Monday, July 29, 2013

Sustainable Plant Life

What is a Sustainable Greenhouse?

Sustainability is an important concept in running a greenhouse, especially one that is used for growing food. Making a sustainable greenhouse is simple. 

"Permaculture and GreenhousesPermaculture is a twofold idea. It means both “permanent agriculture” and “permanent culture” and it is tied very closely to ideas of sustainability. The main goal of permaculture is to create an agricultural system in which the garden –or greenhouse –is designed around natural principles and with sustainability in mind.
Permaculture greenhouses use several aspects of large-scale permaculture to create an indoor growing environment that uses space and resources to make a self-maintaining greenhouse. One of the primary factors of permaculture is the emphasis on design.
Designing Permaculture GreenhousesUsing local plants and encouraging biodiversity are essential to permaculture; biodiversity by design means every plant serves multple purposes. Plants used for food should also fix nitrogen in the soil or provide ground cover to prevent weeds, for example. Every plant needs to benefit the design as a whole.
Designing a permaculture greenhouse starts with the building itself. Although traditional greenhouses use tables to display the products, a permaculture greenhouse needs open soil. This allows the gardener to utilize all of the space –vertical and horizontal –within the greenhouse to plant as much as possible.
Before planting begins, however, the soil needs to be examined.
Soil in a Permaculture GreenhouseSoil in a greenhouse may be difficult to plant in at first, especially if it has been covered by tables or left unused. However, the use of chemical fertilizers requires fossil fuels, both in the creation of the fertilizer and its transportation. Additionally, chemical fertilizers do not last and require re-application. Traditional fertilizers are wasteful, and go against the practice of sustainability in a permaculture greenhouse.
Instead, utilizing composting and designing the greenhouse to contain nitrogen- and nutrient-rich plants will improve the quality of the soil. Creating compost from vegetarian materials can be done within the greenhouse, by making a simple worm bin. Washington State University has instructions on how to create a worm bin. This type of composting is sustainable, especially if wooden boxes are used, and it creates rich, healthy soil "(Source:Washington State University). -

Leaf Composting

"The estimated 5.2 million trees comprising New York City’s urban forest drop vast quantities of  leaves each fall. In the past, safety and aesthetic concerns led Parks to remove the large majority of leaves for transport to distant landfills. The leaf removal robbed nutrients from the environment and required the agency to use extra fertilizer. Over a decade ago, we began to take steps to manage the huge quantity of leaves in the fall and ensure a consistent supply of compost for our parklands"-    pg. 22

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