Growing in the Anthropocene
Battling drought and climate change using tech and new growing techniques.
The climate is changing, the ecosystem that I currently live in is quickly changing. Rendering planting guides useless when it comes to traditional gardening and urban farming. Hotter, longer, drier summers are on the horizon along with freak downpours for weeks at a time and 100-year snowstorms once every 2 or 3 years. Maintaining a garden or urban farm can be really tough in such extreme conditions so I decided to recycle some lumber and make raised Sub Irrigated Planters or SIPS.
A SIP can keep plants watered better in extreme heat and sun by using a water reservoir under the roots of the plants. So you water both the reservoir and the soil if it needs it. This cuts down on the amount of water that evaporates from the topsoil but also allows for air to reach the roots of plants to stop the water from going anaerobic.
First I needed to make the frame for the bed, my neighbors redid their fence so I had free lumber. Which at the moment lumber is the new gold so I had to use what I could or pay $400 in lumber costs.
I took panels and broke them down with a circular saw, then used scrap 2X6 posts in the corners to support everything.
Just used brad nails to hold them in place while I screwed the panels to the supports. There were cross supports already on the panels from them being a fence so it made my job way easier. These are pretty long, at about 6 feet long. Though I could have made multiple smaller beds.
First I used pond liner stapled to the inside of the bed to contain the water. Pond liner is best because tarps will break over time and you want the water to stay inside the SIP. There are many ways to do this but I went with the method of corrugated pipe. Got some from the hardware store, cut it, and used extra landscaping fabric taped to the open ends to stop sediment from making its way inside the pipe.
The little pvc pipe is where I refill the reservoir with water. Add some rocks to stop alot of small dirt particles from rushing into the pipe.
Fill with dirt and add your plants. Every morning I fill the reservoir and water the top soil with collected rainwater. I will probably make another post about collecting rainwater too. But the giant SIPS are working. These beds are in direct summer sun for 7 hours and I am able to keep corn, basil, and cucumbers alive and growing with very minimal input. There is a cucumber plant in between the two beds in just a pot that gets watered at the same rate as the SIPS and it is dying fast. The other cucumber plant in the SIP is chugging along and might start producing soon.
Some more things going on in the finished picture that might need their own posts:
Automated irrigation sprinkler system for less than $200 that can be run off rainwater barrels.
Installing rainwater barrels and their benefits
DIY offgrid solar system setup