Organic Rooftop Farming

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  • So for monthes i have been looking for a plot or some land, but always without success (unless you consider getting MAJORLY frustrated, a success :p).
    Anyway someone said something on these forums, and it made me realise that i have a flat roof above my garage, which would be PERFECT for a rooftop garden.
    Now i am trying to think up a design for the garden.

    I want to design a no-dig method garden (thanks for informing me of the name of this system Duckman :D), but i dont know if i will be able to grow anything on it. One restriction, is that being a rooftop garden, there will be limited soil to grow vegetables in, and then the major restriction is that i can not allow the roots to burrow into the roof and cause it to crack in places or get damaged.
    For these reasons i am thinking about a potted rooftop garden, but this is not Truely Organic, like i am aiming for.

    Does anyone have any suggestions. This thread is not solely for me, as i am sure that this will be used as a referance by many who would be in a similar situation to myself.
    So if anyone has knowledge or experience of Organic Rooftop Farming (or ANY farming experience), then advice really would be appreciated. :)


  • Are you able to buy in copious quantities of compost or maybe make a heap of your own? That way you can avoid use soil for a roof top garden.

  • Don't really get it.. why would growing plants organically in pots wouldn't be Truely Organic? Maybe if you compare it to growing it 'naturally' in the 'wild' or something, ok.. but can hardly argue that a rooftop is very 'truely organic'?

    Things like tomatoes and peas probably do pretty well with limited soil, since people grow them in pots pretty often.

  • Just to state the obvious, before you start, soil is heavy! Make sure you take into account the weight distribution and the increased load on the weight bearing structures, before you get started, or you may find you have no garage lol. Personally I would try to find someone with some structural engineering experience to have a quick look before you get started.

    I have seen rooftop gardens on websites, but can't for the life of me remember which ones - but I think it may have been a television program website, so you could try looking around some of the gardening program websites or Grand Designs etc for advise and info.

    Good Luck!!

    Les x

  • Duckman..... i was thinking that.... but with the amount of rain that ireland gets in winter, wouldn't soil being washed off the garage and onto the car below be a problem? :p I am not sure, i am going to have to do more research on it, but thats a good idea man.

    Velvet.... when growing in pots the food remains organic, i agree, but i mean that u dont get that truely organic feel to the farming when u dealing with pots. I am not knocking it, cuz i may be forced to do that, but if i can get large amount of compost up on top of the garage roof then i think thats a better option, as that can be made into an effient eco system.

    DreadyGeordie, your point is VERY significant, and something i did not think about before. I am 99% sure that the garage is strong enough to withstand a lorry ontop of it, but none the less thanks a million for bringing something so vital to my attention.

    Thanks for all your input so far. It has all been extremely useful. And if anyone else has anything that they can add to what has already been said, then it would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers :thumbup:

  • from experiance of growing plants - just tomatoes and peas and stuff - they don't need a huge amount of soil and if you get those big bags and leave the soil in them just slit them open it won't get washed away. That's what we did anyway, but I suppose using the bags wasn't really the greenest way of doing things. :panic:

    we reenact Noah's ancient drama, but in reverse, like a film running backwards, the animals exiting

  • Hi there,, if you go to google and just key in rooftop gardens, there are loads of sites, dealing with this type of thing. how to build one, type of soil to use. logistics and stuff.. too many to give you links.. so worth a look.. hope that helps.. great idea by the way.

  • A skillion roof is one with a gently slope to it eg 15º.

    Ok, given that Ireland gets a great deal of rain in Winter, maybe it would be better to go for pots, but try to get the good old fashioned earthenware ones rather than the plastic ones. Next question is what is the soil like where you are? Is it sandy, loam or clay? What colour is it?

  • My rooftop doesnt have a gentle slope, its 100% flat.

    Well the soil varies.... u see i would have to be bringing to to my place so i cant quite tell you which soil i would be getting. I have a small bit of excess soil in the back garden, which is quite sandy, whereas the original soil in my back garden was very loamy/mucky.
    Sandy stuff is brown, while the loamy stuff goes to black soil. Id mix it with industrial and homemade compost to make it better, but i am not sure of what type of soil ultimately that i will have up[ there as their isnt enough excess soil in my garden, and i would have to look around for whose getting rid of soil, as a result.

    Peace :)

  • Maybe you could get hold of some sharp sand (the type used to make concrete) and mix it with some soild, some coir (this expands greatly once you soak it) to give the mixture extra moisture holding capacity, some blood & bone. If you can get hold of any compost to add all well and good. You could use this mixture without the coir for raising seeds in seedling trays. See this thread.
    Just make sure it is somewhere not too cold.

  • you should go for plastic pots over clay as they are much lighter and retain water better than terracotta so less watering to do.look around for things you can recycle such as old buckets and large tin cans(i saw a site where a guy grows everything in old milk cartons).a composte bin will provide you with the soil you need and you can mix it with vermiculite to make it lighter and free draining.
    a good place to find things is your local freecycle site(just google freecycle and your home town to find it) mine often has people with topsoil to dispose of free to whoever can collect

  • you could go to other freecycle sites and ask them how they got started and as to who with anyone online in your area is who and your area can be as big or small as you like