i’m a designer, I simply love living in my shipping container! whatever it is the point is that metal box became a home for generations and I haven’t heard anyone yet complain about living in one everyone seems more than happy and if that’s the case then I too will be happy to be “living in a box”.
Utilization of the side of a shipping container for a vertical garden gives space for growing food and plants but also the greenery can offer a barrier to the shipping container from the sun.