Saturday, February 28, 2009

SEED starting

Planning for the garden has begun with a trip to BBG, selecting from an array of organic, heirloom and traditional italian seeds.

What came of all of this, is that sharing seeds and seed collecting can really help deter the costs, but I must say, seed shopping is almost better than buying new shoes. Suddenly the summer visions become so delicious...visions of meals, eating cherry tomatoes under shade trees.

Meg is gathering tools to get seed kits together, which will be recylable and easy DIY kits.

There are greenhouses all throughout NYC, and we are lucky to have some volunteer growers on board. The pride of a good tomatoe grower is impossible to turn down.

Here is a general list to guide upcoming seed sowing:

Growing vegetables
12 to 14 weeks: onions*, leeks*, chives*, celery, globe artichoke
8 to 12 weeks: green onions*, peppers, eggplant, lettuce*
6 to 8 weeks: Swiss chard, mustard spinach*, Oriental greens*, cucumbers, tomatoes
4 to 6 weeks: cucumbers, cabbage family crops* (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale)
2 to 4 weeks: melon, okra, pumpkins, squash

Growing flowers
20 weeks: fuchsia
12 to 14 weeks: pansies*, lobelia, coleus, impatiens, poppies
8 to 12 weeks: snapdragons, alyssum, petunia
6 to 8 weeks: calendula*, daisy, nemesia, ageratum and other hardy annuals
4 to 6 weeks: African daisy, marigolds, zinnias, cockscombs, godetia, nasturtium, bachelor button, dahlia, canary bird vine, sweet peas and other tender annuals

Growing herbs
12 to 14 weeks: chives, oregano, mint, yarrow, parsley
8 to 12 weeks: thyme, chamomile, feverfew, valerian, catnip
6 to 8 weeks: dill, chervil, coriander, lemon balm, sage, arugula, savory, basil

Friday, February 20, 2009

MCU Mobile Chicken Unit

Just when you thought it was getting just got better. The living systems team is creating a Mobile Chicken Unit, which is an interpretation of a chicken tractor. The benefits are endless. The uncompostable food waste from the team of artists living aboard will be devoured with delight by the 3-5 chickens that are selected to love afloat the barge.

Consideration are being designed to make sure that the wind is carefully considered in the structure of their home. With the shape of the garden taking the form of mounds, the MCU will become inventive in shape. Yet to be designed.

Suggestions have been made to search out hardy heritage breeds which include Barred Rocks or Rhode Island Red. Although the appeal of having Arcana chickens is exciting as their eggs have greenish-blue shells and contain a higher amount of protein and less cholesterol.

We will have to allocate two or three beds to supplement their diet with buckwheat and oats which grow up to 3-5" in height and should provide them with the proper nutrients to lay delicious eggs.

Greenhouse Innovations

A large amount of square buckets have been made available to the living systems team to create container gardens. This simple system has been designed to fit inside the greenhouse sphere.

Because there will be on site welders, creating this structure will be possible. The railing will hold the buckets. Buckets can still be moved and shifted and will be elevated off of the floor so that proper drainage is possible. Overall, it will help maintain the feeling, walk ability, and workability of the sphere.
The irrigation rainwater catch system is featured in the sketch above.(rt) showing the route directly to each container.

Original Design from Late January

A sense of scale is captured here in a drawing of the original design. Each garden plot was estimated as 4' x 8' with 2' working walkways. Due to challenges of hand watering, proper drainage from rainstorms and for aesthetic visions, the general shape of the garden has changed.

This rendering provides a sense of the run-off hay barrier, the MCU (mobile chicken unit), and showcases the variety of textures, surfaces and heights that the plants will provide.

Overall Layout

The layout as of mid-february would include a 70 x 40 foot area. There will be an estimated 22 plots, some of which will be curated for design submission for artists working in agriculture and design.

General and basic layout details have been added to this sketch which include a 3 bin compost system, an extensive walkway and a hay bail fence perimeter barrier.

Additional features are not yet visible, yet being thoughtfully considered and include

  • portable/movable shade structures

  • MCU (Mobile Chicken Unit)

  • Seating

  • Wind Breaks and protection

  • Innovative trellising systems

  • location and ease of rain water catch systems to ease manual watering strain

  • general depth of working hay covered walkways to provide proper drainage

  • tool storage

Garden plots

Soil mounds will be created to design a landscape that mimics the rolling sand hills of the desert. The shape of the mounds will vary for each structure. Dramatic vertical varieties of trellised edibles, flowers or varieties with strong root beds will be planted on the top of the mound. A simple water system will be installed atop of the mound with drip irrigation piping that extends to the outer region of the structure.


The Greenhouse is a 20' x 20' utopic oasis sphere providing the structure for an edible trellising environment. This growing systems will line the inner and outer wall providing shade for a hydroponic systems that will be installed upon the internal structure. A rain water catch system will be installed in an upper ventilation lid where the rainwater will flow throught pipes directly to the containers below. The greenhouse will also provide wind shelter for a city donated fruit tree, the possible installation of tanks for a variety of mushroom growing and seedlings and sprouts to provide the first source of food for the season.


The Waterpod team has created a living systems department to spearhead the organizing and designing of the 70’ x 40’ area that will include fruits vegetables, herbs and flowers as well as a 20’ x 20’ domed greenhouse. The role of the living systems is instrumental in the formation of an active and reliant system for developing and nourishing self-sufficiency.

Considerations for the following details are managed into the planning, care and maintenance of the garden areas.
· Using local, Hierloom seeds and supporting seed banks
· Thoughtful, efficient low watering needs
· Introducing diversity and native plants to encourage local pollinators
· Companion planting for pest management
· Run-off prevention as a city/environmental responsibility
· Xeri-scaping low water/green roof plants for education
· Enhancing garden nutrients with waste decomposition

Using local, Hierloom seeds
· Collecting clippings and cuttings from local Botanical Gardens
· Purchasing Seed Bank Seeds from Ulster County organization
· Bringing in local lore from featuring historical species
· Encourage non-gmo selections

Thoughtful, efficient Low watering needs
· Watering at night and early morning to decrease evaporation
· Mulching to prevent absorptions
· Enhancing garden nutrients with waste decomposition
nutrient/fertilizer to increase the soil’s absorption:

Fertilizer options
· chicken poop
· compost (made on site)
· seaweed
· fish bones

Each living area will carefully use collected Grey water, black water, desalinated water.
Water collection will include the following:
· Water collection tanks will collect water from the rooftop
· We will use gravity to install water tanks at least 5 feet high, to allow for a 5 foot gravity drop for practical use and lifting efficiency
· Thoughtful location of the water catch systems being within 50 feet of the garden area

Introducing diversity and native plants to encourage local pollinators by planting
· flowers
· Herbs
· Native plants

Companion planting for pest management
Companion planting encourages a wide and plentiful range of fruit, vegetable and flower species so that little to no pesticides are needed.

Run-off prevention as a city/environmental responsibility
· 2 feet deep soil beds
· plastic under-lining
· hay wall
· high organic matter soil to increase absorption
· low and fibrous root system plants locking soil into place

Xeri-scaping low water/green roof plants for educational purposes
· sedum, vines ect..

· Main wooden plank walkways (possibly wide enough to be handicap accessible)
· hay working aisles