Vegetables on roof gardens

The number of densely populated urban centres is still increasing; today more than half of the world’s population is living in cities. According to the Federal Ministry for Building and Regional Planning and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, in Germany 50 percent of these areas for human settlement and infrastructure are already sealed. In order to compensation the sealing of urban surfaces green roofs are more than a good idea. More and more green roofs in urban regions are used to grow vegetables, fruit and herbs with a wide range of advantages in environmental, economic and social terms.

Roofs are a extreme location. Growing vegetables on roof tops successfully is not easy and relevant parameters have to be taken into consideration. ZinCo developed a long term reliable system called “Urban Rooftop Farming”. The drainage element Floradrain® FD 40 is the heart of the system. With a layer of 20 cm of ZinCo system substrate, this system is suitable for growing many different kinds of vegetables and fruit for example lettuce, onions, herbs, courgettes, aubergines, pumpkins, cabbages, melons and strawberries. A somewhat deeper substrate layer (28 to 40 cm) is required for tomatoes, French beans, raspberries, blackberries, currants etc.. The level of irrigation and fertilisation required is depending on the vegetables to be grown and to local climate conditions.

Urban farming basically differentiates between private and commercial use of the vegetable garden. The latter is carried out on rooftops either open air or under glass. Large cities in the U.S. and Central America are forcing urban farming. In Brooklyn, lettuce is grown on an area of 1,500 m². Commercial projects have already been realized in Los Angeles, Dubai and Shanghai. The example of a large supermarket chain is pointing in the same direction: in 2012, production is starting up in rooftop glasshouses in three different locations in the U.S. where fruit, vegetables and lettuce will be supplied directly from the roof to the point of sale. In Germany private roof gardens supply their families with fresh vegetables and herbs. Private roof gardens in Karlsruhe and Wendlingen (see photos) show that urban farming can be very successful even with limited space. Larger plots are explored on the roof of the Technoseum in Mannheim. This rooftop allotment, about 600 m² in size, is part of a permanent exhibition showing visitors how people lived and fed themselves in former times.

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