Urban gardening 2

Considering that trees seem to not mind a permanent lock down (unlike us humans), perhaps I could grow tomatoes and cucumbers and pumpkins and watermelons in…lets say, my studio? Summer 365, relative humidity controlled, no unreliable variables such as the sun, nor pests or bothering herds of weevils..just comfortable, domesticated house trained living. So lets think about it: plants need water, nutrients, heat and light. Would they really recognise they are not under the South African Sun? Or more over, would they actually care?

As we had one wall totally empty, and any case all summer I had been pondering what colour I would paint my studio wall, it came to me that if I’d paint it with a water proof bathroom paint, I could support some plants on it. I had already tested this idea in my work office, where it actully looks pretty good. But there I had few house plants, and now I was planning big. I saw the future bright, I saw it orange.

A bucket of paint later, and some frantic weeks of search, my credit card screeming in agony almost as much as Neil the postman when he carried those 2 king size boxes of mail ordered plumbing pipes to the fifth floor. I figured to get it running should take about as long as carefully reading the instructions, but when I saw that in fact the boxes contained no instructions whatsoever, it dawned upon me this was a true pioneering work. I wrote to the company that had sold me the system, and they laughed at me saying that my set was experimental, and in fact the largest of its kind they had ever made in the world. Just fantastic… I had two plastic bags full of bolts, nuts, chains, plastic bits, cables, hoses and connectors that I never quite figured out what they were ment to do. And a studio floor full of wastewater pipes.

At times we need to have faith

I had only couple of tiny minor problems in setting it up. Firstly, I could not use any of the support structure, as it was simply oversized and way too heavy for it. Secondly it could not be attached to the wall or hung from ceiling, as the kind of plasterboard these are made of would just crumble. In the end I resorted into building a new U frame around it from solid pine two-by-fours. If in doubt, use two by fours.

Then I discovered that the 20 watt aquarium pump that came with it just would not lift the water up, so it had to be replaced by a larger one. Now, here in UK we have tonds of water fountains, so it was no trouble to locate a larger one. Fitted with the new 65 watt fountain pump, capable of a mere 10000 litres an hour, all that remained was to plug it in and off we go. Unfortunately, in this time I still had to jiggle the pipe structure back to its correct place. It was resting upon some 50 litres of water, and attached to the newly built solid pine frame. All I had to do was to lift both sides one by one and push them slightly back. It was really late, I was alone at home, and confident in myself decided it was just a matter of lift, toggle, and drop. “What could possibly go wrong”, I thought just about when I saw the frame in slow motion tilting towards me, until falling flat faced on the ground. I sat exactly in point zero, in the centre of everything, surrounded by freely flying pipes and frame. Upon the frame tilting I saw how a tsunami of fertilised water swooshed on my pants, spreading on the floor, rapidly followed by some thousands of baked clay pellets, escaping the 56 grow cups I had filled. These clay skittles falling from heavens covered me in an apocalyptic scene, and then each bounced individually around, hitting the walls and floor, echoing upon hitting the tubes like a thousand fold cymbalic serenade of doom. I feel sorry for our neighbours. The kind of sounds that escaped from my mouth are not fit for publishing.

It was…epic.