By Kat Harrold
Photo by - Jorg Breuning
For some the dream of farming on the roof is a mere extension of window box gardening while for others it can literally mean bringing the farm to the roof. For those DIY farmers out there here are a few things to consider for your garden in the sky.
Whether you are creating an extensive or intensive green roof, always check to make sure the roof is strong enough for whatever weight load you might be adding to it. The last thing you want is to wake up one morning feeling like a freshly planted spud.
Speaking of spuds, for the adventurous rooftop farmer looking to plant more than just a few herbs or the occasional tomato, consider creating raised planting beds. When it comes to the health and safety of your green roof one of the most important things to keep in mind is proper drainage. The organic material that is so good for your crops is a death sentence to the drainage system. When the organic particles break down they get lodged in the filter fabric which can cause standing water and even bigger problems in the winter when it freezes. To keep your roof happy and healthy, create a separate area, such as a planting bed with a bottom or container, for plants requiring deep rich soil like carrots and potatoes.
Building raised planters can be advantageous for plant and farmer. By having a set up allowing for the farmer to tend to the plants without crawling around the vegetation you protect the plants from accidental damage and compacting the soil.
Roof to Fork Menu
Ratatouille (recipe courtesy of epicurious.com)
(all vegetative ingredients can be grown in a regular semi-intensive green roof set up with no additional organic matter needed)
1 onion, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 tablespoons olive oil
¾ lb eggplant, cut into ½ inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1 small zucchini, scrubbed, quartered lengthwise, and cut into thin slices
¾ lbs small ripe tomatoes, chopped coarse (about 1 ¼ cups)
¼ teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
¼ teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
¼ fennel seeds
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup shredded fresh basil leaves
In a large skillet cook the onion and the garlic in 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and heat it over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add the eggplant and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened. Stir in the zucchini and the bell pepper and cook the mixture over the moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the oregano, the thyme, the coriander, the fennel seeds, the salt, and pepper to taste and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the basil and combine the mixture well. The ratatouille may be made 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled, and reheated before serving.