Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ecoroof Final Planting Plan

Over the last month, we implented the final stages of the ecoroof: putting up pond liner, then soil, then planting the plants!  At some point I'll write up more details on the mechanical design of the ecoroof.  With this post I just want to share the final planting plan.

The planting plan images give most plants by latin name.  For common names, you can refer to my original planting plan post. Or for common names plus details on edible & other uses, you can look them up in the Plants for a Future database.

The Porch roof measures about 7' x 19', and supports about 8" of soil depth.  It slopes from the south (top edge) to the north (bottom edge).   It has metal roofs from the rest of the house draining into it from the south and the east.  We have a relatively hard time accessing this roof, especially in the rainy months due to the slippery metal roof of the rest of the house.  So we designed this to not require harvesting during those months.  It should yield dry month harvests of garlic, elephant garlic, and shallots; a number of berries; hopefully some seed crop from perennial flax and Good King Henry; and roots of unknown quality from the Sedum telephium (these may require harvesting in late fall after frosts, so would fall into the rainy season.)

I figured we can walk along the edges of the metal roofs to access the planting areas, so we only needed five "stepping stones" of about 2' x 2' to access the interior.  (We're not actually using stepping stones, just marked off areas not planted in the regular crops.)

I divided the roof into roughly 3' x 3' planting squares.  The "stepping stones" occur mostly in the lower set of squares, so disproportionately remove planting space from those squares.

The Sunspace roof measures about 13' x 29', and supports about 5.5" of soil. It slopes from the north (top edge) to the south (lower edge).  A metal roof from the other part of the house runs into the top edge of the ecoroof.

We have a ladder set up outside our back door to give easy access to this roof, so we designed it to provide several leaf crops (Alliums, violets, Campanulas, and more) for harvest a few times a week.  We planted many of the same species as on the porch roof, plus a few new ephemerals (tulips, Triteleia, Brodiaea, Erythronium, muscari, and scilla), breadseed poppy as a seed crop, and a few other miscellaneous plants.

I figured again that we can walk along the edge of the metal roof to access the north edge of the upper planting bed.  I set a second main path 4' down the roof to give access to the other side of that planting bed, with keyhole paths going down the roof from that main path to give access to the rest of the lower beds.

Most of the planting patches measure about 3' x 4'.

UPDATE 7-23-11: We wound up planting Agastache foeniculum instead of Hyssopus officinalis. We never planted any tulips. Instead of the scilla, we planted Tigridia pavonia.

For both roofs, we hope to get a little extra summer moisture from the condensation that forms on the metal roof and runs down it into the ecoroof areas.  It won't be a lot, but it may help support plants at those edges which otherwise wouldn't survive.

For both roofs, we planted the lower edge with camassia, assuming that the soil will be somewhat boggy but that the camassia can deal with it.

For both roofs, Tulsi wanted the edge plantings to look pretty, since people will see them from the ground.  The Camassia for the lower edges met her needs there.  For the west edges we planted sedums with nice flowers, daylilies, yellow asphodel, and perennial flax.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Extrafloral nectaries

Just learned something new while watching the videos of Will Hooker's college permaculture class. Many plants have extrafloral nectaries (ie, not flowers) which exude nectar. Scientists theorize the plants do this as a symbiotic relationship with beneficial insects such as ants and predatory wasps, who keep other herbivorous insects in check.

So for permaculture design, which emphasizes scattering beneficial insectary plants through your garden or food forest, this greatly enlarges the number of species you can use to achieve this goal. I suspect that if you have a wide diversity of plants in your system anyway, then you might not even have to deliberately plan any insectaries for nectar. You'd still need to plan out the pollen-providing plants, though. Of course this depends on more information on when exactly the extrafloral nectaries produce; I don't know whether the plants exude their nectar all the time they're in leaf, or just in certain seasons, or only if they're suffering from predation, or what. I'll have to start observing plants to figure this out!

Extrafloral nectary plants by family

Extrafloral nectary plants by genus